Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Porton Down

Porton Down

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Porton Down'
Start a new discussion about 'Porton Down'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Porton Down is a United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government and military science park
Science park
A research park, science park, or science and technology park is an area with a collection of buildings dedicated to scientific research on a business footing. There are many approximate synonyms for "science park", including research park, technology park, technopolis and biomedical park...

. It is situated slightly northeast of Porton near Salisbury in Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. To the northwest lies the MoD Boscombe Down
MoD Boscombe Down
MoD Boscombe Down is an aircraft testing site located at Idmiston, south of Amesbury, in Wiltshire, England. It is run and managed by QinetiQ, the company created as part of the breakup of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency in 2001 by the UK Ministry of Defence...

 test range facility which is operated by QinetiQ
QinetiQ
Qinetiq is a British global defence technology company, formed from the greater part of the former UK government agency, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency , when it was split up in June 2001...

. On maps, Porton Down has a "Danger Area" surrounding the entire complex.

It is home to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
Dstl
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom. Responsibility for Dstl lies with the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, currently Peter Luff....

, known as Dstl. Dstl is an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 (MoD), and the site is believed to be one of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's most sensitive and secretive government facilities for military research, including CBRN
CBRN
CBRN is an initialism for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear. It is used to refer to situations in which any of these four hazards have presented themselves. The term CBRN is a replacement for the cold war term NBC , which had replaced the term ABC that was used in the fifties...

 defence. The Dstl site occupies 7,000 acres (28 km²).
It is also home to the Health Protection Agency
Health Protection Agency
The Health Protection Agency, or, in Welsh, Yr Asiantaeth Diogelu Iechyd is a statutory corporation. It is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards...

's Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response as well as a small science park which includes companies such as Tetricus Bioscience and Ploughshare Innovations.

The site is commonly confused with the UK's nearby CBRN training facility, the Defence CBRN Centre
Defence CBRN Centre
The Defence CBRN Centre is a UK government facility based at Winterbourne Gunner in Wiltshire, south of Porton Down. It is a tri-service location, with the RAF being the lead service...

 at Winterbourne Gunner
Winterbourne Gunner
Winterbourne Gunner is a small village in the UK but seems larger, as it joins on to Winterbourne Dauntsey, which itself is joined on to Winterbourne Earls. It is located in Wiltshire in England about five miles northeast of Salisbury situated on the A338. The Defence CBRN Centre is located to the...

.

History


Porton Down was set up to provide a proper scientific basis for the British use of chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

, in response to the earlier German use of this means of war in 1915. Work at Porton started in March 1916. At the time, only a few cottages and farm buildings were scattered on the downs at Porton and Idmiston.

Origins



Porton Down originally opened in 1916 as the Royal Engineers Experimental Station as a site for testing chemical weapons. The laboratory's remit was to conduct research and development regarding chemical weapons agents such as chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

, phosgene
Phosgene
Phosgene is the chemical compound with the formula COCl2. This colorless gas gained infamy as a chemical weapon during World War I. It is also a valued industrial reagent and building block in synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other organic compounds. In low concentrations, its odor resembles...

 and mustard gas by the British armed forces in the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

By 1918 the original two huts had become a large hutted camp with 50 officers and 1,100 other ranks. Studies in the Great War mainly concerned the dissemination of chlorine and phosgene and, later, mustard gas. By May 1917 the focus for anti-gas defence and respirator development had moved from London to Porton Down.

After the Armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 Porton Down was reduced to a skeleton staff.

Post World War I


In 1919 the War Office set up the Holland Committee to consider the future of chemical warfare and defence. By 1920, the Cabinet agreed to the Committee’s recommendation that work should continue at Porton Down and from that date a slow permanent building programme began coupled with the gradual recruitment of civilian scientists. By 1922, there were 380 servicemen, 23 scientific and technical civil servants and 25 “civilian subordinates”. By 1925 the civilian staff had doubled.

By 1926 the chemical defence aspects of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) for the civilian population was added to the Station’s responsibilities. By 1938, the international situation was such that offensive chemical warfare research and development and the production of war reserve stocks of chemical warfare agents by the chemical industry was authorised by the Cabinet. Britain had ratified the 1925 Geneva Protocol in 1930 with reservations which permitted the use of chemical warfare agents only in retaliation.

Second World War



During the Second World War, research concentrated on chemical weapons such as nitrogen mustard
Nitrogen mustard
The nitrogen mustards are cytotoxic chemotherapy agents similar to mustard gas. Although their common use is medicinal, in principle these compounds can also be deployed as chemical warfare agents. Nitrogen mustards are nonspecific DNA alkylating agents. Nitrogen mustard gas was stockpiled by...

, plus biological weapons including anthrax
Anthrax
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals...

 and botulinum toxin
Botulinum toxin
Botulinum toxin is a protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, and is considered the most powerful neurotoxin ever discovered. Botulinum toxin causes Botulism poisoning, a serious and life-threatening illness in humans and animals...

. In 1942, highly successful tests of an anthrax bio-weapon developed at Porton Down were held at Gruinard Island
Gruinard Island
Gruinard Island ) is a small, oval-shaped Scottish island approximately long by wide, located in Gruinard Bay, about halfway between Gairloch and Ullapool. At its closest point to the mainland it is just more than offshore...

.

During the Second World War as Allied armies penetrated Germany, operational stockpiles of munitions and weapons were discovered which contained new chemical warfare agents; the highly toxic organophosphorous nerve agents, unknown to Britain and the Allies.

Post-war period


The Common Cold Unit
Common Cold Unit
In Britain, the Common Cold Unit , also known as the Common Cold Research Unit , was set up by the civilian Medical Research Council in 1946 on the site of a former military hospital, the Harvard Hospital, at Harnham Down near Salisbury in Wiltshire...

 (CCU) was sometimes confused with the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton Down, with which it occasionally collaborated but was not officially connected. The CCU was located at Harvard Hospital, Harnham Down, on the west side of Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

.

When World War II ended, the advanced state of German technology regarding nerve agents such as tabun
Tabun (nerve agent)
Tabun or GA is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid with a faint fruity odor. It is classified as a nerve agent because it fatally interferes with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system...

, sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

 and soman
Soman
Soman, or GD , is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a nerve agent, interfering with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system by inhibiting the cholinesterase enzyme. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations according to UN...

 surprised the Allies and they were eager to capitalise on it. Subsequent research took the newly discovered German nerve agent
Nerve agent
Nerve agents are a class of phosphorus-containing organic chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs...

s as a starting point, and eventually VX
VX (nerve agent)
VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

 nerve agent was developed at Porton Down in 1952.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, research and development at Porton Down was aimed at providing Britain with the means to arm itself with a modern nerve agent based capability and to develop specific means of defence against these agents. In the end these aims came to nothing on the offensive side because of the decision to abandon any sort of British chemical warfare capability. On the defensive side there were years of difficult work to develop the means of prophylaxis, therapy, rapid detection and identification, decontamination and more effective protection of the body against nerve agents, capable of exerting effects through the skin, the eyes and respiratory tract.

Tests were carried out on servicemen to determine the effects of nerve agents on human subjects, with one recorded death due to a nerve gas experiment. There have been persistent allegations of unethical human experimentation
Human experimentation
Human subject research includes experiments and observational studies. Human subjects are commonly participants in research on basic biology, clinical medicine, nursing, psychology, and all other social sciences. Humans have been participants in research since the earliest studies...

 at Porton Down, such as those relating to the death of Leading Aircraftman Ronald Maddison
Ronald Maddison
Leading Aircraftman Ronald George Maddison was a twenty-year-old Royal Air Force engineer who died while acting as a volunteer human "guinea pig" while testing nerve agents at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, England...

, aged 20, in 1953. Maddison was taking part in sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

 nerve agent toxicity tests. Sarin was dripped on to his arm and he died shortly afterwards as a result.

In the 1950s the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment became involved with the development of CS
CS gas
2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is the defining component of a "tear gas" commonly referred to as CS gas, which is used as a riot control agent...

, a riot control agent, and took an increasing role in trauma and wound ballistics work. Both these facets of Porton Down’s work had become more important because of the situation in Northern Ireland.

In 1970 the Chemical Defence Establishment became the title of the senior establishment at Porton Down and remained for the next 21 years. Preoccupation with defence against the nerve agents continued but in the 1970s and 1980s the Establishment was also concerned with studying reported chemical warfare by Iraq against Iran and against its own Kurdish population.

Until 2001 the military installation of Porton Down was part of the UK government's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency
The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency was a part of the UK Ministry of Defence until July 2, 2001. At the time it was the United Kingdom's largest science and technology organisation...

. DERA was split into QinetiQ
QinetiQ
Qinetiq is a British global defence technology company, formed from the greater part of the former UK government agency, Defence Evaluation and Research Agency , when it was split up in June 2001...

, initially a fully government owned company, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl
Dstl
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence of the United Kingdom. Responsibility for Dstl lies with the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, currently Peter Luff....

). Dstl incorporates all of DERA's activities deemed unsuitable for the privatisation planned for QinetiQ, particularly Porton Down.

Support of British forces in the Gulf


Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, the problems increased, culminating in active operational support of British Forces in the Gulf region. After the Gulf ceasefire the establishment continued to provide technical support for the United Nations Special Commission set-up to oversee the destruction of the Iraqi capability to use nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. This continued until 1999 when Iraq withdrew co-operation from the Commission.

Death of scientist

  • On 1 November 2001, Dr. Vladimir Pasechnik
    Vladimir Pasechnik
    Vladimir Pasechnik was a senior Soviet biologist and bioweaponeer who defected to the UK in 1989, alerting Western intelligence to the vast scope of Moscow's clandestine biological warfare program, known as Biopreparat...

    —a world-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector who defected to the United Kingdom in 1989—died. He played a significant role in Russian biowarfare and aided in the research of cruise missile modification in regards to the delivery of agents of mass biological destruction. He founded the Regma Biotechnologies company in Britain, a laboratory at Porton Down, the country's chem-bio warfare defence establishment. Regma currently has a contract with the U.S. Navy for "the diagnostic and therapeutic treatment of anthrax". He died under allegedly mysterious circumstances, though the pathologist who performed the autopsy concluded he died of a stroke. Details of the postmortem were not revealed at an inquest, in which the press was given no prior notice. Colleagues who had worked with Pasechnik said he had been in good health.

  • On 17 July 2003, Dr. David Christopher Kelly, who was an employee of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence
    Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
    The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

     (MoD), an expert in biological warfare
    Biological warfare
    Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

    , and a former United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

     weapons inspector in Iraq
    Iraq
    Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

    , died. Kelly's discussion with Today programme
    Today programme
    Today is BBC Radio 4's long-running early morning news and current affairs programme, now broadcast from 6.00 am to 9.00 am Monday to Friday, and 7.00 am to 9.00 am on Saturdays. It is also the most popular programme on Radio 4 and one of the BBC's most popular programmes across its radio networks...

     journalist Andrew Gilligan
    Andrew Gilligan
    Andrew Paul Gilligan is a British journalist best known for a 2003 report on BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme in which he said a British government briefing paper on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction had been 'sexed up', a claim that ultimately led to a public inquiry that criticised Gilligan...

     about the British government's dossier on weapons of mass destruction
    Weapons of mass destruction
    A weapon of mass destruction is a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans and/or cause great damage to man-made structures , natural structures , or the biosphere in general...

     (WMD) in Iraq inadvertently caused a major political scandal. He was found dead days after appearing before a Parliamentary
    Parliament of the United Kingdom
    The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

     committee, to whose investigation the scandal was subject. His experience with biological weapons at Porton Down led to his selection as a United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq following the end of the Gulf War. An official enquiry, The Hutton Inquiry, concluded that Dr Kelly had committed suicide by slitting his left wrist and taking excessive levels of Coproxamol, a prescription medicine. Since then, this verdict has been disputed by some, including the Liberal Democrat
    Liberal Democrats
    The Liberal Democrats are a social liberal political party in the United Kingdom which supports constitutional and electoral reform, progressive taxation, wealth taxation, human rights laws, cultural liberalism, banking reform and civil liberties .The party was formed in 1988 by a merger of the...

     Member of Parliament
    Member of Parliament
    A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

     Norman Baker
    Norman Baker
    Norman John Baker is a British Liberal Democrat politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Lewes in East Sussex since 1997. Since May 2010 he has been Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for Transport....

    .

Secrecy


Most of the work carried out at Porton Down has to date remained secret, and the UK Government have been criticised for not revealing the true extent of the research that was carried out on servicemen. The facility produces a high efficacy anthrax vaccine which is sold throughout the world. However, certain Members of Parliament have admitted that they are not fully aware of everything that goes on at Porton Down.

Bruce George
Bruce George
Bruce Thomas George is a British Labour Party politician, who served as the Member of Parliament for Walsall South from February 1974 until April 2010....

, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee (defence select committee), told BBC News
BBC News
BBC News is the department of the British Broadcasting Corporation responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online...

 on August 20, 1999 that:
"I would not say that the Defence Committee is micro-managing either DERA or Porton Down. We visit it, but, with eleven members of Parliament and five staff covering a labyrinthine department like the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces, it would be quite erroneous of me and misleading for me to say that we know everything that’s going on in Porton Down. It’s too big for us to know, and secondly, there are many things happening there that I’m not even certain Ministers are fully aware of, let alone Parliamentarians."

Deaths attributed to Porton Down


Dstl Porton Down has also been involved in human testing.

A second inquest on Ronald Maddison commenced in May 2004, after many years of lobbying by his relatives and their supporters. It later found the death of Ronald Maddison to have been unlawful; this was challenged by the Ministry of Defence, but the verdict was upheld and the case settled.

In February 2006 three ex-servicemen were awarded compensation in an out-of-court settlement after claims they were given LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

 without their consent during the 1950s.

Use of animals


Dstl Porton Down is also involved in animal-testing, where the "three Rs" of 'reduce' (the number of animals used), 'refine' (animal procedures) and 'replace' (animal tests with non-animal tests) are used as the basic code of practice. And there has been a decrease in animal experimentation in recent years.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory complies with all UK legislation relating to animals.

During 2005, 21,118 procedures were undertaken which involved the use of animals, nearly double the number undertaken in 1997. In 2005, approximately 95% of the animals used (20,016) were mice
Mouse
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

. Other animals used included guinea pig
Guinea pig
The guinea pig , also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea...

s, rat
Rat
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents of the superfamily Muroidea. "True rats" are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus...

s, pig
Pig
A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives...

s, ferret
Ferret
The ferret is a domesticated mammal of the type Mustela putorius furo. Ferrets are sexually dimorphic predators with males being substantially larger than females. They typically have brown, black, white, or mixed fur...

s, sheep, and non-human primate
Primate
A primate is a mammal of the order Primates , which contains prosimians and simians. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment...

s (believed to be marmosets, rhesus monkeys and macaques). The figures released in 2005 also reveal that one cow was used in a secret experiment in 2004.

In 2009, there were 8168 procedures.

Different departments at Porton Down use animal experiments in different ways. Dstl’s Biomedical Sciences department is involved with drug evaluation and efficacy testing (toxicology, pharmacology, physiology, behavioural science, human science), trauma and surgery studies, and animal breeding. The Physical Sciences department also uses animals in its ‘Armour Physics’ research.

Like other aspects of research at Porton Down, precise details of animal experiments are generally kept secret. However, media reports have suggested they include exposing monkeys to anthrax
Anthrax
Anthrax is an acute disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. Most forms of the disease are lethal, and it affects both humans and other animals...

, draining the blood of pigs and injecting them with E. coli
Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium that is commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms . Most E. coli strains are harmless, but some serotypes can cause serious food poisoning in humans, and are occasionally responsible for product recalls...

bacteria, and exposing animals to a variety of lethal, toxic nerve agents. Different animals are used for very different purposes. According to a 2002 report from the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Defence, mice are used mainly to research "the development of vaccines and treatments for microbial and viral infections", while pigs are used to "develop personal protective equipment to protect against blast injury to the thorax".

Porton Down in popular culture

  • In 1962, Alistair Maclean published his novel The Satan Bug
    The Satan Bug (novel)
    The Satan Bug is a thriller novel written by Scottish author Alistair MacLean. It was originally published in 1962 under the pseudonym Ian Stuart, and later republished under MacLean's own name.-Plot summary:...

    , about someone removing biological warfare agents from a Chemical Warfare Establishment called the Mordon Microbiological Research Centre (based on Porton Down), and using them to blackmail the country.
  • Victor Canning
    Victor Canning
    Victor Canning was a prolific writer of novels and thrillers who flourished in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, but whose reputation has faded since his death in 1986...

    's 1976 novel The Doomsday Carrier is set in Fadledean Research Station near Salisbury, clearly a fictional Porton Down. In it a chimpanzee escapes after being injected with a plague bacillus and is hunted across the country.
  • In 1979, Peter Hammill
    Peter Hammill
    Peter Joseph Andrew Hammill is an English singer-songwriter, and a founding member of the progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Most noted for his vocal abilities, his main instruments are guitar and piano...

     recorded an album entitled pH7
    PH7 (Peter Hammill album)
    pH7 is an album by Peter Hammill, originally released on Charisma Records in September 1979. It was Hammill's 8th solo album and his last release on the Charisma label....

    which featured the song "Porton Down" which referred to the Porton Down military research facility in Wiltshire, England.
  • In 1980, the band Tricks Upon Travellers released the song "Porton Down".
  • The 2001 "Parallox" episode of Absolutely Fabulous
    Absolutely Fabulous
    Absolutely Fabulous, also known as Ab Fab, is a British sitcom created by Jennifer Saunders, based on an original idea by her and Dawn French, and written by Saunders, who plays the leading character. It also stars Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha, along with June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks...

    satirized Botox when Patsy chose to use the fictitious chemical Parallox as a high-powered alternative. Patsy stated she got it from her "little friend at the lab." Saffron angrily points out, "It's a chemical weapon — they make it at Porton Down!"
  • Grimbledon Down
    Grimbledon Down
    Grimbledon Down was a comic strip by British cartoonist Bill Tidy, which ran in New Scientist magazine from March 26, 1970 until March 26, 1994.The strip was set in a fictitious UK government research lab...

     was a comic strip
    Comic strip
    A comic strip is a sequence of drawings arranged in interrelated panels to display brief humor or form a narrative, often serialized, with text in balloons and captions....

     by British cartoonist Bill Tidy
    Bill Tidy
    William Edward "Bill" Tidy, MBE , is a British cartoonist, writer and television personality, known chiefly for his comic strips. Bill was awarded an MBE in 2000 for "Services to Journalism". He is noted for his charitable work, particularly for the Lord's Taverners, which he has supported for over...

    , published for many years by New Scientist
    New Scientist
    New Scientist is a weekly non-peer-reviewed English-language international science magazine, which since 1996 has also run a website, covering recent developments in science and technology for a general audience. Founded in 1956, it is published by Reed Business Information Ltd, a subsidiary of...

    . The strip was set in an ostensibly fictitious UK government research lab, which was in fact a thinly veiled reference to the controversial Porton Down bio-chemical research facility.
  • In Spooks series 9 episode 3 Porton Down is referenced as being used to store a fictional nerve agent called Paroxocybin.
  • In Doc Martin series 3 episode 6 Porton Down is referenced as the former workplace of a spinster who, though caring for her sister, is suspected of insanity and murder.

Ufology

  • Writer Georgina Bruni claimed that in 1980, personnel from Porton Down visited Rendlesham Forest after the Rendlesham Forest Incident
    Rendlesham Forest Incident
    The Rendlesham Forest Incident is the name given to a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights and the alleged landing of a craft or multiple craft of unknown origin in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, in late December 1980, just outside RAF Woodbridge, used at the time by the U.S....

    . The British Government has stated that no record exists of such a visit.
  • In 1996, British researcher Tony Dodd published a story about alien bodies supposedly taken to Porton Down from the site of an alleged UFO crash on the Berwyn Mountains in North Wales, an event most commonly referred to as the Berwyn Mountain Incident
    Berwyn Mountain Incident
    The Berwyn Mountain Incident was an alleged "UFO crash" in Britain. It took place on 23 January 1974 on the Berwyn Mountains in Llandrillo, Merionethshire, North Wales. Both the Berwyn Mountain incident and the similar Rendlesham Forest incident have been called a "British Roswell"...

    .
  • In 1999 Nick Pope
    Nick Pope
    Nick Pope worked for 21 years at the British Government's Ministry of Defence from 1985 to 2006. He is best-known for a job that he did from 1991 to 1994, where his duties included investigating reports of UFO sightings, to see if they had any defence significance...

    , a UK Government MOD Agent, published a science fiction novel, 'Operation Thunder Child
    Operation Thunder Child
    Operation Thunder Child is a book by British civil servant Nick Pope. It is the prequel to his novel Operation Lightning Strike. He is most notably known for working in for the British Ministry of Defence on the subject of unidentified flying objects. Operation Thunder Child was first published in...

    ', involving alien bodies being taken to Porton Down http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2006/feb/m16-018.shtml. He then published 'Operation Lightning Strike'. http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2006/feb/m16-018.shtml

See also

  • Fort Halstead
    Fort Halstead
    Fort Halstead is a research site of Dstl, an Executive Agency of the UK Ministry of Defence. It is situated on the crest of the Kentish North Downs, overlooking the town of Sevenoaks...

  • Boscombe Down
  • RAF Rudloe Manor
    RAF Rudloe Manor
    RAF Rudloe Manor, formerly RAF Box, was a Royal Air Force station located north-east of Bath, United Kingdom between the towns of Box and Corsham, in Wiltshire...

  • The United Kingdom and weapons of mass destruction
  • Lancelot Ware
    Lancelot Ware
    Lancelot Lionel Ware OBE was an English barrister, biochemist and co-founder of Mensa.Lancelot Ware's main claim to fame is co-founding Mensa, the international society for intellectually gifted people, with the Australian barrister Roland Berrill in 1946...

  • RRH Portreath (Nancekuke)
    RRH Portreath
    RRH Portreath is a Remote Radar Head operated by the Royal Air Force. It is situated at Nancekuke Common on the clifftops to the north of Portreath beach and southwest of Porthtowan in Cornwall...

  • Fort Detrick
    Fort Detrick
    Fort Detrick is a U.S. Army Medical Command installation located in Frederick, Maryland, USA. Historically, Fort Detrick was the center for the United States' biological weapons program ....

  • Biopreparat
    Biopreparat
    Biopreparat was the Soviet Union's major biological warfare agency from the 1970s on. It was a vast network of secret laboratories, each focused on a different deadly agent...


External links