Aldermaston Blockade, 12 November 2007

Building work at AWE Aldermaston is now well under way on new facilities which will enable the development of the next generation of nuclear weapons.  ‘Block the Builders’, a group using non-violent direct action to physically stop the building work, holds regular blockades of the site and was supported in November by KPC/CND.

Five members set off from Twickenham at 5.30am and were joined at Aldermaston by Sheila who had spent a cosy night at Newbury Friends’ Meeting House with 60 other protesters.  It was just getting light as we arrived at the base on a very cold and frosty morning.  We assembled at Tadley Gate at 7am and tied some of our banners to the fence by the entrance:  the big KPC/CND banner, ‘Use Your Skills for Life & Peace’ and ‘Peace will come when the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power’.  Other banners were held silently at the roadside.  ‘Beep for Peace’ attracted a surprisingly large number of toots and waves from passing motorists (as well as the more predictable unsupportive signs!).

Three lock-ons (two or three protesters chained together through drain pipes set in concrete) severely restricted traffic flow along the Aldermaston perimeter roads and there was another one at Burghfield.  Our member Kit was very concerned when she found that a young woman locked on 100 yards up the road from us was extremely cold but the police refused to allow her to be given a blanket or extra clothing.  Perhaps one can’t expect the police, who had spent two hours working to unlock the protesters, to be very sympathetic but that shouldn’t blind them to their professional responsibilities to protect the well-being of all members of the public.  (As Baroness Helena Kennedy pointed out at the recent MAW lecture, we should always remember that Parliament and the police are there to serve the public and not vice versa.)

Soon after 9am when most of the workers had entered the base and most of the protesters were frozen to the marrow, we made our way to Mackie’s café for breakfast and met up with those who had been protesting at other sites around the base.  We from KPC felt it had been a worthwhile trip and one we should try and make on a more regular basis since Aldermaston is only just down the road and we should be helping to keep attention focussed on what is going on there.

Incidentally, a few months ago, Ed fell into conversation with the man sitting next to him at an organ recital at Farnborough Abbey.  It turned out that the man works at AWE Aldermaston and waxed lyrical about the facilities “equivalent to a University” and about what an altogether wonderful place it was to work – “as long as you don’t think too much about what goes on there, I suppose”.  He asked Ed if he had ever been inside, to which Ed replied that he hadn’t, and was more likely to be found outside the fence with the protesters!

                                                                                                Hilary Evans