Intrinsically safe sensing of a structural response is one of the most important challenges for condition monitoring of long-distance oil and gas pipelines. Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) using coherent Rayleigh backscattering in an optical fibre offers an attractive technique to meet this challenge. In this paper, the DAS technique is applied to measure the distributed vibration of a laboratory pipeline, which can be subject to the excitation of unsteady flow, an operating pump and motor, and an impact hammer. The results of DAS are compared with those sensed by accelerometers. The focus of this study is to understand the sensitivity of DAS to spatial variations in the pipeline vibration, the relevance of DAS results to the radial response determined by accelerometers, the effect of attachment conditions on DAS, and the accuracy of the location of an impact force determined by DAS.