On residing

At the beginning of the 1980s many of the Camberwell Grove mansions in the hands of public authority had fallen in a state of chronic decay and their empty flats were occupied by squatters.

By the middle of the decade a community had evolved with established agricultural activity and animal rearing in the overgrown back gardens; wires run from house to house providing electricity; gas and water supplies were guaranteed thanks to the neighbours.

Number 218, in whose garden pigs, goats, ducks, chickens and even a horse lived, had become known as “the farm” and the occupant Dave as “the farmer”.

At some point the council tried to resolve the situation by offering the squatters a deal: short-term tenancies of between 18 months and 5 years through a housing association.

The offer generated furious debate and many squatters, especially the anarchists among them, refused any cooperation with the state authority.

A very heated meeting happened at number 207 when the majority voted to accept the deal and in February 1985 people at numbers 201-218 were “shortified” (given indeterminate license to remain free from eviction).

The residents formed a housing cooperative and managed to stay for another few years.


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