A Workington firm is playing a vital role in a £5 billion project to upgrade London’s sewer systems.

TIS Cumbria Ltd has just completed work on 46 tonne pipe and 28 tonne vortex system which will be one of the centrepieces of the Tideway project, which aims to relieve pressure on the existing 150-year-old sewers in the capital.

The Derwent Drive-based firm will wave goodbye to the stainless steel construction in the next few days, when it is driven to London, under escort and be installed in Hammersmith.

A five-strong team from TIS will follow it to the city and help install it.

The pipe has 1,000 studs on its outer wall, each measured precisely to make sure it stays in place in its concrete bedding. It was a two-person job to weld each of the studs to the pipe.

It is the largest part of the new system and vortexes along the 25km tunnel will intercept millions of tonnes of raw sewage spills, which otherwise spill into the River Thames each year.

It is one of four pieces of the new system being made in West Cumbria. Work has already been completed on a smaller pipe and another larger and smaller pipe are also underway.

Tony O’Pray, who runs TIS Cumbria with fellow managing directors John Bragg and Paul Edmondson, said: “We had to complete this project, despite Covid-19.

“The work in London is still going on because it is essential work and this pipe is the largest in the project.

“As soon as coronavirus hit, we made sure we had all the measures in place and made sure everyone could continue work safely, with the two metres social distancing.”

The firm furloughed eight staff out of its workforce of almost 40 in March, and the rest have continued to work. Around eight members of staff are working on the Tideway project.

Tony added: “We are known for our nuclear work but Tideway shows how we’ve diversified. We also have projects in Asia and in Saudi Arabia in the oil and gas industry.

“Tideway also shows how we carried during the lockdown. We are continuing to look at diversification away from nuclear.”