9th December 1961

The following was supplied by former MP and Ruskin student Harry Barnes in the form of a comment for which our thanks. Harry has already provided his own entry for The Archives Database. Listed below are a further 17 names of former Ruskin students which remain outstanding.

On 9th December 1961 (exactly 52 years ago today), the Oxford Committee of 100 held a mass sit-down outside the Brize Norton H-Bomb base. A list of 73 members of what was then called the Committee’s “Provisional List” was published on a leaflet which was “An Appeal For Your Support”. Around 25% of these were students from Ruskin College. There were 18; namely – Nick Brady, D.M. (Doug) Chewter, W.F. (Bill) Cooke, I.J. Graham, Karl Hedderwick, Catherine (Cath) Law, Joe Law, Maurice Lee Jr, M.C. (Mike) MacKay, Terence (Terry) Murphy, W. (Bill) Niven, Stephen O’Donoghue, I.R. (Ian) Pickard, W (Bill) Skillington, Brain Weekes, M (Mickey) Welsh, H (Bert) Williams and myself – as Harold Barnes. When the stewards of the initial march, were called over by the police at its start (seemingly for advice), they were arrested. Others were arrested at the sit down. I saw the police move in to arrest the late Mickey Welsh (who later became a Labour MP), but they decided he was a bit on the large side and grabbed a smaller man sat near him.

Steve Dowding

One thought on “9th December 1961

  1. IJ Graham

    I remember this. It was a cold, dreary December day. The police invited the organisers to come to the front to discuss safety. People shouted “DON’T DO IT”. They did and were promptly arrested ! However, and mainly down to Ruskin students, the march got underway, surrounded by fed-up police men and women.
    I was with that splendid guy, Mike MacKay. I can’t recall what we talked about. What we didn’t talk about was the order American soldiers were said to have if we breached the wire – the shoot to kill order. It was just too far-fetched [Kent State was a few years away!]. We got to Brize Norton and sat down, ringed by police. The girls were at the front, we were in the middle. Then the police started selective arresting. I saw two of them coming towards me. I was telling myself to relax, offer no resistance at all. However, they came for Mike MacKay. As it grew dark police women at the front started ‘shuffle-kicking’ the girts. I remember feeling so angry. It was the intervention of an Oxford Mail photographer who took a picture of it, shouting “I saw that, I saw that”. As she was doing that photographers from the nationals jumped in. A uniformed inspector went forward – the kicking stopped – events shifted back to selective arrests. The march was listed to end at [I think] 5pm. Shortly before it did some bloke stood up and said we should stay there until we were all arrested. Memory serves me right there was a universal shout of “No”. [I’d been sitting on The Sunday Times – my bum was frozen]. Men went into the bushes at the road side. Ladies (I think) ran back to a garage down the road. I met up with undamaged Mike – been put in a police van and then released. . I’m still against nuclear weapons – and I’m anti nuclear power stations – where do we put nuclear waste ?


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