Somerset schoolchildren asked to name giant 'bores'

There has already been a Mary, a Jessica and a Phyllis, now local schoolchildren are being asked to find suitable names for a trio of machines which will be burrowing beneath the Bristol Channel as part of EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C project.

The three tunnel boring machines will be removing 370,000 cubic metres of earth to enable 3.3 kilometres of tunnels to be built underneath the seabed. The tunnels will carry seawater to cool the two European Pressurised Water Reactors at the new power station.

But tradition decrees that the machines can only start work once they have been officially named – and it must be a female name as the patron saint of miners is Saint Barbara.

“We will be asking Key Stage Two pupils across the region for their suggestions for names as well as the reasons why they’ve come up with them, whether it’s a local connection, a strong female role model or maybe someone with a scientific background,” said Hayley Terrell, EDF Energy’s community relations officer for Hinkley Point C.

Mary, Jessica and Phyllis were all tunnel boring machines working on the Crossrail project – Mary was the wife of famous railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Jessica Ennis-Hill was a gold medallist at the London Olympics 2012 and Phyllis Pearsall single-handedly created the London A-Z.

Each tunnel boring machine weighs in at around 1,200 tonnes, or the equivalent of 1,000 family saloon cars. They are 110 metres long – around the length of nine passenger coaches placed end to end – and will dig out enough soil to fill almost 1,500 international squash courts.

All the soil removed will be kept on site and landscaped, while the water intake pipes themselves measure 3.5 meters in diameter – enough to drive a Mini car through.

Pupils will have until December 4 – the feast day of Saint Barbara - to submit their ideas with the winners due to be announced in the New Year. Information about the competition is currently being sent to schools. More information is available online here.

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