Oldham: pre First World War gas main gets 21st century upgrade

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A major project to upgrade one of Oldham’s oldest gas mains, which pre-dates the First World War and helps heat thousands of homes, is now under way.
Cadent upgrades about 300 miles of its 21,000-mile North West network every year, as the older underground pipes reach the end of their safe operating lives.
Modernising metallic mains to plastic pipes helps get the local network ready to start carrying green gases like hydrogen, which is vital for a ‘net zero’ future.
As part of this rolling upgrade programme, engineers began work in Denshaw on Friday (15 January) to replace a 170-metre section of the local gas network.
They are replacing 50 metres of pipe installed in 1912 and nearly 120 metres of pipe installed in 1950. These have started to show signs of age in recent years, with increasing visits – and associated roadworks – to maintain and repair them.
The location is at the intersection of Delph Road, Oldham Road, Ripponden Road and Rochdale Road.
To complete the work safely, and to keep traffic flowing in all directions, lights are managing the movement of vehicles around the area. These are manned between 7am and 7pm, with the teams working seven days a week on this.
Gas will stay ON throughout the three-week project. A handful of properties, those which take a direct feed from this section of main, will be without supply for less than a day. Advance notice will be given.

Most of the new pipe will be pushed into the old one, a technique which significantly reduces the total duration of work.
 “Upgrading our pipes is absolutely essential to make sure we can continue to distribute gas safely to the local area for heating and hot water,” said Craig Horrocks, who heads Cadent’s gas main upgrade programme in the North West.
“We’re also getting the network ready to safely transport green gases like hydrogen, which we know will be a key means by which we’ll all heat our homes in the future. To reach net zero, we must switch from fossil gas to hydrogen.
“Carrying out major engineering work in busy residential areas is never easy and safety has to be paramount. We’ve worked closely with Oldham Council to minimise the disruption and appreciate everyone’s patience as we get this done.”
Contingency plans are in place should there be a closure of the M62, as this section acts as a relief road in such circumstances.
Cadent manages the network of more than 21,000 miles of gas pipes in North West England, which distribute gas to 2.7 million homes, hospitals, schools, offices and other buildings, as well as to industry and HGV fuel stations. More than 85 per cent of Oldham’s 89,703 homes are heated by gas.

A hydrogen future

North West England is due to be among the first regions of the UK to see the introduction of hydrogen to the local gas network, as fossil gas is phased out in favour of greener gases.

This is all part of a project called HyNet North West.

When used in central heating systems, hydrogen produces no carbon – just heat and water. It will therefore be an essential part of the UK energy system in our net zero future.


Cadent is the UK’s largest gas distribution network with a 200-year legacy.  We are in a unique position to build on strong foundations whilst encouraging the curiosity to think differently and the courage to embrace change.  Day to day we continue to operate, maintain and innovate the UK’s largest gas network, transporting gas safely and protecting people in an emergency.   Our skilled engineers and specialists remain committed to the communities we serve, working day and night to ensure gas reaches 11 million homes from Cumbria to North London and the Welsh Borders to East Anglia, to keep your energy flowing. 

Future of Gas: Here at Cadent we support the Government’s plans to reach Net Zero by 2050. That means we’re backing the introduction of hydrogen as a low carbon alternative to natural gas for the future. We know people love the controllability of gas and, with our network already in place, it makes sense to switch to the lower carbon alternative offered by hydrogen, which we believe can keep homes and businesses warm for generations to come.

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