The Independent London Newspaper


Apologetic Thames Water boss warns that £5m pipe replacement work will mean four months of traffic disruption

Bob Collington at the Business Design Centre

Bob Collington at the Business Design Centre

Flashback to the mains burst

Flashback to the mains burst

Published: 6 February, 2017

THAMES Water will replace a kilometre-long stretch of water mains pipe in Upper Street following December’s devastating floods in Angel, the company has announced.

A new hard plastic pipe will be laid into the existing 1850s cast-iron mains which burst due to “corrosion failure” on December 5, sending millions of gallons of water gushing down Camden Passage before wrecking basements in Charlton Place and Devonia Road. It was the third time in 20 years that it had ruptured in the same place. 

On Wednesday, more than 50 victims of the flooding attended a meeting with senior executives of the privatised utility at the Business Design Centre, where Bob Collington, managing director, told the audience: “I cannot apologise enough.”

He added: “I will try to do everything I can to put things back to normal but be prepared, because it does take a while. We will fix the main in Upper Street so that the likelihood of this reoccurring is very slim.”

The £5million pipe replacement project will mean “major” road closures, Mr Collington warned. It could take another seven months before the work is completed, and would involve around four months of traffic disruption.

Hi-tech “smart sensors” will be fitted to the pipe, which is currently not in use, to identify any further leaks immediately.

Mr Collington was challenged by residents to go further, to fully replace the rest of the pipe in Upper Street and another mains pipe in Essex Road, which is as old.

He said he could not commit to that, but both stretches of pipe would be analysed in a forthcoming survey.

Flood victims have blamed Thames Water for failing to invest in its infrastructure, but Mr Collington said the company was spending around £1bn a year.

Residents affected by flooding received a £1,000 payout as a “goodwill gesture” before Christmas. They will not have to pay water bills for 12 months, Mr Collington said.

The company has ordered a “forensic analysis” of all of its mains bursts in the last 12 months, which will be completed next month. 

The review is led by Paul Cuttill, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the utility sector.

The floods caused damage to 44 businesses in and around Camden Passage, Islington’s antiques quarter. Millions of pounds worth of irreplaceable antiques, some from the 16th century, were destroyed. 

Ten households in Charlton Place and Devonia Road – out of 54 homes affected – will not be able to return home for six months while kitchens and basements are being stripped, dried out and completely refurbished. 

A further meeting with business owners affected by the floods will be held on February 13, also at the Business Design Centre.


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