Classic Bike Guide

Operation P.L.U.T.O


I thought this side story to Frank’s article in June’s issue about the Matchless Pluto may be of interest, by way of adding to the origin for the name of the bike.

I joined BP in 1956 as an engineerin­g apprentice at LLandarcy Oil Refinery, along with 16 others. We started an excellent training programme that culminated in becoming a chartered engineer and, 38 years later, Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. We were under the care of the BP training department in a re-sited First World War aircraft hangar while seconding to various technical centres over the next five years. They also trained military in all aspects of our industry.

The prototype pipeline for Operation PLUTO (a pipeline laid in 1942 across the English Channel to supply the Allied invasion – P.L.U.T.O – Pipeline Under The Ocean - Matt) was put together at this refinery, using the Bristol Channel as the final live testing applicatio­n deployed from Swansea Docks. Sections of the prototype sub-sea pipeline and the final one that was used across the

English Channel were proudly displayed in the old hanger, along with stories and photograph­s. I believe these are all in the Swansea Museum now. My wife worked in the training department, too.

It is a small piece of history, but sometimes it is nice to add to a story.

D. Keith Lovell

Many thanks for this back story, Keith − Matt

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