First National Grid Pylon Erected

Falkirk, Stirlingshire The 14th of July 1928 AD

We take for granted that electricity is available at the flick of a switch, but until Stanley Baldwin pushed through the legislation and massive investment in infrastructure required to create the National Grid, Britain was poorly and unreliably supplied with the invisible power, and what was available was beyond the ordinary family’s pocket.
The first pylon to be erected was at Bonnyfield near Falkirk, on July 14 1928. The last of about 26000 went up five years later, in the New Forest . You may find this hard to believe, but not only was the thing brought in on budget, but was ahead of schedule.
Sir Reginald Blomfield was the man behind the design chosen for the British pylon, his credentials including the Menin Gate war memorial at Ypres . Despite its functional solidity the pylon and its relentless march across our countryside drew criticism from the likes of Kipling , Keynes and Belloc . Given overground electricity lines cost less than a tenth of the underground alternative, however, the pylon was always going to be the government’s choice. The term pylon, by the way, derives from a Greek word for an Egyptian temple entrance.

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