Bradwell-on-Sea, the Estuary and the wider Dengie Peninsula has changed a lot over the course of the past century. As we prepare our proposals for Bradwell B we’ve been looking back at the history of the local area.

Select a year from timeline below or scroll for full story

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On the Marshes, Bradwell-on-Sea
Fig. 1

Plans for a power station in the area were hatched in 1901

Fig. 3


Fig. 2

Power generation in Bradwell began in the 1960s, but the first plans for a power station in the area were hatched nearly half a century earlier! In 1901, plans for a new railway line from Southend to Bradwell included provision for a ‘Generation Station’. The scheme was never completed but shows the ambition for a power plant in Essex many decades before they were given the go-ahead!


Fig. 5

Both the existing and potential future power stations at Bradwell are sited on former RAF land. Bradwell Bay Airfield was built in 1941 and served as a night-fighter station during the Second World War.

More than 2,000 people were stationed at the airfield during WWII


Fig. 6
Fig. 4


The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority is established to oversee the development of nuclear power in the UK. Calder Hall, the world’s first commercial nuclear reactor, opens two years later at Sellafield.

Fig. 7

Britain has become the first country anywhere in the world to produce electricity from atomic energy on a full industrial scale

UK government
The Queen opening Calder Hall in 1956
Fig. 9
Inside the original turbine hall
Fig. 10
Reactor steel vessel welding
Fig. 12
Fig. 13


the designed electricity output of Bradwell A,

enough to power to 30 million 100-watt lightbulbs

Fig. 14


Construction of Bradwell A begins

Located on the site of a former World War II airfield, construction of the original Bradwell power station began in December 1957. The turbine hall for Bradwell A covers the same area as one-and-a-half standard football pitches.

Fig. 15
Fig. 11

Each hour Bradwell Power Station took in 222 million litres of cold water from the Blackwater Estuary to cool its reactors


Open for business

Bradwell Power Station was officially opened by Sir John Ruggles-Brise, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, on 5th April 1963. The station has been at the heart of the community ever since, with thousands of local people having worked at Bradwell, contributing a huge amount to the local economy.

On an average day, the power generated by Bradwell Power Station was capable of powering three towns the size of Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend.

Fig. 15
Fig. 16
Fig. 17
Fig. 18
Fig. 19

The power station celebrated its 21st birthday in 1983, and to commemorate the anniversary a special booklet was produced. In that time, staff at Bradwell crafted a reputation for being innovators in engineering, creating specialist tools and techniques as part of the safe operation of the power station. Away from the station, staff had a reputation as a force to be reckoned with in local sporting fixtures, with Bradwell’s football team winning the Mid-Essex League Division 2 Cup in 1969, along with success in the local table tennis league. For many years, staff were also responsible for running an archery club for local people.

Fig. 21


Bradwell turns 21

league division 2
cup winners

Fig. 20
Fig. 22


Visitors to Bradwell

Staff at Bradwell were always welcome to bring family and friends to the site for tours of the facilities, but in 1994 the team went one step further when local MP John Whittingdale opened a dedicated Visitor Centre. The Visitor Centre offered a number of exhibits and even electricity workshops for younger guests to take part in!

Fig. 25
Fig. 26
Fig. 23
Fig. 24

Between the opening of the Visitor Centre and the end of power generation at Bradwell,
more than 124,000 people toured the facilities

UK Gov map of nuclear sites

  • Bradwell
  • Torness
  • Hunterson
  • Chaplecross
  • Hartlepool
  • Heysham
  • Wylfa
  • Sizewell
  • Trawsfynydd
  • Berkeley
  • Oldbury
  • Hinkley Point
  • Dungeness


Bradwell A closes

After 40 years of generating low carbon electricity, Bradwell A’s reactors shut down at the end of March 2002. They have generated enough energy over their lifetime to power 15 million homes for an entire year.

Fig. 27
Fig. 28
MyBradwell aims to create an archive of the lives, memories and stories behind the original Bradwell Power Station and the wider local area. Below are some of your memories - got something you want to share? Share your memories with us using the link in the top right corner of the page.
Touring the station

Touring Bradwell

In about June or July 1965 I and a group of fellow sixth formers had a school trip to the new Bradwell Nuclear Power Station. Included in our visit was a journey underneath the ball shaped reactor container. It was very warm there and I always remember our guide saying that the next time people could go under the reactor was at least a thousand years in the future!

Dr. R Rolfe, South Woodham Ferrers

Work experience at Bradwell

Work Experience at Bradwell

Mrs Conway from South Woodham Ferrers has shared this great photo of her daughter Sarah doing work experience at Bradwell A in 1990.

Life working at Bradwell

Life working at Bradwell

I commenced working on 6th of January 1962 and have probably cuddled more Uranium 235/238 in my arms than one can throw a stone at! The next thirty five years seem to have flown by but I do have an excellent memory and there seems so much more to tell.

Mr Everard, former T/H foreman

'I helped build the power station'

‘I helped build the power station’

One former staff member recently celebrated his 80th birthday by taking a walk along the seafront at Bradwell to the power station he helped to build! Mr Miller, now retired, was a plumber who worked on the construction of the original Bradwell Power Station.

'I met my wife at Bradwell!'

‘I met my wife at Bradwell!’

‘I worked at Bradwell A from Oct 2003 to 2014 as a contract Health Physics monitor [and] have fond memories of the place, being involved in defuelling to accelerated decommissioning.

I’ve many memories, but the one that stands out the most is meeting my future wife there. It’s been great to be a part of Bradwell’s journey, it will hold a special place in my heart and I look forward to construction and operation of Bradwell B.’

Mr W McAllister

'One of the original pioneers'

One of the original pioneers

“Our father was one of the original pioneers of the place.

We moved down in 1956 and our dad had been there for a year or so before staying at the Queens Head.

Our mother wrote a lovely article for a Millenium publication in Tillingham 2000 where she ralks of the “nuclearites” coming to the local villages.”

Mr Leonard

Twenty years of Bradwell life

Twenty years of Bradwell life

“I worked there for the last 20 years of its life as reactor desk control engineer, closing down reactor 2 on its last day.

I have kept in touch with some 30 ex-Bradwell A  workers who have a reunion every year in October at a local pub”.

Mr Smith

A nuclear family

A nuclear family

Working at Bradwell was a family affair for Mrs Webber, whose husband and father were also members of staff!

Mrs Webber spent nearly 15 years at the station from 1969 to 1982. Her husband was a Mechanical Maintenance Foreman, and her father a Reactor Foreman.

She now arranges an annual meetup of the ‘Bradwell Old Boys’, and the next one is scheduled for October.


'A home away from home'

‘A home away from home’

Mr Miller, who worked at Bradwell but now lives in Washington, Tyne and Wear, has been sharing his memories from his time at the station.

Mr Miller worked on the pipework for the main power station structure, and says that working at Bradwell was like ‘being on holiday’ and ‘a home away from home!’

He recently returned to the local area and says that the local pub still looked the same!

Thirty years of service

Thirty years of service

Mr Twyman worked at Bradwell for thirty years, starting in 1962 when he was 15 years old. Working in the electricity department, Mr Twyman has been telling us about the underwater tunnel that separated water from the internal cooling system, and other stories from his time at the station.

The bus to work cost just six pence, and once it snowed so heavily Mr Twyman says they had to get a tractor to pull them into work!

Sporting success at Bradwell

Sporting success at Bradwell

“I was born and grew up at Bradwell waterside. When I left school in 1958 my first job was in a bank, but I didn’t like it there. Looking for work I walked to the power station which was in the early stages of construction. Maybe my Technical Drawing O level was to be useful after all!

There was a very active Sports and Social Club at the power station and I ran the football club which played, with considerable success, in the Mid-Essex league. I also played table tennis, cricket and badminton where I met my wife, Brenda.

The time I spent at Bradwell was most enjoyable and there was great camaraderie.”

Mr C Hawkins

Celebrating the Silver Jubilee at Bradwell

Silver jubilee tea towels!

We’ve had some great images of power station memorabilia through from Mr Twyman, including some Bradwell power station branded ties and tea towels produced to mark the station’s silver jubilee!

'Dream came true!'

‘Dream came true!’

“I watched the first turbine arrive as a school boy at Bradwell Primary school and always wanted to work there! The dream came true and I spent twenty years in the Instrument Department working for Colin Kenyon, the best boss I ever had!”

Mr Bridge

Arranging the annual staff reunion

Arranging the annual staff reunion

Ms Jones worked at Bradwell as an Occupational Health Nurse, and now runs a Facebook group for former station staff, and helps arrange the annual reunion each year.

The last reunion was held on Sunday 6th October 2019 at the Red Lion in Latchingdon.  You can join the Facebook group here.

Class of 1958

Class of 1958

Mr B George, who worked for Sir Robert McAlpine on the construction of Bradwell Power Station between 1957 and 1964, sent us this great group staff photo from 1958.

Are you one of the people pictured in this photo? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

Hard at work

Hard at work

Mr McAllister, who met his wife whilst working on the decommissioning of the original Bradwell Power Station, has gotten back in touch after finding this photo of him conducting monitoring work back in 2006!

Building Bradwell

Building Bradwell

Mr Alan Tunstall, a Civil Engineer, worked at Bradwell during the construction of the original Bradwell Power Station. Mr Tunstall’s son, Mike, provided us with this great photo, along with many others.

A Year of Progress

A Year of Progress

‘A Year of Progress’ was published in 1957 and records the construction of the original Bradwell Power Station, one of the world’s first atomic power stations.

This brochure was kindly provided to us by Mr B George, who worked on the construction of the original Bradwell Power Station between 1957 and 1964.