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Anger erupted across Britain as the attack on Iraq began

This article is over 19 years, 3 months old
On the day that war broke out towns, cities and even villages across Britain were brought to a standstill by militant anti-war protests
Issue 1843a
London school students protest against the war
London school students protest against the war (Pic: Jess Hurd/


Protests began at 8.30am at Hunter’s Bar roundabout, where people stopped traffic. By midday loads of school and university students and workers on dinner breaks joined a town hall protest then numbering 2,500. Protesters marched around the city and blockaded Park Square, the city’s major roundabout, bringing the city to a halt.

In the evening around 1,700 protested, with banners from the AUT, NUJ, Unison and RMT unions and the trades council. The school students were an inspiration. One said, ‘I want to be able to look back and say I did as much as I could to stop this war.’

Jill Chanter


Hundreds gathered in Canterbury and marched through the city with shouts, whistles and drums. We blocked the A2 for almost an hour. We then marched to the cathedral and burst through into the grounds. Hundreds of us occupied the cathedral cloisters and held a short rally. Lively city centre protests also took place in Rochester, Broadstairs and Margate.

Jon Flaig


Some 100 marched round the town centre at lunchtime. Later 300 people marched to the civic office and 75 people occupied the council chamber.

As Swindon council has refused to debate the war, the meeting constituted itself as a people’s assembly for Swindon and voted to oppose the war.

Andy Newman


WE HAD a brilliant protest, with some 500 staff and students from the College of North East London and Middlesex University, and school students from Northumberland Park School. We all walked out and blocked a main road. The protest was made up of black, white and Asian.

Rachel Eborall


Over 6,000 jammed the streets of Birmingham on Thursday evening in protest at the war. It followed a day of protest across Birmingham. Around 200 to 250 students at Birmingham University walked out and protested all afternoon.

There were walkouts of council workers in neighbourhood offices around Birmingham. And hospital workers at the Selly Oak and Queen Elizabeth hospitals held lunchtime protests.
Simon Behrman

I was one of up to 100 council workers who walked out in shock and anger against the war. We got together with our Unison union placards and banners, and leafleted shoppers, urging them to take action against the war. There was a great atmosphere, with local students joining us playing music and making lots of noise.

Namita Srivastava


More than 500 Stirling University staff and students walked out of classes on Thursday to join a protest rally. The atmosphere was fantastic, with local bands supplying the music and lots of speeches.

University principal Colin Bell said he was proud of the action! Around 200 then marched into Stirling town centre to lobby pro-war MP Anne McGuire.

Iain Ferguson


School and college students began a day of protest. A lively rally was held outside West Quay shopping centre. In the evening some 500 people took part in mass civil disobedience outside Southampton Civic Centre, occupying the road and blocking a major junction.

Steve Squibbs

Waltham Forest

A fantastic, noisy, 400-strong lunchtime protest was held in Walthamstow town square, led by local school students. At Walthamstow High School for Girls the headmistress called in the police to barricade the young women in the school with police vans.

Roger Huddle

Home Counties

In St Albans we had a fantastic march and demo of 250 people. It was very young, with lots of school students who had taken spontaneous action during the day.

Jon Berry

Protesters marched from Luton Town Hall, stopping traffic along major intersections and gathering around 100 people as they marched. In Milton Keynes 130 people protested, while in Northampton around 300 held a sitdown protest.

In Bedford 250 marched, and local Labour councillor Chris Whitehead tore up his party card.

Viv Smith


In the morning central Newcastle was stopped when around 250 people staged a protest at the Haymarket. Chanting slogans like ‘No blood for oil’ and ‘George Bush, terrorist’, most of them sat down in the road and stopped traffic going to work for 40 minutes. They then marched to the city’s Monument.

Julie Fowler


Around 200 students from Wyke Sixth Form College walked out to join Hull University students on their campus. In the evening about 500 people came to protest in the city centre and blocked the A63 for an hour.

We then marched to a meeting due to be addressed by local MP and trade and industry minister Alan Johnson and scared him into cancelling his appointment.

Geoff Collier


In Worthing, Sussex, around 200 people gathered in the town centre at 6pm, making a huge amount of noise with saucepans, whistles, drums and horns. We completely took the local police by surprise-this was the first such demo anyone in Worthing could remember!

Over the next hour or so, there were several peaceful sitdowns at key roundabouts and road junctions.

Lee Billingham


There was a tremendous walk out at Blackburn College at 11am the day war broke out. Around 500 staff and students walked out and marched to a rally. We marched to Jack Straw’s offices and sat down in the road. Lots of people joined in.

Phil Webster


In Clerkenwell 130 people made a lunchtime protest against the war in Iraq. It was organised by Clerkenwell Media Workers Against the War, and brought together workers and students from local workplaces and colleges including the Guardian and Amnesty International.


The centre of Bristol was occupied by protesters all day. At lunch time 1,000 students occupied the road and marched twice around Bristol’s inner ring road. This was followed by a huge protest of 5,000 people in the evening which closed the M32.

This was one of the largest protests in Bristol’s history. In Bath 300 protesters marched and occupied the Guildhall.

Matt Gordon


Demonstrators began gathering in Market Square, Lancaster, at 4am as the bombing began. In the early afternoon, the protest turned into a highly emotional and noisy march through the town centre.

Members of the public brought food, coffee and even beer for us to share out between us. How great is that? It was a hell of a boost knowing that the next generation is already there, ready and waiting and prepared to stand up and say ‘enough’.

Ketlan Ossowski


Some 400 people gathered at lunchtime and again at 5pm to voice their opposition to war. The lunchtime rally was attended by striking workers from the city and county council Unison branches along with a large student contingent. The 5pm gathering staged a short rally followed by an occupation of the ring-road.

Tom Unterrainer


Around 300 congregated and marched up the main street in Leamington at lunchtime. There was a sit down and the police had to divert traffic. Then school students blocked a roundabout and a Shell garage chanting ‘No blood for oil’.

Caroline Day


In Glasgow police closed down much of the city centre to prevent a 2,500-strong anti-war protest taking over the streets. School and college students who had been demonstrating throughout the day were joined by many trade unionists.

The evening demo followed a huge day of action across the city. A thousand people rallied in George Square at 12 noon. School and college students led a vibrant lunchtime protest in Edinburgh which occupied the major thoroughfare of Princes Street.

Later, their numbers swelled to more than 5,000 and Charlotte Square, at the heart of the city’s financial district, was occupied. At least 3,000 protesters then set off to protest outside the home of Scotland’s first minister and Blair loyalist, Jack McConnell.

Mark Brown and Keith Prince


Some 250 people, mainly young, joined a lively and militant protest in Chester town centre.

After rallying in the town centre we marched to the local police headquarters and occupied the roundabout outside. It was easily the most militant demo Chester has seen.

Richard Atkinson


The day started with a lively and militant lunchtime protest of over 150 people on the Millennium Bridge on London’s South Bank. Workers at a local charity had made a 50 foot long banner which we hung from the bridge.

The protest was joined by school students, students and staff from Southwark College, civil servants, health workers and charity workers.

Charlie Hore


Manchester saw eight hours of continuous protests following in the wake of the incredible school student strike of 3,000 last Wednesday. Anti-war campaigners gathered in Albert Square at 12 noon. Hundreds of Manchester University students blocked the main Oxford Road.

A crowd of around 600 spent the afternoon marching around and blocking the city for three hours. At times the police blocked people in, but time and time again protesters broke through their blockades.

At 5pm protests moved to Piccadilly Gardens and within an hour 2,000 had gathered. At 6.15pm marchers poured out of Piccadilly Gardens, and off on another tour of the city streets. The streets became ours.

Richard Searle, Colin Barker and Arlene Finnegan


Four hundred protested in Gloucester. We finished the demo three times, but twice people wanted to carry on. We kept up making a continuous din for over one and a half hours. It was brilliant for Gloucester.

Phil Jones


One thousand people, including students and 200 council workers who walked out of work, joined a lunchtime protest in Leeds. An impromptu march included several sit-downs, blocking of roads and a lobby of Hilary Benn’s constituency office.

It was the angriest, most militant, most black and white and youngest demo I’ve seen in Leeds – bloody marvellous. Fresh troops came along at 5pm for more sit downs and impromptu marching.

Paul Blackledge


We began leafleting commuters at 7am. At 11am there was a mass walkout of school, college and university students from around the city.

They joined forces in a march to the town centre where our numbers swelled to around 2,000. The day culminated in a huge rally of several thousand outside the main shopping centre and we occupied the town hall.

Kath Senker

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