Lunchtime seminar series – 2nd June: Stuart Butler (University of Manchester)

CHSTM Stuart

Whose ‘Turn to Europe’? The UK, Australia and space research at Woomera, 1964-1971

UK foreign relations in the early post-war have often been classified as belonging to three circles (Anglo-American, Anglo-European, and Anglo-Commonwealth). The decision to apply for membership of the European Communities in 1960 was the start, according to many historians, of the UKs ‘turn to Europe’; an abandonment of Anglo-Commonwealth relations in favour of accession to Europe. This paper will analyse these claims through the lens of close Anglo-Australian collaboration in space research at the Weapons Range Establishment at Woomera.

With the establishment of the European Launcher Development Organisation, Australia became a member of a European organisation. Throughout 1964-73 ELDO would be replaced with the European Space Agency, and the UK would become a member of the European Community. Through an analysis of UK and Australian archive material, this paper will suggest that, whilst the UK certainly came to disregard the importance of Anglo-Australian relations, it was Australia, more than the UK, which undertook a ‘turn to Europe’ in this period.

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