london diary

apr 2004


my london diary

Aldermaston March 2004

aldermaston isn't in london, but the 'stop the next generation of nuclear weapons' march from london to aldermarston started on good friday, 9 april 2004, from trafalgar square, where there was a 'no new nukes' rally.
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aldermaston and nearby burghfield are at the centre of the uk's atomic weapon programme, and the march was a protest against the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons. in 1958 the dangers of nuclear war were clear to most of us, and almost fifty years of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction among members of the nuclear club make them even more of a danger now. we have seen another almost 50 years of lies and deception dressed up as security and national interest. for example we still haven't been told of the nuclear warheads kept by our american allies at lakenheath.

it was good to see many familiar faces, both on the platform and off, with addresses from tony benn, jenny jones, pat arrowsmith, jeremu corbyn and more, including a fine performance from susannah york. there were a considerable number who had been on the first aldermaston march, back in 1958, fortysix years ago. i was too young to be involved then, but my eldest brother was there.

'theatre of war' gave a spirited performance, and there was a jazz band to add a little spirit at the front of the march, perhaps a reminder of the trad boom of the fifties. pat arrowsmith, bruce kent and some other cnd veterans were up there too, leading off the 2,300 who led off through st james. the police estimated the march at 1000. I actually stood and counted as they went by, and although it isn't an exact science with a march this size, i won't be more than fifty or so out either way.
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it was a cheerful sendoff to those marchers on the long plod to aldermaston, one of several marches starting from different parts of the country.

at hyde park, the march proper formed up, with around 430 making their way west through kensington and towards the first night stay at southall.

i couldn't walk all the way, although i'd probably covered as much distance running around taking pictures.

saturday, the march continued from southall to slough via uxbridge. i had other things to do in the east end, but managed to catch up with the march on sunday morning at maidenhead bridge with some furious bike riding.

by then, some problems with thames valley police had emerged, with the police trying to force the march on to the pavement, while some marchers insisted on keeping to the road. in the end a compromise emerged, with the police tolerating those who wanted to stay on the road walking close to the edge of the pavement.

from maidenhead it seemed a long walk to Knowl Hill for a rather late lunch stop. there we were greeted from a distance by the sounds of the sheffield samba band who piped the march in to lunch. i regretted not bothering to pick up my meal tickets, but was really too busy to stop to eat. i photographed the column of marchers setting off for reading and then started a more lonely walk back to maidenhead and my bike.
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by this time i was feeling the strain. even on my 'day off' on saturday i'd walked over 10 miles with a heavy camera bag, and the weight of a nikon with a solid lens round my neck was getting to be too much. so for monday i travelled light, working with a tiny canon digital ixus. it has the nasty habit of often not taking a picture until a second or so after you press the button, by which time i've usually put the camera down, so i came home with quite a few pictures of random patches of road and grass from berkshire. however, as you can see, some came out. monday i walked all the way and a few miles more, with pictures from reading through burghfield were we stopped at AWE burghfield, to the end of the march rally at AWE aldermaston, after which we took a walk halfway round the large site.

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more details of the march and on the uk programme of nuclear deception on the CND web sites.

aldermaston2004 was jointly organised by CND, the aldermaston women's peace Camp(aign) and Slough4Peace.

i took another ride alongside parts of london's second river and around the former east india docks, where there are now new flats and office buildings as well as a small nature reserve and some dramatic riverside views. much of the area around stratford is now beginning to recover from the thatcher industrial slump, with old factories being demolished and replaced by offices.
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i needed to take another look at canary wharf, partly because there are now new areas open to the public, but also because i've agreed to lead a trip around the area. its hard to walk around without thinking of all those millions of our assets being poured into the pockets of the developers in what must have been one of the greatest financial crimes of the century. all (or at least most) perfectly legal of course, as the rules are made for those with money and power.
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from docklands I went on to join the large crowd celebrating the Sikh Vaisakhi in Trafalgar Square, then walked back across hungerford bridge to the south bank and waterloo.

the last friday of the month in london means critical mass, and this month is a special one, marking ten years of cyclists making their presence felt en masse in the streets of london. unfortunately it wasn't convenient for me to take my bike, so i went on foot and left the group as it swept over waterloo bridge.
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Aldermaston 2004

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
A new generation leading the march from AWE Burghfield

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Arrival at Aldermaston; Pat Arrowsmith with original CND symbol from 1954.

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Marchers from the student march at Reading

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Sheffield Samba band outside AWE Burghfield

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Bristol Radical Cheerleaders

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Marchers near AWE Burghfield

Many more pictures from Monday

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Lunch at last at Knowl Hill       more pictures from Sunday

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Visitors to the 'No New Nukes' Rally in Trafalgar Square     

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Veteran CND campaigner Pat Arrowsmith addresses the rally

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Protester listens to speeches in Trafalgar Square: No New Nukes Rally      more pictures

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
Stratford, London      more pictures

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004
More from Docklands

Picture © Peter Marshall, 2004

Ten Years of Critical Mass - Cyclists show their strength in London     more pictures

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