KBGS Old Boys' Forum

A place to discuss Keighley Boys' Grammar School. 

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I was stunned this week to watch the BBC2 prog about the 1957 nuclear alarm at Windscale/Calder Hall/Sellafield plant. I suppose I was too preoccupied 'doing' my "O" levels to be following the news closely at the time. But (if one can believe the BBC) what a sequence of vainglorious bumsucking to the US of A!! led us to the brink of an environmental disaster that could have made the home and inspiration of one of our greatest poets (and his acolytes)an unwelcome wasteland. (If you have the facility for "TV Catchup" - see BBC2 08/10/07)
The earlier part of the programme stressed the large scale recruitment of physics graduates for the atomic programme. Were you, any old Keighlians or any of your contemporaries so recruited? I do know that in 3a when I first was introduced to physics, the scarcity of physics graduates meant we had a new physics teacher each term - one for the fourth year - and a new guy (Slam Riley) for the 5th (4 in 9 terms!!). Churchill's and Macmillan's push for nuclear "parity" with the USA may well have impacted badly on the science education of a generation and beyond. Anybody feel they were affected? Extraordinary how you can live through a series of politico/socio/economic events and be unaware of their effect on your life until 50 years later. What I do well recall before that time was the anxiety that an issue like the Korean War or the Gary Powers U2 spy plane crisis could lead to a nuclear holocaust. It is little wonder that many of my contemporaries joined CND and opposed the Suez invasion - whilst supporting the Hungarian Rising - which brought at least one fine student to KBGS and Longsdon House!! Anyone else have keen recollections of that period - and its relative importance to your then existence? And, of course, against a nuclear background,the Cuban Missile crisis and Kennedy's assassination produced fears far deeper than those of 7/11 and the London bombings.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 52-60

Current location (optional) Lincoln


What's your problem Terry? What about the 100's of thousand who die every from smoking, car accidents, overeating, starvation, lack of clean drinking water etc.
The number of people affected by nuclear technology is a drop in the ocean by comparison.
The cold war was just a continuation of human stupidity tha has existed as long as the human race.
The nuclear confrontation could have wiped out most if not all human beings, but I put it to you that that might have been not such a bad thing. Give the world a fresh start as it were.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 52-57

Current location (optional) USA


Bernard: I trust your response is intended as black humour, in which case ha bloody ha. Nuclear warfare would not give the world a clean start, but it could give it a very dirty end. Statistics for Hiroshima are shaky, but estimates say 70,000 were killed by the explosion, while another 130,000 lived some kind of agonising life for a few years before dying, and there are still maimed and marked survivors around now, more than 60 years down the track. The incidence of birth defects many years after the bomb is also documented.

Hindsight is clear vision, but probably a better way for the Yanks to show off their new toy would have been to blow the top off Mount Fuji - clearly seen from Tokyo on a fine day - and then tell the Japanese to come to heel.

Your adopted country, together with mine and many others in the western world, is responsible for many of the causes of death you nominate and certainly has it within its power to prevent starvation and provide clean water. However, it seems our leaders would rather spend the money by lying their way into immoral and unwinnable wars. Any country that can vote a second rate actor with the memory and attention span of a goldfish into the most powerful job in the world has a bit to answer for - and he was one of the better ones! The same applies to Australia, UK and others who don't have the guts to stand up for what they believe rather than blindly following a decadent country that will one day implode due to born again Baptistry, greed and belligerence.

But, of course, I know you were only kidding. Joke, eh?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 52-57

Current location (optional) melbourne


Having visited most of the Nuclear establishments on a professional basis, one should note that they are all located on coastal regions, in order to cut down any risk of land spread contamination by half.
However, when one considers the scary stories of rising sea levels, one has to consider that because of their location that the Nuclear Establishments are under threat.
Hartlepool and Heysham are twin Nuclear Plants.
It is really weird to do a combined visit, because they appear even to hang the same pictures in exactly the same places.
At Heysham, I could not help noticing a map of the North of England, with different coloured circles radiating from both Heysahm and Hartlepool.
The circles were well overlapped, and obviously Keighley is smack in the middle.
"Is that what I think it is?" - I enquired.
"I am afraid it is" was the reply.

Not all bleak news though, I am a great champion and believer in Nuclear Power, and the standards of safety and management have significantly increased since the 1950's. However it will only take one slip and woops.
I must admit, I was also extremely shocked about the history of Winscale's raison d'etre, in that it was created surely for the creation of enriched plutonium, and had little to do with "cheap" energy. Also the sole reason for the creation of enriched plutonium was only to "trade-of" of with the USA, and have access to their privelaged information and "secrets". Scary.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-63

Current location (optional) Newport


Paul, not all countries are afraid to stand up to the US, look at New Zealand, a coountry that has more sheep than people. They placed a ban on nuclear ships, almost destroyed the ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, US) Alliance over its refusal to toady to the US.

I must admit, Australia's current PM does bow to Bush, but with a bit of luck, he will be out of office on 24th November. I do remember sending emails to a lot of people when Australia joined the "coalition of the willing", apologising as a retired Australian Army Officer and on behalf of the Australian people for our involvement in Iraq. Remember it is governments that involve countries in wars, not the average bloke in the street or "lad up t' ginnil"

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-61

Current location (optional) Haworth now Blue Mountains in Australia


A friend of mine, a plumber, once did a job at Winscale/Calder Hall/Sellafield/Whatever it is called this week. He noted that, in some areas divided by chicken wire, on one side protective suits were required, on the other side normal clothing was ok. From this he deduced that chicken wire gives total protection from radiation, and that if the ballon goes up he would surround his house with the stuff!


I can recall someone protesting in Downing Street when 'She who must be obeyed' was in power. They emptied a couple of buckets of mud from the shore near Sellafield which they had been reliably assured was quite safe. Three men in thick white suits and helmeted and wearing heavy moon boots came to remove the 'safe' mud.
At the same time it always amazed me that the plume from Chernobyl drifted over this country and headed straight for Sellafield and Trawsfynned according to the radioactive read outs that were made at the time.