On this day - October 17th

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Calder Hall (seen here being "opened" by the Queen on October 17th, 1956) was the first nuclear power station in the world to produce electricity for domestic use. Designed to last 20 years it was operational for 47 years before closing in 2003.

Work began on the station in 1953 with the first electricity transmitted to the National Grid three years later. 24km away the town of Workington was the first in the world to receive electricity produced by nuclear power.

Although the station was promoted as generating electricity too cheap to meter, it produced relatively little during its working life. Calder Hall's capacity of 1,96MW was far less than the 1,200MW output of the Sizewell B modern reactor.

Calder Hall was in fact primarily intended to produce plutonium for the UK's atomic weapons programme. Producing electricity for the domestic market was a sideline for the plant.

The station had 4 Magnox reactors. Magnox (from the phrase 'magnesium no oxidation') refers to the metal content of the nuclear fuel containers. In a Magnox reactor, magnesium alloy is wrapped around each uranium fuel rod.

By the time Calder Hall generated its last electricity in 2003 it was the oldest Magnox power station in the world.

Ed — I remember on a school trip to the Lakes in 1956 looking down at Calder Hall from one of the Peaks and being told that this was going to provide free electricity for everybody for ever....

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