When our community was informed that a new 1.2 meter, high pressure gas main was to be laid across the parish from North to South then many people were concerned. We contacted SGN and asked them to come to Wrotham to explain to parishioners the implications and the company was happy to oblige. Our concerns were largely assuaged when we were informed that underground drilling techniques would minimise local disruption and potential damage to the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

 This is the LMR Drilling rig that is sited at the top of Exedown. It is used to initially drill a guided pilot hole through the downs and emerges at a precise point to the north of the Pilgrims Way to the west of Wrotham. The hole is then enlarged by a series of reamers using bentonite slurry as a lubricant. The drilling trolley is at the end of its cycle here as it has hauled the shaft dragging the steal pipe up the ramp. The end of the next section of shaft is clamped and the redundant section removed. The trolley is then lowered down the ramp, connected to the clamped shaft and the haulage process is repeated. It is surprising that the relatively small motors housed on the trolley can exert so much force. The rig is positioned by pneumatic pistons at the angle of exit of the shaft.

 

 This is the moment when the drilling tackle and reamer are linked with the half a kilometer of welded pipe lying across the St Clere’s fields.

Spot on Paddy.

 

Here the drilling rig above is hauling the drilling shaft, the white spherical reamer and gas pipe inexorably towards the hole. The side boon cranes perform a syncopated dance as they support the pipe enroute.

A dramitic view of this massive pipe snaking its way to the scarp face.

 

The pipe is being hauled through the drill hole via a pool of bentonite. It’s incredible how flexible the welded pipe has proved to be.

The pipe is now in the final stages of being hauled through the drilled out hole.

First the reamer appears up at Exedown on top of the chalk escarpment.

Pipe appears.

Sure enough the end of the half a kilometer of steel pipe follows the reamer out into the sunshine. I could murder a pint was one Murphy mans only reaction.