The Men

  • Margaret Gowing


Atomic energy policy has been confused, sometimes in its aims and always in the internal and international processes of its formulation. Nevertheless, for all its ambiguities, the policy which was handed down for execution was the production of fissile material at the earliest possible moment and, from January 1947, the fabrication and testing of an atomic bomb, also at the earliest possible moment: these commitments were presented, at the working level, as matters of supreme importance for the British nation. A subsidiary aim was the exploration of the potentialities of nuclear power: the shortage of fuel which bedevilled the whole economy emphasised the importance of this aim which could not, however, be achieved quickly.


Atomic Energy Atomic Bomb Government Service Fissile Material Uranium Metal 
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  1. 1.
    See ‘John Douglas Cockcroft’, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, vol. XIV (Nov 1968).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    General Groves, Now it Can be Told (Deutsch, 1963) p. 343.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The account that follows is taken from Chapman Pincher’s article on Penney in Discovery, Nov 1955.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See the official histories of war production passim, e.g. M. M. Postan, British War Production (HMSO, 1952) p. 431: ‘… the Filling Factories were among the relatively few industrial undertakings in the country to introduce three-shift working and the various modern devices of scientific management such as statistical quality controls and “time and motion” studies.’ See also William Hornby, Factories and Plant (HMSO, 1958); J. D. Scott and Richard Hughes, Administration of War Production (HMSO, 1956); P. Inman, Labour in the Munitions Industries (HMSO, 1957).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Prime Minister’s statement, 29 Oct 1945. HOC Deb., 416: 1529.Google Scholar
  6. The attitude of the scientists at Montreal is consistent with the picture of scientists’ motivation and the emphasis on ‘disinterestedness’ given in W. O. Hagstrom, The Scientific Community (Basic Books, 1965) and N. W. Storer, The Social System of Science (Holt, 1966).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The motivations of these ‘applied’ scientists, taking part in the first stages of a new technology, were different from those suggested by Storer and Hagstrom, op. cit. (see Chapter 18, ref. 13).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See Report of the Committee on the Civil Service (Fulton), vol. III (i), and White Paper on Scientific Manpower (Cmd 6824, May 1946).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Gowing

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