"'She might think she's been taken to Greenham Common by mistake,'"
RAF Greenham Common runway (late 1980s)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRAF Greenham Common runway (late 1980s) - Credit: Fender 100

 RAF Greenham Common, which opened in 1942, is a former Royal Airforce base in Berkshire, England. During the 1960s, it was transferred into the hands of the United States Airforce and in 1980, it was decided that the base would house 96 cruise missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

In response to this in 1981, a group of women established a peace camp at the site to protest against the cruise missiles and to carry out a campaign of non-violent direct action. This action included mass encirclings of the base, the cutting of the perimeter fences, and blockading of convoys leaving the base. As a result, women from the peace camp were arrested, taken to court, and imprisoned. In August 1989, one of the camp participants, a young woman called Helen Wyn Thomas, was killed when she was struck by a vehicle towing a police horsebox.

Changes in nuclear defence policies  meant that cruise missiles were eventually removed from the base in 1991, and the base itself closed in 1993. However, the peace camp remained until 2000, when permission was granted to house a memorial on the site.

Today, Greenham Common has become an area of public parkland and the site of a Business Park. Several memorials have been created to commemorate different aspect of Greenham Common's history. These include a memorial garden dedicated to Helen Wyn Thomas.

 

Women's mass encirclement of the base (December 12th, 1982)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeWomen's mass encirclement of the base (December 12th, 1982) - Credit: ceridwen

 

Plaque commemorating Helen Wyn Thomas at the Greenham Common Memorial Garden
Creative Commons AttributionPlaque commemorating Helen Wyn Thomas at the Greenham Common Memorial Garden - Credit: Chris Funderburg

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