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History All Conflicts / Battles / Military History

PLUTO Pipe Line Under The Ocean

REF NR: 592

PLUTO was conceived in 1942 as part of the Operation Overload support programme to ensure adequate fuel to the troops as the allies fought back against the axis in Europe. The first part of the operation consisted of underwater pipelines from Shanklin and Sandown to the Cherbourg landing grounds.

 

The point where the pipeline left the Isle of Wight is marked with a brass plaque commemorating the event, near the no longer existing Shanklin Pier.

 

 

The line shown above is the approximate route of the pipe. It is known to cross from Stoney Point to Thorness Bay and then across the island to Shanklin Chine and down along the seafront to the pier but the precise route is not currently available.

 

The pipe extended across the mainland from near Stone Point, on to Fawley Refinery. There was another 1,000 miles of pipe across the UK connecting to additional supply points where the fuel entered the system. Operation PLUTO consisted of a number of shore sections and multiple groups of pipelines. The section crossing to the island from Stoney Point was codenamed SOHO, the Isle of Wight was codenamed BAMBI, the pipes across to the D-Day landings were codenamed WATSON - while further east along the coast Dungeness was codenamed DUMBO and the pipes from there were codenamed DUMBO FAR. 

 

It was described by General Eisenhower as "second only in daring to the Mulberry artificial harbours".

 

Most of the pipe was recovered within a few years after the end of the war but a section of the pipeline, in its original position, can be seen at Shanklin Chine.

 

Pumping Station Appeal to Restore

There is now capaign to restore the pumping station on Sandown Golf Course

The PLUTO Pavillion was returned to the Gold Club after the Second World War and was in use until at least the 1960s for pumping water onto the Golf Course and Greens. It remains the one remaining tangible links to the extensive PLUTO project on the Isle of Wight.  

One of the primary pumping engines can be seen at the Bembridge Historical Society 

The little wooden pavilion was built in 1932 at Browns Golf Course, designed by the famous Henry Cotton. In 1943, it was requisitioned by the War Office and it began to play a part in the extraordinary top secret Operation PLUTO; a mind-bogglingly ambitious engineering project, Lord Mountbatten's "impossible" plan, became vital to the success of D-Day! Early in the planning of the invasion, the need for large quantities of fuel to supply the advancing ground forces became a real concern for Allied commanders. They knew that as the German army retreated it would destroy fuel storage compounds and as Allied troops advanced through Europe it would be vital to ensure that there was fuel for vehicles. Torpedoes and air attacks would make shipping across the Channel impossible.

PLUTO was a phenomenal effort that saw D-Day fuel pipelines rapidly laid across the country to Sandown Bay and on, under the Channel, to Cherbourg.14 pumps at Sandown were hidden in the zoo and the golf course, but almost all of this military effort that once dominated an entire coast is now gone. All except the miraculous wooden pavilion still quietly tucked away at the bottom of the golf course! This was in fact PLUTO’s power station, the generators that powered the pumps, disguised as the groundsman's shed it was before, and after, the War Office commandeered it for a bigger role! It remains almost exactly as it was 65 years ago. Its survival is so remarkable and poignant, and its history so fragile, we must make sure it survives and tell its story.

We’ve raised enough money to replace the rotten roof but we are still short of the amount we need to repair and replace all the walls. The whole building is close to collapse now and our mission is to restore it to exactly its original design (it is Listed no. 1391723 so everything has to be just so!). We can then protect and preserve the contents and begin the work to deliver public access and proper interpretation to this amazing little building!!

The Appeal has a JUST GIVING page if you so wish to help this really great endeavour.

 

Please review the PDF here for more techncial information.

 


 

 

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