Monday, 3 December 2012

Greenham Common

Back in the 1980’s the occasional news item would appear on NZ television regarding women protesting for peace at Greenham Common.  Mostly this was aimed at stopping the deployment of US cruise missiles to the base along with the removal of existing missiles.  At one stage there were approximately 70,000 female protesters around the air base.  The missiles were eventually removed in 1991 after the signing of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (IRNFT) and not by the protesting.  However the protestors didn’t close down their camp until 2000 when they won the right to erect a memorial on the site. 
My own opinion is it’s likely their protests actually prolonged the Cold War rather than having any meaningful impact on the peace process.  I suspect the Soviet Bloc saw the protest movement as a potential lever to have the missiles removed and it wasn’t until they (the Soviets) eventually realised the UK and USA governments were not going to change their position that they entered meaningful negotiations.  It’s more likely President Ronald Regan’s massive arms build-up forced the USSR to negotiate the IRNFT and ultimately caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Despite having seen the protests on TV I hadn’t realised Greenham Common was in Berkshire.  So just over 20 years later, today’s walk was planned to include the area.  The route took me along the towpath to Thatcham and then south on a bridlepath to the common.  From there it was into Newbury (via Tesco) and then back to Aldermaston Wharf.
Route through Greeham Common in red
It was a cold start to the day (actually it was cold ALL day!) and for the first time winter ice could be seen on the surface of the canal.
Greenham Common wasn’t quite as I had expected.  Having expected to see a very long runway and numerous military buildings I was surprised to see an undulating landscape covered in scrub (mostly gorse) with cattle grazing.  The area is also heavily used by walkers.
At one stage some former hangars could be seen with an adjacent container park .  The old air traffic control tower was also visible but apparently boarded up and abandoned.
At the western end some hardened shelters (bunded concrete with steel doors) could be seen but as time was running out there was no time to detour for a closer look.  Well at least I can now say I’ve been to Greenham Common!
Back at Waiouru there was just enough light to empty the toilet tank and fill the water tank.  This has raised the stern by four inches and the top of the rudder is now above the waterline by a couple of inches. 
In my absence Jan had done all the laundry……. which has saved me from another job ! Winking smile
Oh, those clothes hooks never did get fitted so that’s another job deferred until tomorrow.

1 comment :

Alf said...

Used to be able to see the B52's from the A4 glittering in the sunlight, the runways were removed some years ago, after the proposals to make it Londons 4th airpost were scrapped !