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The United Kingdom had a fairly large anti-nuke protest movement, on that was situated around Greenham Common Air Base at first.  That movement grew, but it’s important to keep in mind the originating history.   The BBC has a history of the base, from WW2 onwards.  Here are the relevant paragraphs regarding peace campers:

NATO said that its decision in 1979 – leaked to the Guardian newspaper by civil servant Sarah Tisdall – to base ground cruise missiles at Greenham Common was in response to the Soviet Union’s building up of theatre nuclear forces.

It was in response to this announcement that what was to become the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp first protested at the base.

Peace demonstrations were at their peak in the mid 1980s.  The BBC also has a more detailed bit on the Women’s Peace Camp, which became a central component of the Greenham Common protests.

In response to a chain letter sent out during the autumn of that year, 30,000 women arrived at Greenham to “embrasce the base”. The following day, the Daily Mirror newspaper carried a single word as its front page headline: “Peace”. The Greenham women had become a huge media issue.


Media reports of the women’s protests, and the authorities’ attempts to get rid of them, vied for space with the escalating violence and bitterness of the miners’ strike and tabloid unease with the likes of Boy George and Holly Johnson.

The camp itself was really a collection of nine smaller camps – most stationed by a gate of the airbase, and named after the colours of the rainbow. s, but protesters have been present – albeit in small numbers since the end of the Cold War – right up to the present day.

The article goes on to state that there was an opposing reaction:

A large section of the local community was greatly opposed to having the peace camp on its doorstep, and the local council – at the time, Newbury District Council – tried on an almost daily basis to evict the women from the site.

It arranged for bailiffs with a dedicated dustcart to tour the peace camp and dispose of tents and possessions. After the first eviction, rocks were dumped across the site of Yellow Gate camp by council workers, saying it was scheduled for landscaping.

The women responded by painting the rocks and setting up “benders” – polythene shelters to sleep in.

On top of the women who lived there, visiting peace protesters came, sometimes by the coach load, to spend a day or a weekend at Greenham Common.

Counter protest also occurred, in the form of a group called Women For Defence, led by Lady Olga Maitland. This group’s position was that the UK needed a nuclear defence in order to protect itself. 


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