Unearthed pictures reveal everyday life in UK’s ‘Atomic Town’

These really are nuclear families! Pictures show everyday life in UK’s ‘Atomic Town’ where scientists tried to fuse atoms, pioneered nuclear power and paved the way for CERN

  • The remarkable images were taken inside the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Oxfordshire
  • Photos show a man keenly attending his tiny vegetable garden and schoolchildren playing at a prefab school
  • Another captivating picture, taken in 1951, shows members of the Ladies Cricket Club during a team practice 
  • Considered the birthplace of UK nuclear industry, the AERE was the main centre for atomic research in Britain

Fascinating photographs have revealed the everyday life of those living in the UK’s ‘Atomic Town’, where scientists tried to fuse atoms and pioneered nuclear research while living alongside their families. 

The remarkable images were taken from within the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE), which was set up in 1946 in Harwell, Oxfordshire on the site of an RAF airfield.

The photos show a man keenly attending his tiny vegetable garden, schoolchildren playing at their prefab school, and youngsters playing on the street outside their utilitarian housing.

Another captivating picture, taken in 1951, shows members of the AERE Ladies Cricket Club swinging the willow at a team practice.

Considered the birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, the AERE was the main centre for atomic energy research in Britain during the 20th century and paved the way for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Children play in the streets outside their basic prefab accommodation at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE), which was set up in 1946 in Harwell, Oxfordshire on the site of an RAF airfield. Scientists would carry out work while living on site with their families

The ladies cricket team get their practice in on a mild day at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment. The fascinating photographs have revealed the everyday life of those living in what is considered to be the birthplace of the UK nuclear industry in 20th century

Young children sit scribbling at their desks as their teacher watches on diligently during a normal school day inside the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, which had many facilities on-site, including accommodation and a doctor’s surgery

As the site grew larger and larger in the post-war years it became known locally as The Atomic and two prefab housing estates were quickly erected for the influx of workers that came to Harwell, resulting in a friendly, close-knit community of several thousand people 

There were plenty of facilities in the Atomic Town to make life just as easy for those living within as it was for those living outside the gates, with even a professional hairdresser’s saloon open for all the men and women who called the town home

Eager children waiting for their parents to come pick them up from school. Security measures were high at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, given that intense scientific testing, including tests on nuclear power, was being carried out on the site

Children play on a climbing frame outside of the school built especially for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment inhabitants. Meanwhile, one young lad sits alone in a toy car at the bottom of the frame as the photographer captures the grins of his friends

As the site grew it was known locally as The Atomic and two prefab housing estates were quickly erected for the influx of workers that came to Harwell, resulting in a friendly, close-knit community of several thousand people.

There were several significant achievements at Harwell. In 1947, the GLEEP test reactor on site generated nuclear energy for the first time in Europe.

In addition, ‘Rutherford Cable’ was first manufactured at Harwell and went on to become a key component in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and CADET was assembled on the site, the world’s first transistorised computer.


  • The NEW home with 700 faults: Family hit ‘breaking point’…


    Boy, seven, suffers horrific chemical burns and rash all…


    Moment furious builder films himself demolishing five…

Share this article

One of the most significant experiments to occur at AERE was the ZETA fusion power experiment.

An early attempt to build a large-scale nuclear fusion reactor, the project was started in 1954, and the first successes were achieved in 1957. In 1968 the project was shut down, as it was believed that no further progress could be made with ZETA’s specific model.

In 1990, Major nuclear research projects finished at Harwell but it is still a hive of scientific excellence, with over 6,000 people still employed at the site’s campus.

Children enjoying the outdoors and playing games such as Ring a Ring o’ Roses during a lunch break from their school lessons as some of the UK’s top nuclear scientists work just moments away. 

A Harwell family picking up their groceries from the local store, which has been set up inside a shed next to the site. The Atomic became one of the main employers in the post-war period thanks to the influx of people into the area to work on the AERE site

A ‘nuclear’ family sitting down to enjoy the TV for an evening. Considered the birthplace of the UK nuclear industry, the Atomic Energy Research Establishment was the main centre for atomic energy research and development in the United Kingdom from the 1940s to the 1990s

While some of the UK’s finest scientific breakthroughs take place in the distance, this gentleman makes do with simplier pursuits as he tends to his vegetable patch 

Fascinating photographs have revealed the everyday life of those living in t he UK’s ‘Atomic Town’ (pictured here is a sign pointing out lodge number 8046), where scientists tried to fuse atoms and pioneered nuclear research while living alongside their families

An on site doctor X-rays a patients hands. There were several significant achievements at Harwell. In 1947, the GLEEP test reactor on site generated nuclear energy for the first time in Europe. In addition, ‘Rutherford Cable’ was first manufactured at Harwell and went on to become a key component in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider

Harwell inhabitants played music and sport when they were not working. Pictured here is a musical recital by two gentleman , watched on by a group of teenagers and women

Source: Read Full Article