The leham killing pole
Submitted by Ken Dasilva-Hill
The killing pole of Lenham Telephones are not the same anymore. No longer do we get crossed lines, mysteriously strange noises or have to ask an operator to be connected to our number of choice. Indeed, we mostly carry our telephones with us, easily available for instant use, and useable in many different ways. Overhead telephone lines are also fast disappearing, as the conversion to underground cables and fibre optic connections continues at a constant pace. The ugly telegraph poles will not be missed though, as they stride across the landscape, and especially the one near the medieval village of Lenham, that is locally known as The Killing Pole.
The story first appeared in the nineteen thirties when the main road to Dover was put through Kent UK, from Maidstone to Ashford, and with a line of new pine telegraph poles marking the route and taking the telephone to villages along the way for the first time. The skilled and tough linesmen who made the connections to individual farms and houses often worked alone, traveling the route on a motorcycle, with a sidecar to hold their ladder and tools. One such engineer was dispatched late on a winters afternoon to attend to a badly loose connection close to the Lenham junction. It was cold and windy, with the threat of snow in the air. After parking his motorcycle safely off of the road behind a gap in the hedge, he set up his ladder, put his tool satchel on his shoulder and climbed the ladder to its full height. Using the fixed steps screwed onto the pole itself, he left the ladder and continued on to the top. It is not know what happened next, but it is surmised that the ladder was blown away from the pole and toppled back over the hedge into the field. The worker was marooned at the top of the pole.
Continuing to work on the fault he connected his test receiver to the line and tried to call the Maidstone depot for help. The call was received at Maidstone and logged, but it was impossible for the depot foreman to hear the message due to the poor quality of the line and the howling wind. It seems that the engineer may have tried to hail a passing vehicle to alert the driver to his situation, and in doing so slipped from the icy steps and fell, caught up in the electric cables by the strap of his satchel which squeezed tight around his neck.
That night the snow fell hard and deep, the road becoming impassable to cars and buses, and the hanging linesman slowly froze to death. Icicles formed on his body and he was slowly overcome by the snow until his snow shrouded body resembled an icy sack hanging from the post, turning grotesquely in the breeze. The next morning the body was reported to Lenham post office by a man who said he had passed the night at the spot after being caught in the snow and feeling too cold to carry on. At first light he had trudged his way through the deep snow to the village, after seeing the sign post on the junction pointing to Lenham. Although cold and soaking wet from the melting snow, he did not stay to accompany anyone back to the scene of the tragedy, and was never seen again apparently disappearing into the snowscape.
As soon as was possible, the local police constable, accompanied by several members of the village fire brigade, made their way to the pole and cut the gruesome body down. It was kept overnight in the Lenham mortury and as soon as was possible, transported to Maidstone. It is said that even today on dark freezing snowy evenings, a faint glow can be seen slowly climbing the post, where it stops for a while at the top until suddenly plunging downwards to a sharp stop and wavering and turning slowly with the wind. Weird noises can also be heard from the wires above as they seemingly whisper the word 'I am dieing, dieing, dieing' in a wavering high tremelo as the wind whistles through.
This is certainly not a place to stop or to break down. A traveler in the 1980s had his car suddenly stall at the very spot as he passed the pole, and he could not get it started whatever he did. It was snowing at the time and his only recourse was to stay inside and sleep in the car. He did not record in detail what he experienced that night, but the effect on him was so severe that he vowed never to drive the road again, either at night or in daylight. He almost froze to death himself that night, being found by an AA patrol man the next morning who warmed in the AA van before being driven to Lenham for a hot drink ,food and warm clothes. As the car had no fault that could be traced as being mechanical, the car was assumed to have suffered a sudden complete electrical failure of some kind, but which was completely untraceable by the skilled patrol man.
Since those days, others have had similar breakdowns at the same spot and more frightening, several serious accidents have actually taken place there. Over the years many people have reported a misty figure in foggy winter conditions, who seems to direct them off of the road towards the pole, as though willing them to crash at that spot. It is now surmised that the man who reported to the post office was actually the shade of the dead man, eager to get help to cut himself down and alert his family to his death. The question local people ask is, does the evil energy, surrounding this tragic night, still linger within the whistling wires, trying to bring more unhappiness to this evil spot to serve its lust for death? And, who will be next?