Posted by: helenrobertsbradford | March 23, 2010

Inside the box

Today I opened a box labelled ‘Harold Steele’, expecting to find archives relating to Steele’s attempt to sail to Christmas Island in 1957 in protest against British nuclear tests.  The Emergency Committee which was set up to organise and finance his voyage was based at the Peace News offices.  It brought together a group of activists who went on to organise the first Aldermaston March and to form the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War.

Inside the box however I found a series of files covering the march to Holy Loch submarine base organised by the DAC in May 1961.  Disappointing as it was to discover this, these files add important evidence to the story of Holy Loch.  In particular, they show the amount of field work and other preparations which went on in Scotland and along the route from London months ahead of the protest.

Holy Loch leaflet

Leaflet encouraging people to join the march

There are also a few stray files about other DAC campaigns.  My favourite file is simply labelled ‘food’.  It contains a list of goods supplied by Kettering Industrial Co-operative Society to the DAC for a camp in early 1960.  I think this is likely to be for the demonstration planned at Harrington rocket base on 2 January.  Several hundred people assembled in a nearby village and marched to the base, where they attempted to set up camp.  Supplies for the camp included:

  • 120 loaves of bread
  • 36 tins of spaghetti
  • 60 tins of rhubarb
  • 240 pints of milk
  • 144 doughnuts (12 dozen)
  • 5lb of marmite
  • and 132 oranges

It’s not clear whether the demonstrators were able to eat all this before they were arrested…


  1. Harold Steele was my Grandfather. It is only recently that I realised quite what a person he was, prepared to leave his wife and 3 children while he went on a trip that he expected to be a one way ticket. I am glad you have found some more about his quest for Peace. When he was going to Japan his elder daughter (my Mother) was at boarding school. One particular teacher at the time was very dismissive of Harolds attempts, remarking that he was somewhat foolish to give his life, abaondon his family and obligatons to highlight the Peace Movement. My mother told her it was no more foolish than to go off to war to fight and give up his life in a war!

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