Thomas the Tank Engine found blocking Nottingham sewer 

Friday 11 November 2022

Thomas the Tank Engine has been found a long way from the railway tracks of Sodor - blocking a sewer pipe in the Bullwell area of Nottingham.

Severn Trent teams were recently investigating a reported blockage, and couldn’t quite believe their eyes when they discovered who was causing it.  

After checking to make sure that Gordon and Percy weren’t nearby, and reporting Thomas to the Fat Controller, the team quickly cleared the debris from the pipe. Blockages caused by unflushables such as wet wipes, sanitary items and, in this case toy trains, can have a devastating impact on communities and the environment, causing blockages which back up sewage, and then spill into our region’s rivers. In the last year alone, Severn Trent has battled thousands of blockages across the region.   

Grant Mitchell, from Severn Trent, said: “From underwear and false teeth to tennis balls and toy trains, we’ve has some bizarre things make their way into our sewer network over the years. But it’s often the day-to-day items, such as wet wipes, cotton buds, sanitary products and cooking oils, that can create the biggest issues in our region’s sewer networks. 

“These giant congealed masses often cause big problems when they arrive at sewage treatment works. However, in the worst-case scenario, they don’t even make it to the works, instead blocking sewer pipes, like poor Thomas the Tank Engine did on this occasion, which can lead to wastewater backing up into homes, gardens and rivers. Preventing our sewers from becoming blocked could save numerous pollutions each year and would be a key step in our journey to making our regions rivers the healthiest they can be.” 

Most sewer pipes only have a diameter of around 150mm – or slightly larger than an average roll of toilet paper – so it doesn’t take much for a blockage to form.   

Grant added: “As we head into winter, the waste network pipes get colder and any fats which have been washed down the drain can quickly solidify in the pipe, which can quickly cause a blockage. The good news is that blockages are avoidable if people are careful about what they put down the toilet and wash down the sink.

"Sewer flooding is a horrible thing for anyone to experience. To avoid blockages, we advise waiting for cooking fats, oils and greases to cool before disposing of them in the bin and only flushing the three P’s – pee, paper and poo – anything else should go in the bin.” 

For further information and ways to avoid sewer misuse, visit   

If customers do run into problems, either slow drains or a blocked sewer which is Severn Trent’s responsibility they can be reported at or by calling 0800 783 4444.