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. Val n Martin
    Val n Martin
    October 15, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Hi
    Does any one know Martin Braindamage? We used to live at 66 Colvester Cres with him and others around 1986-87. Would really like to hear what he’s doin now.

  2. martin
    martin
    October 17, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    i was chattin to womble (decadent few) who said martin moved back to harrow, and he’s a motorcycle courier in london these days,

  3. Val n Martin
    Val n Martin
    November 1, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    Thank you for the news about Martin Braindamage if you ever see him tell him Val n Martin say hi . If anyone else knows anything about him would love to here about him how he’s doing etc

  4. Hippy Nigel
    Hippy Nigel
    November 13, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Bloody hell! How do you guys remember all this stuff?
    Stayed with Dave and Andy and moved with them to Viccy Park Road but ain’t got a clue when. Great mates really with Dead Kev until his downfall into smack with Thecla. Anyone remeber Frank? Is NZ Andy still alive he owes me a fiver!!!

  5. Stewart
    Stewart
    November 13, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Ooo, pics of Dead Kev in the Huntingdon Road pix… I think.. Can’t be bothered to check. Bloody hippy… (*winks*)

  6. Phil R
    Phil R
    November 14, 2008 at 8:52 am

    Yeah he’s in a picture with us two

  7. Ann
    Ann
    December 10, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Sally from Belgium:
    Would you be Sally who used to live in Mechelen?
    I’m Ann, who used to live in Biekorfstraat, Antwerp.
    I came over to see you when you lived in Mentmore Terrace in 1980 I think it was.
    You must be her, I think.
    Have been thinking of you often over the years.
    It would be great to hear from you.

  8. allison nicol
    allison nicol
    December 20, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I recall attending a party in someone’s backyard in the 80’s. The Seven Kevins played. My husband was good friends with JC, Sylvianne, Thierry and also Elisabeth. I will ask him to write his own post. I know for a fact he would enjoy hearing from JC. We’ve lost track of him (living in the US for 20 years now).

  9. Val
    Val
    December 20, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    @ allison nicol

    JC is living in Spain these days and does check out this site occasionally. If you want to pass a message on to him via the website, we can make sure he gets it.

  10. allison nicol
    allison nicol
    December 22, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Hello again, THANKS for the reply. I will ask Steve to post something. It would be great to hear from him after all these years.

    Thanks again, Allison

  11. baronvonzubb
    baronvonzubb
    December 23, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Bloody hell Penguin, . Ari Up & Dave Morris.
    Helloo Dave if your ever browse around, since august…
    I was one of the punks around rising free then ‘the monday group’ when you were in the L W G. My name was either ‘jake or ‘tina’.
    I think both groups did some ‘actions’ together?I remember you well anyway.
    I know it aint cool to say it but what you and your freind did in Mclibel was absolutely stirling .
    If we had half of your balls(whoops…) and determination , how different a place the world would be.
    Good on yer fella.
    From Al
    “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?”
    Cos it was 15 years earlier and actually broke away from the union?

    njoy BVZ

  12. stuart(belgrano)
    stuart(belgrano)
    December 31, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Does anyone know the whereabouts of the people who I squatted with in the blue house, Hackney in 1984 to 86? I lived and ran “belgrano’s cafe” which was set up in the panelled room with the chess patterned floor. Most of us (josh, christine, karen, phil, little john, alex&fiona, pema, julian etc then moved to the mothers hospital in Laura Place. I painted a few murals in both squats and had a great time back then, loads of bands played the blue house and the hackney hell crew were at most of them. Good memories!

  13. slyme68
    slyme68
    January 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    hey stuart

    alex and fi are in the west country and still an item. alex was in “weapons of sound” until recently and has started his own recycled instrument ensemble. julian – if you mean celtic julian – is on the river lea in a narrowboat drifting between old ford and tottenham marshes. josh had a hard time with smack after inheriting some cash but is now, so i hear, a foster parent but i don’t know where. pema became a hardcore buddist and was last heard of in a retreat in scotland. karen is working as a postie in walthamstow, so lugworm told me. which phil do you mean? if you mean astro phil he passed away suddenly years back, just dropped down. apparently there was an accupuncture needle in his back in a position to slow the heart… phil ritchie posts on the site, though. little john, which john is that? if it’s john bates, he’s in germany with a partner and a child of must be nearly three by now. christine has also died, as announced on the site, od in germany.

    slyme68 (simon)

  14. seitan
    seitan
    January 1, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Were all the houses in Brougham Road as bad as 108?
    In the kitchen, there was a sponge pudding on the ceiling above the cooker. Apparently somebody has left one simmering away on the stove and it exploded.
    The toilet was, well, barely a toilet!

    I remember being upstairs one day. Downstairs some of the Hackney hell crew were, having a good time (Im pretty sure Andy and Dave had let them live downstairs as they had nowhere else to go).
    I could hear this rumble, and feel vibrations. I asked Andy what was going on down there. “Its just the punks breaking up firewood against the wall”. Ok, it continued. “Are you sure thats all it is” I asked Andy.
    Dave eventually went down. When he came back up, Andy knew Dave was really fucked off, and could tell he wanted to kill someone.
    As it turned out, they weren’t breaking up firewood against a wall, they were smashing a brick wall down!!
    Funny now, but not back then, fuck knows what would have happened had they knocked more of it down.
    I’m sure they got a big telling off from Dave when he saw them next.

  15. andus
    andus
    January 2, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Classic. I have heard the story of that sponge pudding before, When I used to visit 108 it was in good condition but that was after the HHC had left. I remember a cassette recorder being melted after someone left it on top of the grill, I was there when that copper got shot and when the Apostles called it a day. I used to go down to play dungeon and dragons with Dave his mate Bob (Vietnam Bob as I called him) and Tim with his dog Leo, I remember a chap called Robert Dellor visiting a lot, author of the magazine Straight Up. He was always there.

  16. Ian S
    Ian S
    January 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    “In the kitchen, there was a sponge pudding on the ceiling above the cooker. ”

    heh heh I remember that! It was a jam sponge pudding. The pot was all ballooned out with the force of the exploding tin.

    Bobby Dellar from Watford was a good guy. iirc he now does advocacy work for people with mental health problems.

    About ten years ago he put together a book of short stories by different people under the title “Gobbing, Pogoing and Gratuitous Bad Language: An Anthology of Punk Short Stories”

    Happy new year everyone.

  17. andus
    andus
    January 2, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Oh God I remember that, the book’ gobbing’ pogoing and gratuitous bad language’ how could I forget that, I remember reading it during a visit to 108, Pity Andy has never published the two books he wrote, although Mr Dellor did run ‘The Wasteland’ in Straight Up, yes Mr Dellor was a very nice intelligent chap. I seem to recall that sponge pudding leaving a permanent mark. ha ha.

  18. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    January 4, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Saw Robert Dellar several months ago in Walthamstow at a Subway Sect gig when I met Lugworm, Tony and a few others in the summer.
    He seemed a little broken up that night, think he had a tear up a couple of days before while he was walking home from somewhere a little beered up. Either that or he was jumped by some villians. Either way he lost…
    I remember him quite well and with some fondness when he used to visit Brougham Road, Chats Palace and such places, always reminded me of a late teen / early 20’s Bowie for some reason…
    He is indeed involved in madpride who no doubt have a website if you google it.

  19. martin
    martin
    January 4, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    i was there when that sponge pudding(strawberry as i remember)exploded in the boiled dry aluminium pan,it sounded like a bomb goin off,”fuckin hell wots that” the pan was left oval shaped,and all the pudding went up into the corner and ceiling above the cooker,we went down to investigate and i remember we were toying with the idea off scrapping it off the ceiling but it just got left there in the end,eventually it was all covered in dust and cobweds fm bein there so long, very lucky no one was near it when it went off, my mum did the same thing wiv a fray bentos steak and kidley pie in the oven,forgot to pierce hole in it before putting it in,opened the oven, the pie was obliterated. happy days…(fuckin hell,i feel hungry now!)

  20. Chairman
    Chairman
    January 5, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    I remember going round to 108 must have been in the late eighties perhaps early nineties, Dave and Andy living there at the time. I turned up with a mutual friend. Daz Lloyd who is unfortunately no longer with us. He lived just around the corner. Him and I were in a band together (Murderous Musicians) so it was decided to have a jam with The Apostles. I recall having to go upstairs where all the gear was set up, it was a case of switch on and away you go!
    God knows what we played Apostles/Mob/Flux/Murderous Musicians
    material I guess happy times I do know. Skip several months Dave and Muzz turned up at Daz’s wedding in Scunthorpe. An unrehearsed gig was to follow,which I have on video.

  21. Phil R
    Phil R
    January 8, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Hey Stuart Belgrano> its Phil R here. We lived in Ashwin St with Simon, Paula, Mandy etc.
    Hope your doing well!

  22. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    January 8, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    “steak and kidley pie” That’s either a spelling mistake or I guess I know which Martin this is. I remember you coming over to Petherton Rd and making that same joke. Funny stuff. It’s weird the things you remember as clear as if the happened yesterday. How’s it going mate, good to see you posting on here.

  23. martin
    martin
    January 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    “thats wot i said diddle i” hey is that John who used to play in The Apostles, and we woz on that community programme gardens thing on Bethune Rd/Stamford Hill back in 86 ? (where no one did any work and we just stood about chattin & muckin about)

  24. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    January 9, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    The who? never heard of them, (selective memory) but that thing on Bethune Rd was hilarious, they hired that one guy to be our boss and try to make us actually do something, so instead we gave him such a hard time he quit after a few weeks. Funny stuff, after that they just kind of gave up on us completely. For about 6 months I used to ride up on my skateboard once a week, hide it in the bushes nearby and walk into the office there saying my knees were still messed up and they would give me my cheque and let me go home. Good to see you’re still around.

  25. Pete AOH
    Pete AOH
    January 9, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Hey, that’s not Martin Cobb is it, with whom I used to be in a band called Primal Chaos before joining AOH?

    And is Ian S Ian Slaughter of the excellent PFS fanzine? If so, hey Mr Kalashnikov it’s Mr Sterling here!

  26. John No Last Name
    John No Last Name
    January 10, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Hey Pete, different Martin, as far as I know Martin Cobb now lives in Australia, hopefully he’ll show up on here at some point as I’d love to hear from him too.

  27. fran
    fran
    January 15, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Hi Sally..
    its Fran here… i think the last time I saw you was when you were leaving the bus garage…….. I remember when you just bought your bus an started fitting it out….. would love to get back in contact with you but not sure how to email you… would leave my details but…….

    peace
    franxx (bedford ob bus)

    how do I look at the pics you all have on this site ?

  28. Stevej
    Stevej
    January 15, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Fran,,
    Remember me? I’m Steve with Sue, Rose and Paul in the ‘swamp’. Lost touch with Rose and Paul but had a kid with Sue, Annabel who’s 21 now and living round the corner. remember when some idiot (Nick Jones?) scrapped the stair case! And the truck full of curtain material that disappeared like a time lapse photo. And when we set up a load of lights at the entrance to mess with the old bill when they came on one of their little visits (looking for Gary who is around).
    And and and…Mad times.

  29. fran
    fran
    January 15, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Steve…. ffs….

    How the hell are you and Sue doing, it has been a long long time…. I am speechless and that never happens….

    I just found Janet (Smush) on facebook, Rosie also on it, I remember Sue being pregnant…

    wow wow wow…. email me please…… afranb@hotmail.com

    Wow I am so gobsmacked again…. in past couple days so many old friends have found each other… even Dangerous is about……

    if you on facebook join the New Age Traveller group…. we all seem to be meeting up there….. even TUMT…….

    I look forward to hearing from you real soon…….

    Lots love

    Franxx

  30. Ann
    Ann
    January 15, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Fran, you don’t know me, but I used to know Sally back in Belgium. I visited her when she hadn’t been in the UK long. That was 1980 or 1981. She visited me in Belgium a few years later. Since then we lost touch. I posted on here a while ago but still haven’t heard from her. I guess she doesn’t visit here much. Anyway, if I hear from her, I will let you know. Please do the same for me. I’d love to hear from her again.
    Ann from Belgium.

  31. fran
    fran
    January 15, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    hi anne

    email me on my hotmail address and if i hear from sally i will let you know and same if you hear first…
    so many years have gone by, and this seems to be the year for re-unions 🙂
    thanks
    fran
    peace

  32. mark m
    mark m
    January 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Fran I see you and Janet have got photos of the bus garage and Brougham Rd which really want putting on here as well. Im sure Penguin will be hustling you for them soon……Theres over 5000 photos on the new age travellers site and ive never managed to get past about 1500.

  33. fran
    fran
    January 16, 2009 at 10:31 am

    hiya mark,
    i only got a couple pics of hackney But there is loads of people coming out of the woodwork, with loads of photo’s and no scanner …… janet has kept a wonderful photographic history of where she has been… and i am sure she will put her pics up… if you ask her…. i have only just found this site and i am slowly sussing out what /when/where/who…… i will upload my few pics soon…………… but……….. where do i put them?

    i used to squat in london from about 1972-78, and i am trying to find stuff on squatting in 70’s in camden, there has to be somewhere pics of prince of wales rd, polytantric, hampstead etc etc.. also trying to find pic s of the free one day festy’s in an around camden, islington,hampstead etc …..that used to be common when we had the GLC, the global village trucking co used to always be playing at them…

    peace x

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