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Last Updated: Monday, 12 April, 2004, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Marchers protest at nuclear base
Opening rally in Trafalgar Square
Marchers staged a "treasure hunt for weapons of mass destruction"
Hundreds of peace campaigners have protested at the headquarters of Britain's nuclear weapons programme at the end of a four-day, 52-mile march.

Some 400 demonstrators set off from London on Friday for the plant in the village of Aldermaston in Berkshire.

Another 500 joined on the way or gathered at Aldermaston, in a rerun of the first peace march there in 1958.

They want to stop what they call a new generation of arms being developed at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

We were stepping out with the aim of sending a message that we don't want new nuclear weapons in Britain
Kate Hudson, CND

Marchers blew whistles and banged saucepans while forming a six-mile human chain around the base as the final part of their protest.

The day also included speeches, outdoor theatre and a so-called treasure hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

The protesters' epic journey had taken them from Trafalgar Square to Southall on Good Friday, Slough on Saturday and Reading on Sunday, before arriving at their destination on Easter Monday.

They had spent Friday night in a Sikh temple, Saturday in a Methodist hall and Sunday in a leisure centre.

Route of the Aldermaston march
Marchers set off on Good Friday and arrived on Easter Monday

Meanwhile, 200 people protested in solidarity at the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde in Glasgow.

Kate Hudson, head of CND, said the march had been a "great success".

She said: "We were stepping out with the aim of sending a message that we don't want new nuclear weapons in Britain and we feel we are well on the way to doing that," she said.

Thames Valley Police praised the conduct of the demonstrators and said there had been no arrests.

The force had earlier criticised organisers as "irresponsible" for failing to apply for road closures, which cost thousands of pounds.

The first Aldermaston march
Some 10,000 people joined the 1958 march to Aldermaston

A Ministry of Defence spokesman refused to comment on CND's outrage over the weapons programme at Aldermaston, saying only: "We acknowledge the right to peaceful and lawful demonstration."

Some 10,000 people marched from London to Aldermaston in protest at Britain's first hydrogen bomb tests 46 years ago.

Speaking at the opening rally at Trafalgar Square on Friday, campaigner Bruce Kent said: "This event is to wake up a sleeping population that is unaware of the dangers of nuclear weapons."

Veteran Labour politician Tony Benn, also speaking at the rally, said: "Fifty-nine years ago Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the most terrifying weapons ever devised and tens of thousands were killed."

Aldermaston pictures were provided to BBC News Online courtesy of BECTU History Project.

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