Liverpool pipes get complete makeover after 150 years

Back in 2007 and 2008, Huyton and Knowsley experienced two high profile bursts on the water network, and since then engineers from United Utilities have been a regular presence above and below ground in the area replacing huge water pipes which have been supplying Liverpool since the Dickensian times.

The four massive pipes, the oldest of which was laid in 1856, had provided an excellent water supply to around 400,000 people in Liverpool for decades, but after the two catastrophic bursts, water engineers needed to take action.

The pipes which run from Prescot Water Treatment works towards the city centre, vary in size from 36-inch to 44-inch.

Dan Smith, from United Utilities, said: “The Victorian engineers who laid these mains all those years ago would be amazed they lasted so long."

Liverpool water inspectors

Dan added: “Over the years they’ve been patched-up and were given a new inner coating in the early 1990s, but remain a credit to the trailblazing engineers who designed and laid them all those years ago using handheld tools.”

The four mains have all be modernised in a multi-million pound project, which has seen engineers sliding the new pipes through the old ones.

Engineers faced many challenges during the past few years: “Overhauling pipes of this size, whilst keeping taps flowing for thousands of customers, took careful planning and meant that each pipeline had to be decommissioned, replaced, tested and commissioned as separate pieces of work, almost creating four projects in one,” said Dan.

 “We’re lucky we could use machines to push the new pipes through the old ones. Some sheer strength was needed, but nothing like the amount required back in the 1850s.”

Liverpool work

“But like the Victorians, these pipes will outlast us all. In fact, they will beat the 150 year old record,” he added.

The project has now been completed and will supply generations with clean, fresh drinking water for years to come.