Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Before 1946 Harwell was probably best known for its cherry orchards. In 1937 an airfield was built between Harwell and Chilton and named RAF Harwell . The airfield was used during World War II to launch glider-borne troops for the Normandy invasion.
In 1946 this airfield was taken over to become the new Atomic Energy Research Establishment, the main centre for atomic energy research in the UK, and become known as Harwell Laboratory. It was the site of Europe's first nuclear reactor in 1946, and once housed five nuclear reactors, all of which have been shut down. Two have been completely dismantled, and it is anticipated that the other three will be decommisioned by 2022.
Other parts of the airfield were later used for other scientific organisations, including the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. That part of the site is now known as Chilton/Harwell Science Campus and also houses the Diamond Light Source. The Atomic Energy Research Establishment part of the airfield site is now officially called Harwell International Business Centre.
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