Work started to replace century old gas main in Burnley

Work has started to upgrade and future-proof an underground gas main which has helped heat homes in Burnley for nearly 100 years.
Work has started on Burns StreetWork has started on Burns Street
Work has started on Burns Street

Cadent, which manages the North West’s gas mains, is replacing the old main in Stoneyholme to maintain the safe delivery of gas for heating homes.

More than 85% of the 31,946 households in Burnley use gas for central heating, with many also using it for cooking meals and hot water.

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The current gas main – which is 30in. in diameter and runs underneath Burns Street, Brougham Street and Oswald Street – was installed in 1926.

It has been identified for replacement by Cadent as part of the company’s 30-year, multi-million-pound programme to upgrade its ageing assets.

This latest phase in Burnley represents around £150,000 investment to upgrade 300m. of main. Added to around 900m. upgraded on the same main in recent years, the investment by Cadent reaches £600,000 in ensuring reliable, long-term and increasingly-greener gas supplies for this area of the town.

Every year in the North West, Cadent upgrades more than 300 miles of its older metallic mains to new, durable plastic that will last for a minimum 80 years more.

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Last year, while working on this same gas main, engineers made the unusual find of a rectangular gas main (while they’re all different diameter, gas mains are meant to be round). This was a solution created by engineers in the 1920s to carry the gas main over a coal tunnel that was discovered along the route they’d planned for their pipe to take. It was, however, not listed as such on maps.

Planning teams have worked with highways officers at Lancashire County Council to time the bulk of the more traffic restricting work to school holidays.

Work got under way this month in Burns Street, which is currently closed at its junction with Brougham Street. Schools breaking-up for summer will signal the closure in both directions of Brougham Street – between Oswald Street and Burns Street only – with traffic instead directed to follow a signed diversion route.

The engineers will also be working in Oswald Street during the school holiday period but will keep a lane open for motorists to get to homes and businesses (the flow will be managed by traffic lights). All work will be completed before Burnley Stoneyholme CP School (on Oswald Street) reopens after the holidays.

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“This is vital work, future-proofing our gas mains so customers in Burnley can receive safe and reliable supplies, for heating their homes and cooking meals,” said Craig Horrocks, who heads Cadent’s mains replacement in the North West.

“Our gas mains are mostly located underneath roads, which means we face a big challenge to safely carry out heavy engineering schemes in close proximity to motorists and pedestrians. So, as you can imagine, the start of work this month in Stoneyholme is actually the culmination of months of planning, including liaising with Lancashire County Council, to agree the best time to carry out the work and how best to safely manage pedestrians and traffic passing our work area.

“Safety is always our top priority, and I really want to thank people for their patience and understanding as we complete this essential upgrade.”

Home owners and business in the immediate vicinity – those within the work area and nearby – have received letters about the work and many have been visited too. A customer team is available on 0161 703 1110 to answer queries.

Important message if you live in this area: if you smell gas, do not dismiss it as connected to this work. Report it immediately to 0800 111 999*.