Photos of Wigan
Photos of Wigan

Wigan Album

United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority - Risley


UKAEA Apprentice Intake 1965
Photo: John Hankin
Views: 3,054
Item #: 17875
This was the first year when the UKAEA recruited a large number of apprentices for training to become Design Draughtsmen/Engineers. Boys around the age of 16 were recruited from the surrounding environs of Risley (Wigan, Leigh, Warrington, Lymm for example). There were two other lads apart from me from the Wigan area. Myself John Hankin, from Scholes,10th from the left, Tom Heaton from Hindley (Parents had a stall in Wigan market and still do), 14th from the left and Jim Summers from Poolstock, 15th from the left. Sadly Tom and Jim have both passed away. At this time there were around 6000 people working in the designa offices, administration, facilities and workshops etc. UKAEA was built on the old war time Admiralty site at Risley and many of the buildings are still there and in use today. There were a great number of dedicated buses travelling to Risley from all the local towns to ferry the workers and the bus park was a site to behold come finishing time at 5-00 pm. Great days!

Comment by: David on 7th June 2011 at 22:43

Canteen building in the background is still in use but is now a privately run business. For more info on the Risley apprentice scheme which employed many Wiganers (including myself) see

Comment by: John Hankin on 9th June 2011 at 11:05

The photo was indeed taken in front of the canteen which also had a shop, a barbers shop and a lecture theatre as well as a waitress served restaraunt on the first floor. We were about to embark on our first trip to AEA Winfrith Heath in Dorset for practical training in electrical, mechanical and instrumentation engineering. In those days Risley did not have it's own apprentice training workshops. These were to be provided during our tenure as apprentices and we assisted in the design and conversion of the old admiralty buildings into engineering workshops specifically for apprentices. During our two spells at Winfith in winter 1965 and spring/summer 1966 we lodged at the YMCA Hostel on the outskirts of Weymouth (what a great time we had) consequently we faced a 14 mile bus journey each day to and from Winfith Heath. The warden at the hostel in Lynch Lane was Eddie Hapgood the ex Arsenal and England full back.

Comment by: John Hankin on 9th June 2011 at 11:41

Just thought Alan Greenhalgh, third from right also lived in Poolstock at the time, although born in the Manchester area Alan's family moved to Wigan and he and his father were involved in the Boy Scout movement for many years in the Billinge area. Alan is now living in Chorley and we keep in touch.

Comment by: Chris Harvey on 10th May 2012 at 04:56

I worked at the UKAEA - but at the Culcheth Reactor Materials Laboratories (RML)next to the Wigan-Irlam-Manchester railway! Had a good 5 years there and was sponsored through day-release to attend Wigan Mining and Technical College - 1 full day and either 2 or 3 nights as well. It was the alternative to University but a lower level!!

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