The unassuming elm-clad golf pavilion tucked away at the back of the Brown’s Golf Course near Yaverland was once the powerhouse for the PLUTO operation, the war-time endeavour described by Churchill as ‘a remarkable feat of engineering, pursued with tenacity and crowned with complete success’, making this humble spot believe it or not, a major player in the story of World War II.
Saved from the verge of collapse by a coastal revival award earlier this year, work to preserve the shed, and its contents, has been going on all summer. Project manager Dave Badman, explains:
‘The Pipeline Under The Ocean was built to deliver fuel for Allied vehicles during the D-Day landings. It was a huge secret pipeline that crossed England from Liverpool and then the Island from the Solent to Shanklin and Sandown and right on, under the Channel, to Cherbourg.
“What makes this Pavilion so special is that you have the intact (just!) WWII machinery which powered the pipeline housed within the building and then there’s the way that the building itself, a humble shell, is so cleverly employed to keep its true function top secret. Amazingly, everything inside seemed to have been left just as was – pencilled calculations on the walls, tea cups and tool boards”.
Ian Boyd from ARC explains:
‘The pavilion was in a very precarious condition, the roof was ruined and full of holes, the walls too, and the pumps and generators, wartime artefacts slowly decaying. The whole shed was so wet that diving beetles had taken up residence!
“The Bay Coastal Community Team with the help of The Common Space, friends and collaborators has now removed all of the smaller items and stored safely for now; the big machines are wrapped and protected, the roof is now re-covered and the entire building is being restored piece by piece. We’re drafting in the excellent help of the Isle of Wight Men in Sheds’ engineers to help with restoration of the machinery inside, and you can see some of the smaller objects discovered in the Pavilion at Quay Arts ‘Impressions of War’ exhibition until the 3rd December.
“The urgent stuff is covered but there is still lots to be done including access and interpretation, so we’ve set up a crowd-funding page for people to chip in. You can find it at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/PLUTO and if you’d like to pop down for a site visit, Dave Badman is happy to let you have a sneak preview”.
ITV Meridian News have been to visit the Pavilion and its story will be hitting the screen for the first time since the PLUTO story was first covered in a post-war Pathe newsreel… this time, you’ll be able to see it in full technicolour.