T-shaped electricity pylons being installed from Hinkley Point

The dawn of the T-Pylons: World’s first T-shaped electricity towers are installed over 35-mile stretch in UK… nearly 100 years since traditional lattice structures were first used

  • The traditional lattice pylon has been used to carry thousands of miles of cables around the UK since 1928
  • New T-pylons being rolled out from Hinkley Point C Nuclear power station in Somerset to Avonmouth, Bristol
  • A total of 116 new pylons, which are 115 feet high, will be installed on the route
  • The first lattice pylon was installed in Bonnyfield, near Falkirk, and designed by U.S. engineering firm 

For nearly 100 years, they have imposed on Britain’s landscape, helping to providing electricity to millions of homes.

The traditional lattice pylon has been used to carry thousands of miles of cables around the UK since 1928, when the first one was built at Bonnyfield, near Falkirk in Scotland.

But now, the steel structures – which are hated by those who say they blight the beautiful countryside – have received their first ever upgrade.

The National Grid’s new ‘T-pylon’ design is being rolled out on a 35-mile route carrying low-carbon electricity from Hinkley Point C Nuclear power station in Somerset to Avonmouth, Bristol.

A total of 116 t-shaped pylons will be installed on the route.


For nearly 100 years, they have imposed on Britain’s landscape, helping to providing electricity to millions of homes. The traditional lattice pylon has been used to carry millions of miles of cables around the UK since 1928, when the first one was built at Bonnyfield, near Falkirk in Scotland. But now, the steel structures – which are hated by those who say they blight the beautiful countryside – have received their first ever upgrade. Right: The new T-pylon at East Huntpill, Somerset

The National Grid’s new design is being rolled out on a 35-mile route carrying low-carbon electricity from Hinkley Point C Nuclear power station in Somerset

At 115-feet high, they are around a third shorter than their traditional counterparts and will and take up less space on the ground.

The new pylons form part of the National Grid’s £900million Hinkley Connection project.

Bonnyfield: The site of the UK’s first electricity pylon 

Architect Sir Reginald Blomfield

The first electricity pylon in the UK was put in Bonnyfield, near Falkirk in Scotland, in 1928. 

However, the new transmission grid of what was then the Central Electricity Board (CEB) did not begin operating until 1933.   

It was initially run as a series of regional grids before becoming truly national in 1938. 

The original design was the winning submission to a competition run by the CEB in 1927. 

It was sent in by U.S. engineering firm Milliken Brothers. 

The project’s leading architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, who most famously designed Lambeth Bridge, preferred it instead of the other options.

The winning design – submitted by Danish firm Bystrup – was selected from over 250 entered into an international competition run in 2011, organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects and what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change (now DEFRA).

With a need for new energy infrastructure to help meet the Government’s commitments on combatting climate change and reducing carbon emissions, the competition sought a new design to reduce impact on the local environment and surroundings.

At present, there are no plans to roll out other sections of T-pylons. The National Grid said they use different technology depending on the landscape and cost. Other methods of getting electricity where it needs to be include the use of tunnels.

The 116 new pylons are being built in two stages. Staff from construction giant Balfour Beatty began work on the first 48 last week, near the village of East Huntspill, which is around 10 miles away from Hinkley Point, last week.

Each one takes around five days to build. The remaining 68 will be built along the rest of the route to Avonmouth, near Bristol, from 2022.

The T-shape pylons have two ‘hanging baskets’ either side of a slim central pole, which takes up less land space than the base of the currently-used lattice grid. 

These ‘baskets’ hold the various wires and cables needed to transmit electricity at high voltage. 

The new design allows the towers to utilise space at either side of the tall central structure, and because the ‘hanging basket’ power lines are suspended in the air, they’re not taking up ground space.

Because T-shaped pylons are shorter than the traditional steel lattice structure, their manufacturing will require less material. Despite this size difference, T-shaped pylons can still transmit 400,000 volts.

There are more than 90,000 electricity pylons in the UK. 

They are installed across more than 4,300 miles of high-voltage lines. 

Whilst pylons are hated by many – The Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling wrote to The Times to plain of the ‘permanent disfigurement’ of the landscape when they first emerged – others are fans of their appearance.

A group of poets led by the late Stephen Spender were so enamoured with the steel structures that they called themselves The Pylon Poets. 

And the Pylon Appreciation Society runs a regular ‘pylon of the month’ competition’.  

Chris Bennett, Acting President, National Grid Electricity Transmission said: ‘We are always looking for innovative new ways to mitigate the impact of our infrastructure on the natural environment and projects such as T pylons are a great example.

‘This new design forms part of our significant investment in the network in England and Wales, adding capacity onto the grid to deliver increasing amounts of low carbon energy and support the UK’s drive towards its net zero target.’

Even though the first lattice-style pylon was built in 1928 (above, the early route in Scotland), the new transmission grid of what was then the Central Electricity Board (CEB) did not begin operating until 1933

The new T-pylon route will take power from Hinkley Point power station as far as Avenmouth, in Bristol. The project is set to be finished in 2025

A total of 116 pylons T-pylons – so named due to their resemblance to the 20th number in the alphabet – will be installed on the route

At 115-feet high, they are around a third shorter than their traditional counterparts and will and take up less space on the ground


The 116 new pylons are being built in two stages. Staff from construction giant Balfour Beatty began work on the first 48 last week, near the village of East Huntspill, which is around 10 miles away from Hinkley Point, last week 

Matt Steele, Balfour Beatty’s Managing Director for its Rail and Utilities business, said: ‘Our unique capability and extensive experience in delivering major, complex overhead line schemes, makes us ideally positioned to play a key role in constructing the world’s first T-pylons.

‘We look forward to working with National Grid to successfully and safely deliver low-carbon electricity to millions of people, supporting the UK’s net zero ambitions.’

The Hinkley Connection project will be ready to connect to Hinkley Point C by the end of 2024, with the project complete at the end of 2025.

Even though the first lattice-style pylon was built in 1928, the new transmission grid of what was then the Central Electricity Board (CEB) did not begin operating until 1933. 

Each one takes around five days to build. The remaining 68 will be built along the rest of the route to Avonmouth, near Bristol, from 2022

The T-shape pylons have two ‘hanging baskets’ either side of a slim central pole, which takes up less land space than the base of the currently-used lattice grid

The T-shape pylons have two ‘hanging baskets’ either side of a slim central pole, which takes up less land space than the base of the currently-used lattice grid

It was initially run as a series of regional grids before becoming truly national in 1938. 

The original design was the winning submission to a competition run by the CEB in 1927. 

It was sent in by U.S. engineering firm Milliken Brothers. The project’s leading architect Sir Reginald Blomfield, who most famously designed Lambeth Bridge, preferred it instead of the other options. 

Blomfield, who was a strident anti-modernist, took its name from Ancient Egypt. 

The word pylon describes a gateway with two towers either side of it. To the Egyptians, these represented two hills – between which the sun rose and set. 

Blomfield hoped that his pylons would provide a ‘gateway’ to a reliable electricity supply for the UK.    

HOW DOES THE T-SHAPED PYLON WORK? 

Like traditional ‘lattice’ pylons, the T-shaped pylons support electrical cables that transmit high-voltage electricity from where it’s generated, such as a power station or wind farm, through the energy system to homes and businesses.

Electricity comes out of a power station at a low voltage, around 10-30 kilovolts. 

It then passes through a ‘step-up’ transformer at a transmission substation to create high-voltage electricity – up to 400,000 volts – which travels around National Grid’s electricity network.

‘Terminal’ towers are located at each end of the route, while tension or angle towers enable the route to be realigned if necessary.

The T-shaped pylon design, with a single pole and cross shaped arms, are 115 feet (35 metres) tall, a third shorter than National Grid’s traditional lattice pylons. 

The T-shape pylons have two ‘hanging baskets’ either side of a slim central pole, which takes up less land space than the base of the currently-used lattice grid. 

These ‘baskets’ hold the various wires and cables needed to transmit electricity at high voltage. 

The new design allows the towers to utilise space at either side of the tall central structure, and because the ‘hanging basket’ power lines are suspended in the air, they’re not taking up ground space.

Because T-shaped pylons are shorter than the traditional steel lattice structure, their manufacturing will require less material. Despite this size difference, T-shaped pylons can still transmit 400,000 volts.

The T-shaped pylon design is meant to complement the countryside better than the traditional steel lattice structure, which has long been considered one of the country’s greatest eyesores. 

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