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Autonomous Spaces


Non Commercial House was evicted on November 30th by high court bailiffs on behalf of the owner, The City of London. But it has been taken back and they apparently had a grand re-opening yesterday.


After five years of occupation and many eviction scares the RampART was evicted this morning by 45 police, balifs and a priest!?:-(


London Free School did a weekend event in June at 165 Commercial Street and when it finished they had a discussion about continuing the occupation of the building longer term to complement pre-existing projects in East London. Ideas included a giant free shop and a bicycle workshop. It would be called Non Commercial House.


I never did get to Bowl Court before it was evicted.

After the April Critical Mass I went along to see some bands at the London and Brighton squatted pub on Queens Road in Peckham.

Next Friday RampART are celebrating their fifth birthday with a free party.


I still haven't found time to check out Bowl Court - one of London's most recently established social centres.


I have just signed a petition asking Southwark Council to reconsider their decision to auction off the building used by the Spike Surplus Scheme.


The Hackney Social Centre at 231 Clapton Road is sheduled to evicted tomorrow morning at 9am. There has been a call for people to assemble outside the centre at 8am to meet the balifs and defend the space, bringing drums, flags, and all the friends you can drag with you. Here is the latest information.


The Circle Community have taken up residence in the old Mercedes showroom at 341 Finchley Road.


RampART has not been evicted yet but it probably will be soon, as will RampART II, the replacement space which was being set up.

Meanwhile, there is a Hackney Social Centre blog about London's newest autonomous squatted social centre.


The RampART social centre has just lost in court against a claim for posession.


The people evicted from the Vortex are confident of having a new space within the week.

There is a new Camberwell Squatted Centre.


Unfortunately the ex-Vortex was evicted yesterday morning at 05:30, as reported by johnnyvoid.


From Mary Wollstonecraft to the Angry Brigade, Stoke Newington, in North London, has always had a radical tradition. Now a group of squatters have taken over a former jazz bar for the 'community'.

See Squatting, and all that jazz by Angela Philips on the Guardian website for more on the Vortex story.


On Friday, Richard Midda showed up at the Vortex with some goons to attempt to evict it. About 70-80 people, mostly local residents, turned out to support the resistance. The police intervened and prevented what would most likely have been an illegal eviction attempt. Midda and one of the occupiers went to Stoke Newington Police Station to seek legal advice.


I have been a bit out of touch with what has been going on recently, but yesterday I heard that a new building has been occupied in Stoke Newington. It is a building that I viseted on a number of occasions when it was the Vortex jaz club and bookshop, and I was sad to hear that it is scheduled for demolition. Apparently there was a work day and meeting there today, and I hope it is getting off to a good start.


The occupied theatre on Dalston Lane is currently facing eviction.


Apparently The Square is scheduled for eviction on Friday 23rd and there has been a decision to resist the eviction. The more people there to defend the better so get on down to 21-22 Russell Square by 9am or earlier if possible. It is worth making an effort even if the eviction succeeds, and if you haven't experienced an eviction you will at least learn a thing or two.


The Russell Square space is still in operation with lots of interesting stuff happening - they have a website.


There will be a launch event at the new Russell Square space on Saturday at 7pm.


About a week ago I got an email inviting people to the first social centre meeting at a newly occupied building at 21-22 Russell Square. I couldn't go and have not heard any more about it. If you are in the area why not check it out and see if you can offer any assistance.


The St Matthias Centre at Bullivant Street E12 was occupied as a convergence space for Disarm DSEi 2005 and is still going three months later. There is a St Matts Yahoo! Group to keep in touch with what is going on there.

Social Centres have been defined as being occupied or rented buildings which are used as radical, anti-capitalists centres. They provide a common resource, (meeting space, popular kitchen/cafe, social space, cinema, gig venue, Internet, classes, self-education...etc) some attracting thousands of people over the period they're open and a consistent engagement on with radical politics. They have been utilised in building up infrastructures to social movements, most notably in Italy and Spain, but have been organised now and again in various parts of the UK.

There will be a discussion on the subject "Social Centres - What Next?" as part of the WOMBLES meeting at 19:00 on 2005-12-13 at Freedom.


Over a month now since the illegal eviction of St. Georges. The Save St. George's Theatre Campaign has been set up by a group of local residents to campaign for continued accessibility for the local community.


I got an SOS email today at about 15:00 calling for support at the Circle Community Centre - apparently bailiffs had entered the building! I jumped on my Guzzi and pegged it down there but it was a fait accompli. The place was crawling with cops, bailiffs, security, and Nigerians (the building is owned by a Nigerian church), and a six foot high security fence had been erected to keep people out. Apparently the residents will be allowed in tomorrow to retrieve their possessions. It has been said that the eviction was illegal, but that didn't stop the cops from assisting. So it looks like curtains for St Georges - a sad day indeed.


The Circle Community Centre in Tufnell Park now has a new website.


The Advisory Service For Squatters has a page about the Institute for Autonomy on Gower Street.


The people who ran the Use Your Loaf social centre in Deptford that was evicted last year after being open for two year, have secured use of another building. So the Friday night cafe is back, at The Ragged School, Hales St, Deptford SE8.

There is a G8 do on at the Institute for Autonomy tonight.


I went to check out the Institute for Autonomy last night. I couldn't stay very long but it was worth the visit. There were a couple of rooms in the basement with DJs. On the ground floor there was a kitchen with nice food being served, a cinema and a few other rooms. Upstairs was reserved for kids. I saw lots of people I recognised from other occupied spaces plus a lot of new faces. I was talking to a UCL student who said that they have not so far drawn any heat from UCL (who own the building) so it looks like it will probably be open for a while.


It seems that there is a new occupied social centre opening in London tomorrow (coinciding with the anti-war demo on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq). Located at 76-78 Gower Street and called the "Institute for Autonomy", I heard about it today on (a mailing list which has been dormant since 2004-08-27). Here is the archived announcement.


The Voice of the Turtle features an article called Bridges and Fences which discusses the important role of autonomous spaces in London during the European Social Forum. The idea of an autonomous space is basically that whoever is in the space decides how it will be used, normally through some sort of consensus process. Most community centres are clearly not autonomous because they are owned and or run by local government, churches etc and have rules about what can and can't happen in them. Many autonomous spaces are squatted buildings and whilst some only last a few days, others have managed to hold out for years (the famous 121 Centre on Railton Road in Brixton was held from 1981 to 1999). The Advisory Service for Squatters is an excellent resource for anyone who is thinking about squatting. Legal ownership of a building clearly has benefits as well as responsibilities but no space is truly autonomous - just think about what happened at Waco:-)

Some of the autonomous spaces that I frequent are part of the informal "London Social Centre Network" which does not appear to have its own website but this page on the Wombles site has plenty of information about it. I have just joined the londonscn-forum list at riseup, but it seems to have been dormant since August 2004. There are three main autonomous spaces that I have been frequenting recently: Ian Gregory 2010