From September 1981, for almost 20 years, women from around the UK and beyond descended on Berkshire in beautiful indignation against the storage of American nuclear missiles on UK common land. The first women arrived on the 3rd September, 36 having had marched all the way from Cardiff. Others joined them on the way, and over the years that followed, many thousands joined them for a day, for a weekend, for years. Some delivered food, others lived at camp. Many were arrested and imprisoned. They were all Greenham Women.
Together, they created the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, an exclusively female space and they thrived together, pushing those watching to question war, violence, sexual orientation, and gender roles. Many women who were there say this changed their lives forever.
As within every organic movement, there were different ideologies at Greenham. Some women believed in absolute female exclusivity or were focused on artistic actions, while others were academic or intent on consciousness raising. Like-minded women gravitated towards each other and over the years, camps were set up at different gates to the base. Violet, Indigo, Turquoise, Red, Orange, Emerald, Green, Blue (Bloo), and Yellow gates had their own personalities, rules and norms.
The woman at camp undertook numerous actions – from climbing over or cutting the fence (it got so that none of the local hardware shops would sell boltcutters to women they suspected of being from the camp) or dressing up and holding a teddy bears picnic, or tying photos and toys to the fence to remind the soldier inside of their own children. Over 30,000 women came together in December 1982 to hold hands – this action was called Embrace The Base. They also cooked, carried water, slept, dug the infamous shit pits, made love, argued, created art and gave birth.
The Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp remains the largest female protest since the fight for women to get the vote. The stories that inspired tens of thousands of women around the world have been preserved and are waiting for you here.