Actions Large and Small

Over its 19 years, tens of thousands of women came to Greenham Common making it the largest women’s led movement since suffrage.

Some women stayed for a day or a weekend whilst others stayed for weeks or months and even years. All the women played an important role and the success of the Greenham Common Peace Camp rests in everyone giving what time they were able.

The Telephone Tree

In a time before the internet and mobile phones, Greenham women and their supporters organised numerous large scale demonstrations like “Embrace the Base” in 1982, where 30,000 women held hands around the nine mile perimeter fence making these protests the biggest women led actions since the women’s suffrage movement.

The telephone tree meant that each woman would phone ten other women who would then phone 10 more people ensuring the message spread far and wide quickly.

Non Violent Direct Action

Non Violent Direct Action or NVDA was at the heart of the Greenham Common protests which included an agreement that property but not people could be harmed. The protests were largely women only spaces and they used their position as mothers to empower them to take action for their children’s future.

The Greenham Women used NVDA to cause disruption to the base. They would sit on the ground and link arms in front of the lorrys bringing cruise missiles in and out of the base, they would sing songs, they would dress as teddy bears to make the police look silly when they tried to arrest them and they would frequently cut through the fence.

Non Violent means different things to different people – what does it mean to you?

Embrace the Base - During 'Embrace the Base' in 1982, 30,000 women held hands around the nine-mile perimeter fence. They then turned their backs on the base and sang songs.
The women would sit on the ground and link arms to blockade the gates. When the police tried to move them they would go heavy and limp.
The Silo Action - On New Years Eve 1982, 44 women broke into the base and climbed on top of the silos where the missiles were stored. They held hands, danced and sang for hours. Photograph by Raissa Page. Copyright: Adrianne Jones – courtesy of The Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University. Not to be used without permission
The women would often tie things to the fence. Sometimes they would tie things that represented their families and the people they were fighting for.

Find out more about some of the key Actions

Explore the impact tree to find out more about some of the different types of actions the Greenham Women used. You’ll find interviews and images as well as activity ideas and lesson plans to help you on your way.

AudioCarole Stuart McIvor Oral Testimony Clip
Warning: This interview may include occassional swear words. Includes references to miscarriage and police violence.
Carole first went to Greenham in protest against at the rainbow bomb in 1961/62 after coming out of care at the age of 16. She got arrested and spent a...
GalleryBanner Gallery
Banners play an important role in any protest. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they tell us something about the protestors for example what group they belong to, sometimes they tell us...
Animation, VideoGreenham Women Come Together
Warning: Some strong language and stories of police violence.
This animation provides a brief introduction to Greenham Common Peace Camps, why they started and what they were like as well as the clashes with the police.
ActivityActions Large and Small
Over its 19 years, tens of thousands of women came to Greenham Common. Some stayed for a weekend, weeks or months whilst others came for the day to join some...
ActivityBeautiful Banners
Banners play an important role in any protest. Explore the images of banners from Bridget Boudewijn’s archive for inspiration as you design your own protest banner. It could be a...
VideoJ&C at Greenham
This is a video clip from a 1980s children’s news programme which reported on Greenham Common at the time. What do you think of the coverage? What does it tell...
ImageGreenham Woman Concussed in Police Van
Carole Stuart McIvor returned to Greenham on Christmas Eve, 1982 when she broke into the base and danced on the silos on New Year’s Day. She was represented in court...
Animation, VideoGreenham Women on the Fence
This animation provides an introduction into Embrace the Base. Hear what it is was like to be there from the Greenham Women who held hands to embrace the base.
AudioLynette Edwell Oral Testimony Clip
Lynette was a crucial figure at Greenham and ran the Greenham office from her house (where this interview was conducted). As the key administrator for the campaign, she was the...
AudioThe Base by The Children
Greenham Woman, Armorel Weston plays the base guitar and sings vocals on this song about Greenham. Listen and take inspiration to complete the Stirring Songs activity! You can listen to...
AudioWe are the Witches
Listen to this song and take inspiration to complete the Stirring Songs activity! Here are some of the lyrics for you to sing along! We will rise up from the...
ActivityThe Telephone Tree
The Greenham Common Peace Camp existed in a time before mobile phones and the internet were widely accessible. At Embrace the Base, in December 1982, over 30,000 women held hands...
AudioLottie & Margi Blunden
Mother and daughter Margi and Lottie took part in a Star March from Ipswich to Greenham in 1983. Margi brought three children with her on the journey including Lottie and...
AudioPeggy Seeger Oral Testimony Clip
Peggy is a folk singer, songwriter and activist who wrote Carry Greenham Home. Along with other musicians, she sang to the march that was coming through from Wales to Greenham...
VideoCarry Greenham Home – Embrace the Base Report
In this clip from Beeban Kidron and Amanda Richardson’s fly on the wall documentary from their time at Greenham Common Peace Camp you can see the Greenham Women reading out...

The Creative Camp

Song, poetry and banner making were all part of daily life at the camp and an integral part of the action. Songs helped keep women’s spirits up, poetry helped them to process their experiences and a rich language of symbols images helped them to create a colourful, positive and empowering identity for the camp.

Find out more about the role creativity had to play at the camp as well as ways you can explore craftivism and creativity to communicate your own message.

The Creative Camp