Conference paper abstract – Laura Coucill

Magnox: the Legacy of the CEGB

Coucill 01_CEGB logo

The CEGB (Central Generating Electricity Board) was the most coherent and comprehensive formation of the nationalised electricity industry in the reconstruction of post-war Britain. Created under the 1958 Electricity Act, the regional franchises of the CEGB coordinated and oversaw the delivery of new power stations within their respective areas. Efficiency and effectiveness in the interests of the taxpayer were the driving forces of the CEGBs organisation, underpinned by the legislative framework of the 1957 Electricity Act.

Coucill 03_Nuclear Power in Britain_Page_1

Demonstrating coordination and unification as a newly nationalised industry required a clear identity. Led by Richard Guyatt, graphic consultant to the CEGB Public Relations department, this was manifest through standardised branding, extending all areas of the organisation; from stationary to vehicles and interiors. This was the design work which conveyed the optimism and control needed in the construction of infrastructure fit for modern lifestyles.

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The CEGBs coordinated approach is perhaps best demonstrated through the delivery of the world’s first civil nuclear programme. Known as MAGNOX, after the magnesium alloy used in the fuel rods, the programme was developed by the UKAEA (UK Atomic Energy Authority) together with earlier incarnations of the UKs electricity authorities and is bookmarked by the opening of Calder Hall 1956 and concluded with the commissioning of Wylfa in 1969. Marketed as the leading edge of energy production, MAGNOX reactor types were also packaged for the international market, but demand fell short of expectations.

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This paper will explore the brand of the CEGB and whether its legacy is manifest through the built forms of the MAGNOX programme.

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