Overhead drone shot of water submerged pipes

GPSS Sawtry

Government Pipelines and Storage System

A few months ago we took some pictures – link here – of what we thought was an abandoned sewage works near Sawtry in Cambridgeshire. Turns out it’s something a lot more interesting than that. Turns out it used to be part of a previusly secretive Government department called GPSS – Government Pipelines and Storage System!

You can read about it on its Wikipedia page here, and also from the introduction to the legislation that enabled its sale:

The Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS) was established to provide a secure oil distribution network for the United Kingdom at the beginning of World War Two in 1939. Over a period of years the pipeline route has been extended and amended, certain sections renewed and relaid or diverted until it now covers approximately 2,500 km of pipe and associated storage depots, pumping stations and other sites.

The GPSS network provides an important link around the country, is unobtrusive and its presence removes the need for significant tanker movements across the UK. The GPSS distributes about 40% of aviation fuel within the UK and serves a number of important civil airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick as well as significant military airfields.


The company that it was sold to – CLH – Company Logistica de Hidrocarburos – has renamed to Exolum if you want to do some further reading. Their Twitter profile is here.

From some internet searching it seems like it’s been explored a few times by people that enjoy exploring abandoned places. Obviously being airborne we couldn’t go inside, but these people did.

We wouldn’t recommend going there and having a wander. It’s closed off and there’s also a 360 video gaurd system in place. Our drone didn’t trigger it but darn tootin’ a human would! It’s one of these systems, an Armadillo.

Armadillo Videoguard 360
The all-seeing Armadillo Videoguard 360 – A watchful eye. Did they see us?

Head on over to the gallery of our pictures of GPSS Sawtry here

If this whets your whistle and you think we cn do something positive for you with our aerial capabilities then tap on this big red button below.

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