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Leonard Owen

Sir Leonard Owen CBE (3 May 1897 – 25 March 1971) was a British civil engineer
and nuclear engineer. As Director of Engineering at the British Atomic Energy
Leonard Owen
Project, he oversaw the construction of the Springfields Chemical and Fuel Element
Plants, the Windscale Piles, Windscale plutonium extraction plant, Capenhurst
gaseous diffusion plant and the Calder Hall nuclear power station

William Leonard Owen was born on 3 May 1897 in Walton, Liverpool,
England,[1][2] the only child of Thomas John Owen, a mariner, and his wife, Levina
Elizabeth Victoria Isabella Smith.[2] He was educated at Liverpool Collegiate
School. The First World War broke out while he was there, and he joined the 6th
Liverpool Regiment, and served on the Western Front.[3] After the war he entered
the University of Liverpool, where he studied engineering. He was awarded his
Bachelor of Engineering degree with honours in 1922, and a Master of Engineering
degree in 1924.[2] He married Phyllis Condliff in 1923; they had two children, both

Owen took a position with the Brunner Mond Company in Northwich in 1922, and
Born 3 May 1897
became a project engineer at one of its chemical plants.[3] The plant was involved in
Walton, Liverpool,
the large-scale production of bulk chemicals, and his engineering department was
concerned with the design of additions to the plant. In 1926, Brunner Mond merged
with other firms to form Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI).[3] He began working Died 25 March 1971
with Christopher Hinton in 1929, and the two would be colleagues for the next 30 (aged 73)
years,[3] although they never became friends.[2] Beaumaris, Anglesey,
In the years immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939,
Nationality British
Hinton and Owen were involved in the British shadow factories scheme,[3] under
Known for Calder Hall
which new factories were established so British industry, particularly the aircraft
industry, could rapidly expand on the outbreak of war.[4] After the war began, Awards Knight Bachelor (1957)
Hinton and Owen were seconded to the Ministry of Supply, with Owen serving Scientific career
under Hinton as a director of the Royal Filling Factories. In this role he was
Fields Civil engineering
responsible for their plant and equipment.[3]
Nuclear engineering
After the war ended, Owen joined Hinton at ROF Risley, near Warrington,[2] as
Director of Engineering in the Atomic Energy Department at the Ministry of Supply, working on the British Atomic Energy Project.
In 1947, he became Hinton's deputy as Assistant Controller in Department of Atomic Energy Production.[1] As such, he oversaw the
construction of its facilities, including the Springfields Chemical and Fuel Element Plants, the Windscale Piles, Windscale plutonium
extraction plant, Capenhurst gaseous diffusion plant and the Calder Hall nuclear power station,[3] the world's first nuclear power
station to produce electricity on a commercial scale.[2] For his services, Owen was made a Commander of the British Empire in June

With the establishment of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) in 1954, Owen became the Director of
Engineering and Deputy Managing Director of its Industrial Group. When Hinton moved on to become the chairman of the Central
Electricity Generating Board in 1957, Owen became the Managing Director.[3] He became the UKAEA Member for Production in
1959, and Member for Production and for Engineering in 1961.[1] He served in this role until he retired from executive duties in
1962, but remained as a part-time member of the UKAEA until 1964.[3] He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1957,[6] and awarded an
honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Manchesterin 1960.[1]

After leaving the UKAEA, Owen became a Director of United Gas Industries, and was Chairman of three of its subsidiaries. He was
also a Director of Cammell Laird,[3] a shipbuilding company that built nuclear-powered submarines, including the Polaris ballistic
missile submarines HMS Renown and HMS Revenge, and HMS Conqueror, which sank the cruiser General Belgrano in the
Falklands War.[7] He was on the Council of the University of Liverpool, and was chairman of the committee responsible building the
new Mechanical Engineering Building and the Oliver Lodge Laboratory. He was chairman of the British Nuclear Energy Society and
a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, serving on its Publications Committee and its General Purposes Committee.[3] Owen
died at his home, in Beaumaris, Anglesey, in north Wales on 25 March 1971.[2] His papers are in the University of Liverpool.[1]

1. "Papers of Sir W. Leonard Owen (1897–1971)" (http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/fd6a2058-ac4c-42b
4-9810-162bed3066cc). The National Archives. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
2. "Owen, Sir (William) Leonard (1897–1971)".Oxford Dictionary of National Biography(online ed.). Oxford University
Press. 3 January 2008.doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31522(https://doi.org/10.1093/ref%3Aodnb/31522). (Subscription or UK
public library membership (http://www.oxforddnb.com/help/subscribe#public) required.)
3. "Obituary. Sir Leonard Owen 1897-1971".Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers
. 50 (3): 398–399.
November 1971. doi:10.1680/iicep.1971.6101(https://doi.org/10.1680/iicep.1971.6101). ISSN 1753-7789 (https://ww
4. van Schaardenburgh, Christiaan (14 October 2013)."Shadow factories of the WW2 British motor industry"(https://ea
. E&T Magazine.
Retrieved 20 July 2018.
5. "No. 38929" (https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/38929/supplement/2785). The London Gazette (1st
supplement). 2 June 1950. p. 2785.
6. "No. 41003" (https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/41003/page/1044). The London Gazette. 15 February
1957. p. 1044.
7. Harrison, Michael (3 December 1992)."Cammell Laird closure to end Mersey shipbuilding"(https://www.independen
. The Independent. Retrieved 20 July

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