A Peaceful season…

On Tuesday 10 December a group of peace activists gathered at the People’s History Museum.  They worked with artist David Perkins to explore our peace collections and create the installation Another gentle season.  You can find out more about the installation on our website, and view images of the workshop on our flickr site.

This guest post by volunteer Katy Haldenby explains why we wanted to focus on our peace collections for this latest Play Your Part pop up.

Recently, an article looking at the lenient sentencing of a group of six anti-drone protestors came to our attention. The article has strong ties between both our collection and the Snapshot on Greenham Common which ran in our Archive and Study Centre on Monday 2 December. The article described how protestors, made up from the activist groups Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Drone Campaign Network and War on Want, broke into RAF Waddington in June of this year and walked around for close to an hour distributing leaflets and planting a peace garden. RAF Waddington is the first unmanned drones base in the United Kingdom. Reaper aircrafts, stationed in Afghanistan are operated from this base. Such aircrafts carry laser guided bombs and missiles. The group of six individuals protesting against these Womens section004drones were fined just £100 for various damage and compensation costs, which a member of the protest group, Anglican Pastor Keith Hebden, saw as an encouragement for others to carry out similar anti-drone activism. The judge issuing the fine commended the individuals on being ‘dutiful people’ and made note of his ‘heavy heart’ as he declared the sentence.

In Main Gallery Two, there is an area devoted to groups that have in the past protested against war, in favour of peace. Our photograph collection also documents a variety of such group demonstrations. This image from our collection is of a CND March from 26 October 1980.

In Main Gallery Two we have many campaign posters such as this, again produced by the CND in the 1980s, protesting IMG_4617for Jobs Not Bombs and emphasising the international nature of the peace movement.

In this same gallery there are also posters from another group connected to the RAF Waddington anti-drone protest, IMG_4618Stop the War Coalition. This Troops Out poster was produced to oppose Britain and the United States’ War on Terror in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This poster was tied to railings opposite Downing Street on 27 June 2007 when Tony Blair left office.

Further information on the groups whose members were involved in the RAF Waddington anti-drone protest:

–          Stop the War Coalition

Stop the War Coalition was founded in September 2001, shortly after 9/11 when George W Bush announced the War on Terror. Since this time the group has been set on ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, bringing troops home and forcing the British Government to change foreign policies. The group have initiated many campaigns around these issues and are committed to opposing sanctions and military attacks on Iran, supporting Palestinian rights, opposing racism and defending civil liberties. Stop the War Coalition has organised around 40 national demonstrations. (http://www.stopwar.org.uk/)

–          CND

CND campaigns non-violently to achieve British nuclear disarmament and to rid the world of nuclear weapons of mass destruction. The group are also working to secure an International Nuclear Weapons Convention, which will ban nuclear weapons globally. CND’s other campaigns include opposition to NATO and its nuclear policies, and the prevention and cessation of wars in which nuclear weapons may be used. (http://www.cnduk.org/)

–          The Drone Campaign Network

The Drone Campaign Network is a UK based network of organisations, academics and individuals working together to share information and coordinate collective action in relation to military drones. (http://dronecampaignnetwork.wordpress.com/)

–          War on Want

War on Want fight poverty in developing countries in partnership with people affected by globalisation. The group campaign for human rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice. War on Want work with groups from around the world who are fighting for change. (http://www.waronwant.org/)


Do you agree with the lenient sentencing of this protest group? Do you think, like Anglican Pastor Keith Hebden that this sentence will encourage others to carry out similar demonstrations?

If you would like to find out more about our peace collections, or see our new temporary installation which was inspired by the museum’s Peace collection and called Another gentle season, have a break from your Christmas shopping and pop in to the museum!



The topic of the month at Culture Themes is museum badges, something that we are very lucky to have in abundance! We hold badges, brooches, pins and tokens from the French Revolution right up our own very fabulous PHM badges.IMG_1181

On a recent trip to our stores, I took a few images of a selection of badges I thought were topical/ interesting/ amusing! Some badges still have a certain resonance with issues and problems very relevant to contemporary society.

With the NHS very much in the headlines this week, this badge illustrates that it has been under fire before, and some groups have been keen to defend it. NHS

Our recent blog post looked at the NUT March in Manchester at the end of June this year, this badge shows that similar problems still face schools today as they did in the 1980s. Save our schools

The popular campaign for the release of Nelson Mandela from prison gathered pace in 1988 – the year of his 70th birthday – under the slogan ‘Free Nelson Mandela’.

Free Nelson Mandela

The late 1970s saw Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League fight racism and all kinds of oppression. The ANL looked to appeal to as many different people as possible such as football fans, students, skateboarders and vegetarians- as this badge illustrates! Patrons of a pub in Rusholme, Manchester, even set up their own group, ‘The Albert Against the Nazis’, with a badge and banner.


The 1980s resurgent anti-nuclear movement took this sentiment and used humour to appeal to an even greater number of people. Cat Lovers against the Bomb represents a number of such CND badges, including ‘Morris Dancers against the Bomb’, and ‘Gardeners for a Nuclear Free Fuchsia!’

Cat Lovers

These badges certainly point out the fact that there have ‘always been ideas worth fighting for’. What badge would you wear with pride? Have you got any images or memories of badges you have worn in the past? If you are sadly badge-less you can come and make one on our badge maker in Main Gallery Two!

There have always been handbags worth fighting for…

At the PHM we believe that there have always been ideas worth fighting for.  Through our collections and stories we express the passion, euphoria and despair that comes with standing up for what you believe in.  Some of these ideas divide opinion, others are now universally accepted.  Many people have sacrificed their lives for their ideals.

As part of my research for Play Your Part I have kept a search on Twitter for the keywords ‘protest’ and ‘democracy’.  These feeds have recently been dominated by news and opinions of events in Egypt, Wendy Davis’ filibuster in Texas and, strangely, a planned protest against Taylor Swift by the controversial Westboro Baptist Church.  I’ve come across some interesting links, controversial opinions and inspiring videos.  Then I saw this.  Apparently Roberto Cavalli believe that handbags are worth fighting for.  Or scarves.  It’s quite hard to tell.  Hilariously described by one youtube commenter as ‘Arab Spring meets Zoolander’, beautiful yet vacant models ‘protest’ for some unspecified cause.

Compare the video to this photograph in our collection.  The passion in the eyes of the protestors is strikingly missing in the Cavalli ad.

PHM About Us0004

However, it did get me thinking about the often complicated relationship between protest and fashion.  Designers have been inspired by protest movements, and there have been many high profile protests against the fashion world (anti-fur demos, protests against the use of sweatshops, tax avoidance, size zero models…).  But what is really interesting is how protestors have used clothing, accessories and their bodies to make their point.  How has protest ‘fashion’, for want of a better word, changed through the ages?

As someone that can’t resist the perfect pair of shoes, I can’t pass up an excuse to delve into our collections to explore…

The SuffragettesIMG_1703

The Suffragettes knew a thing or two about accessorising!  And colour schemes!  Their iconic purple, white and green represent dignity, purity, and hope. We have some lovely examples of sashes and badges in our collection, but this is one of my favourite examples of suffragette accessorising (and who can resist a picture of a cat!).



The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Blackpool CND Conference 1986001

We have a vast collection of photographs of anti-nuclear protests over the decades (you can come and see for yourself at our Snapshot on the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament event on 5 August), but this one stood out for me for the most creative use of knitwear I’ve ever seen.


Dressing upPetition on Adult education 1980001

Guess the year of this photo?  Victorian protest perhaps?  No, it’s a couple delivering a petition on adult education in 1980!  Reminds me of the fantastic use of dressing up in the campaign for women on banknotes last week.

Do you have a favourite protest outfit?  Can clothes help make a point?  ARE handbags worth fighting for?

Let us know!