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The most notable – and difficult - project undertaken by the company in the late 1970s was an unusually complex civil engineering job. Collen Brothers won a contract with Dublin Corporation in 1976 to construct a new main lift pumping station at Ringsend, to replace the old pumping station commissioned at the same location in 1906.

The new station was intended to meet the sewerage requirements of the new Greater Dublin drainage scheme, which involved the installation of sewerage facilities to serve newly developed suburban centres such as Blanchardstown, Clondalkin and Tallaght. Dr. Brian Bond oversaw the technical aspects of the contract, with responsibility for designing the extensive temporary works. He described the project as ‘a colossal technical challenge, in which we faced unforeseeable and very difficult ground conditions, which caused it to go about as wrong as it could.’ The plan was to construct a sheet piled cofferdam, some 15m (50 feet) deep, within which the pump house would be constructed.

On two separate occasions (the second a year after the first, following expertly advised but unsuccessful remedial works), the base of the cofferdam ‘blew’ and water and soil flowed into the excavation, requiring emergency flooding of the hole to stabilise the situation. The company’s engineers, working in conjunction with international advisers, ultimately succeeded in achieving a stable cofferdam, which allowed the construction of the pump house to proceed. The unexpected scale and complexity of the project delayed completion so that the new pumping station became operational only in July 1985.

The completion of the new main lift pumping station allowed the full implementation of the Greater Dublin drainage scheme. The new station received most of the sewerage from both new and old urban schemes, deploying a series of pumps to lift 40 million gallons of waste per day to a height of 50 feet, to allow it to flow by gravity to the new treatment works at Pigeon House for disposal. The pumping station at Ringsend ranked high among the most elaborate, innovative and difficult civil engineering projects completed by Collen Brothers. It was also one of the most prolonged contracts in the firm’s history, surpassing even the long-running Portrane project at the turn of the century.

Key Facts / Information:

Client Dublin Corporation
Designer Dr. Brian Bond
Location Ringsend, Dublin
Date  1976