Last week we were tweeted by Martin Preene of Preene Groundwater Consulting about a job we worked on almost 30 years ago.

Martin had dug out a picture from a job at RAF Leeming in 1987 where Dales Water Services drilled two boreholes. The pictures showcase some of our old rigs mounted on Bedford army trucks and some of the drilling crew at the time working:

Details About the Job

In the mid 1980’s RAF Leeming underwent a £148 million reconstruction project that was carried out for the arrival of the new F2 Air Defence Variant Tornado aircraft.

A large part of the project was the construction of aircraft hangers and other bombproof outbuildings that required vast quantities of concrete. That in turn meant the need for large volumes of water and Dales Water were tasked with drilling two boreholes – the first to be used to provide water exclusively for construction and the second to supply water for domestic use around the base. A 70,000 litre water storage tank was also installed for use with the construction borehole.


Once all the work was complete on the base in 1988 Leeming received formal recognition as an Air Defence Main Operating Base under Strike Command with XI(fighter), 23(fighter), and XXV(fighter Squadrons equipped with F3 Air Defence aircraft. The boreholes were completed to a very high specification and are still operational.

A big thanks to Martin for sending them to us as we’d never seen them before.

Update: More Drilling in 1988

Martin also informed us of another job a year that took place a year later at the same site but this time for some dewatering boreholes:

I worked for a civil engineering company and we were constructing a new sewer for new married quarters. The sewer was below groundwater level in drift deposits with the sandstone not too far below sewer invert level. We decided to dewater it by bored wells pumped by submersible pumps. We looked around for a drilling contractor and got in touch with Chris Dodds at Dales Water Services and found out that you had experience of drilling at RAF Leeming, so it was a no brainer to use you. In the end we drilled about 10 wells that were 15 to 20m deep, and they were pumped by Grundfos SP8 pumps because the flows were about 1 to 2 l/s. An interesting thing was the well design, which we developed jointly with Dales Water. First we drilled down to the top of the sandstone at about 10m with a shell & auger percussion rig and installed a slotted uPVC screen with filter gravel around it. Then the rotary rig drilled inside that to create an open hole section in the sandstone from 10 to 15m. For a long term water well this might not be ideal as there is a risk of sand pumping where the screen meets the sandstone, but for short term dewatering wells with low flow rates it was tolerable.