The Atom Bomb Connection
Rhydymwyn was used to house gaseous diffusion machines with the objective of separating the uranium isotope U-235 from U-238 as this was thought to be the quickest way of producing enough material for an atom bomb. The site was chosen for a number of reasons – there were empty buildings of the right size, it was accessible (the site was on a railway line and not too far from civilisation), it had a local workforce, wasn’t too far from the chemical industries of the Mersey / Wirral area and the site was already a guarded, secure site.
Light and shadow
While the British scientists were making good progress, there was a recognition that Britain simply didn’t have the resources to step up from experimentation to weaponisation. In August 1943, the Quebec Agreement was signed and British nuclear scientists were transferred to America to join the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bombs that destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima and ended the war. The American effort was on an incomprehensible scale – the enormous K-25 building was built at Oak Ridge in Tennessee for gaseous diffusion, but covered 2 million square feet and cost $512 million dollars (equivalent to $6.7 billion in 2014 money!!!!)