Eastleigh’s D-Day heritage on display at Lepe

A rare section of the PLUTO pipeline on display this weekend.

A rare piece of ‘PLUTO’ and other exhibits from World War II, along with film footage, guided walks and a range of activities, will bring D-Day to life at Lepe Country Park this weekend. Hampshire County Council is celebrating the park’s special significance to D-Day by hosting the Lepe into History Festival on 1 and 2 June.

‘PLUTO’ was the acronym for ‘Pipeline under the Ocean’ – a submerged fuel pipe that stretched from the Isle of Wight to the French coastline supplying allied invasion forces with petrol. Some of the 83 miles of lead sheathing used in the pipeline was extruded at the Pirelli Cable Works in Eastleigh, a feat commemorated in the local road name ‘Pluto Road’.

HCCs Executive Member for Recreation and Heritage, Councillor Sean Woodward, said:

“As we prepare to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we’re acknowledging the integral role Lepe played in the lead up to that day on 6 June 1944. Lepe was not only where hundreds of men, vehicles and supplies were based but was also the site where the floating ‘mulberry’ harbours were located, which ultimately contributed to a successful Allied advance into France.

“Through the Lepe into History Festival, visitors of all ages will be able to get a sense of this significant moment in World War Two history, all set on the stunning Solent coastline. We would encourage everyone to come along and soak up the unique heritage and experience.”

Across both days of the festival:

  • Visitors will be able to see a range of fascinating artefacts and interactive activities.
  • Around the park, visitors can advance book to take a guided walk down to the embarkation beach, and children’s heritage trails are also available.
  • The education room will host an exhibition so visitors can explore the story of Lepe in the run up to D-Day through story boards, films and displays.

Saturday evening, 1 June, 6pm:

Sunday morning, 2 June:

  • 10.30am-12pm: a parade along the Lepe road to the cliff top where a short remembrance service by the anchor memorial will be held to mark the 75th anniversary with hymns, readings and prayers. Park at Lepe or Gang Warily and utilise the shuttle bus service.

A Park and Ride Service will be available from Gang Warily Community Centre in Blackfield (SO45 1GA)  between 10am-5pm, £2 per car.

Visit www.hants.gov.uk/lepe to plan your visit.