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Under this heading last December I remarked that Esso had left some ugly gashes in the English countryside where their pipelines have been laid. Instead of gnashing their teeth in secret and nursing a grievance against me, Esso asked whether they could take me out and discuss these “barren scars” of which I had complained. It is always nice to find Public Relations people willing to challenge an Editor when they disagree with his comments. So it came about that I spent a profitable day with a member of Esso Petroleum Company’s Public Relations Department staff and one of their Chief Engineers, looking at parts of this ambitious engineering undertaking. We drove about in the engineer’s Ford Consul 375, which is equipped with Pye two-way radio wherewith day-and-night contact can be made with headquarters at Fawley – a great time-saver when the pipeline was being sunk, I am assured.

The Esso representatives agreed I had some reason to complain about muddy tracts across military lands and public commons where their trench had been dug, but even here, they assured me, time would heal the damage, although poor soil sometimes delayed the recuperation. Crude wooden fences, if additional blemishes, at least discourage people from driving over these areas.

Elsewhere I was soon able to appreciate the great pains they had taken to ensure that farmland, building sites, roads and paths were not only undamaged but in many cases, at no little expense, left in better fettle than before the pipeline crossed their territory. After seeing and hearing how, after the trenches were dug, the work of rehabilitation was conscientiously carried out, I am prepared to eat my harsher words.

And this Esso pipeline is of such magnitude as to merit a few further remarks. There are, in fact, two such pipelines, one carrying petrol, kerosene, diesel fuel and aviation fuel from Fawley to West Bedfont, to serve London Airport, West London and Western Home Counties on the multi-products system, the other a liquefied petroleum gas line from Fawley to connect with a main laid near London Airport by the North Thames Gas Board, to their Solihull works, points along this route supplying other gas boards, such as Northam and Reading, etc.

The pipelines go under Southampton Water, emerging at Hamble, proceed in a north-easterly direction along the west side of the Meon Valley, cross and re-cross A31 to the east of Alton, leaving Farnham and Aldershot to the west, proceed towards Farnborough, cross mainly common land (on which I based my complaints!) to Chertsey, where they cross the Thames. Thereafter the pipes go west of the Queen Mary reservoir to the terminal site between A30 and London Airport, at West Bedfont. The total length is 64 miles.

It would be out of place to give many details of this immense civil engineering undertaking here, but those who have noticed the progressively-numbered Esso marker-posts (an amusing car rally would be possible in conjunction with them!), may care to know that the Stewarts & Lloyds seamless steel pipes are 12 in. in dia. for the multi-purpose line, 8 in. in dia. for the L.P.G. line, with a 1/4-in. wall thickness. The former pipe can handle up to 2 1/2-million gallons a day, using three pumps in series at Fawley and there are no intermediate booster pumping stations en route. Initial pressure is 1,000 lb./sq. in., for minimum delivery in London at 50 lb./sq. in., or for the L.P.G. line, 390 and 200 lb./sq. in., respectively.

The pipelines are laid to a minimum depth of 4 ft. They cross 97 roads, 11 railways and 17 rivers, and 170 landowners and 90 tenants had to be negotiated with on a voluntary basis, apart from approvals granted by local authorities, before work could commence. The approx. cost was £2-million, With another £2-million for the pump station and West London terminal.

If these Esso pipelines reduce the number of giant tankers on our roads, motorists should be grateful. It is interesting that special observation is kept by helicopter, to obviate damage to, or check seepage from, the pipelines. I was most impressed with the care taken to preserve natural amenities in most of the areas involved – such as where the trenches crossed Tweseldown Racecourse, or a farmer’s land.

 

In these days when trees and grass are all too often uprooted in the interests of suburban development, I was intrigued to notice turf being relaid where construction of a one-way route adjacent to Barnes Common had caused it to be lifted. Borough of Barnes is to be congratulated on taking such stops to preserve something of the original appearance of this open space, in spite of the new traffic arrangements. On the subject of desecration of the countryside, have you been convicted of excessive noise while riding a motorcycle or driving a car? Then you may well ask why tree-fellers are permitted to ruin the peace of Sunday mornings with unsilenccd two-stroke portable saws. . . . – W.B.

 

THE THINGS THEY SAY . . .

“I must point out that Mercedes-Benz have for many years incorporated 12 fuses in their electrical systems, despite the reliability of Bosch components. Without wishing to start a British v. foreign correspondence, I feel there are many who will think that these cars have other advantages, attributable not to extra cost, but merely to progressive and common-sense design, and care in assembly.” – Dr. R. D. Bell replying to modern-car correspondence in the Yorkshire Post.

 

TOWARDS THE POLICE STATE?

That reports are coming in of motorists reporting police drivers for speeding (one was exonerated, another police driver fined £5 recently) is a sorry reflection on the vexed relationship which has grown up between civilians and the police due to the orders given to the men on the beat and on patrol to show no leniency towards the harassed, over-taxed motorist. The driver who went over traffic lights at red because his brakes had obviously failed to function due to water on the linings and who skilfully avoided a ‘bus and pedestrians, causing no accident, but whom Highgate Magistrates fined £20, with a £8 11d. costs, will no doubt be surprised to learn that a police Ford Zephyr which was involved in a very serious accident following a skid on a wet road at Parkstone was, vide a photograph and story in the Poole & Dorset Herald, being driven with “at least two of the tyres very badly worn, with hardly any tread left.” And those of our readers caught in radar speed-traps may care to know that a detective-inspector timed by radar to be doing 41-m.p.h. at Hornchurch in a 30-m.p.h, limit, was cleared of the charge and awarded 3 gns. costs in Billericay Court. It is to the credit of the Chairman, Mr. Dunnico, that, when the prosecution objected to the inspector’s questions, vide The Daily Telegraph, he remarked: It will be a sorry day for English justice when a court can silence a witness. This is not a Police State yet.”

 

LONG-LIFE OIL

A further reflection on long-life lubricants is found an interesting article in the January issue of Citroenian, the well-produced journal of the Citroën C.C., about the pre-war record-breaking Citroën “Rosalie” and “Petite Rosalie” cars. On these long duration record bids, or up to 133 days, or 300,000 km. at 93 1/2-k.p.h., they were sponsored by the Yacco Oil Co. The oil was not changed throughout the run, merely topped-up as required.

 

ONE WHO UNDERSTANDS

A report in the Sunday Express credits the Bishop of Stafford, Dr. Richard Clitherow, with saying at a Brains Trust that he has driven at more than 100 m.p.h. on M1 and often at 70 m.p.h. on dual carriageways, in order to gain time in which to do his job properly. “Fast driving is not necessarily dangerous,” maintains the Bishop.

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