Oral history of British science

Raynor, Frank (Part 7 of 18) An Oral History of British Science

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Abingdon

  • Interviewees

    Raynor, Frank, 1922- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: [1:16:25] [Interview Three: 30 June 2012] Remarks on starting work at AWRE Aldermaston: taking job for lower salary as a change in career direction into electronics; security clearance; only realising that he would be working on nuclear matters when he started. [01:44] Remarks on AWRE nuclear instrument group: lead by 'Nobby' Clarke; anecdote about Nobby Clarke instructing FR to read literature then start fixing equipment when he started work. Description of Nobby Clarke, public school educated, REME radar experience, electrical engineering degree, supportive, went on weapons trials with FR, Ken Douglas and Bob White, experimental officer rather than scientific officer; married Heidi, a German. [07:10] Remarks on: duties servicing nuclear counting equipment; division of Aldermaston into A Area, containing Nuclear Materials Processing and Health Physics buildings; division of Health Physics into Nuclear Instrument Group and Health Physics Group, where FR was based; security around A Area within Aldermaston; maintaining radiation monitors for testing radiation on hands and feet; scalers, amplifiers, rate meters, discriminators and other equipment to count radiation emissions. [10:55] Remarks on radiation motoring equipment: valve based binary scaler counters; scaler, used to count pulses from detectors; rate meters, used to count rate of emissions; rack mountings for equipment; amplifiers; design of equipment by Harwell personnel; FR training in PDS group at Harwell with Len Kilby and Kate Knight; description of female Harwell technician Kate Knight, robust, helpful; benefits of Harwell experience for FR. [17:50] Description of rack mounted radiation counting equipment: multi purpose counters; output; use by physicists; equipment set-up by FR and colleagues; modular nature of equipment; racks to mount equipment made from thermionic valves; performance of 1008 Amplifier supplied by Angus Gillespie at Harwell. [25:15] Remarks on: Aldermaston developing oscilloscopes as commercial ones were too slow; failure of components due to heat and voltage. [pause 26:50] Remarks on work at Aldermaston: Harwell designed equipment at first; development of electronics technology; anecdote about valve reliability on FR recent trip to Bletchley Park; improved types of valves; FR knowledge of equipment use, compartmentalisation of work; Plutonium supply from Windscale, which FR visited to check equipment calibration, dummy hemispheres; build up of group; [32:25] example of developing specialised instrument for trials, using a Standard Telephones 4 gun oscilloscope. [34:10] Remarks on FR feelings about working on atomic weapons: learning about work; rapid series of events in 1952; secrecy surrounding work; FR little concerned by idea of working on nuclear weapons, knowledge of weapons from wartime and reading information; shortage of technicians at first; FR realising horror of nuclear weapons but also the horror of Japanese treatment of prisoners in wartime; FR considering atomic weapons as a way of keeping the peace; little discussion amongst colleagues; dislike of Japanese in 1950s; American McMahon Act shutting Britain out of nuclear cooperation in spite of earlier contributions to Manhattan project by individuals such as Niels Bohr and Chadwick; Ernest Bevin insisting that Britain had an atomic bomb; limited discussion of nuclear politics amongst individuals at FR's level. [42:50]

  • Description

    Interview with technician, Frank Raynor

  • Related transcripts

    Frank Raynor interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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