Obituary: Jane Buxton: 22 May 1925 – 21 February 2019

IssueApril - May 2019
Comment by Andrew Papworth

Jane Buxton, a founder member of the Committee of 100, was deeply affected by the decision to manufacture atomic and nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s. She shared the alarm of many at the race between the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain to acquire the most threatening weapons. At that time, all three countries were testing their weapons in the atmosphere and the level of strontium-90 in the air caused much concern. She joined the growing body of people determined to stop what seemed a rush to destruction. Her commitment was strong and she took radical nonviolent action at the bases where such weapons were sited and at the places they were manufactured.

In 1960, she was arrested at the Foulness, Essex, Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. She and others went to prison for a week as a result. On release, they repeated the action. Re-arrested, they were returned to court. The magistrate asked them to sign an undertaking not to commit such action again. Jane and 13 others refused. They went to prison for six months.

Jane and a fellow prisoner, Margaret Turner, wrote Gate Fever about the action and prison. She wrote: ‘It was truly wonderful in court and I will never forget it. I believe the magistrate was astonished that we would not sign and that we chose such a harsh alternative.’

Jane went to prison on two more occasions. Weapons of such destructive power have not been abolished. However the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty signed by the US, Soviet Union and Britain did prevent nuclear tests being conducted in the atmosphere.

Jane remained principled in her long life. She was also very concerned about the dangers of nuclear energy. I remember her having a wind generator being installed in the garden in the very early days of alternative energy and she had mains electricity removed from the house for several years because of its increasing dependency on nuclear power.

Topics: Radical lives
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