Another in the series, this one the classic Boris ‘mildly sandpapered’ type that got him sacked from the Times, shaping a fact to fit a speech or argument such that it is no longer a fact. As usual this seems to be a regular in his current act, so, like London’s mythical Michelin stars it needs nipping in the bud. From the ever-adoring Spectator discussing Boris’s ’2020 Vision’ comes this snippet from a speech at the time which is the first reference I’ve found:
‘When you invest in Crossrail you are getting a project that will add £42bn to the UK economy and you are getting cranes from Derbyshire and Newcastle, steel from Darlington, Bolton and Oldham, bridges from Shropshire, survey equipment from Devon and prodigious quantities of lubricant from Bournemouth – and what they are doing in Bournemouth when they aren’t making lube for Crossrail?’
What he’s done here is had someone go through all the suppliers for Crossrail (it is staggeringly unlikely he would have done that much menial work himself) and picked out one that you can make a risque joke out of, repeatedly, again and again, to different audiences for the next four years. Unfortunately he didn’t check the facts. Crossrail’s not actually getting Bournemouth-made lube at all.
There is a company in Bournemouth and it is supplying lubrication products to Crossrail’s Tunnel Boring Machines, it’s called HPC Products, they employ ten people and describe themselves as:
a supply-driven company focused on Underground Mining, Tunnelling and Construction.
so they’re a supplier, not a manufacturer. They’re basically a kind of mining and tunnelling Halfords, choosing products from international specialist suppliers and retailing them to businesses and public projects in the UK, including Crossrail and jolly good luck to them. Here’s the list of the manufacturers whose products HPC supply from which it’s immediately obvious what the business model is, providing British sales and support to foreign companies wanting to sell their products in the UK; the list includes German, French, Greek and US companies who are doubtless happy to have a middleman who knows the UK market. That’s how international trade works, particularly in high value specialist industries. So, who’s the *actual* lube supplier to Crossrail, then? Well, HPC are the sole UK supplier of Condat Lubrifiants, who do indeed manufacture lubricants for tunnel boring machines. Their client list is here and includes:
U.K. London CROSSRAIL C300 Train Tunnel HERRENKNECHT (2) EPB 6.8 12 320
U.K. London CROSSRAIL C305 Train Tunnel HERRENKNECHT (4) EPB 6.8 23 400
The last figure is the tunnel length in metres, so these are obviously Crossrail’s biggest tunnels, Royal Oak to Farringdon (C300) and Farringdon to the two eastern tunnel portals at Pudding Mill Lane and Victoria Dock (C305).
So, Condat must indeed be supplying ‘prodigious quantities of lubricant’, only it’s not coming from Bournemouth in southern England but from Chasse-sur-Rhône in southern France.
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