Activism and … Eviction

IssueOctober 2011

Being evicted from your home leaves deep scars and although there may be much support, sometimes you can get done-over by so-called supporters.

I’m not sayng that is happening at Dale Farm, but beware of being taken advantage of by people with their own agendas. People who haven’t got an investment in, and a long attachment to, the disputed territory probably don’t realise the effect on the besiged residents. It makes one wary and shaken, lose confidence.

Then there was our friend Arthur Rowe, hero of Silverdale. In protest at rent rises [1960] everyone withheld their rent, the council were evicting people for non-payment. He and Don Cook were the last to go, barricaded in their flats. Afterwards there he maybe had a sense of deflation of just being left homeless. He felt betrayed by Camden Council and became embittered. Eviction also brings to mind Pure Genius, The Land is Ours eco-village in Wandsworth. The bulldozers trashed a community and a beautiful site.
Woman, 70s

I have many childhood memories of the politcal squatting and eviction. I remember when I was about four years old being pushed up through a hole in the floor of a house that had had its staircase taken out. It was an empty house in Ilford that had been squatted for the purpose of highlighting housing issues and giving solidarity to the householders in the area who were being evicted. Some years later I remember being taken by my parents to the eviction of the former police flats in Huntley Street in London.

I remember Piers Corbyn by a front door with a plastic bag full of leaflets. The whole street of flats was barricaded. I remember going up onto the roofs and seeing the barricades. The flats were empty and we three stayed the night on a mattress with our coats over us. We left in the morning as the road was filled with lines of bailiffs and police. There was this feeling of quiet anticpation, a feeling of dawn and of things coming to an end. I remember that was the first time I ever saw police with guns. I was thirteen.

We were evicted from our house when I was a young child. But I don’t remember much of it. I can remember being on our flat roof as people were nailing wood over the windows as a barricade and my mum getting accidentally hit in the face with a plank.

I can remember lots of people I didn’t know getting excited and rushing around in our house. I felt that they didn’t know it was our house. I don’t remember the eviction itself, presumeably my parents had made sure I wan’t there.

Eviction had a profound effect on our family. My dad would go back and look at the outside of our house in Camden High Street. My mother would never go down that bit of road.
Woman, 40s

See more of: Activism and