Bradwell Nuclear Power Station


Proposals to build a nuclear power station

In 1955 the Government decided to build nuclear power stations in the UK.

Two sites were considered, one was at Berkeley in the West of England and the other was at Bradwell on Sea.

The 24 acre site used was formerly a World War Two airfield that had been returned to agriculture.

The adjacent Blackwater estuary was important to the station as it provided the 222 million litres of cold water per hour that were required for cooling.

Tom Driberg , the local MP who lived at Bradwell led a campaign against the Power Station which split public support although most local people favoured the building.

A public enquiry was held which lasted only 5 days which resulted in approval only 8 months after the first announcement of the proposals.


Building took nearly 5 years with work starting in December 1957.

Many new houses were constructed in Tillingham, Latchingdon and Southminster to cater for the builders and then the new employees.

Many of the larger items were shipped in to a specially built jetty built into the River Blackwater with the rest transported by road on the improved Latchingdon to Bradwell road. This proved an initial problem as the arrival of the first large boiler by road was on a hot day and the combined weight of boiler and lorry proved to great for the hot tarmac. From then on other large loads were transported in the early morning or evenings when the roads were cooler.


Bradwell Power Station was one of the first magnox power stations in the UK.

The first reactor started to supply electricity to the national grid on 1 July 1962 closely followed by the second reactor on 12 November 1962.

Although expected to last 25 years it continued generating electricity for 40 years eventually ceasing to generate electricity in March 2002.

The formal opening ceremony was held on 5th April 1963 by Sir John Ruggles Brise who was the Lord Lieutenant of Essex


The station had two magnox reactors powered by natural uranium with 4 cooling towers using carbon dioxide coolant.

The building comprised of two large blocks with smaller buildings and distribution points.

Spent fuel roads were stored on the site in a water pool for about 90 days  until the radiation had decreased sufficiently for them to be transported to Sellafield in Cumbria for reprocessing.

The rods were loaded into specially constructed 43 tonne flasks made from lead and steel. These flasks were transported by road to a purpose built compound at Southminster railway station and then taken by goods train via the rail network to Cumbria.

The station generated 242 megawatts of electricity sufficient to completely power the nearby Essex towns of Chelmsford , Colchester and the conurbation of Southend on Sea. During it's lifetime just under 60 terra watts of electricity was generated.

The Power Station viewed from the River Blackwater


The increase of terrorism in the last few years of the active life of the power station led to increased security and prompted a statement in the House of Commons

 Brian Wilson, minister for energy and construction, said: "The Government has undertaken an assessment of potential terrorist acts against all civil nuclear power stations.There are well tried and tested contingency plans for dealing with the aftermath of an accident, terrorist attack or other incident affecting a nuclear power station."


On Thursday 28 March 2002 the station ceased generating electricity and was formally closed by The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Braybrooke

As the main employer in the district, providing 450 jobs, it's closure proved a negative impact on the local economy with 250 jobs existing in 2007  on a program of steady decline due to the decommissioning activity.

Once the current phase of decommissioning is completed in 2009 there will be no more activity on site other than structural maintenance and safety checks until 2095 when the site can be safely cleared.

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