South Australia’s iconic Stobie pole is celebrating the anniversary of its patenting in July, after it was developed to replace wooden poles 100 years ago. 

The Stobie pole was formally patented in July 1924 by the then Adelaide Electric Supply Company. They were developed because of the shortage of wood for poles in South Australia and issues with termites. 

An invention of engineer James ‘Cyril’ Stobie, the concrete and steel pole has become iconic in South Australia. 

The first pole was installed in South Terrace in the city in 1924. Now, more than 650,000 Stobie poles help South Australians share energy across an area of about 180,000km². 

SA Power Networks Head of Corporate Affairs, Paul Roberts, said that the Stobie is a distinctly South Australian icon, as unique as the Hills Hoist, Coopers Beer and Frog Cakes.

“The beauty is that while it has served us well for 100 years, it will continue to have a central role in the State’s power supply for many years to come even as we shift to a renewables-based energy system.” Mr Roberts said. 

Mr Roberts said that SA Power Networks was planning a number of events and engagements to honour the humble Stobie in 2024. 

The Stobie’s birthday will feature in various arts, history and community events, culminating in a birthday party at the SA Power Networks Stobie plant at Angle Park in mid-July. 

“Every Stobie manufactured at Angle Park this year will be stamped to commemorate the anniversary,” Mr Roberts said. 

“We are particularly looking forward to our 2024 partnerships with the History Trust and Helpmann Academy. 

“This year’s History Festival in May has the incredibly appropriate theme of ‘Power’ and the Stobie will be used to honour 100 wonderful South Australians. We also will open the Angle Park facility for public tours during the History Festival. 

“Also, we have commissioned a very special arts installation with the Helpmann Academy which supports new and emerging artists.”

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