Greenham Common

Greenham Common

The peace camp at Greenham Common was first set up in 1981, when a group of protestors from Wales marched to RAF Greenham Common Airbase, in Berkshire. The march was designed to challenge the sighting of 96 cruise missiles on the base by the United States Air Force (USAF). The group chained themselves to the fence of the airbase and demanded a debate with the government on nuclear armament. When this request was ignored, they set up a peace camp just outside the fence to the base.

Originally the protesters were made up of both men and women, but in 1982 it became known as the Women's Peace Camp when the camp became women only. Later that year 300, 000 women arrived to disrupt the exercises of the USAF. These disruptions ranged from laying down in front of lorries, to disrupting exercises and cutting through the fence of the base to walk on the common itself, which they argued was public land, a decision later supported by the law lords.

Many attempts were made by the local council to evict the women from the site, such as on the 4th April 1984, when bailiffs, supported by 300 police officers, cleared the camp. However, not everyone supported this action which caused the Labour MP, Tony Benn, to state that "civil liberties in Britain are being removed by order of the government". The eviction did not last long, and by the next day, women had already set up new camps on the common, where they remained until 2000.

In 1991 the last cruise missile was removed from Greenham Common, along with USAF personnel, as a result of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, which had been signed by both the USA and USSR in 1987. However, protestors remained to ensure that Greenham Common was returned to public use and in April 2000 the fences surrounding the former air base were removed. The site is now home to a memorial, commemorating the activities of the peace protestors, whilst the cruise missile storage silos have been fenced off and designated an Ancient Monument.