The multi-million pound machine now tunnelling under the River Humber

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 7 Feb 2018

A multi-million pound tunnelling machine is now burrowing its way under the Humber following a blessing.

“Mary”, a 510-tonne, 160m piece of specialist kit, has started its year-long crossing under the River Humber from Goxhill to Paull, at a cost of £100 million.

The impressive machine is being used by the National Grid to create a 5km tunnel under the river for a new gas pipeline.

It has been named after Mary Fergusson, the first female fellow of the Institute of Civil Engineers.

In accordance with tradition, the machine was blessed by Grimsby Catholic priest Father Andrew Cole.


The machine going under the River Humber

At the same time a statue of St Barbara – the patron saint of miners and tunnellers – was placed at the entrance.

It is expected to take around a year before Mary comes out on dry land in the East Riding village.

Read more: This busy Beverley route faces a month of disruption for a £27m project

A National Grid spokeswoman said: “The tunnelling machine has now been assembled on site and, in the next few weeks, will begin a 5km, year-long journey under the river to emerge on the north bank at Paull.

“It will create a 3.65m diameter tunnel as it travels, around 35m below the river bed.

“Once the tunnel is finished, a new 42in diameter gas pipeline will be laid inside it to replace an existing one.

“The gas pipeline, which currently crosses the river, is laid in a trench just below the river bed, but is at risk of being exposed by shifting tides.

“Work has been carried out to keep it buried, but the Humber Pipeline Replacement project offers a long-term solution.”


The machine going under the River Humber

National Grid has awarded the £100m contract to build the tunnel to a joint venture made up of Skanska, PORR Bau GmbH and A. Hak.

The work by National Grid is proving a major boost for the Humber economy, with 250 contractors already on site.

National Grid representatives visited primary schools in Goxhill and Paull last summer to introduce the project to pupils and ask for help in naming the machine.

READ MORE: Hull pharmaceutical firm to invest millions into factory with plans to provide 100 jobs

The winning name was chosen by eight-year-old Paull Primary School pupil, Kasey Doney.

The giant machine was built in Badem-Wurttemberg in Germany and was shipped via Holland to Immingham Docks.

It was then transported by road along the A160, A180 and A15 in December, ready for assembly at the site in Goxhill.

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