James Paget at 40: The man behind the hospital's giant sewer system

Colin Wright designed the sewer system for the hospital

Colin Wright designed the sewer system for the hospital - Credit: JPUH

The James Paget University Hospital was officially opened 40 years this month.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary we are looking at the history of the hospital and its construction.

Here we look at the creation of the hospital's giant sewer system.

A network of pipes criss-crossing the hospital site led to a giant sewer system designed by a local man.

Colin Wright, from Acle, became involved with the creation of the James Paget before the first spade was put in the ground.

In 1976, when the site still a field, Colin was working as the Senior Engineer for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which was engaged by the Health Authority to assist with the design of the sewerage system for the new hospital.

Colin designed the sewers leaving the main hospital site, and the large connection to the public sewer system at Brasenose Avenue.

His work also included preparing the contract documents, appointing the contractor and supervising the actual construction of the sewers, which took place before any other work had started on the site.

Pipework being carried out ahead of the main construction of the James Paget Hospital

Pipework being carried out ahead of the main construction of the James Paget Hospital - Credit: Family of Alan Weston

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“The tunnelling works involved what is known as a thrust bore or ‘pipe jacking’ type construction - a form of trenchless technology - approximately 6m deep from the direction of what is now the Louise Hamilton Centre,” he recalled.

“It went under the access road between the residential properties, connecting into the main sewer in Brasenose Avenue.

"The connection was made via a 4.5m diameter shaft almost 9m deep occupying the full width of the carriageway.”

A bird's eye view of the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston

A bird's eye view of the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston - Credit: JPUH

The ‘pipe jacking’ involved lowering a metal shield into the ground. The shield was slightly larger than the sewage pipe diameter and had a cutting edge which was forced ahead by hydraulic jacks into the subsoil consisting of pure sand.

The shield offered protection to the workmen, allowing them to safely excavate the sand by hand at the tunnel face. The excavated material was removed in small wagons on rails and lifted to the surface.