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23 September 21

It’s nothing short of a miracle: Trunk Mains, Covers and Bridges.

In Part Three of our History of Affinity Water in 12 Objects our #History man Steve Baker takes a look at Trunk Mains, Covers and Bridges.

We’ve already spoken about Maps, Logos and Tankers in Part One, and a giant Sculpture, a Pumping Station, and a Reservoir in Part Two.

This week, Steve and our producer Boni Sones, are on location in Hertfordshire at Ayot Green, to look at a ten-mile trunk main that sits hidden underground amongst beautiful fields and hedgerows. The trunk main goes all the way to Brookman’s Park Tower, Hatfield, and was built around the 1920s. Trunk mains fulfil a “vital role” in the distribution of water across Affinity Water’s three regions to enable high quality water to be supplied to its 3.6 million customers. Details of each one are recorded on digital maps in the Company’s databases.

Just by the side of the field Steve stumbled across a couple of metal covers, which pinpoint important valves, stop cocks and infrastructure, and he wisely advises “never hide a cover”, even if it you think it looks a bit unsightly. Covers fulfil a purpose and they may need to be accessed.

Steve tells us: “When you see the magnitude of what’s under ground it’s nothing short of a miracle”.

Steve and Boni then get back into the car to drive two miles down winding narrow country lanes with names such as “Quiet Lane”, before they pull onto the Great North Road to discover a concrete bridge over the fast-flowing River Lea. They were delighted to find one side of the bridge still had the Hertfordshire County Council Crest with a Stag on it and the date of its construction, 1927.

Steve recalls how in 1997 the bridge was taken down and strengthened and rebuilt using the same concrete material ‘brick by brick’. It isn’t listed but is a typical local authority construction of its time. Again, ordinance survey maps would depict where the rivers and bridges are. The Rive Lea apparently used to be spelt “Lee”.

Steve ends the podcast in an upbeat mood telling our listeners: “You can see things of interest wherever you go and usually you don’t have to look too hard if you are on foot!”

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