Posts Tagged ‘Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’

A nuclear protest in the rain

Aldermaston in Windsor

Participants in the 1963 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament march from London to the nuclear weapons facility at Aldermaston in Windsor High Street. Image by Tony Eppstein.

To walk from London to the UK’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire takes four days.  Starting in 1958, the year the UK and the US signed a mutual defense agreement “on the uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defense Purposes” tens of thousands of people did it over Easter weekend each year, to protest the risks to humankind and to the earth itself from the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

I first watched the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s march on Easter Saturday, 1963.  Heavily pregnant, I stood with other townsfolk on the sidewalk of Windsor High Street.  Rain had fallen all week and continued to fall, a cold, relentless, English rain. About mid-morning the first marchers came, under a sky the same brooding gray as the rain-soaked castle walls above us.  Their clothes sodden, they chanted fitfully to the dogged drumbeat of wet shoes on streaming pavement.  Some carried banners bearing the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament symbol.

We had a friend in the march.  An hour passed before we spotted him, poncho flapping, wet hair plastered to his face.  We cheered and called out.  He grinned and waved.  Another hour or more before the last stragglers passed through the town.  We cheered them too.  I leaned on my husband’s arm, feeling the weight of the unborn life inside me.

Postscript: organized protests against nuclear weapons in the UK continue to this day. You can see an overview at the Action AWE website.