Browse Exhibits (1 total)

Take a Walk: CND March to Aldermaston, 1958

The traditional order of gendered roles and gendered space were thrown for a loop in 1958 In England, when women and men of all ages took to the streets for the First March to Aldermaston. After the United Stated dropped the first nuclear bombs in 1945 and World War II had ended, many men came home, and women were expected to go back into the home. However, when mutually assured destruction became a threat to everyday life, and the government of the United kingdom placed the main Atomic Weapons Establishment in the small town of Aldermaston, people did not take too kindly to that-- death does not discriminate based on gender. The First March to Aldermaston was a pivotal moment for women in Great Britain. It can be seen as one of the first times, post World War II, that women take up a very political issue and get involved in protests. Even the route shows the politics of gender, by taking a very public protest from a seemingly public and traditionally masculine space to a more private and traditionally feminine space; thus thrusting what was once private into a very public and political sphere.

This exhibit details the importance of space and gender in the first year of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's Aldermaston Marches. Aldermaston was the selected location of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). On Easter weekend 1958, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) organized a march from Trafalgar Square in London to the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston. Along the way protestors would stay in church halls, while they were marching or even momentarily resting their feet they would chant and sing protest songs about the dangers of nuclear war and the importance of life.2 In a study done in 1977-1978, "of 403 respondents, 65% were male and 35% female. They were predominantly middle class; 51% were aged 45 or less, and 49% were 46 or more," around 50% of which had begun to support the CND in

1958.3


[1]British Movietone. THE MARCH TO ALDERMASTON. Accessed October 19, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gz5AYR940M.

[2] Colin Irwin,Aldermaston: The Birth of the British Protest Song,The Observer, August 9, 2008, sec. Music.
[3] Richard Taylor and Colin Pritchard, The Protest Makers: The British Nuclear Disarmament Movement of 1958-1965, Twenty Years On, (New York: Pergamon Press, 1980), 22, 150. 

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