Winston Churchill’s former weapons experimental station in Whitchurch is the fascinating subject of a talk at 6.30pm on Thursday, April 16.
The Friends of the University of Buckingham have organised the talk by local historian Gordon Rogers, whose lifelong interest in explosives and schoolboy experiments led to his appearing twice before local magistrates.
His talk will focus on Churchill’s premier weapons experimental station, known as ‘Winston Churchill’s Toyshop’, and Churchill’s mastery at dealing with bureaucratic red tape in the War Office.
Mr Rogers, who grew up in Tring, said: “Only four years ago did I learn that the premises from which, as a schoolboy, I nicked a couple of Blacker bombard anti-tank missiles and a box of L-delay fuses was ‘Winston Churchill’s Toyshop’, the UK’s premier weapons experimental station in the Second World War.”
The ‘Toyshop’ was under Churchill’s direct control and invented over 50 weapons which went into service.
After finding out about the Whitchurch ‘Toyshop’ Mr Rogers wrote to the BBC suggesting they make a documentary. When they turned it down, he decided to put together his own presentation.
He said: “When becoming PM, Churchill knew of the massive War Office red tape. To bypass this, he appointed himself Minister of Defence and created just one department, MD1, located at Whitchurch, just north of Aylesbury. To run it, he appointed Millis Jefferis, known to him since 1939 as a brilliant inventor.
“The department was to be under Churchill’s direct control, via Lord Cherwell.”
Mr Rogers spent a week at the Nuffield Library in Oxford researching the fascinating correspondence between Churchill and Cherwell.
The talk is at The Radcliffe Centre. Tickets £5 on the door, includes refreshments.