Wednesday 27 January 2021

The pong over Stoke

Back in the day, when school science lessons were not yet a branch of the Politics Dept., kids did real science with chemicals and test-tubes. Then we all learned about the famous 'bad egg smell' at first hand. This smell, as all swots who had Chemistry Sets at home will recall, did not come from our bench-mate 'Pongy' Podger. Rather it was from the noxious chemical we had just made, Hydrogen Sulphide.

Now this same eggy 'stink bomb' smell hangs intermittently over a large part of Stoke-on-Trent. The Sentinel has just noticed it today, but I can tell this blog's readers it's been around Etruria for months, on and off. I think I first caught a whiff when the workmen were resurfacing the rat-run road between Shelton New Rd. and the Festival park flyover. That was a long while ago now, possibly even the end of the summer. I thought it was the workmen and their tar, but it has persisted on and off.

Lately it's become ever stronger and more frequent, likely aided for me by a north wind. The local newspaper can offer no solution to the mystery, but does add to the facts by finding that there are reports of it all over the city.

It's not the canals. My theories have been:

* Rumbling and burpings from the weedy old gas-holder site at Etruria, near to the Holy Inadequate pub. Old-timers in Etruria will recall the gigantic gas-holder that stood there until about 15 years ago. But if that was the case, surely those living opposite it would have been in the paper before now.

* The works to put in the new business units on the Shelton Bar site, as the final stage goes in and there's apparently an ongoing move to clean up the highly polluted Fowlea Brook which runs nearby.

* On the same site, deep pilings being driven in to hold up the immense Wolstanton Flyover that's planned to cross the valley. However, I'm fairly sure that work has not yet started.

* Seepage of gas from some opened and un-noticed shaft leading down to the city's deep and flooded mines. Possibly the most likely solution. But where is it? Surely such a fissure or shaft would have been noticed? Unless it's bubbling up through a lake or large pool?

* New test-wells, drilled for geothermal heat-sources that might one-day power Etruria and Hanley for free. Again, the site was said to have been at Etruria, where the old Garden Festival greenhouses used to be. But, so far as I know, that Labour pipe-dream of free energy has been abandoned by the new Council.

* Drains and sewers. But again, you would have thought the services concerned would have things like Internet-connected gas-detector devices bolted to the brick-walls down there, that would have detected such things before now.

There you go, take your pick. And be careful not to flick a cigarette end down any mysteriously smelly shaft. Apparently the gas is explosive when hanging in the air in dense quantities.