After the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union continued to develop and test nuclear weapons. Britain became the third nuclear power in the late 1950s. 

Many people in Britain were frightened and horrified by these actions. There was a rise in protests against nuclear weapons, with many organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), which was launched in February 1958. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, support for anti-nuclear campaigning grew dramatically and protests like the annual Aldermaston march attracted thousands of participants.

In 1963 the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty banned all but underground nuclear testing.  As a result, anti-nuclear campaigning died down. CND were keen to maintain their profile and remain relevant and so began to give their support to other counter-culture protests, particularly against the Vietnam War. This conflict became a target of protest in Britain, even though there was no direct British involvement in the fighting.

Here are six protest posters from the 1960s and 1970s.


Let us take the risks of peace upon ourselves

Let Us Take the Risks of Peace Upon Ourselves poster published by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in 1965. Quakers have continually campaigned against war, in light of their core belief in pacifism.

Reproduced with kind permission of The Religious Society of Friends in Britain.


Easter March 1966

Black and White grid image, after Bridget Riley, using lines in a geometric fashion to create a vast geometric pattern. CND logo in top left corner Text: Easter March 1966. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament 14 Grays Inn Road London WC1.
Ian McLaren, Easter March 1966 (CND). © The artist.

Easter March 1966 poster produced for CND to promote a march between High Wycombe and central London. It was designed by Ian McLaren, whose abstract imagery reflected both the era and the practical need to avoid overtly political imagery so as to be permitted for display at London Transport sites. 

Ian McLaren, Easter March 1966 (CND)



The cloud of a nuclear bomb after it has been detonated in the sea. Printed in jet black on a very white paper. Top third of image. The rest is text. Text: NO. 1 Polaris = 4 new universities 1 V-bomber = 7 new schools 1 aircraft carrier = 2 new motorways 1 TSR2 = 5 modern hospitals 1 guided missile destroyer = 9800 tractors.
Ian McLaren, No (CND c.1967) ©.

No poster designed by Ian McLaren for CND in 1967. The mushroom cloud image, impactful slogan, anti-nuclear symbol and text comparing the economic cost of nuclear weapons to things like schools and roads were all key parts of anti-nuclear messaging.


End Bad Breath

the image covers the top three quarters of the whole, with the text in blue running across below the image. The whole is within a white margin and a blank white area fills the lower quarter. image: a caricature head and shoulders portrait of Uncle Sam, with a green face, is set against a sunburst background in blue and white. Within his gaping mouth American aircraft bomb Vietnamese houses. text: END BAD BREATH.
Chwast Seymour, End Bad Breath (1967) Reproduced with kind permission of The Pushpin Group Inc.

End Bad Breath poster depicts US aircraft bombing Vietnamese houses in the mouth of a caricature of Uncle Sam. It was designed by American graphic designer Seymour Chwast, founding partner of the influential Push Pin Studios, in 1967.

Reproduced with kind permission of The Pushpin Group Inc.



CND logo in red with FUCK W*R printed in blue on the lower bars. Text below reads: *U.S. Gov't. regulations prohibit the printing of obscene words.
Gimbo, Fuck W*r *US Gov't regulations prohibits the printing of obscene words (1970) © Gimbo.

Fuck W*r poster, an American design from 1970, incorporates an angry and sarcastic message within Gerald Holtom's nuclear disarmament symbol to protest against the Vietnam War. By this time, Holtom's design was often used as a more general symbol of peace.


Under Nixon 3 Million Tons of Bombs Dropped on Indochina

the image covers the whole, with small black text in the centre of the design. Image: a concentric red and white pattern in the shape of a bomb. The nose of the bomb points downward, and the end is overlaid with a black and white line image of a Vietnamese woman driving a plough pulled by a water buffalo.
David G Bragin Under Nixon 3 Million Tons of Bombs Dropped on Indochina (1972). Reproduced with kind permission DGB Design, Inc.

Under Nixon 3 Million Tons of Bombs Dropped on Indochina poster, designed by American artist David G Bragin in 1972 for the US anti-Vietnam War groups, the People's Coalition for Peace and Justice and the Campaign to End the Air War, New York.

Reproduced with kind permission DGB Design, Inc.

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