The consequence of all this activity was that from 1883 to 1900 nearly every street in the commercial area of Sydney had a pole route, the appearance of which changed frequently as wires were added and in due course were replaced by cables. (ref 3'4'5) This is a distinctive feature which can be seen on many photographs.Potentially, therefore, these poles form a valuable dating guide for the period by allowing a series of photographs of the same street to be placed in chronological order. It became the backbone of the network with pole routes branching off at every cross street.
Power lines had no more than four wires on each crossarm, spaced more than 30 cm apart and seldom more than eight wires on a pole.
The poles nearly always carry lighting fixtures since street lighting was usually the motive for the provision of electrical distribution.
Like other artefacts, the poles and wires which are seen on so many photographs of outdoor scenes can provide clues to the date on which the photograph was taken.
Their value is greatest for the period from 1880 to about 1920, since before 1880 wires were rare and after 1920 the changing models of cars in streetscapes are usually a better dating guide.
The construction shown in figure 1 was nearly always used.
A separate telegraph network was built by the Railways Department for signalling and operational needs and the two services often shared a common route.
The backbone of the public telegraph network was a route in George Street from the telegraph office to Redfern Station and a shared route along the railway line to Parramatta.
By 1880 there were about 10 wires along George Street.
Because telephones and telegraphs in Australia were operated by the same authority, it is not always easy to differentiate between them on style alone. Electrical distribution to provide street or home lighting can be differentiated from telephone construction by its more robust appearance with heavier and more widely spaced wires.
On telephone routes the separation between wires on crossarms was usually 15 cm to 20 cm and crossarms were 35 cm apart.
At Granville the lines to the south diverged, still following the railway, and at Parramatta the lines to the north branched off to follow the road.