More on the ‘hidden (or half-forgotten) peace history’ of the city has been sent in by Phil, who wrote this brief but vivid evocation of the ‘80s after reading the post about the city’s former Peace Centre (June 1969 to June 1985).

1980 CND demo Birmingham

“Around 1981 there was a large Youth CND demonstration through Birmingham (opposite, Hall Green CND website). I was about 14 and saw it snaking down Corporation Street and turn right onto New Street going up towards Chamberlain Square. I joined in the demonstration – my first. I recall later reading that there were 10,000 people on the demonstration, most of them young people but also people of all ages.

“This was at the time when the Cold War was at its height. Reagan and Thatcher supporters were talking about tactical nuclear war, as if there could be such a thing, and the USSR had just invaded Poland.

“The level of fear was tangible, I remember agreeing with Dave Wakelin of The Beat when he said it was irresponsible to bring children into such a dangerous world. Of course I wouldn’t say that now that I have two grown up children myself.

“I lived near East Birmingham Hospital where they used to test the fire alarm every Monday morning. The fire alarm was an old ‘all-clear’ air-raid siren from WW2. One morning I was woken up by the alarm and was convinced that it was the four-minute warning and that Birmingham was about to be destroyed by a hail of Russia ICBMs”.

The writer agrees that children in the city whom she taught were, at the time, living with this vivid fear – which was later supplanted by the deadening expectation of an unemployed life. 

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