In the early 1980s, the Cold War tensions reached new heights, reviving fears of nuclear annihilation among the public. It was during this time, in a small village in southwest Wales, that a group of women decided to elevate their local protest to an international level. This story is about the creation of the Greenham Common Peace Camp, a testament to the power of grassroots activism and the indomitable spirit of ordinary women.

The inspiration for this movement was deeply personal for many of the women involved. They were mothers and grandmothers, worried about the future of their children in a world where nuclear war seemed increasingly inevitable. Thalia Campbell, an artist and banner maker, was one of the original marchers and co-founder of the peace camp, she played a pivotal role in coordinating the sculpture project that became a symbol of their struggle.

The video is about the sculpture, which commemorates the march that started the camp. This sculpture itself was a significant endeavour, starting with small donations and gaining momentum after receiving the Transport and General Workers Union Peace Prize. Thalia Campbell spent ten years consulting with women around the world, and eventually, a life-size clay original was created. This original was made into a plaster cast and shipped to a foundry in Wales to be cast in bronze, creating a durable public monument.

The march to Greenham Common began on August 27, 1981. Thirty-six women, accompanied by their children in pushchairs, and six men, gathered outside City Hall in Cardiff to walk the 110 miles to Newbury in Berkshire. This group of women, who started as strangers, became a tribe as they walked together, slept in village halls, and shared their fears and hopes for a nuclear-free future.

The marchers carried with them a pamphlet showing a deformed child born after the Hiroshima bombing, highlighting the horrific consequences of nuclear radiation. They planned to deliver their petition against nuclear weapons upon reaching Greenham Common. However, upon arrival, they were ignored, prompting them to take further action.

In a spontaneous decision inspired by the suffragettes, the women decided to chain themselves to the fence of Greenham Common. This act of defiance, initially met with confusion and humor by the local police, quickly gained attention. The women’s determination to make their voices heard led them to stay at the site, setting up an encampment despite having no initial plans to do so.

The camp grew as local supporters provided food and supplies. Over time, it became clear that this was not a temporary protest but a long-term commitment. The camp evolved into a women-only space, not out of sexism, but as a practical decision to avoid manipulative tactics by the police that could provoke violence. This decision also created a safe space for women to express their views and experiences without fear.

The Greenham Common Peace Camp faced internal and external challenges. Leading to the formation of different groups and camps around the site. The presence of women with various personal problems, as well as a significant number of young lesbians, brought both strength and complexity to the movement.

Growing from these challenges, the Greenham Common Peace Camp became a powerful symbol of non-violent protest and women’s activism. The sculpture, created over a year, stands as a testament to the untold stories of the women who gave birth to this remarkable movement.

The Greenham Common Peace Camp left an indelible mark on history, demonstrating the impact of collective action and the courage of women who dared to challenge the status quo. Their story is one of resilience, solidarity, and the unwavering belief in a peaceful future.

The film is by #hamishcampbell

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