Posts Tagged ‘Aldermaston’

Bikes Not Bombs, Tibet, Deportation & Pillow Fight

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2023

Back on Saturday 22nd March 2008 I had a rather varied day in London, meeting protesters cycling to Aldermaston on my way to photograph a march for freedom in Tibet, then going to a protest against the deportation of a gay man to Iran and finally to a pillow fight.


Bikes Not Bombs: London – Aldermaston

Bikes Not Bombs, Tibet, Deportation & Pillow Fight

I was on foot and had just come out of Oxford Circus station when I saw the CND Bikes Not Bombs group of cyclists who had begun their ride in Trafalgar Square earlier and were on their way to ride to Aldermaston. Though when I took a few photographs as you can see from the bus they were cycling in exactly the wrong direction, east towards Ilford. Of course they weren’t lost, just trying to attract some attention to the protest, riding with a sound system along London’s busiest shopping street.

Bikes Not Bombs, Tibet, Deportation & Pillow Fight

I’d thought briefly about taking part myself in the event, as I’d used a bike to get around since I was six, having graduated then from a first a pedal car and then a tricycle. I did own a car briefly when I was around 21, but soon realised it was impractical in cities, expensive, polluting and environmentally unsound and never made the same mistake again.

But for the reasons I listed on My London Diary – sloth, other events, lousy weather and a dislike of early rising – I didn’t join this official ride, though I did cycle on my own from Reading to Aldermaston and back on the following Monday to join the protesters there.

Bikes Not Bombs: London – Aldermaston


Support Tibet March

Bikes Not Bombs, Tibet, Deportation & Pillow Fight

I was on my way to Park Crescent, a short walk north of the Chinese Embassy where Tibetans and supporters of freedom in Tibet were meeting to march through London on the 49th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising.

Bikes Not Bombs, Tibet, Deportation & Pillow Fight

Tibet came under effective control of the Chinese government in 1951, when an agreement had been come to the status of Tibet within the recently established People’s Republic of China. In 1949 Tibetan protesters feared the Chinese were about to arrest the 14th Dalai Lama. Protests were at first peaceful but were brutally repressed by the People’s Liberation Army and there was heavy fighting which also involved Tibetan separatists who had been carrying out guerrilla warfare against Chinese forces.

The Dalai Lama fled the country and set up an independent Tibetan government in India, where he still lives – and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. The Tibetan uprising had begun on 10th March 1959 and this day is celebrated each year as Tibetan Uprising Day and Women’s Uprising Day. Since 2009, following protests on 10th March 2008 in Lhasa, the Chinese-controlled authority in Tibet have celebrated the day they fully regained control, 28th March as the national anniversary of Serfs Emancipation Day.

The Tibetan Independence Movement who organise annual protests calling for freedom for Tibet was originally funded and trained by the CIA, but this was withdrawn following Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. And the Dalai Lama who had originally backed it, and who appears as a large photograph carried reverently in the marches, also withdrew support for the independence movement in the 1970s.

It is clear from reports by Amnesty International and others is that there are considerable human rights abuses in Tibet. The 2021 US State Department report listing includes “unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment by the government; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisals against individuals located outside the country; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including censorship; serious restrictions on internet freedom including site blocking; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; severe restrictions on religious freedom….”

Support Tibet March


Defend Mehdi Kazemi – Downing St

But of course human rights are not always respected in this country, and we currently have a government which is proposing to withdraw from some international human rights conventions and proposing racist anti-immigrant policies which are deliberately in breach of them.

Back in 2008, the Labour government was also riding roughshod over the human rights of some immigrants, setting up a system of large-scale detention of asylum seekers and treating individuals unfairly in a bid to outflank the Tories on cutting immigration through blatantly right-wing policies.

Mehdi Kazemi had come to the UK to study after having been involved in a consensual homosexual relationship in Iran. After his boyfriend was executed for this he became a wanted man in Iran and he went to the Netherlands to apply for political asylum.

This was refused as he had come from the UK and so was not allowed under the 2003 Dublin Agreement. The Uk had refused him permission to stay in Britain and were proposing to deport him to Iran where he would be tried and executed.

His case was just one of many where the Home Office were failing to recognise the need for refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of persecution because of their sexual orientation, and for failing to have accurate and up-to-date information on homophobic persecution in countries to which LGBT asylum seekers might be deported.

Support for Kazemi at this protest and by a number of MPs, MEPs and human rights activists did eventually result in the Home Office agreeing to review his case and he was given leave to remain here in May 2008.

Defend Mehdi Kazemi


Flash Mob Global Pillow Fight – Leicester Square

My day ended in very much lighter mood with a pillow fight in Leicester Square, one of many organised in capitals around the world due to kick off at 15.03PM.

I commented: “Of course its a trivial, silly event, but the idea and the kind of organisation involved I think represents something new and exciting, a kind of ‘Demo 2.0’ which we will surely see more of in the future.”

Perhaps this hasn’t had as much impact here in the UK as I had hoped, but I think may have been more important elsewhere in the world. To some extent it has been outgrown as Facebook, Twitter and other social media apps have become more important and even protests organised months and years in advance make use of them.

But it was interesting if rather tricky to photograph, and I got stuck in without a pillow and at some danger to my health, main not “from impact but suffocation when some pillows split open to fill the air with clouds of feathers and feather-dust. At times I wished I was wearing a mask to protect my lungs; keeping my mouth firmly closed and breathing though my nose only stopped the larger particles.

And I also found the the autofocus on my DSLR was too efficient at focusing on feathers in the air, and until I turned it off and went manual many of my pictures failed to be sharp for the people and pillows behind the screen of feathers.

Later as the pixel count on DSLRs increased and full-frame cameras appeared I found it very useful to work in many situations using just the central ‘DX’ half-frame area of the viewfinder – which would have been very useful to let me see the people and pillows coming for me, but on this occasion I found “chaos really rules taking pictures becomes a press and hope situation. I think some of them do give an idea of what it was like to be there.

Flash Mob Global Pillow Fight


Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

Tuesday, January 24th, 2023

On Saturday 24th January 2015, eight years ago, I photographed three protests against the replacement of our so-called independent nuclear deterrent, Trident with new nuclear submarines and missiles and Occupy Democracy asserting the right to protest and challenging the attempt by then London Mayor Boris Johnson to prevent protests in Parliament Square.


Christian CND against Trident Replacement – St Martins-in-the-Fields to Whitehall

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

I began work at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square with a Christian CND service. Thet held a long piece of the seven mile knitted pink peace scarf which had been joined together the previous August between the UK atomic bomb factories at Burghfield and Aldermaston on Nagasaki Day in a protest against the senseless waste of £100bn in replacing Trident missiles, which would clearly breach the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

CND has since revised the figure of the costs of this senseless programme, which was stated by the defence minister in the parliamentary debates and in the November 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review to be £31 billion. This turned out to be simply the estimate for the four new submarines. Using government figures CND later calculated the total cost to be £205 billion, well over a year’s total spending on the NHS. And of course like all defence programmes it will end up costing considerably more. Of course cost is not the main reason why people oppose nuclear weapons but this is an entirely senseless waste of resources that should be put to better use.

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

After their brief service they walked with the part so the scarf to the main CND protest against Trident replacement outside the Defence Ministry.

Christian CND against Trident Replacement


Wrap Up Trident’ surrounds Defence Ministry – Whitehall

Stop Trident & Occupy Democracy

Several thousand CND supporters met at the Defence Ministry before surrounding the block with a knitted peace scarf and then moving off for a rally opposite the Houses of Parliament calling for the scrapping of the UK’s Trident missiles.

A group held the front of the scarf outside the Ministry of Defence building in Horseguards Avenue and then led off down Whitehall, left into Bridge St and left again up the Embankment and back to the MOD. While the leaders set off with the scarf at a cracking pace, gaps soon developed further back as those adding lengths from the many rolls of scarf were unable to keep up. So while there was far more scarf than needed to wrap the whole block – and it went back and forth on the river side of the ministry – it may never have entirely joined up completely.

When the leading group arrived back at the MOD there where certainly people spread out along the whole of the course holding parts of the knitting, and most seemed at a loss of what they were supposed to do next. Eventually the message came for them to walk on and take their pieces of knitting back to the MOD.

Here the knitted and crocheted lengths of scarf were rolled up. Rather than being wasted most of it was later turned into blankets for refugees, with just a few of the more interesting lengths being retained for further protests and displays.

The CND supporters then marched the short distance down Whitehall and Parliament Street and on to Old Palace Yard where they were to hold a rally.

Many more pictures at ‘Wrap Up Trident’ surrounds Defence Ministry.


CND Scrap Trident rally at Parliament – Old Palace Yard,

Lindsey German of Stop the War

Among the speakers were at the rally were Lindsay German,

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MEP Julie Ward, Shahrar Ali, the Deputy Leader of the Green Party,

Kate Hudson and

Bruce Kent of CND,

Rebecca Johnson, an internationally-recognized expert on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,

Heather Wakefield of UNISON, the Rt Revd Alan Williams, Bishop of Brentwood, Khalil Charles from the Muslim Association of Britain, Ben Griffin, of Veterans for Peace,

and Angie Zetter, who thought up the idea of the peace scarf.

The rally ended with a new song composed for the occasion by Leon Rosselson. There are more pictures including all the speakers and those in the crowds at the rally at CND Scrap Trident rally at Parliament.


Occupy defy GLA ban on Democracy – Parliament Square

As people streamed away from the CND Trident protest, several hundred supporters of Occupy Democracy most of whom had been at the CND protest walked on to the grass of Parliament Square to hold discussions on foreign relations and war as the GLA private security guards (Heritage wardens) and police watched.

This was one of a series of monthly events in which Occupy are asserting the right to protest and challenging the attempt by London Mayor Boris Johnson to prevent protests in Parliament Square.

Police and the Mayor’s ‘Heritage Wardens’ watched the protest. I followed the wardens as they went across to the police and asked them to take action to stop the protest. Police lacked the officers needed to take effective action and if they had tried to do so many more of those leaving the CND protest would have joined those on the square. They told the wardens that the protesters would eventually leave of their own accord, which apparently they did a few hours later.

More pictures at Occupy defy GLA ban on Democracy.


Music, Spoken Word and Protest

Saturday, August 20th, 2022

Music, Spoken Word and Protest
Cosmo sings at the Jack The Ripper protest, 2015

Music, Spoken Word and Protest. A week or two ago I received a Facebook invitation suggesting I listen to a monthly radio show on Riverside Radio, the Colin Crilly Takeover, a monthly show with hosts Andy Bungay and Colin Crilly. In this edition they were to “be playing SONGS with a political/social angle, and discussing the issues raised.”

Music, Spoken Word and Protest
Adam Clifford performs at Class War newspaper launch, White Cub, Bermondsey, 2017

Colin Crilly is someone I’ve often met and photographed on protests in London and who has on occasion asked me to be interviewed for the show, but I’ve never done so. Radio isn’t really an ideal medium for photography.

Music, Spoken Word and Protest
Different Moods play at Poor Doors protest, 2014

Riverside Radio is a local station covering a wide area of southwast London, mainly the boroughs of Wandsworth, Richmond and Merton but available to everyone on the web. I didn’t log on to the live show live as it airs for two hours from 11pm on a Saturday night, a time when I’m usually exhausted and only ready to fall asleep. Or if I’ve had a particularly busy day covering events I might still be editing the work.

Julie Felix at CND protest, 2007

But a few days later, Colin sent me a link to a recording of the show on MixCloud and I began to listen to it. I’ve not managed to hear the whole two hours and I found MixCloud a frustrating experience as, perhaps because I haven’t subscribed, I couldn’t skip forward and when I took a rest it reverted to the start of the track. Since radio doesn’t come with pictures (except in the mind) I’ve added some of my own to this post.

Billy Bragg supports IWGB strikers 2018

It was good to hear a track by Anne Feeney, the late great US folk musician, singer-activist and lawyer who died in 2021. Her ‘Have You Been To Jail For Justice?’ and her lines “A rotten law stays on the books til folks like us defy it, The law’s supposed to serve us, and so are the police, And when the system fails, it’s up to us to speak our piece …” are very relevant now. It led to some interesting discussion by Colin and Andy, but perhaps it could have been related rather more to the approaches of groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain in the UK.

Sheffield Samba Band on march to Aldermaston, 2004

Next up was Paul Hardcastle’s ’19’, about the Vietnam War, but released in 1985, which apparently made a huge impression on a then-young Colin. It really was a ground-breaking release in several ways, but like the interview with John Lennon which followed – and preceded his ‘The Fool On the Hill’, did give the show seem rather an academic and historical approach to the subject.

Samba band, Carnival Against Capitalism, 1999

I didn’t get much further in listening – and I think these were the only songs in the first hour of the show, though I might have fallen asleep a bit – there was a lot of long discussion. George Michael on BBC Hard Talk in 2002 came into it. It’s perhaps a shame that there wasn’t a playlist on the MixCloud page.

Samba – UK Uncut, 2011

Among the hashtags there was #london and I didn’t think I’d heard much about London or protests there in the part of the show I heard. Nor did I get to hear the promised Wood Guthrie, whose songs I used to play and sing badly from a much dog-eared paperbook in my youth, though fortunately seldom in public.

But many of the protests I’ve attended over the years have included performances by singers as well as spoken word performers, and of course the sound of almost all marches in recent years has been the samba band. How or if the recent act designed to prevent effective protest alters this remains to be seen.

Cosmo at Poor Doors protest, 2014

I’ll just mention a few of those I’ve been impressed by – and have photographed in London. On his web site is this description of Cosmo, based in Wales as well as a number of music videos featuring him and his friends.

Cosmo is “a one-man folk-punk phenomenon.” (Miniature Music Press). Over the course of 14 albums and 30 years of touring, he has established himself as a formidable voice on the UK and international underground.

He has appeared at Glastonbury, the Edinburgh Fringe and other major UK festivals, as well as touring across the UK, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East. In that time, he has shared stages with Billy Bragg, Frank Turner, Grace Petrie, John Cooper Clarke, Mark Thomas and more. Cosmo has won awards at the Edinburgh fringe and Hay fringe festivals.

An activist as well as a musician, Cosmo has also performed at countless picket lines, protest camps, rallies and demos, as well as being involved with community organising.

https://www.cosmoguitar.com/about/

I’ve photographed Cosmo several times, particularly at protests with Class War and always been impressed by the lift he gives to protesters.

Grim Chip (left) outside the TUC, 2017

Quite a few rappers and poets have also performed at events I’ve photographed. Poetry on the Picket Line does exactly what the name suggest. Poets in the group, including hip Hamer, Janine Booth, Nadia Drews, Joe Solo, Tim Watts, Tim Kiely, Owen Collins, Repeat Beat Poet, Mark Coverdale, Lantern Carrier and Michael Breen, reading their work in the spirit of solidarity
on picket lines and at rallies.

Potent Whisper performs ‘Estate Of War’ at Class War’s Newspaper Launch at the White Cube 2017

Georgie, a London based rapper and spoken word artist performs as Potent Whisper. Dog Section Press published his ‘The Rhyming Guide to Grenfell Britain‘ including the text of nine full-length pieces, I think all of which I’d heard him deliver at various demonstrations as well as in videos, including The Rhyming Guide to NHS Privatisation, Estate of War and Grenfell Britain. The book is worth getting if you can find a copy. An article by him in the New Internationalist includes a link to his ‘You’ll Never Edit Grenfell‘ and you can view more on his YouTube channel.


Nuclear Fools Day & CND at 60

Friday, April 1st, 2022

Nuclear Fools Day & CND at 60 – Twice in the last ten years, on 1st April 2013 and 1st of April 2018 I’ve got on my bike and cycled to Aldermaston to take part in protests by CND around the UK’s Aldermaston nuclear bomb factory, 12 miles west of Reading.

Nuclear Fools Day & CND at 60
Aldermaston, 2013

I wasn’t there for the first big Aldermaston March in 1958, though one of my older brothers went, and I remember him coming back rather tired and muddy but please he had managed the whole 4 day march. CND had then just been formed and supported the march organised by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War and the next year they began a series of annual marches, marching from Aldermaston to a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Nuclear Fools Day & CND at 60
Aldermaston, 2013

The annual marches continued until 1963, and in 1964 there was just a one-day march in London which I think I may have taken part in, though by then I was a student and I don’t recall well which of many demonstrations I took part in during the sixties. I didn’t keep a diary and couldn’t afford to take photographs then. There was a shorter march in 1965 from High Wycombe and the march in the original direction to Aldermaston was revived in 1972 but with fewer marchers taking part. And a number of marches and rallies in London since then which I did photograph.

Nuclear Fools Day & CND at 60
Aldermaston, 2013

The next revival of the march I think took place in 2004, and on that occasion I photographed the rally in Trafalgar Square at the start of the march on Friday 9th April and marched with around 2,300 to Hyde Park but left the around 430 of who set off to spend the night in Reading. I got on my bike on the Sunday to meet them again at Maidenhead, walking with them to their lunch stop at Knowl Hill, from where I walked back into Maidenhead to pick up my bike and ride home.

Kate Hudson, Natalie Bennett and Pat Arrowsmith, Aldermaston, 2013

On the Monday I was up early to catch a train to Reading where the final leg was starting with my wife and elder son. I didn’t feel I could walk the 12 miles with my usual heavy camera bag so took along just my Canon Digital Ixus 400, (aka PowerShot S400), an ultra-compact and light camera with a 36-108mm equivalent lens giving remarkably sharp 3.9Mp images, although the autofocus wasn’t always precise. You can view a large number of pictures from 2004 on My London Diary

The pictures on this post come from two more recent events, the Nuclear Fool’s Day – Scrap Trident rally at Aldermaston on Easter Monday, 1st April 2013 and CND At 60 at Aldermaston on Sunday 1st April 2018. On both occasions I cycled from Reading station the 12 miles there carrying my normal camera equipment. I think I was a little tired when I got there on both occasions, and perhaps not working at my best. The ride back was a little easier as it is downhill much of the way.

Aldermaston, 2018

In 2013 there were protests all around the extensive site and the bike enabled me to get around and take pictures of the protesters at each of half a dozen gates around the over 5 miles of the site perimeter, as well as of people walking around and attaching messages and banners to the tall security fence.

Aldermaston, 2018

The speakers were also travelling from gate to gate, but in a couple of cars and a lorry and among those I heard and photographed were CND Vice-Chairs Jeremy Corbyn MP and Bruce Kent, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and South East Green MEP Keith Taylor, Stop the War’s Chris Nineham and CND founding member Pat Arrowsmith and another veteran Walter Wolfgang, as well as US activist Linda Pentz Gunter, the founder of ‘Beyond Nuclear’.

Rebecca Johnson holds up a copy of the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons

The 60th anniversary event in 2018 was easier to cover as it took place mainly in the Atomic Weaopons Establishment Car Park close to the Main Gate and on the fence close by, so I didn’t need to ride around the area, parts of which are rather hilly. As well as 60 years of campaigning by CND it celebrated the UN treaty banning nuclear weapons, finalised last year and signed by 122 nations, for which ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, of which CND is a part was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Something that went almost unnoticed in the British media.

More at:

2004 on My London Diary
Nuclear Fool’s Day – Scrap Trident
CND At 60 at Aldermaston


Wool Against Weapons

Monday, August 9th, 2021

The seven-mile long scarf was joined up at 1pm

On Saturday 9th August 2014 I took a bike ride outside London, putting my bike on the train to Reading, from where I cycled west to Burghfield and on to Aldermaston. It was Nagasaki Day, remembering August 9th 1945, when the US exploded an atomic bomb at the city of Nagasaki, killing around 80,000 people, and CND were holding an unusual protest, stretching out a seven mile long knitted scarf between the two factories where Britain’s atomic war heads are made. 69 years after the bomb was dropped, the UK government was about to vote on huge spending on a new nuclear weapons system, and CND were calling for Trident and its replacement to be scrapped.

‘Drop Stitches Not Bombs’ at the Burghfield end of the 7-mile scarf

I’d taken my bike, both to get to Burghfield from Reading but also so that I could cycle along the whole seven mile length of the protest and photograph the scarf along the way. A bike was ideal for this, as I could easily cover the whole distance and unlike a car you can jump off anywhere and take pictures. But for the moment when all the lengths of wool were joined up, I jumped off my bike and ran along the first section of the scarf, taking picture after picture.

Joining up the lengths of scarf

Here’s some of what I wrote in my 2014 post Wool Against Weapons along with a few of the pictures I took along the road.

”Groups from all over the country and some from France brought long rolled up lengths of knitted and crocheted scarves, made in individual sections and joined together. A lot of planning was needed to make sure that there were enough rolls and they were taken to the right places to be unrolled and joined together, but it all worked on the day.”

One of many banners on the fence around AWE Aldermaston

“The project involved a very large number of people, many of whom had taken no active part in protests against nuclear weapons before, but who are convinced that we should not waste public money on the Trident replacement – money that could be put to something useful like keeping our NHS running.”

‘NHS Not Trident’

“I cycled to Burghfield from Reading, and arrived just over two and a half hours before the whole scarf was scheduled to be joined up at 1pm. After taking some pictures around the end of the scarf there, I got back on my bike and cycled slowly along the route of the scarf to Aldermaston, stopping at all of the ‘mile points’ which were the bases for the various regional groups (and a ‘faith’ group) and also where people were busy laying out the rolls of scarf and joining them up and taking photographs. It took me around an hour and a quarter to get to the Aldermaston end of the scarf at the fence around the AWE there.”

Protesters at Burghfield

“I made it back to Burghfield – with just a few stops for more pictures – in half an hour. It helped that there is quite a long downhill section and the wind was behind me, but I wanted to be sure to be back well before the planned ‘linking time’ of 1pm.”

At side roads the scarf could be lifted to allow cars through.

“I took pictures at Burghfield of the linking when people rang bells at 1pm, then started running along the scarf, stopping to photograph the people holding it up. After almost a mile I gave up and returned back to Burghfield where a rally was to start at 1.30pm.”

‘PAIX’

More pictures on My London Diary at Wool Against Weapons.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Aldermaston 2008 – 50 years

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Protesters join hands to surround the nuclear weapon factory at Aldermaston

I missed the first major march to Aldermaston organised by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) and supported by the newly formed CND at Easter in 1958. I was only thirteen at the time and not that interested in politics at the time, but was very aware it was taking place as my two older brothers (both no longer with us) walked the full distance, coming back tired and rather muddy after four days of marching from Trafalgar Square in the centre of London to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire to demonstrate their opposition to nuclear weapons.

I didn’t go the whole way on the 50th anniversary in 2008, and although I had planned to join the group that were cycling from London I didn’t manage to do so, though I did photograph the cyclists as they rode down Oxford St.

On the Bank Holiday Monday they were cycling from Reading where they had stayed the night along with the walkers, mainly sleeping on the floor in church halls, and I had hoped to join them there for the final stage to Aldermaston. But I got up too late and missed the early train which would have got me there in time – and the next train half an hour later ran late, so I missed their start. Instead I rode on my own along the route that I’d taken on the march there four years previously, finding that on a bike it was rather hillier than on foot.

The Bikes not Bombs group arrive at the Aldermaston bomb factory

Once at Aldermaston, the bike made it easy for me to go to all the gates around the large site of the AWE to take photographs of the protesters there who later moved to surround the perimeter of the base, holding hands around it. And although I’d left Reading later, my more direct route meant I was able to photograph the arrival of the ‘bikes not bombs’ group with their police escort of two cars and several motorbikes.

After making the human chain around the AWE – I think around 4 miles long – and speeches and performances at the main gate it was time to go home, and I got back on my bike for the 12 miles or so to Reading, a slightly easier ride as the wind was behind me and Reading is around 60 metres lower, though the road still had plenty of uphill sections. But I took my time, even stopping to take a few photographs on the way.

Our nuclear weapons programme has never made any sense and the idea of nuclear deterrence has served only to enrich the arms industry. The expense of our nuclear submarines and their warheads diverts money away from more useful areas such as health and education, and the nuclear programme has skewed our power generation to increase electricity costs for us all. It cannot be justified in military or economic terms, but for most of those protesting the most important aspect is that the use of nuclear weapons can never be justified on moral grounds.

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which entered into force on 22 January 2021 prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, Instead of signing this, the British government have announced an increase in number of nuclear warheads – in contradiction to our previous international agreements about the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Walter Wolfgang, John Mc Donnell and Japanese peace campaigners

More pictures at Aldermaston – 50 years


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.





Easter Pictures

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Easter is of course the major Christian festival of the year, but here in the UK is seldom one that lends itself to photography. There are rather more public events around Good Friday, some of which I have photographed over the years, but we have never had the kind of large-scale Easter Parades like that in New York and some other cities overseas.

Easter Sunday in Richmond Park, 2010

So Easter has usually been a rather quiet time for me, sometimes with an outdoor almost-dawn service and perhaps a long walk later in the day or on Easter Monday. This year for obvious reasons it will be a little quieter than normal, though perhaps I will take my allowed daily exercise with a walk or bike ride.

Pat Arrowsmith

Two exceptions to my normal pattern in have both involved visits to Aldermaston with CND. In 2004 I began on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square, where there was a ‘No New Nukes‘ rally, with speakers including Tony Benn, Jenny Jones, Pat Arrowsmith, Jeremy Corbyn and many more.

The march proper began at Hyde Park, with around 2,500 people beginning the first leg, and I started with them, but soon gave up, leaving them at Kensington High St station to come home and file pictures while they made their way towards Slough.

I had a day off on the Saturday as my son was visiting us and we went on a family walk in the lower Lea Valley – and I forgot to put any pictures from this on my web site.

Pat Arrowsmith on the march

On Easter Sunday I got on my bike and rushed to Maidenhead where I locked my machine up and met the marchers who were arriving after an early morning start from Slough. There were now only several hundred walking the full distance, and they took a brief break for tea and coffee and then continued on their way towards that evening’s stop at Reading. I walked with them for the next few miles until their lunch stop, and photographed them from a footbridge over the road as they walked on towards Reading. I had a rather long walk back to Maidenhead for my bicycle and then the ride home.

On Monday I was feeling tired and rather than the heavy camera bag with the Nikon D100 and a film camera I took just a small knapsack with a water bottle and a lightweight Canon Digital Ixus 400, all of 222g. This took only 4Mp jpeg files, though at 2272×1704 these were not hugely smaller than the 3024×2008 of the Nikon. It had a useful zoom range, equivalent to 36-108mm, but the autofocus was sometimes rather slow, giving a highly unpredictable shutter lag. I sometimes found I had given up and moved the camera away from the subject by the time it fired.

The results were generally quite acceptable, and could produce an excellent A4 print, with the jpegs which were generally bright and sharp, often looking rather better than some from the larger Nikon files taken using RAW. In 2004 RAW conversion software was at times rather primitive and probably I was even less skilled at using it.

I took the train to Reading, along with my wife and one of our sons, and we walked the 12 miles or so to Aldermaston where I photographed the rally and then walked at least halfway around the perimeter fence of the large site. Fortunately we then got a lift to the station for a train back to Reading.

In 2018 it was the 60th anniversary of the first Aldermaston March, and on Easter Sunday I joined the crowds there for a rally. As well as calling for the UK to abandon its ridiculously expensive and totally useless nuclear weapons (our so-called deterrent) it also had something to celebrate – A UN treaty banning nuclear weapons which was finalised in 2017 and had then been signed by 122 nations.

This time I put my bike on the train to Reading and enjoyed a pleasant country ride in good weather to the rally and then back from Aldermaston.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.