In the UK during the 1980s, the Travellers' mobile homes - generally old vans, trucks and buses (including double deckers) - moved in convoys.
Because of the mobile, adventurous and prone to technical malfunctions nature of the Peace Convoy, no member could be expected to be at any one place at any time, except for the mass festivals. So there was no set membership in the Peace Convoy, or to the other convoys of the New Age Travellers. And similarly, the Peace Convoy is both, the group of New Age Trallers (NAT) that travelled to Greenham Common, and the group or even groups that split off and travelled across England.
The Peace Convoy was always a loosely defined organization, and tended to be poorly defined by the media, but roughly speaking, it had been established in 1984, when travellers attending the Stonehenge Free Festival set off to protest the installation of United States-controlled nuclear weapons at the United States Army Air Force Base at Greenham Common where the Womens' Peace Camp had been established since 1981. The Convoy was the offshoot of that, and comprised of any travellers that joined.
While the New Age Travellers (NAT) tended to be more, hippies and pacifists who stood behind their beliefs strengthened by the belief that there were rights in law that supported their desire to live whereever they cared to travel, the Peace Convoy was an element within the NAT that tended to be more, anarchists, punks and direct action advocates, who stood opposed to laws that interfered with their desires.
The Rainbow Family's beliefs, based in American Indian teachings, culture and mythology, were known to and loosely incorporated into the New Age Travellers' philosophy, and the two groups represented two aspects of the Rainbow Warrior, which ideally supported each other: the pacifist majority and the direct action Warrior class. The Peace Convoy represented, more or less, the second class.
New age travellers or Peace Convoy were a group of people who often espoused New age and/or hippie beliefs, and who travelled between music festivals and fairs in the United Kingdom in order to live in a community with others who hold similar beliefs. Their transport and homes consisted of vans, lorries, buses and caravans converted into mobile homes. They also make use of improvised tents, tipis and yurts. New age travellers were largely a product of 1980s and early 1990s Britain, but a small number continue to travel in the country today, and cultural groupings with similar composition have also manifested themselves in other countries, such as New Zealand.
- Main article: Brew Crew
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The Brew Crew was an element of the NAT that can easily be confused as being a sub-section of the Peace Convoy, due to the character of its members, but is more accurately and very simply described as specific to its namesake-Carlsberg Special Brew, or rather, its consumption. The members themselves were many and varied, and may or may not identify with the appellation, which was variously a mildly critical epithet, or taken up proudly as a banner to reclaim the name.
The movement had faced significant opposition by the British government and mainstream media, epitomised by the authorities' attempts to prevent camps at Stonehenge, and the resultant Battle of the Beanfield (WP) in 1985 – the largest mass civil arrest in English history.
In 1986 and subsequent years, police again blocked the "Peace Convoy" (as they had become identified by the media) from "taking the Stones" on the Summer Solstice (June 21). This led many Travellers to spend summers squatting by the hundreds, on several sites adjacent to the A303 motorway in Wiltshire.
Many people see the Castlemorton Common Festival in 1992, a week-long festival that attracted up to 30,000 travellers and ravers, as a significant turning point for New Age Travellers in Britain as it directly resulted in the government granting new powers to police and local authorities under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to prevent such events in the future. The Criminal Justice Act included sections against disruptive trespass, squatting and unauthorised camping which made life increasingly difficult for travellers, and many left Britain for Ireland and Europe, particularly Spain.
The clash of lifestyles culminated in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994 making trespass a criminal act, largely aimed at this group, and also traditional traveller groups like English Gypsies and Irish Travellers.
The movement had faced significant opposition by the British government and mainstream media since the mid 1980s, epitomised by the authorities' attempts to prevent camps at Stonehenge, and the resultant Battle of the Beanfield, in 1985 - the largest mass civil arrest in English history. The Battle of the Beanfield was not the end of the convoy, and they continued for some time further until a final conflict was provoked by the government at Stoney Cross in the run up to the following year's solstice.
The convoy's vehicles had previously not been impounded by the authorities, as they were also their dwellings, and to do so would at the time have been seen as a breach of human rights. At Stoney Cross the police impounded vehicles on a large scale, in a high-profile effort to put an end to the convoy and to again prevent it from reaching Stonehenge for the solstice.
Many members of the convoy continued their journey on foot and eventually reached Stonehenge. Despite what some saw as a moral victory, the legal landscape had been changed to the extent that it was no longer possible for the convoy to function.
See also Edit
- Brew Crew
- Stonehenge Free Festival
- Battle of the Beanfield
- Wikipedia:Freak scene
- Wikipedia:Rainbow Travellers
For Photos of the Peace Convoy go to Tash's excellent site: http://digitaljournalist.eu/OnTheRoad/galleries-colour/
where there are many photos of life with the Peace Convoy