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)

128 comments
  1. Tony Puppy
    Tony Puppy
    January 18, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Hi Fran,

    you can email me photos via the ‘contact’ button at the top of the page, or if they’re already on the internet somewhere email the location and we can copy from there.

    To view pics on here go to the ‘photo archive’ button at the top and it takes you to the photobucket album, then look at the list of albums down the left hand side. Then there’s sub-albums in those albums, so keep looking.

  2. sally
    sally
    January 18, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Hi all, im really pleased to hear from you, its good to meet so many old friends here in one place. In the end of May ill be in London on a city trip. It will be great to meet some of you again in a pub in Hackney. If you wish to come in contant with me mail me on bewicked@hotmail.com

    PS: Does any one know were Dave or Trich is, and how to contact them ??
    Let me know

    Greetings Sally

  3. Phil R
    Phil R
    January 19, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Sally, its Phil here, that lived in the end house with Min and Christina.
    Last time i saw Trish (the fudge) and Dave was the summer of 89 at many festie’s. They had brought a bus and were living on the road.

  4. Jim V
    Jim V
    January 25, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Anyone remember the bus parked with ‘THE MICHAEL RYAN EXPERIENCE’painted on the side, late 80’s or early 90’s?

  5. allison nicol
    allison nicol
    January 26, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Of course! My brother in law was a member of the band, along with JC and Simon Dickinson. They traveled to Spain in that bus, if memory serves. JC loaned us his black cab while they were gone.

  6. Chris
    Chris
    February 3, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Hey Val and Martin, I know yous. How are you guys. I used to go out with Matlock Carol. How is she. Dog shit alley that house but good mad times.
    Chris.

  7. Chris
    Chris
    February 3, 2009 at 4:58 am

    Hi, Val and Martin. Dunno where he is. I used to go out with Carol-Matlock Bath and hung out with you lot in them days. Mad good times. You two still
    going, thats great. How is Carol. Still got birds of prey tatts martin?
    I live in oz these days, working married, a boy called RONNIE. LIFE IS GOOD. Saw Gail, a few years back – Scarlet must be 26ish now.
    Colvestone Crescent was pure filth.

  8. JC
    JC
    February 17, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    @ allison nicol

    hey – val told me someone was after me – somehow doesn´t suprise me, but didn´t realise it was you! glad to hear you´re all ok.

    maybe mr. puppy could pass my mail on & you could drop me a line…?

    otherwise it´s all lies…..

  9. allison nicol
    allison nicol
    February 17, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    Hiya! Hooray, so happy to hear from you, JC! I don’t mind telling you our email… snicol1@wi.rr.com.

    Looking forward to hearing from you and all that you have been doing. Please email us at the above email when you can! — Allison

  10. allison nicol
    allison nicol
    February 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    THANKS, Val for putting us in touch with JC after all these years!

  11. danmac
    danmac
    February 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    it also mentions andy martin and the hackney hell crew. i’m so pleased that the HHC are finally receiving the literary recognition that they so richly deserve…

  12. Paul(from 96,Faction yadda yadda)
    Paul(from 96,Faction yadda yadda)
    March 2, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Wow this is fantastic. As a former resident of 96 it’s great to know so many of you are still alive. I’d like to big up me old housemate JC while I’m here…lost your email adress me old son.

  13. Phil R
    Phil R
    March 3, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Met with Andy Martin the other day..Hasnt changed a bit…still caining the tea n’ fags! Great to see you Mate . Thanx 4 the CD x

  14. Nicky
    Nicky
    July 23, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Hi, I used to hang out at Laura Place Squat with Julian Kelly,Paul Vernon and Simon ….surname French or English I forget now.Have been searching for Julian for ages.Am guessing he is Celtic Julian…would make sense as I still have a lot of his Celtic artwork. Amazing to find this site,brings some great memories back to life.Does anyone have any more info on Julian,name of boat perhaps.. or am I going to have to tramp up and down the canal calling his name? Thanks for any help.

  15. Phil R
    Phil R
    July 24, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Hi Nicky i’ve got a mobile phone number for Julian…Maybe Pengy can give you my email & i can send it to you…Im also in contact with Simon
    but hav’nt seen Paul V since 97

  16. Nicky
    Nicky
    July 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Wow, thats brilliant. My email is niknak66@googlemail.com. I am smilimg like mad, have been thinking about Julian and the others a lot. I wonder if you and I met at Laura place, parties other squats etc. I lived with Paul V in Cranwich Road Stamford Hill for a while, lost touch before 97. Last time I saw him he had just had a baby, Kizzy I think. I haven’t seen Simon since Laura Place, he might not remember me. Julian and I met when I was 13 and stayed friends into my twenties. Last saw him Old Compton Street Soho,we had a beer, promised to stay in touch….life took over and lost touch. Thanks for replying Phil. Cheers Nicky

  17. Chris
    Chris
    July 26, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Paul V lives in Spain.has another young daughter,hes a handyman in some village.was best man at my wedding and we stay in touch.

  18. Nicky
    Nicky
    July 28, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Chris.Thanks for info about Paul, good to hear that he is ok.Please send him my love next time you have contact.Tell him its Nicky from Reigate/Dorking early days. Thanks once again.

  19. Circe
    Circe
    August 31, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I lived on brougham rd as a child…with my mum mad mary – I remember all the trees blowing down in 87…memories!

  20. Debbie
    Debbie
    January 7, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I remember a band called The Murderous Musicians that hailed from ‘up north’ That hung around in Hackney in the late eighties early nineties. Would be nice to meet up with these guys again does anyone know of there whereabouts?

  21. Chris Low
    Chris Low
    January 9, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Sorry I haven’t been back to this thread for ages and apologies for not responding before.

    Belgian Sally: I’ll try to look out the photos. Definitely still got them. Taken one summer we got stoned in Dave’s room. I had a real crush on you back then. Unfortunately I was fourteen at the time 🙁

    Hippy Nigel: There’s a photo of you here, in The Apostles pics. Taken at Recession Studios I think: http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=202292018&albumId=318737&page=2

    Hope you’re all well and wishing you all every happiness in 2010.

  22. Sally
    Sally
    January 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks Chris that’s a warm comment on a cold day.
    How are you these days? Still playing music?

  23. Chris Low
    Chris Low
    January 13, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Sally, i’m fine & dandy, back in London for a few days and most discomforted, it’s not much warmer than Scotland 🙁
    My post Apostles musical ‘career’ has been varied, to say the least. Do more DJing than drumming these days, off to Tokyo next week.
    Hope you got the email I sent (to bewicked?), will send the piccies when i’ve got them scanned. Cx

  24. sally
    sally
    January 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Hi Chris I did not get the email you did send to bewicked.
    You still playing music I am still driving with buses, working part-time job as a bus driver and full time as witch.
    You play Goa trance the music style?
    Sometime I throw party with some friends of me under the name, GETAFIX.
    Do you know Mark van der Vlught , Jodi Sidhu, Dino Psaras?
    They have been here once before playing music on a party from me.
    Specially Mark he has been over a couple of times.
    Dj name, you haven’t told me yet 🙁
    If you can send a sample.
    Greetings Sally X
    bewicked.be@hotmail.com

  25. Chris
    Chris
    January 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Aha! you’d forgotten to add the ‘be’.
    Will resend 🙂
    Cx

  26. Sally
    Sally
    January 18, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Hey Mark & Lee
    I’ve posted some threads on a Belgium website looking for “Griet”.
    If you passes Belgium sometime again let me know,
    your always welcome at my house in the bushes
    so we can go together to a belgium psychedelic party.
    I will try to upload some pictures of recent garden party’s. Hope you come party soon.

    Sweet greets & kisses to the Brougham Road gang

  27. Gina Fierlafijn
    Gina Fierlafijn
    January 23, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    I stayed at 64 Brougham Road in July 1981. Steve and Mandy Lake and some other folks stayed there, me and then boyfriend Phil were invited around. I had a great time, felt very welcome and everyone was so friendly. It was a hot summer and we saw lots of gigs, were on many guest lists. I have such fond memories. Wish to say hello to everyone, including Mark and Josef of the Mob (I got a photo of Josef just like that taken in Middlesborough!), hello to the Zoundz and those I can’t remember. They all came to Brussels a few weeks later and played gigs…
    I live in Edinburgh now, nearly 30 years on….

  28. Sally
    Sally
    June 15, 2010 at 9:40 am

    See you at Stonehenge.

  29. Chris
    Chris
    June 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Sally – did you get the photo i emailed you that I found of you and Dave, Brougham Rd , ’83 or ’84 ? If not please email me and i’ll re-send it. Sure I had others of you but couldn’t find them anywhere 🙁

  30. A
    A
    July 16, 2010 at 1:01 am

    ‘Ere I’m a bit pissed at the moment, should be filling in a job application and also practising interview answers for an interview and also should be writing couple of birthday cards but anyway I digress (I’m the Queeeeen of procrastination… I’m hoping it becomes a recognised skill one day)… I’m in Brougham Road at the moment and was also a resident back in t’day. A few observations: you spell my brothers name Neil not Neal but lets not be pedantic. Val, just so ye know – Frazzle the lovely black ‘n’ white cat lived with me until 1997 when she popped her clogs (God luv her) she’s buried underneath the apple tree in the garden of number 96 wrapped in my angora cardigan with a pic of me and a spray of my perfume… broke my frikkin’ heart (and I’m an ice-queen I tell you!!). Joseph – I sooo remember you pulling faces in Harrow to make me and my sis laugh and thinking you were really surreal… I LUV surreal… and you were cool. Rob – you dressed up as a lass in 82 Shrubland Road… there’s photo evidence… MWOOOHAAA HAAA HAAAA!!!! Elaine – where you at lady? Hope all is well with ya. JC, JC he’s our man if he can’t fix it NO-ONE CAN!!! Say no more! x Funny how all the corrugated iron in Broadway Market has turned to trendy coffee shops… who would’ve thunk it?! The Cat ‘n’ Mutton is now decent (meaning it’s no longer like the pub in American Werewolf in London where everyone turns and gawps at you if you dared to trespass on their grubby property!!) Welshpool House has had a make-over (it now has a concierge don’t ye know… oooooh ooh!). Bit different around here now, mix of middleclass trendies and angry gangs popping caps in each others asses (no lie!), which is quite odd, I often fall asleep to the sound of helicopters going over head. I’m waiting it out coz I recon this place will come good. Anyway I remember you all fondly-ish… I was a brat… ooooh it’s like a game of guess who! Well better get back to the paperwork YAWN. Take care y’all. x x x

  31. Martin Cobb
    Martin Cobb
    July 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    A = Ally? Martin here. Elaine up in Norff London as far as I know saving lives for St Johns. JC in Spain fixing stuff most probably. I’ve been kidnapped by Australians to work A/V & IT in exec boardrooms. Photos of Rob & Paul vamp shoot must surely be made available for upload. Joan Jett had nothing on these guys. Hard to believe the bit about the Welshpool concierge. However, sounds like the capshooter has longevity as Jane got shot in the bum sometime in the late 80s. Anyway, hope you’re well and love to bruv N & C & Sis E & R. XXX

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