Old Defensible Barracks

PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR

Last week’s offering was a bit of a beast at over 3,000 words so I’m slimming down for this week’s post.

After doing a bit of digging the old Jac whiskers are all a-quiver because I suspect something odd may be going on in Pembroke Dock.

FIELD MARSHAL MITTY

You may remember that last year I wrote about Admiral Wing Commander of the SAS Fabian Sean Lucien Faversham-Pullen VC, Croix de Guerre, Iron Cross (1st Class), Purple Heart and the Order of Lenin, who laid out his plans for Fort Hubberstone in Milford Haven. His new company Camp Valour CIC promised to turn the old base into a wonderland for ex-service personnel.

As my description of him might suggest, it was all bullshit from a fantasist named Sean Pullen. To catch up with the relevant pieces I wrote on the subject, scroll down to the section, ‘And finally, who am I?’.  Then to, ‘Camp Valour CIC’. Finally, to, ‘Camp Valour’.

But Hubberstone is not the only fort in the area. The Milford Haven Waterway has a number of old fortifications because they defend one of the finest deep-water anchorages on earth. All redundant because Johnny Frog is not going to be sailing with hostile intent up the Haven, and neither is anybody else.

Unlike medieval castles these fortifications from a later era don’t draw tourists, so they just sit there, attracting dreamers and schemers.

UPDATE 10.02.2020: Here’s fresh news received today from the Pembrokeshire Herald.

Click to enlarge

REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE!

The problem often is that those responsible for these structures are so desperate to get shot of them that they succumb to the wiles of wide boys and worse. Which is what happened at Milford Haven.

According to the Milford Mercury, the site in Pembroke Dock has been bought by a company called VR 1844 Ltd. (‘Victoria Regina‘?) But has it really been bought?

Old Defensible Barracks, Pembroke Dock. Click to enlarge

The title document and plan I downloaded last week from the Land Registry website tells us the site is owned by a local couple. So if VR 1844 Ltd has bought the Old Defensible Barracks it hasn’t been registered.

Returning to the Milford Mercury, we are told that, “New owner, VR 1844 LTD, is a mix of history lovers, town planners and property developers who specialize in restoring historic buildings.” On reading that my first thought was, ‘That’s a strange mix’.

The report continued, “VR 1844 Ltd office manager Tanya McDermott said: ‘VR 1844 believe people never truly own a building but are the buildings guardians for a period of time'”. Which also struck me as odd, because in my experience property developers are pretty hot on things like ownership, and profit. They’re certainly not renowned for getting sentimental over buildings.

But there you go, maybe I’m getting old and cynical.

The Mercury describes Tanya McDermott as ‘office manager’, and she’s presumably the wife of one of VR 1844’s directors, Jonathan McDermott. Another director is Emma Jane Morby. McDermott and Morby are also directors of Raglan Gatehouse Developments Ltd, and Raglan 1857 Ltd. Raglan Gatehouse being a similar project to the Old Defensible Barracks in Plymouth.

With Raglan 1857 we find Tanya McDermott listed as secretary.

Jonathan McDermott seems to be respected in his field and I can’t find any other companies where he’s served as a director.

Turning to Emma Morby though we find seven companies in addition to the two Raglan companies and VR 1844 Ltd. These are:

Which means that of those seven companies the only one still breathing with which Emma Morby is involved is Goa Group Ltd, but as I suggest, it’s near the door. I don’t wish to be harsh on Ms Morby, but that’s not a record that fills me with confidence.

THE RICHES OF THE ORIENT

If we go back to the Companies House entry for VR 1844 Ltd and check under the ‘People’ tab, we find, in addition to McDermott and Morby, Lai Heng Seto and Trevor Iain Walker listed as directors. Both are residents of Singapore.

VR 1844 Ltd started life on 14 August 2018 as Muniment Yorkshire Ltd, before becoming Walker Property Developments Ltd in July 2019, and adopting the current name on 2 October. The final change coinciding with the arrival of McDermott and Morby on 23 October last year.

And if you think that Emma Morby has been involved in a few companies in recent years, then Trev’s record will make you see how a real property hot-shot operates.

For after doing some digging I have found no fewer than 28 companies with which Trevor Iain Walker has been involved, and from what I can see, they’re all property companies. Here’s a list of them in PDF format, so click on the links to get the details.

Singapore. Click to enlarge

What I find surprising about Trevor Walker’s business record is that the earliest entry I can find for him with Companies House is April 2014, when he was approaching his 52nd birthday.

What had he been doing before April 2014?

You’ll see that his early companies all carried the ‘Muniment’ name. (Muniment being a document or title deed proving claim to land or privilege.) Then there’s a two-year gap from December 2014 to December 2016, before Trev comes roaring back with two companies launched on the same day.

Also note that he was not in at the start with the first company, Muniment Ltd. This was Incorporated 12 September 2013, but as we’ve seen, Walker didn’t join until 8 April 2014. His seat was kept warm for him by Lai Heng Seto, who left on the day he arrived.

Ms Seto, you will remember, is also a director of the Pembroke Dock company.

The companies listed on the PDF document I’ve linked to are all companies of which Walker is or has been a director, with one exception, and that exception is Brigstock Campsite Ltd, a company registered in Northern Ireland. It is included because even though Walker was never a director he did control the company through Muniment Ltd owning most of the shares.

In the absence of Trevor Walker and Lai Heng Seto, Singapore was represented by Jody Cheoy Tho Eu and Lee Hung Lim. But it’s the other director I’d like to introduce, Alfred William Buller.

Buller is the son of William Alfred Buller who died in 2007. In the piece I’ve linked to you read of the ‘Sham Fight’ at Scarva – between King Billy and King James, an annual event that attracts as many as 100,000 people. Alfred Buller is, like his father, a prominent member of the Royal Black Institution who hob-nobs with the Unionist elite. (The ‘Blacks’ are an upmarket version of the Orange Order.)

When he’s not fighting popery and a united Ireland, Alfie (as he is known) is a horse  breeder and a businessman. In fact, he’s been a director of almost 200 companies. But he may also be bankrupt, which might put a question mark over his involvement in any company.

From Northamptonshire Telegraph 28.10.2016. Click to enlarge.

Going back to Trevor Walker and looking through his companies’ accounts a few things struck me. Let’s go to the oldest company in the portfolio, Muniment Ltd (current directors: Trevor Iain Walker and Lai Heng Seto), and open the latest accounts.

There you’ll see ‘Fixed assets’ and ‘Current assets’ totalling £9,652,355, which looks impressive, until you work out that 87% of that figure is accounted for by ‘Debtors’ (that is, money owed to the company).

Then, under ‘Creditors’ (money owed by the company), we see the figure £9,409,539.

Take one from the other and we arrive at the ‘Net assets’ figure of £242,816.

Click to enlarge

Page 7 tells us that Walker has been ‘advanced’ £5,197,757! This of course will be re-classified and appear under Debtors, and therefore Assets.

Go to the accounts for the previous year, 2017, where we learn that more than six million pounds has been taken out by Walker and Seto. Ms Seto is not mentioned by name in the 2018 accounts, so is the £3,578,457 she owes included in the Debtors column?

Will Ms Seto the director be asking Ms Seto the loanee to return the money she so generously granted herself? The same question could be posed to Trevor Walker. But then, when it’s your company, with no other shareholders, you can do what you like. Though to see amounts like that being taken out is unusual.

It makes me wonder where the money originates. Does it come from Singapore, go through the system, and then back to Singapore via Walker and Seto?

Click to enlarge

It’s worth mentioning that although I’m referring to ‘accounts’, none of these documents are audited, they’re just unverified ‘financial statements’ submitted to Companies House by the directors. In other words, those who are giving themselves millions of pounds.

One of the many failings of the regulatory system in the UK is that a company handling millions of pounds can submit back-of-an-envelope accounts. Or it can be done online. This may, as claimed, ‘remove red tape’, but it also makes it easier for those so inclined to be naughty.

(N.B. I’m not suggesting criminal behaviour by any of those discussed here.)

A WORD TO THE WISE

As with the case I dealt with last week, Anglesey County Council and the Shire Hall in Llangefni, I’m sure Pembrokeshire County Council would like to see the Old Defensible Barracks taken over and developed into an asset for the town.

But Wales sees rather too many ‘developers’ with over-ambitious or downright dishonest schemes. So before Pembrokeshire County Council, the ‘Welsh Government’, or Cadw goes overboard with red carpets and grant funding, I suggest they make a few enquiries.

  1. Establish who actually owns the Old Defensible Barracks.
  2. Investigate the business credentials of whoever you deal with and be sure where their money comes from. (Also, where it goes.)
  3. Only if these enquiries return satisfactory results should you proceed with any project for the Old Defensible Barracks.

♦ end ♦

 

25 thoughts on “Old Defensible Barracks

  1. Adrian James

    Hello Jac, an interesting post which poses several even more interesting questions. Money is being spent on the place and the bridge over the moat is being repaired as it is in a dangerous condition. Ownership may not be on the land registry yet due to particular complications with the sale(?). I hope PCC take your advice. A useful heads up.

    1. I didn’t realise that work had started. It’s received little or no media coverage. I assume from your comment that the new owners are paying for it? Are the ‘complications’ you refer to the leased flat within the Barracks or something else?

  2. Aloysius Choutenay-Ferrerrett

    Honestly, who puts MA (Merit) on a CV? (Hons) on a degree yes, but Merit on a Masters, like putting 2.1 after a degree.

  3. Brychan

    Brigstock Camp is in Northamptonshire. It was built in the 1920s as wooden shed accommodation for “displaced ruffians” from Ireland, criminals of no fixed abode pardoned for their service in British auxiliaries forces (Black and Tans). They had no permanent abode in England and the promise of prosperity in Ireland was removed by Irish independence. Being of unruly type, the people of the northern province didn’t want them either. They were housed at Brigstock Camp by the British Army.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOFAtj5LLP0{removetoplay}
    Drone footage 2018.

    By the end of the 1920s most of the residents had emigrated to Canada, a deal brokered with the British Government. This is why it’s called the Canadian camp, just don’t mention the Tans. Later in the 1930s the site was then occupied by Scottish labourers who built and operated the Corby steelworks. In WW2 was then used as a POW camp for low risk Italians and after that, in the 1950s, for army personnel “not fit for deployment” until conscription was abolished.

    It was derelict until very recently. I don’t know if the company you’ve identified is named after this site, but I notice the company suddenly acquired ‘current assets’ of £350k. Probably ownership of historical artefacts of the museum, military, heritage variety to be kept in the northern counties of Ireland.

    https://www.brigstockcouncil.org.uk/uploads/site-profiles-v3.pdf

    The land was transferred from the MoD to ‘English Partnerships’ and was used as a hardcore dump and during decommissioning of the steelworks. The most recent planning applications for the site relate to a ‘medium secure hospital facility’, a kind of loony bin for psychotic youngsters, but that didn’t get planning consent.

    1. I find the Irish connection rather interesting. Especially given Buller’s connection with the Unionist Establishment.

      And a similar pattern to the one I outlined with Muniment Ltd. Brigstock comes into possession of assets valued at £355,579 which is immediately canceled out by creditors of £359,924. Who can the company owe such a sum to, and for what?

      1. Brychan

        May I introduce another strange outfit.
        Magheramorne Park Limited (10512123).

        This old cement works and wharf was awarded outline planning permission in 2009 for an eco-village by the northern counties Environment Minister, Edwin Poots MLA (DUP). He’s the one who insists the world is only 6000 years old. Tragically the attached quarry contains fossils 500million years old. No such development took place and it was used for filming Game of Thrones in 2015.

        The site.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vIpjCVIg5c{removetoplay}

        Magheramorne Park Limited was set up in 2016 by Alfred Buller and Lee Hung Lim and somehow acquired it. They then borrowed cash on the asset as there is a charge. Also notice a pre-emption right in favour of a person in Singapore.

        No accounts have been submitted since 2016 and there are two discontinued strike offs, one in 2018 and another in 2019. This could be due to Westminster civil servants unable to act until resumption of the power sharing executive.

        Both Larne and Pembroke Dock are obvious opportunities for Singaporean entry into the Irish sea ferry business, sites with direct access rail. It might be nothing to do with restoring listed buildings or eco-parks. The involvement arose just after the Brexit referendum.

          1. Brychan

            If you remember, there was a scandal under Thersea May as PM when the Westminster House threw, and lost, a few hundred million at Seaborne Freight, a cobbled together ferry company who had no ferries. It was a Brexit panic job to secure a route from Ramsgate to Ostend in case Dover to Calais had difficulties with the French. It may be that a few million was also sent to secure the Irish sea routes and this found their way into brown envelopes wrapped in orange ribbon in the northern counties. This would explain the ‘crown suspension’ of the winding up of Magheramorne Park Limited near Larne, and how there’s some funny money sloshing around Pembroke Dock. Stena Line (Sweden) and Irish Ferries (Republic of Ireland) may have been seen as awkward players in a no deal Brexit. Holyhead would face the same logjam as Dover, so alternative routes would be needed, at least as a lorry park, and it would be important to ensure P&O did not have a monopoly. So many questions. Sinn Féin is already digging. What’s Plaid Cymru doing?

            1. I think you’re onto something. Magheramorne Park Ltd was formed in December 2016, six months after the EU referendum. Magheramorne is very near the ferry port of Larne. The sole director was Alfred William Buller. He was joined in September 2017 by two Singapore nationals and in December the company was taken over by a Singapore company, Oddball Ventures Pte Ltd.

              There have been two attempts to strike off the company, but I think these were just automatic processes triggered by the lack of activity and filing. Both times strike-off was averted by objections. Companies House never says where objections come from. (I recall one objection to the Gruesome Twosome dissolving one of their companies, they were very angry about it, but I knew who had made the objection.)

              Which leaves us with a prime site, very close to Larne ferry port, but south of Larne towards Belfast, the other ferry port. This site could be very valuable in the event of a) a united Ireland, or b) in the event of NI remaining within the EU for certain purposes.

              And the company that owns this valuable site is in Singapore!

            2. Brychan

              They also forgot to submit an annual return for the Brigstock Camp company, only this was automatically struck off, and they neglected (or missed the deadline) to object. No annual accounts or extension of reporting period was recorded. You will notice that in this case they paid to reinstate instead of just setting up a new company, that’s expensive. It suggests that legal contracts had already been entered into under the Brigstock name or a ‘goodwill asset’ existed.

              What is this ‘goodwill’? It’s not a valuable brand name.

      2. Brychan

        Brigstock Camp in the centre of England (Northamptonshire) and Magheramorne (Co. Antrim) would be an excellent site for a strategic lorry park and freight clearance facility. We know the derelict Manston airport in Kent was requisitioned for this purpose. There must be such a facility on the southern route to Ireland. The most likely site being around Milford Haven.

        1. If that is the intention for Pembroke Dock/Milford Haven, then we should be looking for a complementary site in the Wexford/Waterford area, or between there and Dublin.

          1. Brychan

            Not necessary, as both Stena and Irish Ferries have recently established new RoRo freight ferries from Dublin to Cherbourg and Rosslare to LeHavre. There is no longer any need for landbridge. Obviously, if the UK wants to check any exports from Ireland into Britain, that’s their requirement, to be done and paid for at their own facility. This facility being the land being on the western edge of Old Defensible Barracks, the old parade ground, with a new inward access to the south of the curtailage wall, and outward access where the car park currently stands directly down to the ferry port. This land shows as rough grazing and summer silage on google satellite, and this may be the real purpose for the site. Doing a bit of restoration for a café and museum is just window dressing to be paid for by Welsh Government grants on the orders of Westminster.

            1. Yes, I know about the new ‘by-pass’ ferry routes, and there were pre-existing ferries from Cork to Roscoff in Brittany and Santander in northern Spain, but the RoI will still be trading with the UK which will now be outside of the EU.

              Though I’m intrigued by the possibility of a lorry park south of Larne. And that this was being considered so soon after the 2016 referendum. Does this make sense for trucks from the RoI heading for Scotland and northern England? Or was there an assumption that Ireland might be treated as a single unit for EU regulatory purposes?

              Whatever the answer, we have Singaporean money involved in both Pembroke and Magheramorne. Why?

            2. The Defensible Barracks (the ones referred to, there are two in Pembroke Dock) is situated at the end of a narrow residential cul de sac and the Barracks itself is accessible only via a sharp right angle turn over a narrow bridge. The land to the west of the barracks is South Pembs Golf Course. To the south lies a residential cul de sac made up of former council properties and private dwellings. A public footpath runs around most of the area. The empty land on the Barracks Hill to the north is as steep as a steep thing and has been rough grass and bracken for as long as I can remember. To give you an idea: even when I was younger and relatively less spherical than I am now, it was a block and tackle job for a shortcut home after a night out in the Dock. There is zero chance of extensive vehicular access to the site.

    1. Brychan

      The Port of Dover is not, and has never been privatised. It is owned and operated by appointees from the Department for Transport. It even has its own police force.

      The EU single market is a ‘closed shop’ regarding the ferry business. Adriatic, Baltic, North Sea, English Channel and Celtic/Irish Sea. It’s Greek, Scandinavian, and in the case of the western approaches, a few privatised remnants. Entry into this lucrative market from the rest of the world almost impossible, until Brexit. I suspect this is the reason why there’s a Singaporean involvement, which currently dominate the East Asia ferry and shipping trade. A foot in the door.

      I’m sure there’s be some jobs for Wales. Yellow high viz vests can be picked up for £9.99 each, and a team of six people in rotating shifts on the minimum wage parading the freight clearance facilities may be needed at Pembroke Dock. Cue the ‘jobs secured for Wales’ press release by Skates. However, I expect the skilled jobs to be reserved for Portsmouth, possibly at the Raglan Gatehouse newly renovated by McDermott and Morby, or under direct command of the Department of Transport from Dover, by-passing devolution.

      Interesting however, in the billions of pounds thrown at the northern Irish counties by the British Government has ended up in joint ventures involving prominent orange sashes, and this involvement has spread to the Welsh routes. The question arises as to what knowledge and involvement did the Secretary of State for Wales (viceroy) and the Welsh Government (sleeping) have in these matters.

  4. I don’t know if this helps, Jac, but I’ve found a Trevor Iain Walker involved in two companies with Florida addresses: Trevica LLC and Audica Properties LLC.

    1. This is interesting, Jonny. I’m sure it is the same guy because of the shared company names. For example, there’s a Muniment LLC registered in Florida, but Muniment is a name used for a number of Walker’s UK companies. (Trevica Properties LLC was the former name of Muniment LLC.)

      https://opencorporates.com/officers?q=TREVOR+IAIN+WALKER

      As you suggest, there’s just one other US company listed for Walker and that’s Audica Properties LLC, also registered in Florida. The other director is Robin Lim Siew Cheong, who could I suppose be Singaporean.

  5. Henry Temple

    Any news on the Barracks? I speak as someone interested in the history and future of these structures.

  6. Henry Temple

    Thanks very much for coming back to me. I manage the Facebook Page for the Palmerston Forts Society and we are obviously interested in the plans for this site. Best regards.

Now what do you have to say?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.