Brougham Road, Hackney, London E8

I had an idea of setting out some history of this road in the then, wasteland of Hackney, between the Grand Union Canal and London Fields.

The history has not actually been written yet, as I have no real leads on when the road became a small part of the underground counter-culture. All my leads so far were residing in the road from 1981 when it had already been set up as squatted accomodation.

I would not like to hazzard a guess to how long the road had been active with squats or who was the first person to bust open a door, before the brightly coloured haired visionaries took over the street in the early 1980’s.

I am hoping that some passing comments on this post may start to give me a more detailed view of what I will have to write. For now, a few bits of mail from folk (in no particular order) who were there in the early 1980’s to jog your memories.

J.C. (Treasurer of Co-Op/sometime soundman and security at gigs):

I got there in 1982, so don’t know too much about the early history. I thought the Mob/Zounds crew would be able to help more with that. Or maybe even Hugh, but not sure how much him and the Tibetan hippies would actually be able to remember, or if it would be accurate.

OK – When I got there, co-op was more or less set up. Main culprits were Richard, number 70 I think, a guy up at number 106 whose name I can’t remember and Elizabeth.

The ´face´ for the street was definitely Richard – I think he was going out with Fiona at the time, so again, Hugh might know more about him. He convinced me to become ´administrator´ and later secretary/treasurer /general dogsbody!

I think Patchwork ran several houses, but were (gently) persuaded to hand them over to us! Six houses (at the bottom) were knocked down for road, but this was balanced by 4 ´derelicts´ being brought back into commission.

Loads of money wasted by council (as usual) during repairs. There was a rolling program of repairs to bring all houses to some sort of standard, but some houses were worse after renovation than before.

Josef Porter (Zounds/The Mob/Blyth Power):

The real story happened before we moved in – I heard some of the old hippies squatting there before us hid Astrid Proll from the Baader Meinhof Gang, and other such madness. We just picked up their leftovers. Steve Lake might know more, and you need to find Dave Morris A.K.A. Dave the Anarchist Postman, who predates us all. He was the one in the McLibel case.

Dave Morris:

Well I was squatting in 64 Brougham Rd from 1974-1980. I was a postman in Islington. The house was very run down, with an old outside toilet and a sink for a kitchen. But we decorated the inside with posters, murals, press cuttings and inspiring slogans etc.

I shared the place with Alan, a really decent and quiet young bloke who became an alcoholic in the late 1970s. Alan once got nicked when drunk at a train station wearing my post office jacket and wheeling about a post office trolley with bags of letters on it. This led to a raid on the house and some laughable police hysteria about him and me being in an anarchist train robbers gang… I testified in court that I had known nothing about it (and that probably nor did Alan), but he still got 6 months suspended (Mentioned in Albert Meltzer’s autobiography). After I left I think he went downhill, and last I heard he tragically got run over by a bus.

The other bloke we shared with was Des Kelly from Ireland who I recall was writing a book… I have a mad photo of him trying to ride his bike UP our staircase. I did bump into him in Hackney 15 years later but cant remember what he was doing them.

Spanish Elizabeth was next door I think. Zounds folks moved into my place or next door after I left. I vaguely recall a guy (Bruce?) living at No 66 who did animation and who told me he was working on an amazing path-breaking new film called ‘Star Wars’.. it didn’t sound to me like it would get anywhere with a crap name like that…

There was a very strong Broadway Market Squatters Association (with maybe 50+ homes in it from the area) which met regularly for mutual solidarity and campaigning. I remember we decided to boycott an amnesty offered by the GLC (London Authority) to squatters if we would accept licenses… the Association saw it as a sell out and divide and rule – we were all pretty militant and independent. But eventually many did accept licenses and then formed housing co-ops in order to keep together and survive.

There were lots of radical feminists in the area, many squatting – I admired them a lot. Some were involved in the Women In Manual Trades group. Former german urban guerrilla Astrid Proll did apparently spend some time in the area and many people in the area helped form the Friends of Astrid Proll to campaign for her after she was arrested.

I think a building which had been squatted at the south end of the street sometime in the early 70s became a collectively run playcentre..

There was a revolutionary socialist guy who was a tenant in the tower block at that end of the street and had had some run ins with NF fascists.. I vaguely remember getting involved in anti-fascist stuff in the area, painting out nazi slogans etc…

There was a good community, with squatters, tenants, feminists, anarchists and all age groups and nationalities all mixing and getting along pretty well.

There was famous graffiti on a wall at the end of the street by the market which survived for over 10 years: ‘Broadway Market is not a sinking ship – its a submarine.’  It has been restored in recent years, but unfortunately gentrified a lot. It was amazing to go back there last year after decades away and visit Tony’s cafe which had been there when I was there I think, been evicted in order to be ponced up, and then re-occupied as a high profile squatted political centre opposing gentrification in the area (by some anarchists and ‘Hackney Independent’ activists.. see the Hackney Independent website for full info on this).

John:

I remember the Mob had a house there and they lived next door to Andy from Null and Void (I think the bass player lived there too who’s name if I remember rightly was Mark) and Steve from Yeovil (long dreadlocks).

Rob Vex, Rob Challice, Paul (Faction, This Bitter Lesson and Christie) and J.C. lived at 96 Brougham Road.

Next door was Spanish Elisabeth (who was an old school revolutionary/anarchist type from Spain-hence the name) she later ended up having a kid with J.C. and I lost touch with him.

Neal (original guitarist of Blyth Power) also lived on Brougham Rd with his Mum and his sister Liz (great people) but I’m not sure of the exact number.

I also remember Tim Hutton (ex Mob drummer before Josef and ex-Zounds) living somewhere on Brougham Road great guy and amazing musician.

That’s about all I remember about Brougham Road. It was quite hippyish and if I remember rightly the whole street was squatted, or at least that one side of it was. There was on old bus station on one end and Broadway market on the other and it was a five minute walk to a 24 hour bagel shop.

I think the Ukrainian Mountaine Troupe were part of the hippy bus convoy crew that lived in the bus station, which at one point I lived next door to, very briefly as they had a tendency to break into the local squats and steal stuff. After I lost my radio/cassette and Kelvin lost some stuff, it seemed like time to move.

Mark Wilson (The Mob):

The Mob were living in a rented house in Seend in Wiltshire and we bought a bus to tour on. When we got it ready we took it for a test drive to visit Josef who was living in Brougham Road.

The next morning a guy walked out of number 74 and asked us if we wanted to buy the house for £40. This was the amount he had spent on getting water on and changing the Yale lock. Yale locks have a big place in the history of squatting!!

Sylvianne (pictured in Friends of the Puppies in photo gallery) lived next door at number 72. Number 76 was inhabited by some radical feminists who disliked us and most other people intensely. Spanish Elizabeth who was involved in the Centro Iberico lived up the other end, possible number 94.

There were many interesting characters such as New Zealand Andy the mechanic who would take copious amounts of mind bending drugs and stay up all night fixing trucks. My personal favorite and life long inspiration was Ray who was a cockney wide boy with loads of kids. We would often get work with him fixing transit vans and old Ford Capri’s outside his house. We were best known for tipping cars on their sides to change the gearboxes to the horror of their owners.

The oven in number 74 was permanently turned on and the whole street would use it to cook bread – we had a special arrangement with the electric bill.

Sara, Liz Rosie, Neil, and Chris lived up in the number 90’s After I left the street, number 74 became a den of skag for a while with Guy, Max, Mark H, and Glen from Weymouth I believe.

The bus garage was squatted after we arrived by members of the Peace Convoy including my sister Jen. We were a bit pissed as we seemed to get the blame for the invasion having just landed in a bus.

The Tibetans were living temporarily in the street on or around the same time.

Rob Challice (Faction/All The Madmen Records):

Sara, Liz, Neil and co lived at number 94

Sara and Liz lived for a while round the corner to the right of the bus garage entrance.

I remember that it was somebody from number 102/104, Spanish Elizabeth, JC and a couple of other organized heads who made the push to get the houses into a housing association.

We were proud of our house, number 96, and the street. We made plenty of home (and garden) improvements. J.C. was always responsible for gas, electric and such amenities.

I regularly explain to people who have no experience of squats that actually in some squats the standard of accommodation was higher than some rented accommodation that I’ve seen, and I imagine better than much student accommodation on offer.

Ray and family were in the number 60’s I think. ‘Diamond geezer’ he was.

J.C. took over 96 Brougham Road. Paul, Rob (Vex) and I joined him in 1981. I was 17.

I ran 96 Tapes and WOT Distribution from number 96 from 1982/1983 onwards.

I can’t remember many break-ins at our house I moved out approx 1985/1986

Val Puppy (Kill Your Pet Puppy contributor):

The Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe was around when I was living at number 66. Various members of whom run the kids’ field at Glastonbury now (including Tibetan Tony and Wandering Will), They promote it as a free festival within the larger festival.

Photographs from the collections of Val and Penguin

Taken during summer solstice.

Probably not taken during summer solstice (Janet H collection)

131 comments
  1. luggy
    luggy
    May 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Saw Neil a while back. Liz & their mum still live there in adjacent houses.

  2. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    May 25, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Nice picture of a zombied up Neil on this post now, a few more on the photo gallery Brougham Road section.

  3. Chris
    Chris
    May 27, 2008 at 11:09 am

    I’ve got a load of photos taken at Dave Fanning’s place on Brougham Rd. Andy & Dave, plus New Zealand Andy, Hippy Nigel, Sally , Dave’s French girlfriend for a while and a few others. I also remember ‘Dead Kev’ who stayed at #74. I’ve also got some photof of the grafitti Andy & Dave did along that coruggated sheeting; “Kill Nazis” and suchlike. Will try to get em looked out, scanned and off to you soon, Pengy.
    Brougham Rd was like a total throw-back to hippy times – just could never imagine anything like that existing now.

  4. Stewart
    Stewart
    May 31, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Well, I know this isn’t a LOT of help, but I recall that Colin from 79 Balls Pond Road squat moved in with a woman called Karen at a different squat in the BPR, and then when they were evicted from that they both moved into a squat on Brougham Road. I think this must have been early 1979. They were known (though possibly not to their faces, ahem…) as ‘The Gruesome Twosome’ and weren’t ‘punks’ as such but still part of the scene then. And I remember a hippy called Kevs who was also part of the scene squatting in Brougham Road. Lot of dope and patchouli oil, you know…
    I’m sure the more people post stuff, the more I and others will remember – it’s all in my brain somewhere,it’s just that my brain’s getting smaller but because I’ve been alive so bloody long the memories are taking up more space, and something has to give…

  5. Phil
    Phil
    May 31, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Stu there’s a picture of hippy Kev in the 1st huntingdon pic you posted, with you me twotone steve hippy Mark and another hippyish guy from middlesbrough

  6. Stewart
    Stewart
    May 31, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Ta Phil! Thought that was them, but didn’t want to libel anyone! Bloody hippies – all look the same! :O

  7. Ian S
    Ian S
    June 17, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    New Zealand Andy was an interesting character. He had all sorts of stories to tell about his travels round the world. Outside his house was parked his old ambulance, which had a stove pipe going through the roof. Inside, the ambulance was well-furnished with fitted wooden cupboards and shelving.

    He had a bandy-legged Jack Russell which he used as a kind of mobile first aid kid. Once I’d cut myself badly on the hand and the wound wasn’t healing very quickly. Andy told me to hold my hand out to the dog and keep still. The dog chewed up the scab and licked all the pus away with enthusiasm. As Andy predicted, the wound healed quickly and cleanly afterwards.

    The bus garage was an astonishing place. All that could be seen from the street was the large, high entrance. This gave no clue as to how extensive the garage was inside. Dave Fanning took me to see people living there to score acid off them. The power was off and all that could be seen at first was the flames of dozens of candles dotted all around, like the interior of a cathedral.

  8. Chris L
    Chris L
    June 17, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    errr, are you sure it was your hand you proffered to NZ Andy’s dog, Ian? Funny, I don’t recall it being ‘bandy legged’ till after that very day. 😉

  9. Ian S
    Ian S
    June 18, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    threadkillah! 🙁

  10. emily drake
    emily drake
    June 22, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    hi, i lived with andy martin and dave fanning at 108 in the late 80’s, ted and dog sadie used to sleep curled around the drums in the practice room as i was kindly given an upstairs room after arriving after some crisis or other, i remember doing some illustrations for andy for smile and having interesting conversations throught the hatch between his room and the kitchen and drawing a lot with dave in his room listening to tony hancock and derek and clive…i loved it there, i was very young and they were very kind to a naive messed up hippy

  11. Stump
    Stump
    August 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Lived for a year or so across the road from Dave Fanning and Andy Martin having got to know ‘Hackney Hell Crew’ people Martin, Alien, Olly (Oily) Bucket, Simmo, Puss Goatbreath (RIP) and often stayed there (stayed in a garden shed with Simmo for a short while, situated across a lovely ‘ditch’ feature instigated and no doubt dug by Andy Martin).

    I stayed with Diana Lloyd (RIP) who had a lot of interesting history going back to the sixties and although suffering a bit from the profound substances abuse in her youth was a very wise head at a time when I was struggling.

    This was all around 1986 when there was a definite feeling that time was being called on the way of life Brougham Road offered. Would have liked to have explored the lifestyle in a more positive way than I did but on reflection the people sights and sounds, like a good song or book, have left a lasting impression.

  12. Stewart
    Stewart
    August 7, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Stump! Is this the Stump so-called because of one leg shorter than the other after a motorbike accident? Is in the Daubeney Road photos with Sue and Urk etc????

  13. Dave Morris
    Dave Morris
    August 16, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Hi all

    Well I was squatting in 64 Brougham Rd from 1974-1980. I was a postman in Islington. The house was very run down, with an old outside toilet and a sink for a kitchen. But we decorated the inside with posters, murals, press cuttings and inspiring slogans etc.

    I shared the place with Alan, a really decent and quiet young bloke who became an alcoholic in the late 1970s. Alan once got nicked when drunk at a train station wearing my post office jacket and wheeling about a post office trolley with bags of letters on it. This led to a raid on the house and some laughable police hysteria about him and me being in an anarchist train robbers gang… I testified in court that I had known nothing about it (and that probably nor did Alan), but he still got 6mths suspended. (Mentioned in Albert Meltzer’s autobiography). After I left I think he went downhill, and last I heard he tragically got run over by a bus.

    The other bloke we shared with was Des Kelly from Ireland who I recall was writing a book… I have a mad photo of him trying to ride his bike UP our staircase. I did bump into him in Hackney 15 years later but cant remember what he was doing them.

    Spanish Elizabeth was next door I think. Zounds folks moved into my place or next door after I left. I vaguely recall a guy (Bruce?) living at No 66 who did animation and who told me he was working on an amazing path-breaking new film called ‘Star Wars’.. it didn’t sound to me like it would get anywhere with a crap name like that…

    There was a very strong Broadway Market Squatters Association (with maybe 50+ homes in it from the area) which met regularly for mutual solidarity and campaigning. I remember we decided to boycott an amnesty offered by the GLC (London Authority) to squatters if we would accept licenses… the Association saw it as a sell out and divide and rule – we were all pretty militant and independent. But eventually many did accept licenses and then formed housing co-ops in order to keep together and survive.

    There were lots of radical feminists in the area, many squatting – I admired them a lot. Some were involved in the Women In Manual Trades group. Former german urban guerrilla Astrid Proll did apparently spend some time in the area and many people in the area helped form the Friends of Astrid Proll to campaign for her after she was arrested.

    I think a building which had been squatted at the south end of the street sometime in the early 70s became a collectively run playcentre..

    There was a revolutionary socialist guy who was a tenant in the tower block at that end of the street and had had some run ins with NF fascists.. I vaguely remember getting involved in anti-fascist stuff in the area, painting out nazi slogans etc…

    There was a good community, with squatters, tenants, feminists, anarchists and all age groups and nationalities all mixing and getting along pretty well.

    There was famous graffiti on a wall at the end of the street by the market which survived for over 10 years: ‘Broadway Market is not a sinking ship – its a submarine.’ It has been restored in recent years, but unfortunately gentrified a lot. It was amazing to go back there last year after decades away and visit Tony’s cafe which had been there when I was there I think, been evicted in order to be ponced up, and then re-occupied as a high profile squatted political centre opposing gentrification in the area (by some anarchists and ‘Hackney Independent’ activists.. see the Hackney Independent website for full info on this).

    I could say more no doubt… and I have a few photos of the street and other sites in the area (poss. the bus garage, the corrugated iron church, and the green tiled ‘Dublin Bottling Company’ off the market)..

  14. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    August 16, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Thanks for adding this Dave, It would be lovely to get some photos uploaded from your collection. Be fascinating to view them. I will email you direct concerning this. I will also add this text to the main body of the post. Thanks.

  15. Phil R
    Phil R
    August 16, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Hi Dave, I remember looking after Alan when he had the D.T.s really bad. He was in a different world and i remember him spending hours trying to untangle string that pixies and elfs had tied around the house. Really gone..

  16. alistairliv
    alistairliv
    August 16, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    Great stuff Dave, a real piece of alternative history. I wonder why the similar story of squatting in west London – e.g. Frestonia – seems to be (relatively) better documented in comparison to east London?

  17. martin
    martin
    August 28, 2008 at 12:10 am

    hey stumpy just seen stuff bout old days H.H.C n stuff, Ha Ha, long time,hope u well, am down in whitstable these days, u still in the west country? get in touch u toothless ape…

  18. Stump
    Stump
    August 28, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Alright Martin, I’m in Oxfordshire now with my plastic teeth and all. I’m very well thanks and you’ve worked out how to use a computer so you can’t be bad either! Don’t really know how to get in touch using this website without leaving personal details on the internet maybe just set up a temporary email address and go from there?

    Are you still in touch with anybody from then? Apparently the Apostles continue to play around Hackney (Chat’s Palace last year, I think) Cheers -Stump

  19. martin
    martin
    August 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    i saw olly last oct in copenhagen,been there bout 13 years,he was o.k. alien lives in tottenham,workin as a tube station manager, HA, HA,doin drummin still,simo died bout 5 years ago,it was only the other day i was thinkin about diane, its sad she died, i have caught up wiv quite a lot of old faces and old mates bands through my space,yeah im not sure wot the crack is wiv givin out myspace/email contact on ere?

  20. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    August 28, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    I can do it on your behalf guys…cos I have the power!

  21. martin
    martin
    August 29, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    nice one,

  22. Stumpy
    Stumpy
    August 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Hi Martin

    Thanks for the info. Sad to hear about Simmo – always thought he had a chance – The phrase “will a breeeak it” has stuck with me ever since (to the point where other people around me also say it about any piece of technology that doesn’t work first time!) He was the first person from HCC who I met – bloody refreshing compared to all the fucking wannabes around at the time!

    Diana’s demise was not a complete surprise but I’ve retained a lot of the great stories about/from her. Much of how I live now does owe a lot to that era (but without body lice!)

    Give me a link to any other place on the net you reside in and I’ll get in touch. All the best – Stump

  23. Nic
    Nic
    August 30, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Incidentally, I just wondered: would you be from Birmingham, Stumpy?
    (If not, please ignore)

  24. Sally
    Sally
    October 5, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Hey Chris
    I find it really nice to read all these messages.
    I’m Belgium Sally. Speaking double dutch and not french.
    Together whith my husband David I had a amazing and unforgettable time at 108.
    I read that you’ve got a few pictures that I really want to see.
    Is it possible for you to send this pictures to me? You can make me quite happy whith those.
    Now I live back in Belgium and still I drive a bus for my work and still floating time by time back to years ago. To memories that I forever hold in my heart and mind.
    Hope to hear soon from you.
    Lots of love to all of you there.
    Kiss Belgium Sally

  25. Stewart
    Stewart
    October 8, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Oh. You’ve deleted the spam message. I was quite interested in finding out how to enlarge my penis… 🙁

  26. andus
    andus
    October 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Have you tried stinging nettles

  27. stumpy
    stumpy
    October 8, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Can I confirm that ‘Stewart’ is Stewart formerly of Daubeney Road, Nightingale Estate etc. and, if so – Hello, how are you doing?

    All the best Stumpy.

  28. Stewart
    Stewart
    October 8, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Stump! Took you two fucking months to reply, but hell, you were always a bit slow… (*winks*). I’m actually very good, ta – never thought I’d end up where I am, but I’m alive, happy and pretty contented on the whole. Completely broke. And completely stressed out in my new job, already. But Life is Life, you know… 🙂 What about you????

  29. Stewart
    Stewart
    October 8, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    PS, Andus: Stinging nettles? Yes, I have tried them, but they’re still just small pricks, you know…?!?!

  30. stumpy
    stumpy
    October 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Ha! Good one Stew, you bastard! Glad to hear all’s well. Last time I saw you was at Pip’s somewhat ‘last throw of the dice for some’ leaving do. You were a reporter/journo (and probably still are if you’re skint and stressed) at the time and were just off the back of a scoop regarding a certain Tory MP (might be slow but have an unfailing memory).

    I’m thoroughly enjoying my 40’s having arrived in a happy situation beyond a bit of a trail of destruction (surprise! surprise!).

    Always enjoyed your company, sharpness and rabid cynicism (not to mention the brilliant dub and reggae collection/system) – talents, no doubt, that keep your rent paid today.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying the potential anarchy of the credit crunch thing – all that squirming by the once smug is truly great. Not a problem for me as I busted my credit years ago, hence nothing to crunch.

    Stump

  31. stumpy
    stumpy
    October 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Oh yeah! The photos were great by the way.

    Stumpy

  32. barcelona spain
    barcelona spain
    October 10, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    sounds like a great project – I hope you get loads of old photos so you can post them on here 😉

  33. mark m
    mark m
    October 12, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Sally long time eh I was with Lee in Poland this week and he was asking after Griet. Anyone any news i can pass on? Many times i think of crazy times and people in Belgium.Remember that club in Hasalt where everyone used to go to come down on Sundays?

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