Expertise in the pipeline

Expertise in the pipeline


PipeKit, a specialist plastic pipe distributor based in Shrewsbury, has recently supplied an extensive range of plastic pipework and drainage products to Skokholm Island, a 90-hectare nature reserve off the Pembrokeshire coast, as part of a major refurbishment project to return the island to public use.

Owned in recent years by The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, Skokholm was the first bird observatory in the British Isles. In 2006 the Trust closed the site to visitors after the dilapidation of the island’s building stock was seen to pose a potential risk. The old farmhouse and cottage buildings had slipped into near ruin and the estimated £1.2 million cost to modernise the accommodation could not be justified.

The challenge to reopen was initially pursued by The Friends of Skokholm, who approached the wildlife trust with an implementation strategy. In April 2010 the first working party was deployed and over a two-year period a massive undertaking has been carried out to refurbish the three main buildings in the complex. This has involved over 80 volunteers, whose efforts have helped reduce the estimated cost to just under £100,000.

One of the main infrastructural changes of the project was the implementation, for the first time, of supplying running water to the island’s properties. Prior to the refurbishment project, the island’s water was provided by a well 100 metres from the complex; it had to be boiled before use. The project manager turned to PipeKit after sourcing the specialist plastic-pipe distributor online. PipeKit supplied a range of GPS, Philmac, Floplast and Marley pipes and drainage products to the project, delivering the 1,100 metres of pipework and large range of fittings to Neyland Harbour for shipping to the island.

Since the dispatch, the pipework has been used to pipe and pump the water from the well to newly constructed storage tanks and then into the buildings for all water supply needs. Products from PipeKit have also been used for essential drainage and sewerage requirements and to connect with the properties new solar heating systems.

Where possible all refurbishments were tackled using an upcycle approach, recycling materials from the island, but new materials were also brought in to reroof all the buildings as well as strip, repin and restructure walls, install new kitchens and bathrooms, and introduce new furniture to bring the visitor accommodation up to modern standards.