Peace shop in Tunbridge Wells
Grassroots: (Make Peace Wells Ltd - for a while)
In 1980 when Tunbridge Wells CND was revived after its hibernation in the 1960s one of the things the group did was run a stall on the street quite often on the steps of what is now Habitat. Although this was appropriate for us then it was cold it did not suit people particularly when it seemed the council had passed a by-law to stop street trading, and volunteers were arrested a few times. Volunteers began to thin out. At this time, 1985, it was realised peace environmental, animal welfare and anti-apartheid are intertwined.
FOE after a considerable effort at the Size Well B Public enquiry had shown Nuclear Power was not and never had been economically viable. CND then worked with FOE in the latter part of this campaign. Subsequently Lord Marshall the then chairman of the CEGB said in essence that the lights really were never going to got out without nuclear power and nuclear power always was part of the bomb programme. At Greenham the Women had researched EC food mountains, environmental consequences of waste, and human rights, etc. were made. Jim Munves, from New York who has visited TWFOE meetings, on one occasion said why don’t you set-up a peace shop, many towns still have one.
After concerts, a sponsored parachute jump, and beautiful poster based on a Richard Scarry illustration with his permission was printed. Some of these exercises barely covered costs, but we raised £3000. In 1987 Jim appeared on the scene again said where is the shop, found one and our present landlord. The shop we rented had been at one stage been a public house gents which we converted in to a peace shop. There was a little joke "piss-shop" but that was quickly pass over. We started out with about 40 people doing odd mornings hours, etc. Tuesday to Saturday 10 – 5pm. Two years later The Victoria Project swallowed up the shop that was next to the drill hall roughly under the crossing on Victoria Road. We moved to a converted garage, where we are now. Now changes are afoot that could mean closure unless new initiatives that are under discussion, become reality. As the End approaches please rush to the shop and buy up items while you can get them in Tunbridge Wells. There are some wonderful books on the history of the peace movement if you ask you may take such a book for any donation you can think of.
It is pleasing to see that some of the environmentally better products are now available in Tunbridge Wells. Watch out though, Ecover is now owned by Group Four who amongst other things operate the private security used against road protesters. ‘Ethical Consumer’ points out these and other points, there are plenty of back issues in Grassroots. The peace shop closed at the end of January 1997, people came and mostly purchased products at full price, we made no profit, or things were given away.