Many years ago one of my ‘in-between-jobs’ was as a security guard. I had to look after a ‘pig trap’. It looked like a bungalow-sized oil refinery, all red painted pipes, valves and exciting gauges. It was positioned in a small village called Lofthouse at the top of Nidderdale.
The ‘intelligent’ pig (iPig?) had been inserted at Billingham and trundled down the pipeline inspecting and cleaning as it went. Boffins monitored its progress, via in-built T.V. cameras, in a portakabin alongside the pig trap. My job was to make sure no yokels attempted to interfere with the installation, as the pipeline carried a highly explosive pressurised gas (methane I think).
At the end of my night-long vigil I decided to stay and wait for the pig to arrive and watch the trap being ‘blown’. Frantic boffin activity, lots of valve opening and closing, the pig arrived in the trap and the methane burnt off. It created the biggest sheet of flame I’ve ever seen and, even though I was a good way off, singed my eyebrows. After tests and recalibration the pig was reinserted and sent off toward Stanlow.
For me the most amazing fact is that there’s a pipeline that connects one side of the country to the other via the Pennines.