1946 initiation

The #2 postwar British nuclear engineer was Len Owen. I don’t spend much time on him – other characters hold sway – but he was in his own way a colorful personality. Here he is, in 1963, describing his 1946 initiation into the nuclear world:

At the start, of the twelve of us at Risley, only one person knew anything about atomic energy. He was Dennis Ginns, an engineer who was home on sick leave from Chalk River. It should be recalled that whilst British scientists took part in some of the wartime U.S. projects, none of them had been included in the teams that built and operated the plutonium producing piles. The only written information we had was the Smyth Report . . . which we had all read from cover to cover. While there was some criticism in America that the report gave too much information away, it was remarkable to us for what it didn’t give away that one was anxious to know. . . . our knowledge was initially almost non-existent and we had to learn the hard way.


Owen, Leonard. 1963. “Nuclear engineering in the United Kingdom in the first ten years.” Journal of the British Nuclear Energy Society, Jan.