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In the case of George Street the writer has made some investigations which suggest that a dating guide can be produced, accurate to within two or three years, from the period from 1870 to 1900. In 1885 a cable support disguised as an ornamental verandah front was erected along the western side of George Street from the G. The pole route in this section of George Street was replaced by a smaller one carrying only telegraph wires.For other streets the changes were slower and there is less documentation. Towards the end of this period aerial cables were carried on the lower cross arms, at least close to the G. The cable support was superseded before 1900 but was not all demolished.Wires were erected at different times for telegraphs, telephones, electrical distribution, high-voltage transmission and traction, and each application uses different types of construction.In the case of telephone routes, the styles changed significantly with time and this can also help with dating.The pattern which finally emerged was one with cables radiating from the G. As the cable network expanded the need for very large pole routes diminished and by 1905 nearly all telephone wires had disappeared from the streets of the city.A similar sequence was followed in the suburbs and country towns when the telephone spread to these areas.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 first step in dating a pole route is to identify the type of service it provides.Telegraph wires sometimes appear on photographs of country towns and the date of erection was sometimes known to the Telecom Historical Officer. In contrast to the telegraph service which needed wires only along main roads, these telephone wires extended to business premises all over the city.It was the telephone which was responsible for the rash of wires which spread over the larger Australian cities, beginning in the 1880's. The needs were met initially by building large pole routes capable of carrying up to 200 wires.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.

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