Object of the Week : N is for Nuclear Disarmament

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Whilst the Museum is closed and our collections unable to be seen by visitors, we have created a weekly virtual museum with an Object of the Week feature from our collections.

Object of the Week : N is for Nuclear Disarmament

A Borehamwood resident and prominent member of the TUC, donated a box of personal items to the museum some time ago. Amongst various papers and books, were items relating to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  The donor had been a passionate protester during the 1980s demonstrations and amongst the belongings donated were fliers, posters, badges and papers.

Between 1980 and 1983, CND’s membership soared, in part in criticism of the Thatcher government’s CND objectives and heightened by increasing tension between the Superpowers.  This made it one of the largest political organisations in Britain and possibly the largest peace movement globally.  Glastonbury Festival played a key role during this period (a ‘first wave’ including the Aldermarston marches had occurred between 1957-1963), and June 1981 saw the first Glastonbury CND Festival.  You may recall the Government’s defence plans outlined in an official booklet ‘Protect and Survive’.  It was renamed by protestors as ‘Protest and Survive’.  This also formed part of a series of frightening public information films designed to instruct the public how to survive a nuclear attack.  In 1984, the drama Threads was  produced, which explicitly depicted the after effects of nuclear war.

The Trident missile replaced the Polaris armed submarine fleet and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp focussed attention on the Cruise Missiles and tracked their movement around the country, blocking public roads.  Eventually the missiles had to travel under cover of night and with a police escort. 

The re-election of a Conservative government in 1983 and the defeat of left-wing parties in continental Europe made the deployment of Cruise missiles inevitable and the movement again began to lose steam.

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