My book tells how Conservative Party members joined forces with ‘new age’ travellers and women from the Greenham Common peace camp to fight the road.
Protests against the construction of the M3 through Twyford Down in Hampshire rocked the environmental movement in 1992. It was the first time large-scale direct action had been taken against road building in the UK.
The events have now been captured in print for the first time.
Author Helen Beynon, who took part in the protests, has spent the last few years tracking down others who were there and recording their stories. These interviews, which include local residents, student activists and the ‘Dongas Tribe’ who lived on the route of the road, have been woven together to tell the story of Twyford Rising.
Helen said: “Twyford Down was a beautiful and remarkable place, loved by the generations who walked there and by those who lived on the route of the road and blockaded the bulldozers. It was because it was so well loved that an unlikely alliance of people came together to defend it.
"My book tells how Conservative Party members joined forces with ‘new age’ travellers and women from the Greenham Common peace camp to fight the road.
"Images of people obstructing machinery and climbing trees became a familiar part of environmental campaigns after Twyford, but back then, this was new.”
Helen has linked the interviews with a narrative that explains the background to the protests and is rich in description of the landscape now lost to the road. Twyford Rising is also illustrated with photographs and leaflets from the time.
Rebecca Lush grew up in Hampshire and was one of those who went to prison for her part in the peaceful protests. Rebecca is still involved in campaigning against road building and now works for the Transport Action Network.
Rebecca said: “Twyford Down was the birth place of the modern environmental protest movement - anti-fracking campaigns and Extinction Rebellion all flowed from this source.
"Twyford Rising is not just a great story, but helps us understand today’s protests and is packed with inspiration for current campaigners.
Unfortunately the Government is still planning more roadbuilding which will drive up carbon emissions and air pollution, and damage more landscapes and green spaces, so there's still a need to campaign on road-building."
In order to print and distribute the book, Helen set up a crowdfunder that raised over £2000 in the first two days and is still rising. Once completed, Twyford Rising will be launched in Winchester and on the route of a proposed and controversial road scheme in East Anglia.
Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Twyford Rising.