In September 2022, Channel Four aired an exclusive look at Thorne Island as a part of a new More 4 show Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis, featuring Thorne Island’s owner, Appsbroker Founder and CEO, Mike Conner.
Hugh’s journey, like most journeys to Thorne Island, started with a boat trip and multiple jokes about not being able to get Deliveroo or a pint of milk very easily. As he moors up at Thorne island, Hugh meets Mike for the first time, and readily accepts a guided tour of his off-grid retreat.
As Mike explains, Thorne Island is a Grade 2 star-listed Victorian fort located off the coast of Pembrokeshire. It was built in the 1850s at a cost of £35,000 (almost £5m in today’s money) and took over 1,000 men about two years to create. The original aim of this 60-man army garrison was to help protect Pembroke dock from a possible French invasion. Thankfully, its services were never needed and soon after, it began to take on a whole new life. For three generations, Thorne Island became a family home, and was later sold with the intention of turning it into a hotel. Here, it fell into disrepair until Mike Conner bought the fort with the dream of restoring it to much more than its former glory.
Structurally, much of Thorne Island remains the same. Had you visited decades ago, you’d instantly recognise its vast central courtyard, and while the open-plan living and dining area remain in place (albeit with an empathetic update), the addition of a discrete office area offers Mike and his team the perfect vista to do business.
Elsewhere, four-bedroom suites and a large, split-level dormitory make up the 40 beds available, one of many well-thought out nods to the island’s past. In fact, everywhere you look on Thorne Island, you’ll find unique period features painstakingly restored to their original 19th century charm, blended seamlessly with 21st-century tech, including renewable energy heat source air pumps and solar panels.
Hugh Dennis’ favourite room? Without doubt, it has to be “the loo with the view,” followed closely by The Powder Room, a former gunpowder storage space that is currently a private nightclub, complete with a smoke machine and strobe lighting. But Hugh isn’t the first celebrity presenter to visit this idyllic escape, which was once famous for throwing parties. In 2017, former Soldier Soldier actor Robson Green paid a visit to Thorne not long after Mike first moved in. Watch it here.
Mike Conner is determined to make the most out of his private island, which has become a home away from home for him and his family, and is a firm favourite with Appsbroker employees affectionately known as Team Purple. Mike enjoys playing host for the day as he opens the island up to his employees, customers and Google Cloud partners as a corporate retreat.
From company socials and team building events, to prizes at charity events, a visit to Thorne Island is truly a unique and memorable experience fit for anyone with a thirst for unique adventures.