London’s Secret Social Centre

 

When a possession order was granted to the owners of the squatted block of properties in rampart street which houses the rampART social centre, a scurry of activity began to secure a new building to act as a backup venue during the uncertain period prior to eviction. A suitable property was found and entered for the first time on new years eve and occupied a couple of days later.

Only a short walk from the rampART, the new building was also a commercial premises with three floors. While the area of each floor was only about two thirds of that enjoyed at the rampART, the new building benefited from the addition of a basement which looked like it could make a great gig space. The ground floor had a tiny kitchen but with a bit of work it would clearly make a good space for a cafe and free shop. The first floor was mostly open plan, a good place for large meeting. Meanwhile the upper floor had been subdivided into offices and planned to use it for residential accommodation. The most exciting thing about the new space however was the yard which gave us potential to do things we could never do a rampART.

Despite all it’s potential, the place was a mess. The owners had completely trashed every floor. Wiring had been cut, light switches smashed, false ceiling and lights pulled down, partition walls torn down or holed. Additionally, the only two toilets in the building had been smashed to pieces. However, we didn’t think it would take long to put in shape. We took over a load of bedding and cushions, fold up table and chairs, water, wind up torches, candles, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers and settled in. Now split between occupying two spaces we put a call out for help occupying both buildings and preparing the new building to become a social centre…

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