PLUTO pipeline test site, Swansea Oil Refinery

AddressSkewen, Neath Port Talbot SA10 6EN, UK
Location typeOther
Site Ownership and Access InformationThe former site of the oil refinery (the UK’s first) is now the village of Llandarcy. The site is being developed as an urban village called Coed Darcy, a development supported by the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for the Built Environment.
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In 1942 a long term trial of PLUTO (‘Pipeline Under the Ocean’) took place, with a prototype pipeline stretching from from Swansea oil refinery via the Bristol Channel to Watermouth Bay near Ilfracombe in North Devon. This 27 mile long stretch of 2-inch cable delivered 125 tons a day or 38,000 gallons a day for three weeks. The pipeline was laid by HMS Holdfast, a converted cable laying ship and a self propelled Thames barge ‘Oceanic’.

PLUTO was an new type of pipeline that was laid across the English Channel after the Allies had landed in Normandy. It enabled fuel to be pumped across the Channel for use by the thousands of vehicles used by the Allied troops in France. Fuel could be pumped directly from the UK network of pipelines, and was connected to new pipelines laid overland on the continent, following the advance of the Allied armies.

PLUTO was not the only means of supplying fuel to the Allied armies in France. In fact the pumping of fuel using PLUTO only began on 18 September 1944, which was more than three months after D-Day, and beyond the end of the Battle of Normandy. These first pipelines were laid between the Isle of Wight and Cherbourg. A second set of pipelines was laid between Dungeness and Boulogne.

View on the D-Day On Your Doorstep map