Grizzling about the Aussies

On August 7, 1957, Christopher Hinton, the leader of the engineering half of the British nuclear power push, wrote to a civil servant:

Frankly, I can not see that collaboration with the Australians on H.T.G.C. makes sense. I gather from Stewart that the Australians are saying that because of the limited development of their engineering industry, they do not intend to manufacture atomic energy equipment and that we need not fear that they will use information which they get from us to enable them to compete in the industrial field. If this is so, why do they want to send engineers to form part of the H.T.G.C. [high temperature gas cooled reactor] design team. It is already a problem to know how to absorb as many people as industry would like to have incorporated in the design organisation.

If on the other hand, the Australian contention is not true and they do intend to compete in the industrial field, then, it is contrary to our interests to enable them to acquire the techniques by training them in our offices. This will cease to be one of my headaches [a good quote] by the end of August and I am, therefore, handing the papers to Owen.

Hinton, Christopher. 1957. Hinton to Peirson, Aug. 7, 1957. AB 19/24. National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.

This type of response had been common during Hinton’s decade-long reign. He did not like to share (unlike his scientific counterpart, John Cockcroft). In this particular instance, notably, he could be even more frank than normal, because he had just accepted a new job as head of a new monopoly electricity utility. “This will cease to be one of my headaches by the end of August,” he concluded his memo, “and I am, therefore, handing the papers to Owen [his successor at the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority].” Indeed.

Christopher Hinton memo 1957