Sellafield Stories

Sellafield Stories oral history archive project was an initiative of Whitehaven Archive and Local Studies Centre, financed by legacy funding from British Nuclear Fuels. The ambitious aim was to record and transcribe 100 interviews, gathering a representative history of the Windscale/Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria.

The life story interviews were recorded between 2010 and 2011, and covered personal lives, including family background and education, before moving on to look at their specific relationship with the Sellafield plant. Interviewees represented a wide variety of people and ranged from senior managers to ‘shop-floor’ employees, and also included local residents and farmers, and anti-nuclear campaigners.

Employees included those who had worked at the site from the early 1950s at the Calder Hall power station, had been at or near the site during the Windscale Fire of 1956, right through to those who had worked at the site during its transition from state to private management and operation. The project was led by Jenni Lister, local studies librarian, who conducted many of the interviews.

Graham Brightman shares his recollections of the aftermath of the Windscale file (SS-1(1)_3) Transcript here

Dave Banks, a former fitter and shop steward, talks about safety procedures and gives a description of the protective suit, the Windscale suit, that he wore at Sellafield (SS-10_1) Transcript here

Peter McLean, a former member of the Sellafield dive team, on the issues relating to windfarms and whether they are as ‘green’ as they appear. (SS-26_4) Transcript here


Audio – extract from John Kane interview. John worked in the Business Improvement section and was part of a delegation to visit Japan for a statement of co-operation between Japan, France and the UK. At his first press conference there he soon learned of Greenpeace’s invasion of Sellafield with the band U2. (AP_SS-3(2)_s1_f01_v1_e01_n3)

Image – Simon Ledingham / Aerial view Sellafield, Cumbria / CC BY-SA 2.0


Thank you to Maddie Sheldon, one of our volunteers who made the audio clips for this page.


The full length interviews are available at Carlisle Archive Service and Whitehaven Archives, and are scheduled for publication at the British Library website.

You can read some descriptions online at the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image catalogue. The British Library collection reference is UAP030. The local reference is SS.


  1. We are looking to take an oral history for Sellafield over the next 145 years based from Workington, where many of the people work at Sellafield. Would someone please contact me in order to steer us in the right direction and to follow our progress.

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