IT happened 30 years ago and now the memories have inspired a book of poetry.

Emma Must was a young librarian in Winchester when the construction of the M3 through Twyford Down started in 1992.

She joined the campaign to stop the work and was so committed that she was jailed for contempt of court.

Now decades later The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday is a poetic account of that unsuccessful battle but which in the long-run helped persuade the Government to abandon much of its road building programme.

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The book includes several of the striking photographs taken by young photographer Alex McNaughton who went on to have a successful career often working overseas.

Emma Must now lives in Belfast and has recently completed a PhD.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Protesters occupy equipment. Photo: Alex MacNaughton

The collection is named after the events of December 9 1992 when security guards in fluorescent jackets evicted the protesters, called the Dongas Tribe, from their camp on the hillside.

Emma told the Chronicle that poems were forming in her mind even in 1992. "I would scribble ideas and notes for poems on small scraps of paper as I stood on the chalk near a bulldozer. I was trying to write down images and lines even then, amid the fray.

"Of course, there was simply no time to develop these jottings into poems then. There was no time for anything but campaigning flat out to try to stop our precious hill from being destroyed.

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"By 2012, when I finally started to write the book, it had been pressuring me to write it for twenty years. I had a visceral need to create something out of the destruction. Poetry can bear witness. It can record. It can stop people forgetting."

Hampshire Chronicle:

Photo: Alex MacNaughton

The penultimate poem is an account of Emma's return to the down after 20 years away.

"I had been putting it off for years. I walked from the train station down through the town, then along the river and the Itchen Navigation up to the shell of the hill. There aren’t really words to capture what I found – the hellish noise of the traffic, the gaping chasm of the cutting, the white chalk replaced by black tarmac – but I wrote the poem to try to find the words."

The book is dedicated to the memory of city councillor David Croker, Winchester Residents Association campaigner Alan Weeks and Stephen Ward.

The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday is published by Valley Press,

All royalties from the book will go to the Transport Action Network and the A36/A350 Corridor Alliance.

Alex McNaughton's website, which features many images from Twyford Down and other road protests including Newbury, is

Hampshire Chronicle: Emma Must on Twyford Down in 1993Emma Must on Twyford Down in 1993 (Image: Alex MacNaughton)

Emma Must at Twyford Down in 1993