The birth of Lucas Heights

Nuclear Power History

A historian friend, Neil Huybregts, pointed me to George Dalton. A New Zealand engineer, he joined Harwell in 1947, worked on the British breeder, then transferred back home in 1949. In 1955 he was snapped up by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission’s chief scientist, Charles Watson-Munro (whom I know quite well through his early role in Canada’s atomic efforts). Dalton returned to Harwell for training (during the period when Prime Minister Menzies hoped to get British aid for Australian reactors and atomic bombs). He helped Watson-Munro install a research reactor at the new Lucas Heights nuclear centre in Sydney and in 1960 he was promoted to head that place up, before dying young, at age 45, in 1961. His wife’s lurid claims of sanctioned murder adds a spark to his bio.

What surprises me is that I’d never heard of George Dalton. Surely this reflects how unimportant my home country is in the global history of power reactors.


Australian Dictionary of Biography. 1993. Dalton, George Clifford James.