Calder Hall

A Brief History

Nuclear fission was discovered in the 1930s, they may not have fully known then how many nuclear sector jobs this would create. Starting in the 1950s, considerable research took place, particularly in the United States, the UK, France, Canada and the former Soviet Union, into the design and construction of nuclear power stations.

In 1952, on the orders of the then Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Christopher Hinton, later to become Lord Hinton, began the task of designing and building Calder Hall. The design was codenamed PIPPA (Pressurised Pile Producing Power and Plutonium) by the UKAEA to denote the plant’s dual commercial and military role. Construction of the power station started in 1953 and the finance and accountancy vacancies were created, commissioning took less than 42 months.

Calder Hall had four Magnox reactors each capable of generating 50 MWe of power. The reactors were supplied by the UKAEA and the turbines by C.A Parsons & Company. The first output to the National Grid took place on 27 August 1956, and the plant was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth 11 on 17th October 1956.

In its early life, the Calder Hall Reactors were used primarily to produce weapons-grade plutonium creating jobs in cumbria, including temporary vacancies, with two fuel loads per year, and electricity production as a secondary purpose. However, from 1964 it was used mainly on commercial fuel cycles, but it was not until April 1995 that the UK Government announced that all production of plutonium for weapons purposes had ceased. When the station finally closed on 31 March 2003, the first reactor had been in use for nearly 47 years and was the world’s oldest nuclear reactor that had provided accountancy vacancies in cumbria for fifty years.


Following its closure in 2003 decommissioning worked started at Calder, this work resulted in the continuing demand for engineering jobs at Sellafield as the process would be many generations long:

• The reactor was defuelled
• The four cooling towers were demolished by controlled explosions on Saturday 29 September 2007
• Further decommissioning work is ongoing
• The “Nuclear Archeologist” Clifford Jones is working to preserve Calder Hall as a landmark engineering project for future generations.

The Future

Calder Hall now joins other Sellafield based decommissioning projects in providing ongoing sellafield vacancies, in the areas of either decommissioning or ‘care and maintenance’, for a wide range of job skills including engineering and project management jobs.

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