A (Different) Gasman Cometh

Some months ago we received a letter from the local gas supplier informing us that they were going to replace the main gas supply pipe in our area. The projected date was early February … but they never started.

We then received another letter informing us that the work had been delayed until March. They did begin work … but on another road nearby.

Over the past three months many of the other roads in our area have had their main gas supply pipe replaced, but our road was singularly ignored … until last Friday. Late last Friday afternoon various blue and red lines and dots were spray-painted on the road surface and the pavements, both sides of the road had ‘No Parking’ cones placed along the curbs, parts of the road had safety barriers put up so that the pavement and part of the road were closed off, and a set of automatic traffic lights were installed so that alternate single-line traffic flow was imposed.

Over the long weekend nothing further happened and many of the locals moved the cones so that they could park outside their homes. On Tuesday morning the workmen arrived, reinstated the cones, and began to dig up the road. By 10.15am the trench had reached outside our house, and there was a danger that both our cars would be marooned on our hard-standing. A quick word with the workmen ensured that the trench would be filled in when we had to leave, and they were as good as their word. At 10.30am my wife drove off to do some shopping and I drove over to Wimbledon to collect something from one of my regular blog readers (and an old wargaming friend), arthur1815.

When I got back at 2.45pm, I found that the workmen had left a gap in the safety barriers so that I could drive my car onto our hard-standing. I also discovered that when my wife had returned there had been no gap in the barriers and she had had to park some distance away. Needless to say, she was at all happy with the situation. I went to collect her car and was just able to park it on the hard-standing. (The gap in the safety barriers was just wide enough for one car to pass through.)

By the time I got back the workmen had packed up for the day, and had left the road looking like this:

The heavy rainfall we had been experiencing for most of the day had already begun to fill up the holes and trenches they had dug, and I suspect that when they return today they will have to pump them dry. As to how long this disruption will last … who knows?


8 Comments on “A (Different) Gasman Cometh”

  1. Tim Gow says:

    'Your' workmen did better than the crowd who dug up the road here a few years ago. After receiving no notice whatsoever I found a trench and barriers across the top of my drive. Several 'phone calls later (“not our responsibility – you need to speak to the council.”; “Not our responsibility, you need to speak to the contractor.” etc), a ramp was grudgingly placed across the trench.

  2. Tim Gow,

    I suspect that I am about to have to complain myself about being 'marooned'. This morning the workmen erected safety barriers that cut the house off from the road and they have now dug a deeper trench across both my driveway and that belonging to my neighbours. I spoke to the workmen a couple of hours ago, and they assured me that the barriers would be removed before they finished for the day … but it looks as if they have now finished work and b*ggered off without doing so.

    All the best,


  3. Arthur says:

    Hey Bob and Tim

    Always good to see the professionals at work.


  4. Arthur,

    I was on the verge of telephoning the gas supply company to complain about being 'marooned' by the safety barriers when the workmen reappeared, put metal plates over the trench, and removed the barrier.

    All the best,


  5. We have had the gas men digging up our street and adjacent ones for the past two weeks and still it goes on!

    But at least ours are a considerate bunch. On two occasions they had to block access to our drives. But each time they came in advance to warn us and were very specific about how long access would be blocked for – which wasn't actualy very long.

  6. Alan Charlesworth,

    Based upon how long it has taken the workmen to complete the installation of the new gas supply pipes in surrounding streets, I expect that it is probably going to take two to three week before the work is finished.

    I don't think that the workmen who are working for the contractor are particularly inconsiderate; I just think that they have not been told what to do about driveways. When I spoke to them, they were very helpful … and they did put the metal plates over the trench … once they were delivered. (They had not finished work and left us 'marooned'; they had been waiting for the plates to be delivered … and the truck that was bringing them was late.)

    All the best,


  7. guy says:

    I usually find in these situations the last people in the world who know what is going on is the actual workmen. They are the ones who get the grief from the public but the managers are nowhere to be seen and any attempt to contact them by the phone is lost in the black hole of corporate efficiency.

    I find a cup of tea and a biscuit for the workmen cost you nothing but pays immense dividends on the ground. Metal plates will appear, holes are filled etc.


  8. Guy,

    You are absolutely right. The workmen are doing their best in circumstances over which they have little control. I also find that politeness works wonders.

    Our road is a bus route, and they have had to work with buses and heavy vehicles driving past at no great distance, complaints from car drivers about their traffic lights, and the fact that they have closed off the pavement with safety barriers. This morning they have had a pedestrian pushing past the barriers they have put up … and when they told him what he was doing was dangerous, he just ignored them.

    All the best,


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