Old Times


In common with most pipeliners, I didn't have much chance to take photos when I was working, so I only have these few snaps of a 24" pipeline going over The Devil's Dyke on the South Downs in Sussex in the late 60's. A lot has changed.

Feel free to send your old time pictures in, to try and build a potted history of Pipelining. Click the pics to see larger versions. These were all taken with a Box Brownie : remember them?

Below : The Front End as it used to be

More front end

Front End crew go over the top (of the Downs): note Lincoln Mobile welding sets.

My old LHD Gipsy

That's what I call mud: Sideboom tries to pull 4WD RL Bedford through the mud. Try welding in that !

Successfully ditched

Front end climbing out of Devil's Dyke

Cleveland digger waiting at an RDX

The front end crawls up the Devil's Dyke

Looking down into the Devil's Dyke after topsoil clearing.

JCB 360 excavating trench at tie-in. Can anyone remember when the cabs moved from the right to the left?

Strung pipes heading towards the Adur river crossing. It was the ditching of this piece of pipe that gave rise to my comical yarn about the Cleveland Digger.

I saw him parked one day near the River Adur at Henfield, sausages cooking merrily, kettle whistling, reading his paper whilst waiting for permission to dig through a farm road. Half a mile down the pipe a crew were starting to lift the pipe, continuously welded, into the trench. It slipped. I arrived, looked down the trace, and saw the sleepers that the pipe rests on being thrown into the air. When a pipe slips like this, it is as flexible as a rubber hose, and the ends can get quite a considerable whip on. I took a header over the fence, and ran for the hills.

The pipe reared up in the air, swayed back, and then shot across to hit the Cleveland squarely across the tracks. You would not believe that a machine that size could hop, but it did, about 6ft sideways, Paddy wasn't hurt, but his breakfast and paper were ruined. Last I saw of him he was heading off down the trace, fat dripping from his jacket, with a frying pan in his hand, looking for the now disappeared ditching crew. 

Now here's something that has changed. Remember Coat & Wrap with 500 degree bitumen and all that sulphur smoke? I have another anecdote about a poor lad on the Kemsing-Tunbridge Wells line who put his leg too close under the pipe and filled his welly with bitumen and got whipped off to hospital. The wrappers had to finish their quota before the long weekend, and as the wrap inspector I had to stay too: and I had my brother's wedding coming on the Saturday. So I poured, and ended up with all my chest and face burnt from the fumes: In the wedding photos I look as if I'm just back from the Bahamas !!