David Leighfield, the supervisor for the work in Bideford, and Paul Breakey, who managed the project, on the medieval Bideford Long Bridge. 

Wales & West Utilities has bid farewell to the people of Bideford after it completed a £700,000 essential scheme to secure gas supplies now and into the future for residents and local businesses.

The company, which has been working in the town since October of last year, has finished a major investment programme in the area to replace old metal gas pipes with new longer lasting plastic ones not only in streets and footpaths but also under the bed of the River Torridge.

With the company’s work usually taking place above sea level, it enlisted the help of specialist contractors G&J Engineering. The work to lay a pipe under the river involved drilling from a site in Victoria Park to a field on the east bank of the River Torridge, near the junction of Barnstaple Street and Manteo Way. Once the small tunnel under the river bed had been drilled, a new plastic gas pipe was pulled through and connected to the existing gas network either side of the river banks.

Paul Breakey, Wales & West Utilities Operations Manager explains:

“We are very used to working on roads, footpaths and fields but this scheme involved a lot more. Replacing the old pipe that ran through the grade 1 listed ancient monument - the structure of the medieval Bideford Long Bridge without working on the bridge at all – was a great engineering achievement.

“We are delighted to have completed the work so that the people of Bideford continue to have a safe and reliable gas supply for years to come.

“It’s rare we can say that a gas pipe replacement project is exciting, but this one really was. I’m sure we’ll be talking about the Bideford scheme for years to come.”

During the scheme Wales & West Utilities worked with Torridge District Council to manage the traffic to ensure the work finished as quickly as possible and to keep the impact it would have on local people to a minimum

Paul added:

We want to thank everyone who lives, works and travels through Bideford for bearing with us while we carried out this essential work.”

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, takes pride in serving the south west of England and Wales. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night. 

The company also has a multi-million pound, 30-year gas pipe investment programme which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being replaced with new long-lasting plastic pipes with a lifespan of more than 80 years, to make sure homes and businesses continue to receive a safe and reliable gas supply now and in the future.