The Queen Opens the Calder Hall Power Station


The opening of Calder Hall by the Queen in October 1956 marked the beginning of the British atomic energy programme. It was arguably the first commercial nuclear power station in the world, although its prime function was to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. There were four reactors in all, and a carbon copy of Calder Hall was built at Chapelcross in Scotland.

The Calder Hall design was the basis for the Magnox power stations, built for and run by the Central Electricity Generating Board or CEGB, which gave excellent service for more than 50 years. The successor to the Magnox design was the AGR, which pushed the gas cooled reactor to its limits – and possibly beyond.



Page 1 shows the Queen arriving at Calder Hall. She is accompanied by Sir Edwin Plowden. Pages 2 and 3 show the Royal dias from which the Queen delivered her speech and formally switched the power generated into the National Grid. She then toured the station in company with the Windscale General Works Manager, Gethin Davy. Pages 8 to 11 are self explanatory!

(The somewhat lugubrious gentleman in the background to many of the pictures is 'RAB' Butler, a Minister in the Conservative government – at that time, Lord Privy Seal.)