Friday 21 February 2020

Pluto references


For our May meeting we were pleased to welcome Allan Green, Research Fellow at Porthcurno Telegraph Museum who spoke to us about the manufacture of PLUTO in local factories.

Allan has been kind enough to send us a copy of some references, which are reproduced here:

1. Searle, Adrian. PLUTO. Pipeline Under the Ocean. Excellent little book published by Shanklin Chine on the Isle of Wight, 1995 (it also contains many other references to published work).

2. National Archives at Kew. All the major files relating to all aspects of Operation PLUTO are held here. It is a great deal of paperwork, much of it relating to Departmental and inter-departmental meetings. Very good photographs and other information is included all held in ref: POWE 45/-

3. Imperial War Museum. Very interesting films which can be viewed at the museum. In particular, their film Ref: WOY314.

4. British Telecom Archives. The Post Office with its expertise in cables and submarine cable laying were an important contributor to the PLUTO programme. The archives contain papers relating to testing work on HAIS cables and these are held under Ref: POST 56/119

5. BICC Archive. This is housed at the Liverpool Maritime Museum and is in a reserve store. Access is by appointment only and at present it is closed for re-furbishment. There is however an excellent little booklet published by Bexley Council, PLUTO World War II's best-kept Secret which gives an account of the project, mainly from a Callender's Erith (later BICC) perspective. It pays particular tribute to the lead-burning skills and major contribution made by the firm of J P Stone.

6. Morgan. R. M.. Callender's 1882 - 1945. A book giving a comprehensive history of the Company and the founding family.

7. Telcon Archive. There are two significant collections; one at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (ref: TCM) and the other at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (not yet fully catalogued) but neither contains anything particularly interesting about PLUTO.

8. The Telcon Story. The history of the Company from 1850 to 1950.

9. W T Henley Archive. This collection is now housed at the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum in Cornwall and is currently being catalogued. Only a few indirect references to PLUTO.

10. Brooks, Colin, The History of Johnson & Philips. (“A romance of 75 years") published 1950.

11. Banks, Sir Donald, Flame Over Britain. A personal narrative of Petroleum Warfare.

12. Combined Operations is a website which also gives a lot of interesting info provided by a Royal Navy Capt. Roughton who was involved in the laying of the pipeline.

13. Clements A. J.. Operation PLUTO. An interesting short paper (unpublished?) by a researcher in South Wales. A copy of the paper is filed at the Porthcurno Museum.

14. Siemens Archives. Some information is housed at the Greenwich Heritage Centre. In particular Engineering Supplement No. 224 (Jan 1946) to the Siemens Brothers Magazine. I would expect that the main archive in Munich might also contain information.

15. Scott J. D.. Siemens Brothers 1858-1958. A book giving 100 years of Siemens history.

16. Engineering. A series of articles published in this magazine June 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29th 1945

17. Yergin, Daniel. The Prize published by Simon & Schuster 1991. A different angle on the project... don't buy the book it has only a few lines about PLUTO

18. Krammer, Arnold. Operation PLUTO: A Wartime Partnership for Petroleum. Article in the proceedings of the Society for the History of Technology 1992.

19. Reekie, Douglas, These were the Nerves. 1946. The story of the electric cable and wire industry of Great Britain during the years of war.

20. Hartley, A. C. Operation PLUTO - in The Engineer at War - A paper presented at a symposium at the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1948.

My research work on PLUTO is no longer a priority but I would be interested to hear from anyone who has additional information about the project. Any relevant information will then be added to the Porthcurno library / archive.

Allan Green, Research Fellow, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum

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