Insulator Collecting UK — Teleramics

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Varley's Patent


Key distinguishing points

  • Single wire groove
  • 3 Distinct shapes
  • 1 or 2 part construction
  • Porcelain or stoneware

Varley Z Type


Z - Type: A one piece design with a inner shed shorter than the outer, made originally from stoneware and a cemented in spindle through to a porcelain, screw in spindle with a high gloss brown glaze.

These insulators were used primarily for block lines or a short run to a signal box.

Varley No.8


The No.8 - The largest and most common of all Varleys', so called as its wire slot was built to hold 8 gauge wire. Made initially in stoneware and in two pieces with the inner shed of white porcelain cemented into the outer shed and the whole thing cemented onto a 5/8" Diameter spindle. Later they became a one piece design.

The example shown dates from about 1900 and is a single piece construction. The spindle was cemented in and the wire groove is larger than the standard No.8, possibly to take 4 gauge wire. These can still be found on some of the old disused branch lines, especially in the West of the country.

Varley Bits

broken Varley No.8

These next three images show a box of broken Varley No.8's dating pre 1900. These all came from one location within an old railway disposal area. Other finds included numerous bits of broken crockery from GWR, LMS and Midland Hotels, as well as broken pieces of an early battery marked 'No.2 Fullers Patent, Mercury Bi-Chromate Battery'. A return trip is definitely planned and hopefully an intact Varley No.8 will be recovered along with some more of the battery.

broken Varley No.8 broken Varley No.8

Another Varley type similar to the No.8 but built to carry the smaller 11 gauge wire and used for short lines is the No.11, they were, as far is known, a one piece design from the beginning. No example exists within the collection yet!

Jobson Bros Dudley


One of my best finds to date. A Varley pattern double insulator made by Jobson Brothers, Dudley. This stamping gives it a year of manufacture between 1876 and 1884.

This example was the only one found on a felled pole of 20+ insulators running on the south side of the London - Exeter mainline. The pole contained quite a mixture of insulators, unmarked standard cordeaux in white and black, white and black pothead terminators, modern(ish) GPO standard cordeaux and the one Varley.


As can be clearly seen from the underside, the inner shed is made from white porcelain and cemented into the outer stoneware shed. The pin was originally itself cemented in but when the pole had been felled a harsh landing had bent the pin but fortunately this had not broken the sheds. However years of decay caused the rusting pin to swell in size and this forced the inner shed apart. A bit of super glue and some TLC later the pin was removed and the inner shed rebuilt.

Johnson & Nephew

varley No.8 made by Johnson & Nephew, Manchester

This next image shows two pieces of a varley No.8 made by Johnson & Nephew, Manchester. Close examination reveals them to be a two part construction with a cemented inner shed probably of the same material as the outer.

The only information so far found about Johnson & Nephew suggests that they were predominately wire cable manufacturers and may have made insulators as part of a complete installation package.

Fuller of Bow

fuller bow fragment

This fragment belongs to a Varley No.8 made by Fuller of Bow London and as such represents a late 19th Century piece of insulator. Made in white porcelain and of a single piece construction with cemented pin.

Very little is known about Fullers of Bow, London and any information would be greatly appreciated.

Latest find

varley cross section

This slice of a Varley's No.8 pattern insulator clearly illustrates a later pattern. It's a single piece construction in white porcelain but still retains a cemented spindle arrangement.

Made for the GWR, its has deeper wire groove than an original No.8 to allow it to accept 4 gauge wire, theoretically it could be classified a No.4, I suppose.

The internal ribbing is there to give the spindle cement something to grip onto and remnants of this cement can be seen at the top of the exposed hole.