Winston Churchill is probably the most famous politician of the last 100 years, leading Britain to victory in the Second World War and famous for his rousing speeches. What is less-well known is that he was an early advocate of science and technology - a passion which helped shaped the outcome of the war, as a new exhibition shows.
Speaking at the launch of Churchill’s Scientists at London’s Science Museum, Randolph Churchill, his great-grandson believes many people still do not realise the things Churchill had been doing over the years that brought scientific and technological change and had a huge impact on the war
“Winston understood how technology would bring advances in warfare and for that he was way ahead of his day. Bletchley Park came out of his Admiralty decoding office, he changed the Royal Navy from coal to oil, he spent so much of his life encouraging scientists to foster technological change,” he said.
Among the artefacts on show at Churchill’s Scientists are the high-speed camera that filmed the first milliseconds of the detonation of Britain’s first atomic bomb in 1952 (below), the original radar receiver used by Robert Watson-Watt in an experiment to prove that radar works and the world’s largest radio telescope designed by Bernard Lovell.
Check out the video above to find out more.
Churchill’s passion for science started years before he became Prime Minister. He was one of the first people to learn how to fly, taking to the skies as early as 1913 in a Bieriot X1 aircraft, a model of which is on display at the exhibition (below).
Writing in a magazine in 1924 he predicted the atomic bomb, “might a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to blast a township at a stroke.”
Churchill was the first Prime Minister to appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser. During the war he championed Bletchley Park, where codebreakers cracked the Enigma code and helped speed up the end of the war, describing them as: "My geese that laid the golden eggs and never cackled.”
The exhibition includes some more personal items including a bust by Jacob Epstein, a cigar and velvet green siren suit worn by Churchill during air raids -what would be described today as a “onesie”.
Churchill’s Scientists is on at the Science Museum now, entry is free and you can find out more at www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/ . To discover more about Churchill and his legacy visit www.churchillcentral.com