Nuclear power 60 years old today – did you know these Calder Hall facts?

60 years ago today, Queen Elizabeth II flipped the switch at Calder Hall, connecting nuclear-generated power to the national grid for the first time.

Calder Hall stopped generating power in 2003, but its legacy across the world lives on. With Hinkley Point C set to become the first new nuclear power station to be built in the UK since Sizewell B was completed in 1995, their grandfather Calder Hall paved the way for the 18 nuclear power stations that followed it over the next 60 years.

Calder Hall facts – Did you know?

  • Its construction was ordered by Winston Churchill in 1952, and it was designed by Lord Christopher Hinton.
  • Its primary function was actually to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Electricity generation was a secondary task until 1989, when production of military plutonium at Calder Hall ceased.
  • Its four gas-cooled Magnox reactors generated 50 MWh each, although initially this was 60 MWh.
  • It was built by civil engineering contractors Taylor Woodrow Construction, with the turbines provided by A. Parsons and Company.
  • Upon opening the plant at 12:16pm on 17th October 1956, the Queen remarked, “This new power, which has proved itself to be such a terrifying weapon of destruction, is harnessed for the first time for the common good of our community.”
  • The first town to receive power from Calder Hall, and therefore any nuclear source, was Workington in Cumbria, 26 miles from the power station.
  • In its 47 years of operation, Calder Hall generated enough power to run a household radiator for 85 million years.

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