The Big Blockade:  Faslane 365


Report on the culminating day after the year of blockades of the Faslane base.

Finally we arrived at Anderson Kulvengrave Church hall.  We had travelled up on the National Express, so a cup of tea was very welcome.  Next door was buzzing with training sessions, briefings, and how to do lock-ons.  The Salvation Army had also lent their hall.  Food was being served to all arriving from far and wide – from Iceland, Finland and Germany as well as from many parts of Britain. 

We were put into a group of only 15 – musicians, singers, Buddhists and Quakers, some veterans, some first-timers.  Training carried on to midnight, then time to catch a couple of hours sleep on the hall floor.

Four o’clock saw all rising to share breakfast.  Excited, nervous, tired, apprehensive: feelings were running high.  By five am we were on our allocated coaches and minibuses.  Chris and I were off to the North Gate.  We set off in the dark, cold and fog to meet all the other transport for Helensburgh to go as a convoy.  Quite a sight, 500 – 600 people travelling in all sorts of vehicles.

The police were at the gates in great numbers, but were swamped by the first wave of lock-ons.  By 7.15 South Gate, North Gate and all the depots were blocked.  Arrests were taking place already, with a steady stream of people being carried down the hill to the car park (temporary police holding station).  Lock-ons (double metal tubes filled with hardened plastic) were amazing, and defied saw and drills for up to one and a half hours.  Sitting with the police watching as protestors poured pink paint over themselves and superglued hands and arms together. 

By now the sun had risen in a cloudless sky, beautiful but cold.  Squirrels, elephants, clowns, people on stilts kept all roadways closed.  Wheelchair users braved the saws as they were locked-on to others and their chairs used as chain-ons. 

Four o’clock was the finale with song and dance and a last surge of sit-downs and arrests.  Minibuses returned us to Glasgow Halls.  We heard that 176 were arrested, and they all had tales to tell.  The minibuses ferried them back to the halls all night as they were released from the cells.  We all met and exchanged experiences.  The big question:  What now?  What next?  We decided we must still take actions, we must carry on.

An amazing climax to a year of protest: so pleased we could be part of it and will continue to be.

Sheila Wright