By Margaret Gowing (auth.)
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Extra resources for Independence and Deterrence: Britain and Atomic Energy, 1945–1952
Size had also made teamwork within, and between, different branches of science especially rewarding. Apart from these factors, several of the best scientists, pure academics by origin, had developed in their • Nunn May did not join Harwell but returned from Canada to London University (see Chapter 16). ' The attractions of an atomic energy research establishment could be considerable, provided the institutional and administrative framework was acceptable. Cockcroft, Penney and Hinton recruited their nuclei of staff and, albeit with difficulty, the additional complements they needed.
Saturday mornings were spent in recruiting draughtsmen, and the interviewers looked out for young men who had just finished their apprenticeship and had the spark in their eyes that promised well. Many of them soared quickly. This was the most sophisticated engineering project the twentieth century had yet seen, yet it produced an upward social mobility, a possibility for those with little education to rise, which was more characteristicof the nineteenth century. It was perhaps an eye for paper qualifications that caused some people in Whitehall or elsewhere in the project to make occasional slighting remarks about Hinton's staff.
Some were diffident, with limited personal ambitions, while others were empirebuilders; some were lone wolves and others gregarious; some were exuberant and others cautious; some 'permissive' and some solidly respectable. Tensions were an essential part of the creativity of the era, which a more complacent general conformism might have suffocated. In spite of the characteristics they had in common, the establishments developed over the years a markedly distinctive flavour. This was due partly to the location and origin of the sites.