Mrs Thatcher’s quest for energy 30 years ago

Mrs Thatcher’s quest for energy 30 years ago

Thirty years ago, Margaret Thatcher was the last Prime Minister to announce a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Her announcement in 1979 came just a few weeks after a flying visit to Dounreay.

Now, a collection of images from her historic visit has been published on-line.

The 25 black-and-white photographs capture the newly-elected PM inside the most advanced nuclear plant then operating in the UK, the Prototype Fast Reactor.

Hopes were still high when she landed at the aerodrome in June 1979 that Dounreay’s technology would breed a new type of power station across the UK.

Within a few weeks, the Conservative Government announced plans to build up to ten new nuclear power stations.

The promise of fast reactor electricity “too cheap to meter” was still some way off, however, and the pressurised water reactor become Britain’s design of choice.

In the event, only one new station – at Sizewell – was built.

By 1988, Mrs Thatcher’s Government had decided fast reactors weren’t the answer after all and pulled the plug on further research.

Today, as the legacy of that work is dismantled at Dounreay, the unique collection of photographs are among the latest to go on-line at the photo library.

To see and download these and other images of Dounreay, click on “image library” at the foot of this page and follow the simple instructions.