to Isle of Wight History Centre Archive of Monthly News Items
As previously featured in the History Centre

October 2020


October 2020
CROWD FUNDING IN SUPPORT OF A MYTH
There cannot be many who still believe the engine house at Browns Golf Course was in any way connected with the wartime PLUTO operation, particularly as Historic England no longer claim to have evidence in support of it. Nevertheless there are still a few who have publicly promoted the claim for so long they are now having difficulty coming to terms with reality.
   Of the few refusing to contemplate the inevitable, the most prominent are Arc Consulting and the council's Conservation Department. They were among the original supporters of the campaign to promote the PLUTO connection, the central element of which was their project to renovate the engine house. They have chosen not to acknowledge the accumulated evidence that now shows the engine house had no connection to PLUTO, most recently demonstrated in Historic England's own aerial photograph. They both have websites that are still making the original claims, although the council's may have been deleted in the last few days.
   Their stance would be relatively harmless but for the fact they are still promoting crowd funding to support renovation of the engine house on the assumption it was part of the PLUTO operation. Renovation is still underway but the community have moved on and the work is now being carried out on the understanding the engine house was developed and operated by Browns alone. Financial support from the public is now being sought on the basis of its local heritage, arguably a no less worthy cause.
   It seems deceptive for others to rely on what might be people's enthusiasm for wartime sites to encourage them to financially support work no longer undertaken on that basis. Anybody parting with their money on the assumption they are supporting a military installation will eventually come to realise they have effectively been defrauded. Hopefully the council may be about to abandon this appeal, although Arc Consulting are still maintaining it.
   The engine house remains Grade II listed but Historic England say they have no internal mechanism that enables them to delist a site: "where a full reassessment of the evidence would be necessary, we require a trigger in the form of an application." Given the mess they made of the last delist application, it is unlikely anybody will bother to go down that route again. Perhaps Historic England need to make an exception to their rule. Nothing in their remit from government permits dishonesty.


PLUTO plan
There is already a wealth of evidence debunking the PLUTO claim but people are still digging up more at The National Archives. The above plan of the Sandown PLUTO site was part of internal correspondence within the military to decide whether Yaverland residents should still be allowed to use the public footpath to Sandown. The solid red line is the outer security wire surrounding the requisitioned area of the PLUTO operation. The dotted line is the footpath. Browns' properties are not shown on the plan but we indicate the location of the engine house. The writer comments that ". . the land outside the existing defence wire has not been requisitioned . . . the route of the present path in no way acts as a breach of security." The PLUTO authorities clearly had no interest in the engine house.