Papers of Tim Wallis on the Molesworth Peace Camp

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Meeting minutes, notes, contact details, publicity material including Molesworth Bulletins, leaflets and newsletters, press cuttings. Maps and other practical information relating to events. Correspondence and press releases. Research material for PhD thesis including questionnaires, notes, and audiocassettes of interviews.

Administrative / Biographical History

Following the announcement that RAF Greenham Common, in Berkshire, and RAF Molesworth, in Cambridgeshire, would be sites for the deployment of the US Air Force's mobile nuclear armed Ground Launched Cruise Missiles, both sites quickly became a focus for protest in the early 1980s.

At Molesworth, a People’s Peace Camp was set up at “Peace Corner”, on Old Weston Road by the wartime entrance to the base, on 28 December 1981. The camp was initiated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. A simple wooden multi-faith peace chapel, known as Eirene (Greek for “peace”) was built in Spring 1982.

On 26 July 1983, the camp was evicted and the chapel destroyed. The camp moved to Warren Lane, Clopton, on the west side of the base. Two of the campers, Timmon Milne and Bridie Wallis, married and held a celebration on the base. Tim had arrived in England from the USA in 1981 to study for an M.A. at the University of Bradford School of Peace Studies.

It was decided to build a more permanent peace chapel, using rubble from the old runway and embedding personal objects in its walls; Architects for Peace helped draw up the plans. The cornerstone was laid on 14 April 1984, and on 2 September, still roof-less, the chapel was dedicated for all faiths, with the blessing of the Bishop of Huntingdon. Wheat was planted on the base, to grow food for the starving in Eritrea.

In August 1984, the Molesworth Green Gathering was held. This grew into the Green Village, then into Rainbow Fields Village, where about 100 lived on the base in vans and tents.

From October 1984 to July 1986, Timmon and Bridie rented Old School, Clopton, near the base, continuing to be active in Molesworth peace campaigning. In particular, Tim organised the Molesworth Ploughshares Campaign.

In January 1985, Ian and Jennifer Hartley set up their caravan “Halcyon Spirit” at Peace Corner. On 5 February 1985, over 1000 police and troops evicted Rainbow Village and erected a razor wire fence around Molesworth. Eirene and the wheatfields were also enclosed. The Hartleys, just outside the perimeter, were on a tiny piece of Church of England land, and so were not evicted. They remained until December 1985, attracting considerable media attention. On being refused access to the chapel, they held twice daily peace witness just outside the wire.

Largescale demonstrations followed, at Easter 1985, and a sitdown blockade organised by CND on 6 February 1986. On 14 April 1986, the chapel was bulldozed.

The Tools for Eritrea Project was set up to collect hand tools to enable Eritrean farmers to grow crops. The Diggers Walk, in March 1986, brought tools from St. George’s Hill to Molesworth, where they were tested on waste land.

Unlike the Greenham camp, Molesworth included men as well as women. In July 1986, a group of women expelled men from Molesworth, following three rapes at the camp the previous year.

The United States and the Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 which led to the removal of all nuclear missiles from Molesworth and Greenham. The missiles began to leave Molesworth in 1988. Molesworth Cruisewatch remained outside the base into the 1990s.

After leaving Clopton, the Wallises returned to Bradford where Tim wrote his PhD about Molesworth at the Department of Peace Studies. He became Commonweal co-ordinator in 1987, then an outreach worker attached to the Bradford Resource Centre, and later became a Commonweal Trustee. Dr Wallis remains active in the field of peace and nonviolence, his later posts including Training Director at International Alert (2006-2008), Director of Peaceworkers UK (2000-2006), Director of the National Peace Council (1997-2000), Editor of Peace News (1995-1997), and International Secretary of Peace Brigades International (1991-1994). In 1995, he led an exploratory peace team to Chechnya, and was involved in setting up the Balkan Peace Team.

Arrangement

The system of arrangement created by Dr Wallis and outlined in Appendix II of his thesis has been retained.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to archive material is subject to preservation requirements and must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation. This archive contains personal data on individuals throughout, and access is therefore restricted under the Act. More detailed cataloguing may make it possible to refine this restriction. Researchers should contact the Special Collections Librarian for information about the status of the material they wish to view.

Acquisition Information

Donated to Commonweal by Dr Wallis in 1992.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished boxlist.

Archivist's Note

Described by Alison Cullingford.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of Special Collections staff, subject to copyright law and the condition of the originals. Applications for permission to make published use of any material should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian in the first instance. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

Some obvious duplicates and published items have been removed. It is probable that further weeding will be appropriate when more detailed cataloguing is carried out.

Related Material

Special Collections at the University of Bradford also holds the Papers of the Hartleys on Molesworth Peace Camp (GB 0532 Cwl MA).

Bibliography

Wallis, T. “Dialogue and resistance : an evaluation of two approaches to peace campaigning at RAF Molesworth 1980-1987”. PhD thesis, University of Bradford Department of Peace Studies, 1992.