In the 1930s, the dunes west of the Five Mile Road were dotted with wooden beach chalets. George Lionel Cox purchased the site of the Barge Aground in three transactions: 1) the land in the middle of the site was acquired on 11th December 1926 from Leonard Thomas Snell; 2) the land to the north of the site was acquired on 16th June 1934 from John Davies; 3) the land furthest south was acquired on 22nd September 1934 from Angèle Marie Josephine Rault.
Lionel Cox commissioned the building of the Barge Aground (also known as ‘Seagull’) circa 1935. It is not known who designed the boat-shaped building, but it was built by Mark Amy Limited. Cox travelled all over the world and acquired many antiques and curios – some of which were used to furnish the Barge Aground. He returned to England just before the German Occupation.
Barge Aground was requisitioned by the German occupying forces in 1941 and used as a canteen by Machine Gun Battalion 16. The building was painted with camouflage, with much of the contents looted and shipped to Germany. After the war, Cox returned to the Barge Aground and the building was restored as a beach chalet.
George Lionel Cox left the property to the Scout Association in his will on part of three becquets of land on 12th September 1955. It was then leased to Mr William Chalmers Kerr until 1971. Mr Kerr was a research psychologist from Glasgow University who specialised in speech disorders. He used the barge as his clinic with patients visiting from around the world.
The site was used in the 1970s and 1980s by the Scouting Association as a base for camping activities – mainly as additional sleeping accommodation when the Island played host to large Scout camps in the summer. The walled garden was used as a safe area for the younger Cub Scouts to set up their tents. The building was also used to entertain visiting guests, such as the Chief Scout Sir William Gladstone in 1978.
The Scout Association sold the property to the Public of the Island on 21st March 1997, although it continued to use the site until 2001.
Following the purchase of Barge Aground in 1997, work began to restore the property in 2005 as part of the Forts and Towers programme.