Bob Parkinson: working on weapons

Bob Parkinson discusses how he felt about working on developing weapons at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment, Westcott, in the Cold War.

Listen to the full interview track and all other tracks from this interview on British Library Sounds

There’s this period of it, after 1970 I was basically in solid motors, developing military systems for that particular decade.

How did you feel about working on weaponry?

[Sighs] It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to do what I wanted to do. If we go through the 1970s you’ll find there’s a certain degree of frustration. I didn’t want to work on military systems, but it paid the mortgage. And you make compensations. It’s the middle of the Cold War. The prospect of the Russians coming over the border was real. And so some of these things were things which you kind of said to yourself they have to be done, I can’t really avoid that. There might have been things I got more concerned about, but – but yes, I mean I, for a decade I worked for the military and it was just like being a soldier I guess. I was always pleased that I didn’t get involved with the nuclear end. But if you don’t have that, then the rest of it becomes more important in some respects. If the nuclear threat doesn’t keep the Soviet tanks out of Germany, then you need very good anti-tank weapons [laughs], ‘cause a lot of them over there sort of thing. Yeah. And so I – I’m not sure that my conscience is clean, but it was the times and so forth, and I didn’t have many other places to go to.

  • Interviewee Bob Parkinson
  • Duration 00:02:11
  • Copyright British Library Board
  • Interviewer Thomas Lean
  • Date of interview 5/19/2010
  • Shelfmark C1379/05

Related Audio Clips

The following clips are short extracts from an in-depth interview.
To listen to the full interview visit

Related themes

Related disciplines