DISCLAIMER: This article contains adult themes.
In an unassuming industrial area in leafy Plympton, all was not as it seemed. For years no one suspected a thing, but almost hidden in plain sight was a top-secret sex club.
Unit 18, as it was known, boasted over 1,000 members. Established in 2008, little is known about what happened inside the sex club until it was made public by the far less exotic world of planning regulations.
But some of the secrets of what was once billed as Devon’s ‘first adult park’ have been leaked in the five years before it disappeared. His last known mention was during a court case for a fire safety rule violation that ultimately caused his downfall.
Unit 18 and the climb
The exclusive club was established in the Lister Mill business park in Newnham’s industrial estate in 2008. It’s not entirely clear who was responsible – but a man variously named Morgan Johnson, Mo, and John Malcolm Vaughan Morgan appeared to have been the manager.
According to insiders, it was a so-called swingers and fetish club that only operated on weekends. There were over 1,000 fully registered members when The Secret came out in 2011.
But its existence appeared only as part of a line of technical planning. Bosses were forced to seek retrospective clearance and licenses for “continued use” of the venue after it was found to have been operating for three years without any formal permission.
At the time, graphic flyers advertised the dress code for women as “bare as you dare”, while men were urged to “dress to impress”. Attendees were able to enjoy the delights of ‘Horny Helga from Holland’ and ‘sexy mares Wendy & Sheila’ in October, according to promotional materials
The secret comes out
Naturally, the revelation that the otherwise drab industrial area was home to a secret fetish club caused a stir in the area. South West Devon Conservative MP Gary Streeter, who lived nearby at the time, was unimpressed.
“These units are for mechanics and engineers,” he said at the time. “These are not the kinds of activities to be encouraged.”
But two local elected officials were, however, more tolerant of activities that took place in the dark outside their door.
Cllr Patrick Nicholson, of Plympton St Mary, who is now the deputy leader of the council, said in 2011: ‘Apparently it’s been three years and no one has complained so far. go to any residential areas to get there, and it works at night when other businesses have closed.
“It doesn’t interfere with anyone else and I won’t call him unless I get representations from the community.”
Conservative ward councilor at the time, Samantha Leaves, added: ‘It’s been running for three years and I didn’t know it was there. I had no complaints from the locals. I don’t have a problem with that. What people want to do in their private lives is up to them if they don’t break the law.
At the time, journalists tried to speak to the club’s operator. A man who answered the number given on a website initially acknowledged it was “Mo” – the name given on the website – but then denied knowing anything.
The fall of Unit 18
The last known mention of Unit 18 came in October 2013 as part of a court case – soon after it seemed to disappear completely. The named owner was ordered to pay a fine and pay court costs after breaching fire regulations.
He pleaded guilty at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court to breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by failing to comply with the requirements of a prohibition notice restricting the use of the premises, until that appropriate fire safety standards are met. The man was fined £300, victim surcharge of £30 and £1,000 in court costs.
The court heard how officers from the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, assisted by officers from Devon Police and Cornwall Police, visited the club on December 7, 2012, finding it open and occupied while the prohibition notice was in effect.
A spokesman for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said the success of the prosecution demonstrated the service’s commitment to ensuring those responsible for the premises meet the necessary requirements of the Fire Safety Ordinance.
Glen Wells, station manager for the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said at the time: ‘We are pleased with the outcome of this matter ignoring the ban notice on the unit 18 and continuing to authorize the occupation of the building, [the manager] showed a disregard for the safety of people using his club, putting them in real danger in the event of a fire.
After that the trail gets cold. Although there may be over 1,000 people who know what happened next. The unit itself is now owned by a completely independent company.
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