Wales On Sunday - April 17th 2005

Thorne White Duke?

By Marc Baker

ROCK star David Bowie was once The Man Who Sold The World but now he's rumoured to be buying his own little part of Wales.

Rumours are rife that Ziggy Stardust has his eyes set on buying the remote Thorne Island off the coast of Tenby, West Wales.

The 57-year-old superstar is said to have his heart set on snapping up the island and the derelict St Catherine's Fort which dominates it.

News of the Thin White Duke's interest has been discussed in the corridors at Pembrokeshire County Council.

Locals were last night excited at the prospect that one of the world's greatest rockers could soon be buying a slice of their neighbourhood.

And if Bowie buys the isle, he will be taking on a huge chapter of Tenby's history.

The island was originally owned by the Crown and was acquired by Tenby under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

A medieval chapel was built on the isle in 1867 and named after St Catherine. A fort was later built after fears of a French invasion under Napoleon III.

The fort was built to defend the Royal Dockyard at Pembroke but was never used as the French did not invade.

In 1907, the isle was sold to a family who lived at the fort until the 1940s.

It's a mystery why Bowie, who now lives in New York, would want Thorne Island.

One reason could be due to the fact that his parents are understood to have originally hailed from Ceredigion, West Wales.

Pembroke county councillor John Allen-Mirehouse says Bowie's interest has been raised by several people.

"News of his interest was picked up from a conservation body. It was either English Heritage or the Welsh conservation group Cadw," he said.

"St Catherine's is a small limestone fort which is separated from the mainland. It is very remote."

Thorne Island is owned by UK leisure group Von Essen Hotels.

Last night, a spokesman said: "We have not been approached at the moment as the island is not on the market. But if it does, we will consider any interested offers."

A spokesman for David Bowie was unavailable for comment last night.