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Dounreay - Heritage

Dounreay Heritage Index


26 January 08
Dounreay Heritage To Be Preserved

The memorial stone at the entrance of the Prototype Fast Reactor is one of the more important items of the site's heritage, as James explains to PFR decommissioning manager Jim McCafferty.

He might not think so today, but future generations could regard James Gunn as the most important person ever to work at Dounreay.

For the former chemist and project manager has taken up a new part-time role as the site's first heritage officer.

His role is to preserve aspects of the site that will give future generations a glimpse of life at Dounreay when the site itself has long gone.

Later this month, James will commission consultants to draw up the site's first heritage strategy.

An important and headline-grabbing part of the strategy will be about whether to scrap the contaminated DFR sphere as part of the site clean-up and demolition.

But James says there is a lot more to the site's heritage than just a giant steel ball.

He's already started discussions with Historic Scotland, the official Government body with a role in the preservation of industrial heritage, and senior officials will visit Dounreay later this month.

"Imagine your grandchild or whoever in 50 or 100 years from now, wondering about this famous place called Dounreay where their grandmother or great-grandfather worked, but perhaps which no trace of is left on the landscape," he says.

"Where does he or she go to find out what Dounreay was about? What do they find when they get there?

"My job is to work with projects across the site to identify those artefacts worthy of salvage and preservation and to work with Caithness Horizons to ensure they are retained in some shape or form when everything else around it has gone."

James has been appointed to represent Dounreay on the Collections Trust of Caithness Horizons, the new community and visitor facility in Thurso.

UKAEA is a major partner in the Caithness Horizons project and the museum section will have an exhibition telling the Dounreay story.

Some items have already been saved and sent for storage off-site pending their handover to the trust.

These include parts from the old control room at DMTR and exhibits at the old visitor centre such as the ordnance datum stone from the now-demolished farmhouse and models of the reactors.

Other potential items of value include sounds such as the clip-clop, old staff magazines such as Haggis, examples of workwear, plant equipment, trophies and awards.

Now, James is to keen to hear from anyone at the site who wants to work with him to preserve the story of Dounreay for future generations.

Retired Dounreay worker Alistair Fraser is being helped by the site communications department to record the reminiscences of other retired workers and James is keen to see this material captured on video for posterity as well.

A book charting the history of the site has been commissioned and the history is also being written of the Dounreay Sports and Social Club in Thurso.

"The heritage is all around us but none of us really sees it because we become so used to it in our everyday lives," says James.

"For example, when the head of site gives a staff talk it is recorded on a video so that he can communicate with the shift teams. Is that heritage? Imagine if today we could look back at film of staff talks given by directors in the 1950s - that would be fascinating. Well, generations 50 years from now will probably feel the same about today's material."