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St Barbara watches over Glasgow tunnel workers

Tunnellers building a 3.1-mile, £100m tunnel for Scottish Water between Queen’s Park and Shieldhall on Glasgow’s south side swear by a special ‘safety’ measure which helps protect them as they dig below city parks and streets. -BY HUGH DOUGHERTY

Each day, as the experienced tunnellers climb aboard their narrow gauge train, which takes them 32 meters below the ground to the work face, they nod to a statue of St Barbara, the patron saint of tunnellers, as part of the ritual of staying safe underground.

A Scottish water spokesman said: “St Barbara is the patron saint of tunnellers and Costain, our contractor, has many experienced staff on site who have worked on projects such as the Channel Tunnel.

“Every tunneller invokes the protection of St Barbara at the start of a shift and thanks her at the end. That’s why there’s a statue of St Barbara placed at the start of the workings.

“No tunnelling project of this scale would be complete without its statue of the patron and tunnellers demand that St Barbara is present with them underground.”

When completed in 2018, the new tunnel will channel millions of gallons of waste water safely away from the south side of the city.

And St Barbara’s statue will be carefully packed away, before being taken to the next contract to continue to protect tunnellers as they dig away underground.

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