Mayflower Water treatment

Tunnelling work starts under A386

 Meet SPOD – the tunnelling machine about to burrow underneath the A386.

 The name was chosen by pupils at Shaugh Prior Primary School and stands for Shaugh Prior on Dartmoor. He was given a special shark makeover for the job by Active Tunnelling Ltd.

 On Tuesday 26 July, SPOD will start digging a tunnel for the pipeline that will connect South West Water’s new state-of-the-art £60million Mayflower Water Treatment Works, currently under construction at Roborough, just north of Plymouth, into Plymouth’s drinking water distribution system.

 The pipeline will cross under the A386 just north of the junction with New Road. SPOD will take around two weeks to burrow this 60-metre long section, enabling the main Plymouth to Tavistock road to remain open.


Eighteen pupils, two teachers and volunteer parents from Shaugh Prior Primary School visited the construction site to meet SPOD before he was put to work 6.5 metres underground.  

 Above Sean Angell - Active Tunnelling Supervisor and Lead Miner giving a talk on how Spod works.


Year 6 pupil Brandon Whitford, age 10, came up with the name. He said: “One morning the teachers came in and told us that South West Water was giving us the opportunity to name a tunnelling machine. I was really excited at the idea so I thought of a couple of names then I came up with SPOD. The teachers picked their favourite five and then we had a vote.”


Mrs Gill Gilmartin, Head of Teaching and Learning at Shaugh Prior Primary, said: “We were delighted to be asked to name the tunnelling machine. All the children had their say in choosing the name and we brought our School’s Council and Buddies to visit the site and meet SPOD as a reward for all their hard work this year.

 “It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to learn more about how water is treated before it reaches our taps, see the new treatment works taking shape and to experience a local construction site at first hand. They were particularly thrilled to be able to sign their names on SPOD.” 


Mayflower Water Treatment Works will serve Plymouth and the surrounding area.  About 150 people will be employed in its construction.

Work to finish laying the 4km new pipeline from the treatment works to Coombe Lane, near Tamerton Foliot, will finish in October.

More information is available at


Notes to editors