Berkeley research group created to compile site’s history

2nd February 2017
Berkeley research group created to compile site’s history

As popularity for SGS College's new Berkeley GREEN campus continues to grow, visitors have been keen to discover the site’s historic past.

To answer these questions a group of people who previously worked at Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories (BNL), now named Gloucestershire Science and Technology Park, have got together to compile a history of the site and its role in developing civil nuclear power stations.

Geoff Wheeler, the group’s spokesperson said: “We want to show future generations of young people taking training courses at the Berkeley GREEN Campus how important jobs in science and engineering are to the country’s future, and how they can contribute to both large and small scale projects.”

Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories opened in 1961 to service and support the nuclear power stations in England and Wales, as well as carry out related more fundamental work. A major part of the R&D activities at Berkeley related to the reactor systems in operation – Magnox power stations, of which Berkeley was one of the first in 1962, and the Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor stations, which are still generating electricity.

About 750 staff worked at the Laboratories with about 200 professional scientists and engineers supported by highly qualified technicians, skilled designers and craftspeople, together with the necessary administration staff. Many staff members lived locally, and more than one generation in local families worked either at the Laboratories or the power station.

The scientists and engineering expertise covered a wide range of disciplines to examine all aspects of the efficiency and safety of the reactors, whose materials operated in harsh conditions of temperature, pressure and radiation.

BNL scientists did not work in isolation. There were many examples of co-operation with industrial and university research, both in the UK and overseas. Much of the work attained worldwide recognition and formed the basis for future research into electricity generation using nuclear power.

Geoff continues: “Although there are about 20 people in our Berkeley Research Group we have been able to call on the experiences of almost 200 ex-Labs employees. It is important also that we draw on the memories of local people who may have worked at the Labs, and I would ask them to get in touch if they wish to contribute.”

SGS College Principal, Sara-Jane Watkins, comments: “As Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories continues its £30 million transformation it is important for us to ensure the history of the site is well documented and celebrated. In the near future I’m confident that the college will start to add its own milestones to the site’s history books.”

People can discover the facts, old and new, of SGS College's Berkeley GREEN Campus at an open event, Thursday 9th March, 5:30-8:00pm.

If you would like to contribute to the Berkeley Research Group please contact Geoff Wheeler: Tel: 01453 545583 email:

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