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1972: CND begins march to Aldermaston
A crowd of more than 500 people have been attending a rally in London's Trafalgar Square ahead of a four-day demonstration against nuclear arms.

Protesters - singing, blowing horns and carrying banners - were launching the latest leg of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament - a 56-mile Easter march from London to Aldermaston, Berkshire.

The black banner carried on the first march to Aldermaston in 1958 was hung around the plinth of Nelson's Column.


CND secretary Dick Nettleton said one of the main reasons for the march was to make people aware the atomic weapons research unit was not being closed down as many mistakenly believed.

He said improving nuclear research and the British bomb made up 81% of the centre's work.

Aldermaston was chosen this year for the march after the government announced proposals to transfer control of the unit from the Atomic Energy Commission to the Ministry of Defence.

This, added Mr Nettleton, had raised fears among scientists they would be subject to different conditions with more sinister aims in research and development.

Demonstrators are hoping the march will recreate some of the fever of earlier marches which saw support from thousands of protesters.

The initial part of the rally will move from central London to Chiswick, and then along the A4 to the nuclear plant.

One of the main challenges will be maintaining morale with the complication of the boroughs of Slough and Reading having declined to make schools and halls available for protesters to sleep in.

The marchers will have to crowd into small halls lent by Quakers groups and trade unions.

Marchers have not yet revealed what they plan to do on their arrival at the plant but police and members of the Atomic Energy Constabulary are making preparations for their arrival.

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Banner says March to London from Aldermaston - 1960
The banner used in the 1960s Alermaston marches was tied onto Nelson's Column

In Context
Spirits were low during parts of the march as the route proved tedious at times and many complained the singing and chanting dwindled to nothing leaving protesters to walk in silence.

But when they approached Aldermaston they were cheered by a waiting crowd estimated to be 3,000 deep.

Outside the main gates the front marchers left 27 black coffins, one for each year since the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima.

Those further back in the crowd placed daffodils for peace in an eight-foot wooden CND sign.

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