For excellent readings and introductions to British nuclear culture, please see; J. Hughes, ‘What is British Nuclear Culture?: Understanding Uranium 235’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.04 (December 2012), p. 496. Also see; K. Willis, ‘The Origins of British Nuclear Culture’, Journal of British Studies, 34.1 (January 1995), pp. 59-89 and J. Hogg and C. Laucht, ‘Introduction: British nuclear culture’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.04 (December 2012), pp. 479-493.
Also read Dr. J Hoggs new book; British Nuclear Culture: Official and Unofficial Narratives in the twentieth century, (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).
What is ‘nuclear culture?’
The concept of ‘nuclear culture’ has been heavily debated over the last twenty years or so and it has been defined a number of ways throughout it’s lifetime. Willis has defined ‘British nuclear culture’ clearly as “the knowledge, imagery, and artefacts of applied nuclear physics.” Subsequently, historians have broadened and challenged this definition. For example Michael Messmer defined ‘nuclear culture’ as the ‘pervasive cultural embeddedness of the bomb’, while more recently Christoph Laucht has broadened the definition to “the sum of all experiences with regard to civilian and military uses of atomic energy, including such diverse layers as science technology, society, culture, politics, identity, gender, race, ethnicity and class.” This most recent definition is perhaps one of the most useful when thinking about ‘British nuclear culture’. Even more recently, in 2016 J. Hogg defined nuclear culture accurately as:
The distinct corner of British culture characterized by the development of the nuclear state and the complex and varied ways in which people controlled, responded to, resisted, or represented the complex influence of nuclear science and technology, the official nuclear state and the threat of nuclear war. 
The term ‘nuclear culture’, and in particular ‘British nuclear culture’, is a problematic term that still lacks a standardized definition, still being defined and utilized as an umbrella term throughout historiography. Despite this, a number of excellent articles attempted to understand, define and challenge ‘British nuclear culture’ were published in 2012 in the British Journal for the History of Science (BJHS) (would recommend reading!) The series of articles summarize that the concept, alongside approaches to nuclear history, must be challenged. The notion of ‘British nuclear culture’ demonstrates ‘the rich, complex and contestable nature of the interactions between nuclear science, technology and British life and […] problematised how we choose to approach the nuclear past in British’. When looking at ‘British nuclear culture’ this becomes more complex.
J. Hogg and C. Laucht’s article Introduction: British Nuclear Culture attempted to re-define and evaluate the term ‘British nuclear culture’. By creating a historiographical map on the topic, the article began to move Britain’s nuclear experience away from the American historiography which had originally influenced it. The article by Hughes, What is British Nuclear Culture offered a new perspective by labelling the term as “too general, too passive, too monolithic” and “too simplistic”. Hughes argues that the generalisation of ‘British nuclear culture’ has removed all diverse and unique nuclear experiences and culture.
The terminology thus needs further debate and inquiry to fully understand its role, impact and affect on societies across the world. The notion of ‘nuclear culture’ needs to be deconstructed, assessed, defined and (re-)structured as a historical tool.
Historiography of ‘British nuclear culture’
Nuclear technology has existed in Britain for over sixty years and despite the end of the Cold War and the many debates surrounding the technology, the country still currently retains nearly 220 nuclear warheads, operates 16 functioning nuclear reactors and most recently, renewed its nuclear Trident programme in 2014. As such, the impact of this technology on the British population has entered academic discourse in an attempt to comprehend meanings and implications behind the nuclear threat, however this recent literature has failed to acknowledge the complexities and multifaceted discourses that are unique to the British nuclear experience.
Over the last twenty years, there has been an academic shift in nuclear scholarship, diverting away from traditional military, political or scientific approaches and instead favouring the disciplines of social, cultural and psychoanalytical history. Notable examples of this movement away from ‘top down’ history of the nuclear age include historians such as Paul Boyer (1994), Spencer Weart (1988) and Allen Winkler (1999). These historians have attempted to trace the nuclear age in terms of cultural, social and conscious changes due to the existence of the nuclear bomb subsequently forming the study of ‘nuclear culture’. Thus, rather than present nuclear technology as a phenomenon that altered traditional political, economic and scientific histories, its consequences have begun to be understood through human thought and interaction.
However, Britain is frequently neglected in academic studies on the Cold War, habitually seen as an “extension of America” or as a “back seat” player behind America and the Soviet Union. Britain has played a substantial role in the Cold War since its outbreak up until its thaw in the late 1980s. Since the Second World War, Britain has been profoundly and consistently involved in the origins, development and use of nuclear weapons and power, as well as contributing to their international presence. Despite this, Britain has largely been ignored in academic discourse resulting in a lack of Eurocentric perspectives on the cultural Cold War. Current historiography thus tends to focus on an American perspective, ignoring the other players in the Cold War. While may advances have been made methodology, theory and debates on the impact of nuclear technology on culture, society and consciousness, it has neglected to be translated into a British perspective.
With this in mind, there have been some advancement on the cultural shifts in Britain during the Cold War. Kirk Willis was the first to lead this movement, constructing the foundations to Britain’s own nuclear experience. Other historians were quick to follow, deciphering the impact nuclear technology had on Britain’s culture, including literature, plays, press, and protests. Furthermore, Baylis’ The British Nuclear Experience attempts to locate Britain’s Cold War experience through a lens of ‘beliefs’, ‘culture’ and ‘identity’, mapping the power dynamics between the private and public spheres and between the British government and its citizens.
Steward’s A History of Britain in the 1980s also takes a socio-cultural approach to the Cold War in Britain, attempting to demonstrate the 1980s as a period of “heightened tension”. Furthermore, it abandons the ‘top down’ approach and instead constructs the political and military decisions made ‘at the top’ through a ‘bottom up’ lens, considering the local dynamics and fluctuations. Despite these developments, ‘British nuclear culture’ has remained ‘too general, too passive, too monolithic’ and ‘too simplistic’ in its definition, generalising experiences across the whole country rather than accept co-existing, fluid and interactive experiences within the country. While these advancements in the ‘nuclear cultural history’ of Britain are significant, generalisations on ‘Britain’ still exist, particularly neglecting the existence of local nuclear experiences within the broader dialogue of the country.
“Thatcher on Communist spies in the British government” cartoon by South Wales Echo, 30 November 1981
Some scholarship exists that has attempted to diversify the ‘British Cold War’ and nuclear experience by splitting the country regionally. It is however, extremely limited. Most historiography has imagined ‘Britain’ as a broad, generalised entity but some work has been done on the Cold War in Ireland and Scotland. Most historians who have researched nuclear experiences in Ireland have advocated the role of the nuclear plant in Sellafield, across the Irish Sea, in England. These texts map the growing unrest in Ireland over Sellafield’s continued nuclear waste disposal into the sea, which ultimately washes up on the shores of Ireland. Similarly to ‘Britain’, most of this scholarship refers to ‘Ireland’ as a broader whole rather than de-constructing its different cultures. A single text refers to the history of Ireland and nuclear weapons, enforcing Ireland’s need to remain neutral in the Cold War and reject “England’s nuclear weapons”. Thus, the regions of Wales and Northern Ireland have largely been neglected in the understanding of the British nuclear experience.
Nuclear Britain map, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament UK, http://www.cnduk.org/get-involved/activist-centre/item/1333-nuclear-britain-map [accessed April 2016]
More developed work has been done on Scotland’s role in the Cold War, a viewpoint that has become more relevant with recent political developments. Most of these texts, such as Uncharted Waters and Trident and International War, discuss the relationship between Scotland and Britain using nuclear weapons as a lens. Uncharted Waters in particular maps the conflict in Scotland over Britain’s nuclear weapons placed on its shores, resulting in national disagreement over the production, use and placement of the country’s nuclear weapons. Scotland and the Cold War advocates this conflict further by portraying the Cold War in Scotland as separate from that in the rest of Britain, describing it as having affected every aspect of Scottish political, economic and social life. However, despite these attempts at localising the nuclear experience, the local is usually detached from the larger ‘grand narrative’ of the British nuclear experience or is completely disregarded.
Timeline: Nuclear Britain in the Cold War world, 1945-1989.
President of America Franklin D Roosevelt passes away in April, Harry Truman takes over an unsettled America.
First American nuclear weapons test (The Trinity Test) in New Mexico.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s term ends and Clement Attlee (Labour) takes over.
America drops the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. This ends the Second World War.
After the bomb fell on Hiroshima, ‘Hiroshima and the nuclear age’, The Guardian, 5 August 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2015/aug/05/hiroshima-nuclear-guide-anniversary-atomic-bomb [accessed May 2016]
UN calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons and anti-nuclear protest groups start to appear at the beginning of the year.
The Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) is established at Harwell as the main centre for military and civilian atomic energy research & development in the UK.
Nuclear test at Bikini by the US.
The Manhattan project between the UK and the US draws to a close.
Image of nuclear testing at Bikini
Britain re-starts the UK nuclear bomb project in secret in an attempt to maintain its ‘world power’ status’ with the US.
Britain begins work designing the plutonium bomb.
The UK starts work building its first atomic reactor.
Fort Halstead in Kent becomes the base for the High Explosives Research team, where Britain’s first atomic bomb will eventually be designed.
April – May 1948
America begins nuclear tests at Eniwetok Atoll.
The North Atlantic Treaty is signed, creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Britain is one of the twelve counties involved.
The Soviet Union detonates its first nuclear bomb, plummeting the world into uncertainty.
President Truman announces the US will begin work on the hydrogen bomb.
The World Peace Council calls for a ban on nuclear weapons.
The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE) opens at the former RAF Aldermaston airfield in Berkshire as the new headquarters of the British atomic weapon programme.
Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria became fully operational.
British prime minister Attlee loses the election and Winston Churchill takes over once more. He is the last British prime minister to also be concurrently the Minister of Defence.
Aerial view of the Sellafield nuclear power plant, Cumbria.
The first British atomic bomb, “Hurricane”, is tested in Australia. American tests first thermonuclear fusion bomb in the same month.
Front page of The West Australian from the day after the weapons test, 4 October 1952.
President Truman is replaced by Republican D. Eisenhower in the American elections.
Long reining Soviet Union Leader J. Stalin dies, resulting in a feeling of uncertainty across the world. Georgy Malenkov takes over.
First US hydrogen bomb test. It results in radioactive fallout surrounding the testing area, resulting in an ambiguous death.
Britain’s atom bomb enters service within a V-bomber, resulting in the first operational British nuclear weapon.
Nikita Khrushchev takes over as Soviet leader after a brief power struggle.
Anthony Eden (Conservative) wins the elections and takes over from Churchill as the British prime minister.
The Warsaw Pact is signed between the Soviet Union and many Eastern European countries, the West-East divide is now etched on paper.
The United Kingdom announces the development of thermonuclear weapons.
The Russell-Einstein statement on banning nuclear weapons is published.
Development of the British ‘Blue Streak’ intermediate range ballistic missile commences as a delivery system to replace the V-bombers.
British ‘Blue Streak’ ballistic missile
The Soviet Union announces production on the hydrogen bomb.
The first British air drop test takes place.
Due to ill health, Eden is replaced by Harold Macmillan as the British Prime Minister.
Britain’s first H-bomb test at Christmas Island.
The UN’s Atomic Energy Agency is created to ensure members were using the nuclear power stations for peaceful purposes.
The Windscale Fire, Britain’s worst nuclear accident, erupts in Cumbria’s nuclear power station.
Britain operates a successful thermonuclear weapon test.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is formed to protest against nuclear weapons.
The First Aldermaston March takes place, organised by the Direct Action Committee and the CND, against the British H-bomb programme.
The UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement on nuclear co-operation is signed.
Last British nuclear test in the Pacific – all future nuclear tests were conducted jointly with the USA.
Cardiff CND Protest, from the South Wales Echo.
The first U.S. Polaris nuclear missile-capable submarine enters into service.
Nuclear testing in Antarctica is banned.
The British Blue Streak missile project is abandoned.
France tests its first nuclear weapons.
The US sells its Skybolt missile to the UK for its V-bomber force to compensate for the end of Blue Streak.
John F. Kennedy (Democrat) takes office as the US President.
The Soviet Union explodes the largest nuclear bomb ever recorded.
First joint UK-US nuclear weapon tests take place.
The Cuban Missile crisis erupts and the world becomes the closest it has ever been to nuclear war.
Nassau Agreement – President Kennedy abandons the Skybolt missile project so as compensation to Britain, the US decides to sell them Polaris missiles.
Propaganda during the Cuban Missile Crisis
The UK-US Polaris Sales Agreement is signed.
The Partial Test Ban Treaty is signed between the US, UK and USSR banning nuclear tests i the atmosphere, underwater and outer space to control the release of fallout.
Alec Douglas-Home (Conservative) takes over as the UK Prime Minister as Macmillan leaves due to ill health.
President Kennedy is publicly murdered and is swiftly replaced by Lyndon B. Johnson.
The bizarre anti-nuclear film Dr. Strangelove is released.
Construction of HMS Resolution begins, the first Polaris ballistic missile submarine.
China conducts its first nuclear test.
Soviet Leader Khrushchev is replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.
Harold Wilson (Labour) is voted in as the British Prime Minister.
Harold Wilson cancels the project to project nuclear capable TSR2 aircraft.
The BBC produces The War Game nuclear war drama-documentary but it is banned from being shown to the public.
US bomber crashes near Spain, carrying 4 hydrogen bombs. All four were recovered.
The WE177 tactical nuclear bomb is deployed. It will become the UK’s longest serving nuclear weapons.
Latin America becomes nuclear free.
The First Chinese hydrogen bomb is successfully tested.
The UK’s nuclear submarine force, Polaris, enters service.
The UK signs the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with Russia and the USA.
France tests its first hydrogen bomb.
Hydrogen Bomb explosion.
Richard Nixon (Republican) takes over as US President.
The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) take place.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty comes into force.
Edward Heath (Conservative) is voted in as British Prime Minister.
The US deploys the first missile with multiple independent target-able reentry vehicles (MIRVs).
US deploys first Poseidon submarine ballistic missiles.
SALT II Talks begin.
Work begins on UK Chevaline project to develop and upgrade the Polaris submarines warheads.
Harold Wilson is re-voted in as British Prime Minister.
India tests its first nuclear weapons successfully.
The Threshold Test Ban treaty (limiting nuclear explosions to 150 kilotons) is signed.
Gerald Ford (Republican) becomes the new American President.
Remnants of India’s first nuclear test.
The Threshold test Ban Treaty comes into force.
James Callaghan replaces Wilson as British Prime Minister.
The Underground Nuclear Explosions for Peaceful Purposed (PNE) is signed between the USA and USSR.
Jimmy Carter (Democrat) is voted to be the new US President.
America successfully tests a neutron bomb.
Neutron Bomb: an explosive issue.
The US cancels the development of the Neutron bomb.
Scotland and Wales reject devolution The Referenda required a 40% vote. There was a majority reached in Scotland but it was heavily defeated in Wales and so was not passed.
A partial nuclear meltdown takes place at the Three Mile Island nuclear station in Pennsylvania in the United States. It is often regarded as the worst American nuclear power accident.
Conservative Margret Thatcher becomes Britain’s first female Prime Minister.
Thatcher swiftly convenes her Cabinet Committee to examine Polaris replacement.
Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, ‘Europe ‘has failed to learn from environmental disasters’, The Guardian, 23 Jan 2013 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/jan/23/europe-failed-learn-environmental-lessons [accessed May 2016]
Protect and Survive nuclear survival leaflets are leaked in the Times
Protect and Survive is published officially in Britain.
Secretary of state for Defence, Francis Pym, reveals to the House of Commons that American nuclear cruise missiles would be located at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire and the discussed RAF Molesworth base in Cambridgeshire.
Thatcher decides to opt for the US Trident C missile to replace Polaris and tells the full Cabinet.
The first Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) rally at RAF Greenham Common takes place.
‘Cold War Warrior’ Ronald Reagan is elected as the American President.
Michael Foot takes over Labour and has a 56% support lead.
Peace Campaign in Liverpool, Liverpool Echo, 1980.
Ronald Reagan takes office as American President.
Reagan restarts production of neutron bombs in America despite outcry from the Soviet Union.
Greenham’s Women Peace Camp is set up.
CND Anti-nuclear march in London attracts over 250,000 people.
Argentina invades the British Territory of the Falkland Islands – war is declared.
The nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror is deployed to destroy Argentinian ships.
Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev passes away from illness after an eighteen year reign. Yuri Andropov takes over two days later.
Reagan calls for the development of MX ‘peacekeeper’ nuclear missiles.
Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp: 30,000 women hold hands and form a human chain around the fence.
Greenham ‘human chain’ protest
Thousands of protesters from a 14 mile chain in reaction to the siting of US nuclear weapons in UK military bases.
Thatcher wins landslide victory in the General Election, earning her a second term. Foot retires and the Labour Party’s anti-nuclear stance ends.
Over a million people demonstrate against nuclear weapons at a CND march in London.
America invades Grenada, a Caribbean island nation, despite British disapproval.
The first US Cruise Missiles arrive at RAF Greenham Common amid protests from peace campaigners.
Soviet Leader Andropov passes away due to illness and is replaced by a sickly Konstantin Cherenko.
Peace Protesters are evicted from the Greenham Women’s Peace Camp.
Release of ‘Threads’ nuclear war film. The film causes much anxiety and discontent over nuclear issues in Britain.
Reagan is re-elected for a second term as the American President.
Ronald Reagan, ‘Defending Defence’ Time Magazine, 1983
Chernenko passes away is is replaced by Mikhail Gorbachev, a very liberal and forward thinking Soviet Leader.
Greenpeace ship ‘Rainbow Warrior;’ is destroyed on its way to protest against nuclear weapons tests.
The BBC film The War Game is finally shown to the public.
The South Pacific becomes nuclear free.
The Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Soviet Union melts down releasing a huge amount of radioactive material. It is often cited as the world worst nuclear accident.
Israels nuclear programme is revealed.
Construction of the British nuclear HMS Vanguard, which will carry Trident, begins.
The anti-nuclear film ‘When the Wind Blows’ is released. It mocks the British Protect & Survive programme.
The first US MX missiles becomes operations and talks of nuclear abolition between the USA and USSR begin.
Segment of ‘When the Wind Blows’ Graphic Novel, 1982
The Atomic Weapons Establishment is formed in the UK to monitor the design and manufacturing of the UK’s nuclear warheads.
All intermediate range missiles are banned after a treaty is signed between the US and USSR.
The Berlin Walls collapses, reunifying Germany and marking the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War.
Fall of the Berlin Wall
 K. Willis, ‘The Origins of British Nuclear Culture, 1895-1939’, The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (January 1995) p. 60
 M. W. Messmer, ‘Nuclear culture, nuclear criticism’, Minnesota Review, No. 30, (Spring 1988) pp. 161–180
 C. Laucht, Elemental Germans: Klaus Fuchs, Rudolf Peirels and the Making of British Nuclear Culture 1939-1959, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) p. 5
 J. Hogg, British Nuclear Culture: Official and Unofficial Narratives in the twentieth century, (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016)
 British Journal for the History of Science, 24.04 (December 2012)
 J. Hogg and C. Laucht, ‘Introduction’ to special issue on ‘British nuclear culture,’ The British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 24, Special Issue. 04 (December 2012) pp.479-493
 J. Hughes, ‘What is British Nuclear Culture?: Understanding Uranium 235’, British Journal for the History of Science, Vol. 24, Special Issue. 04 (December 2012) pp. 495-518
 J. Simpson and J. Nielsen, ‘Governing the bomb: “The United Kingdom”, in H. Born, B. Gill and H. Hanggi (eds.), Governing the Bomb: civilian control and democratic accountability of nuclear weapons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 80-82. Also see; D. Holdstock, The British nuclear weapons programme, 1952-2002 (London: Frank Cass, 2003).
 J. Hughes, ‘What is British Nuclear Culture?: Understanding Uranium 235’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.04 (December 2012), p. 496.
 For examples of these shifts see; K. A. Parkhill, N. F. Pidgeon, K. L. Henwood, P. Simmons and D. Venbles, ‘From the familiar to the extraordinary: local residents’ perceptions of risk when living with nuclear power in the UK’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35.1 (January 2010), pp. 39-58 for a social perspective.
 For notable studies on nuclear culture see; D. Caute, The Dancer Defects: the struggle for cultural supremacy during the Cold War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), R. Hewison, In Anger: Culture in the Cold War (London: Weindenfeld & Nicolson, 1981) or S. C. Zeman and M. A. Amundson, Atomic Culture: How we learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (Boulder: University of Colorado, 2004).
 J. Baylis and K. Stoddart, The British Nuclear Experience: The Role of Beliefs, Culture, and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
 K. Willis, ‘The Origins of British Nuclear Culture’, Journal of British Studies, 34.1 (January 1995), pp. 59-89. For further reading on British culture in general; see, K. Robins, British cultural studies: Geography, Nationality and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
 For example, see; D. Cordle, ‘Protect/Protest: British nuclear fiction of the 1980s’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.4 (December 2012), pp.653-669, R. Maguire, ‘Never a credible weapon: nuclear culture in British government during the era of the H-bomb’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.4 (December 2012), pp. 519-533 and J. Hughes, ‘Deconstructing the bomb: recent perspectives on nuclear history’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 37.4 (December 2004), pp. 455-464 for a more conscience account.
 J. Baylis and K. Stoddart, The British Nuclear Experience. Also see; J. Baylis and K. Stoddart, ‘The British Nuclear Experience: The Role of Beliefs, Culture and Status’, Diplomacy and Statecraft, 23 (Summer 2012), pp. 493-516 for a briefer summarisation.
 J. Hughes, ‘What is British Nuclear Culture?: Understanding Uranium 235’, The British Journal for the History of Science, 45.04 (December 2012), p. 504.
 For example; K. Willis, ‘The Origins of British Nuclear Culture, 1895-1939’, The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 34, No. 1 (January, 1995) p. 60, M. Messmer, ‘Nuclear culture, nuclear criticism’, Minnesota Review, 30/31 (Spring/Fall 1988), pp. 161 and C. Laucht, Elemental Germans, p. 5 have all defined ‘nuclear culture in a number of diverse ways.
 See; S. Long and D. Fenton, ‘An Overview of Ireland’s National Radon Policy’, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 145.1-3 (May 2011), pp. 96-100 and V. McDermott, Going Nuclear: Ireland, Britain and the Campaign to close Sellafield (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2008). Also see; J. Travers, Green & Gold: Ireland a clean energy world leader? (Cork: The Collins Press, 2010).
 B. McSweeney (ed.), Ireland and the threat of Nuclear War (Dublin: Dominican Publications, 1985).
 M. Chalmers and W. Walker, Uncharted Waters and R. Johnson and A. Zelter (eds.), Trident and International Law: Scotland’s Obligations (Glasgow: Bell & Bain Ltd, 2011).
 M. Chalmers and W. Walker, Uncharted Waters, pp. 2-4.
 B. P. Jamison (ed.), Scotland and the Cold War (Glasgow: Bell & Bain, 2003), pp. 22-23, 29.