The Queen addresses those gathered at the opening of Calder Hall, 1956


The IMechE archive contains the papers of Sir Christopher Hinton, Nuclear Engineer and former president of our institution. The collection contents can be viewed online. Hinton was a key member of the Atomic Energy Authority, with who whom he was responsible for designing Calder Hall Nuclear Power station, which was the first nuclear power station to supply electricity to the National Grid – and also the world’s first civil nuclear power station. It has been being decommissioned as part of the closure of older parts of the Sellafield plant in Cumbria since 2003.

Calder Hall Nuclear Power station was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 17th October 1956. Over 450 guests attended the opening and 200 members of the world press, along with around 1,000 Cumberland schoolchildren. Hinton describes the day in his diary:

…it was a great day – made great by the Queen who looked perfect. Lilly [Hinton’s wife] looked and was perfectly charming…”

In the archive we have an album full of photographs from the day, a selection of which you can be seen here.

Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers


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