A History of the UK\'s Public Area Biological Warfare Experiments UK Public Area Biological Warfare Experiments 1949-now This historical review records the experiments carried out in public areas by Porton Down (the UK’s chemical and biological warfare research centre). It is by no means a complete list of the many experiments that were conducted by Porton during the period 1949-2004, as research is ongoing. New experiments are being discovered with every new release of official documents to the National Archives at Kew, London. Important information has also been obtained through the 1994 UK Code of Practice on Access to Government Information Act. Porton Down Porton Down is one of the most secretive Ministry of Defence establishments in the UK. Situated in the county of Wiltshire, a few miles from the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, Porton laboratories have, for over 80 years, researched the possibilities of chemical warfare (CW). In 1940, the UK took it’s first tentative steps in biological warfare (BW) research by setting up a small unit at Porton Down under the direction of a senior microbiological scientist, Sir Paul Fildes. This unit, the Biology Department Porton (BDP), is mostly remembered for it’s work on weaponising anthrax; in particular the 1942-43 anthrax experiments that were conducted on the Scottish island of Gruinard, in Ross and Cromarty. These infamous experiments resulted in the contamination of Gruinard Island for decades after the end of WW2. As WW2 ended the need for continuing research on BW was discussed by various Government committees. It was decided that a new department should be set up at Porton Down under the supervision of Dr DW Henderson, the scientist responsible for conducting many of the Gruinard Island anthrax experiments. This new organisation was given the title of the Microbiological Research Department (MRD). By 1951, the MRD moved into the most modern (and probably largest) microbiological laboratories in Europe. These purpose built laboratories were situated in an area of Porton Down that was separate to the Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment. The cost of the new MRD building was £ 2.5 million, a phenomenal amount of money in 1951, and an amount that signifies the UK Government’s view of the importance of biological warfare research. In 1957, the MRD gained establishment status, and a new title, the Microbiological Research Establishment (MRE). The Chief Superintendent, Dr Henderson, became Director of the new establishment. No longer was the BW research centre at Porton the smaller organisation to it’s CW sibling. BW research now had the same status at Porton as CW research. This continued until the closure of the MRE in 1979. The main laboratory complex was taken over by the Public Health Laboratory Service and became the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research. Biological warfare studies were transferred to the Chemical Defence Establishment and operated under the title Defence Microbiology Division (DMD). In the ensuing years, the Ministry of Defence reappraised the growing role of BW research, in particular the field of recombinant DNA research. In 1991 the CDE became the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment. Four years later it became part of the Defence Evaluation Research Agency, gaining a new title of Chemical and Biological Defence sector of DERA. Since 2001, upon the break-up of DERA, it has gained yet another title, Defence Science and Technical Laboratories, Porton Down. Porton Down organisational titles. Chemical Warfare organisations War Department Experimental Ground 1916 Royal Engineers Experimental Station 1916-1929 Chemical Warfare Experimental Station (CWES) 1929-1930 Chemical Defence Experimental Station (CDES) 1930-1948 Chemical Defence Experimental Establishment (CDEE) 1948-1970 Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE) 1970-1991 Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment (CBDE) 1991-1995 Chemical and Biological Defence (CBD) sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) 1995-2001 Defence Scientific and Technical Laboratories (DSTL) Porton Down 2001- Biological Warfare organisations Biology Department Porton 1940-1946 Microbiological Research Department (MRD) 1946-1957 Microbiological Research Establishment (MRE) 1957-1979 When the MRE closed in 1979, the CDE became responsible for both chemical and biological warfare research.