My friend and I were passing close by the Plymouth Ideal Org building, and decided to take a look.
This place was built by the Royal Navy to house personnel while their ships were in the adjacent Royal dockyard. It was sold to a local entrepreneur who tried and failed to operate it as a hotel. After some time , it was sold to the Church of Scientology who have used this massive place as storage for the local org for 11 years now. It’s in a poor state of repair – informed estimates say that it’s now about 5 years from deriliction.
There were a few months (covered in detail in my previous posts here) when it seemed as if the place was going to be renovated in time for the commemoration of the Mayflower leaving Plymouth for the New World. Planning permissions were obtained, and asbestos removed from the structure by professional contractors. The pandemic knocked that on the head. The only notable event since then has been video from inside the place taken by a group of ‘urban explorers‘, which shows the poor state of the interior.
I’d taken pictures of some minor changes made in the exterior of the place when we noticed that a car had just taken its third circuit around the building (there is a narrow – public – access road around the back between it and the dockyard wall).
We were then ‘confronted’ by a Scientologist whom I recognised. It’s strange behaviour for a member of a Church which is opening in a community to demand to know what you are doing just looking at their building, but standard operating procedure for Scientology.
Had he been shooting video, when he was driving around and around? It’s policy, but I don’t know. I’m already well known to them in any case and we returned the favour later, so the only question is who got the most out of their effort.
Video after the break it’s only 30 seconds, and really bad but it shows just how touchy they are about the place.
Urban Explorers are people who enter abandoned buildings and take a look around. These places include bunkers, hospitals, factories and other derelict locations of general interest. They are driven by curiosity and often historical interest. Their ethos is to do no damage and take away only images.
Thanks to the quirks of UK law, what they do is not a criminal offence. I explain the reasons why in detail after the break, because I would not want to associate myself with any illegal activity.
The group we will meet in a moment actually publish video of their explorations on a YouTube channel.
Without doing any damage (that’s critical in law) urban explorers have gained entry to the Royal Fleet Club. This is the building that was bought by the Church of Scientology in 2010 to be renovated and become an ‘Ideal Org’ (Scientology facilities are called ‘orgs’ by members, which is short for ‘organisation’).
After the break you can view the video they shot inside the place. This shows just how run-down the interior now is and a few details of interest to Scientology watchers.
After 11 years, a project the long-promised renovation ofthe building seemed to be under way. The Church of Scientology had controversially obtained planning permission and commenced essential work. Of course, the pandemic intervened, and now the project looks to have been abandoned. Again.
I hope that critics of Scientology will learn something about UK urban explorers from this post – and urban explorers will learn something about Scientology from the point of view of the community which speaks out against Scientology’s abuses. Continue reading
Some time ago, I created a whole website devoted to a local enterprise called Plymouth Private Tutors. This is run out of a private address and charges £25 an hour for private tuition. All of the Tutors are Scientologists.
I suspect that this income helps support the struggling org. It certainly supports Scientology, by sending franchise fees to “Applied Scholastics” – a Scientology front group that promotes L Ron Hubbard’s simplistic ideas about education. These starkly contradict modern educational theory and, later on, I will argue that they are designed to create unthinking obedience, not the ability for critical thought that education should impart.
I have wondered how Plymouth Org is paying the rent during the current pandemic restrictions. Now I learn that Plymouth Private Tutors may have had to close for the strict UK lockdown, but they are now advertising for new clients in September, now that restrictions have been slightly relaxed and some schools are opening again.
Would you trust your kids to these people? Is what they ‘learn’ in weekly sessions going to help or hinder their educational development? Are their fringe practices even physically safe in these times?
The evidence for their preparations to recruit anew and the reasons why I believe parents should not trust them appear after the break. Continue reading
My last post laid out why I thought the renovation of the building that is supposed to become Plymouth Ideal Org was finally underway, after 15 years of fundraising.
The Church of Scientology had acquired planning permission (the detailed plans can be viewed online) and a closure order on a nearby road until September. They had also paid a contractor to remove asbestos-containing material from the building, which project was completed. You can scroll back though posts here to see detailed accounts of events which promised that it really was ‘game on’ this time.
I thought it was no coincidence that, on the 6th of September 1620, the Mayflower had departed Plymouth on its 66-day voyage to the New World. It’s an iconic event in US history and, 400 years later, this event was going to be commemorated here with a tourist-fest.
What an opportunity for a “Religious Freedom” speech from the glorious leader during a ‘Grand Opening’.
Then, a pandemic intervened. The Mayflower commemoration events were called off, and all non-essential building work ceased. The UK lockdown was only recently significantly relaxed and the local org (which occupies a small shop) was allowed a limited reopening on the 4th of July (that’s a story for later).
Non-essential building work resumed some weeks aga, but nothing has happened at the Ideal Org. The building is going rapidly downhill again. It seems that management is no longer interested in renovation, even though they had a contractor lined up.
I think it’s game over for reasons I’ll give below. I’ll still keep an eye on the place, but turn to other stories unless something actually happens there.
After the break, there’s also an extensive image gallery showing the present state of the place on this date, and a video overview from July 2019. Brace youself if you are fond of historic buildings – it’s not pleasant viewing. Continue reading
In 2010, Scientology bought a building in Plymouth for conversion into an ‘Ideal Org’. It was basically left to rot until April 2019 when the Church of Scientology International applied to Plymouth City council for permission to renovate it. Plans were submitted and permission (termed “Planning Permission”) was subsequently granted.
The plans noted the presence of asbstos-containing materials in the fabric of the building, which had to be removed before any other work could be done. This work started in August 2019, and was completed in October 2019.
Why has Scientology set to just now, after having let the building rot for almost a decade?
My theory is that they are planning to open this new facility around September 2020, because the Mayflower departed from Plymouth for the new world on September the 6th, 400 years ago. This anniversary is being marked in Plymouth and throughout the UK. It represents is a perfect opportunity for Scientology’s belagured leader, David Miscavige, to make a ‘religious freedom’ speech, and distract attention from the legal actions that have been brought against him.
I gave my reasons for this prediction in my last post. Since then some additional evidence has appeared. It’s not conclusive, of course. This being Scientology, they may just be trying to spin out the fund-raising a little longer. However, I think there’s now an excellent chance they they going for September / October 2020. Continue reading
I visited the Plymouth Ideal Org building today, and all of the plant and equipment that was being used to remove asbestos-containing material (as per planning requirements) is now gone, as are all the statutory warning signs.
When asbestos removal is complete the site generally has to be left in a sealed condition for some time in order to (quite literally) allow the dust to settle. Then, independent officials test and assess asbestos levels in the air. If they are below a set threshold, the site is cleared for development.
Consequenly, I expect nothing happen for weeks or months – and then the real bulding work can commence.
Also, I commit myself to the prediction that Scientology is aiming to (finally) complete this project by September/October 2020. The images confirming that phase one is complete, and my rationale for this theory appear after the break. Continue reading
Eye Magazine | April 1969 | George Malko | Is There Anything You Don’t Understand? | Download as .pdf File
in 1970, George Malko published a book entitled, “Scientology: The Now Religion” (full text here). The article that is the subject of today’s post – “Is There Anything You Don’t Understand?” – had been published in “Eye” magazine about a year before. However, it does not mention an upcoming book. It’s likely, therefore, that the book was a work in progress.
“Eye” was an obscure but literate publication, devoted to youth culture. It was mostly concerned with popular musicians, fashion and make-up. The Cover story was “Boys and the Pill”. Scientology seems to have appealed to young people with a counter-culture style in this period, so its inclusion of malko’s article isn’t as odd as it might seem.
The “Eye” article took a very sceptical view of Scientology, but emerged unscathed. In contrast, when Malko’s book “Scientology: The Now Religion” appeared, the Church of Scientology sued its publisher.
After the book had appeared in Hardback and Paperbook editions the publisher paid a settlement to Scientology and did not release it in a printed format again.
It was a common tactic of Scientology at this time to force publishers into protracted litigation without having an arguable case. The book went out of print simply because Delacorte Press could not afford to continue to uphold their freedom to publish. Scientology successfully suppressed critical texts for years in this way. It was a matter of policy, laid down by the founder.
The text of the article from “Eye” (which is transcribed in full below) is a short-form survey of Scientology back in 1969. It begins with an account of Malko’s visits to a Scientology org in New York, where he was ‘assessed’ by a young woman, and includes telling interviews and real insight into its belief and the mindset of Scientologists back in 1970.
Creative Learning: A Scientological Experiment in Schools | V Solcox and LJ Maynard | 1955
Download the complete book as a .pdf file here
In 1961 there was a scandal in the sleepy UK town of East Grinstead. This is the Scientology book that contained the ‘process’ which led to genuine and justified outrage when it was practiced upon young children at school without consent.
L Ron Hubbard had recently bought Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, and taken up residence there. It became an international centre for Scientology and is still its UK headquarters.
The scandal concerned ‘lessons’, taken from a Scientology text. which were given at Aston House, a preparatory school for girls. Its pupils were aged between 3 1/2 and 11 years.
It emerged (when a frightened child told her doctor, who passed it on to her parents) that they had been recieving ‘lessons’ during which they were required to imagine dying as a result of failing all of their exams, and to imagine that their bodies subsequently turned to dust.
In case you don’t believe a teacher would do something so stupid, the passage is reproduced below (it appears on page 215, Section 7). The plain text is addressed to the children and the italic “Acknowlege” indicates where the teacher should say something to show that the kids has completed their stange ‘task’.
After the break, I will describe the scandal in East Grinstead, L Ron Hubbard’s agressive reaction to it, and look at some of the other ‘lessons’ in the book, which would be laughable if they hadn’t actually been applied in schools. Continue reading
Recently, I published a letter from the consulting engineers who are organising the renovation of the building earmarked Plymouth’s Ideal Org . This stated that roads around the building would be closed on Monday the 26th August 2019, and may remain closed until September 2020.
The building was bought in late 2010 and one planning application has already been allowed to lapse. It seemed it was going to be allowed to rot away. However, this letter strongly suggests that work is finally about to begin.
That particular Monday is a public holiday, and the contractors will have to be paid extra if they close the roads then. However, starting work on a public holiday is exactly the kind of the thing Scientology tends to do on these occasions. Fewer people will notice that the closure is underway because they will be out for the day. When they arrive back home, it will be a fait accompli.
We will find out in a few days time. Watch this space 🙂
For this post, however, I’m interested in the modest shop that presently serves as Plymouth’s org. It’s the one on the right, in the image above. There’s now evidence that local Scientologists are coming under greater-than-ever greater pressure to donate money to this project.
Also, I present a theory as to why only Plymouth – out of all UK orgs – appears to be undergoing renovation. Continue reading
“Confidential” Magazine | October 1970 | Volume 18 No 10 | “Scientology Can Drive You Out Of Your Mind” | Jane Nellis Download as pdf (NB – this document was made from a high-resolution scan – please be patient while it downloads/opens)
“Confidential” magazine was published continuously from December 1952 until 1978. It specialised in serious exposés and show-biz gossip (originally about cinema, latterly TV).
In this edition there were articles about Jane, Henry and Peter Fonda, Jackie Kennedy, a long article about the contraceptive pill and another about fashionable and flattering swimsuits (“Are You a Bathing Suit Patsy?”). It seems to have been aimed at a young female audience, and was presenting an edgy but commercialised version of then fashionable counterculture themes.
The article about Scientology is the nearest this issue comes to real exposé journalism. The cover reads “Beware of Scientology” and the contents page, “Scientology can drive you out of your mind”. It’s not a puff piece.
If you can get past the hip style of the writing, it is an interesting take on the culture of Scientology ‘missions’ during this period (with a few good black-and-white photos). It also shows how the basic operation has hardly changed at all Continue reading