The secret plot to blow up a nuclear bomb in Yorkshire – and what it would have done

The Government secretly plotted to blow up a nuclear bomb in Yorkshire, it has been revealed.

New research by archive expert Tom Scott has revealed the alarming plan and even the exact location of where the explosion would happen.

He discovered that a dale in the North Yorkshire Moors just a few miles from Pickering and Whitby would be the site for the massive underground blast.

The bomb would be 25 kilotons, bigger than the atomic blast which destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945 bringing an end to the Second World War.

The paper was called ‘Possible Sites for Completely Contained Nuclear Explosions in North Yorkshire’.

Find more history and nostalgia from Hull Live here

And an introduction said the blasts were designed to “create underground storage for gas or oil” or to “stimulate natural gas production” – a reference to what is now known as fracking.

Nuclear scientists planned to bury the bomb 2,000ft underground in a small forested area known as Wheeldale before detonating it.

The resulting massive cavernous hole would then be used to potentially store natural gas to provide energy for homes.

The plans included detailed data on how much the project would cost and how they would buy up a mile of surrounding land and evacuate around 1,000 nearby residents.

The balance sheet even showed how much the nuclear bomb would cost – £165,000, or about £3m in today’s money.

The official Government paper showing the proposed site of the blast

The reports also worked out how much compensation would be given to homeowners in nearby Pickering and Whitby – around 10 miles away – for expected cracks and repairs caused by the aftershock.

Speaking after discovering the recently declassified documents at the National Archives in London, Tom said he was stunned by what he found.

He said: “It’s the first time in a long while that I’ve read some old archive file and my jaw has literally dropped.”

“North Yorkshire is a beautiful area that includes two national parks. It is stunning, it is historic it is not somewhere that I’d expect anyone to try to set off a nuclear explosion.”

YouTuber Tom Scott at the site in Wheeldale after he discovered the declassified archive report showing plans for a nuclear bomb detonation

Tom, a University of York graduate who now runs a hugely successful YouTube site focusing on practical science, visited the site for his YouTube video top show the beautiful scenery where the blast would have taken place. His video has now been viewed almost 2million times.

said the Government plan followed similar work in America and Soviet Union to look at nuclear bombs not as weapons but as a way to change the physical landscape.

He said the UK report was produced in 1969 at the height of the Space Race and the so-called “white heat of technology” era.

Watch Tom’s full video here

Peaceful nuclear explosions were being studied to see if they could create harbors or vast underground storage areas for gas supplies to replace the huge above ground tanks which were common across the country.

In America, under the codename Operation Plowshare, scientists carried out a number of tests in the Nevada deserts.

And Tom said the Soviet Union was suspected of carrying out “more than 200” underground explosions before both countries abandoned the idea after discovering that any gas stored in the caverns could never be flushed clean of radiation.

Speaking about the UK report into the Wheeldale bomb, Tom said it highlighted the impact the explosion would have on the area.

He said: “There’d be a bit of a jolt and a rumble, a few birds started into the air. The local towns of Pickering and Whitby, they’d feel a minor earthquake and maybe a couple of buildings would get a few small cracks in them. I’m not kidding, that’s what the report actually says, it just phrases it a bit more delicately than that.

“It’s not clear whether the locals would be told what’s going on.”

The site of the proposed blast near Pickering and Whitby

He said the paper trail on the project vanished after the end of 1969 with only a note that “further thought” would go into the idea.

Peaceful nuclear explosions would later be banned under nuclear disarmament treaties.

“The North Yorkshire Moors, thankfully, were never nuked,” said Tom.

For Hull Live headlines direct by email, click here

The secret plot to blow up a nuclear bomb in Yorkshire - and what it would have done 1

Leave a Comment