Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 06, 2017.
Webpage updated: May 06, 2017

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The Royal Naval Oil Fuel Depot at Yonderbury Point, Thanckes, Torpoint, Cornwall, was commenced in April 1921 and comprised 28 tanks.  Two private companies, Messrs Motherwell Bridge Company, and Messrs Clayton and Company, of Leeds, constructed ten tanks each and the Admiralty the remaining eight tanks.

On September 17th1921 it was reported that he first completed tank, one of those erected by the Motherwell Bridge Company, had been accepted by the Admiralty after completing a two week long water test.  Of the Admiralty's tanks, numbers 17 to 24, which were being erected by some 70 men under the direction of Mr Hitchcock, foreman of boilermakers, number 17 was finished and five were in the course of construction.

Tanks 25 to 28, were being erected by Messrs Clayton and Company at Yonderbury Point while a further six would be on the north side of Pengelley Hill, facing Wilcove.  Their construction had been severely delayed after the plant was held up by a rail strike.  Mr Gardner, manager, and his assistant, Mr Clapham, and sixty men  were busy erecting them.

Pumping was expected to begin in two to three weeks' time, under the supervision of Mr Trevithick, foreman of works.

The oil carrier "War Brahmin" arrived at the beginning of October 1921 from Trinidad and on Monday October 10th 1921 it was placed alongside the hulk HMS "Valiant" in preparation for discharging the first cargo of oil.  Each of the three bodies responsible for the construction of the tanks had one tank that had completed the water test and was ready to receive its oil.  But things did not go well.  For what were described as 'a variety of causes' a week later no oil had reached the tank.  Soon after pumping had started a large iron pipe burst at Pato Point and defects in the pipes were also discovered at the bottom of Pengelley Hill.  It was suggested that either the pipes were too small to stand the pressure or the gradient of Pengelley Hill was too great to allow the oil to ascend the hill.  Pumping was re-started on October 20th 1921 but the small size of the pipes meant that by Monday October 31st only 1,000 tons had reached the tank, which had filled the tank to a height of only 15 feet.  It would be another week before the job was completed.

On Monday November 21st 1921 it was being reported that the "War Brahmin" consignment had not quite filled the first tank and that another oiler, the "War Sirdar", was now alongside discharging about 4,500 tons into a second tank.