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For the love of lattice work pylons!

4th September 2023

By Michael Bird, Branch Trustee

I have a confession to make. Probably alone among all my rambling and countryside colleagues I have always regarded the open lattice-work 1960s supergrid pylons to be among the most elegant structures ever to grace the British skyline. As an engineer they positively sing to me. A stress diagram writ large, like a musical score – and not a single redundant note (member) in them!

As for the new T-pylons, I nearly ran my car off the M5 when I caught my first glimpse of these impostors this year. A hideous line of solid gallows-like structures defiling the Somerset levels. Judge Jeffries could certainly have found a use for them on his Bloody Assizes in that treeless landscape. They could only have been conceived by an architect, I thought – never by an engineer!

Existing supergrid pylons have three arms on each side of the lattice tower, each carrying a double line of conductor cables. The new tee-bar pylons have the same number of cables each side but now all carried in a single diamond-shaped insulating cradle hanging from the ends of the T-bar by a single pin joint! To reduce the load carried by this joint the span between the T-pylons is shortened to about half the average span of lattice towers, therefore requiring twice as many T-pylons per mile – and thus massively increasing their doleful impact upon the landscape.

Lattice pylons in the countryside
National Grid