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railton road... the frontline etc

Discussion in 'Brixton' started by bluestreak, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    last night in a frenzied bout of insomnia i immersed myself a little in some of the history of my adopted town, and elarnt all sorts of things about brixton that i didn't really know about. what i'm especially interested in knowing more about is railton road. it's reputation as "the frontline" back in the late 70s and early 80s, pre and post riots... the stuff on here mentions lots of squats divided between afro-caribbean-centric squats and white anarchist squats... what was the reality in terms of actual buildings? was it really a no go area for police and outsiders? how integrated was it? a few reports i have read give them impression that it was a rough and almost lawless community, yet during the riots the pub that is now harmonies was burnt out, along with shops on atlantic road... why shit on their own doorstep? or were the shop owners not considered part of the community? was anyone here about then? any good books or websites about it?

    also what happened later. there are fliers on urban for the 121 centre, which appears to have been a traditional anarchist teapot kind of place... what's the story with that? what went on tehre, what was the timescale etc?

    anyone else able to tell stories from this little bit of town or recommend some reading to help me learn more about where i am these days?
  2. Jonti

    Jonti what the dormouse said

    In the case of some premises that were torched (in particular, pubs) the problem was more that the management of the establishments did not consider a lot of folks around here to be "part of the community".

    So, no great loss to the community then.
  3. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    Well, I never found it no-go myself...also the pub that was burnt out had a sign in the window (iirc) that said No dominoes or other noisy games which basically meant Whites Only. The synagogue that is now the Euro Business Centre on Effra Road was regularly attacked and there were NF nutters about. Thankfully they've no longer got a foothold here. The pub opposite The Coach & Horses (now Living) that was rebuilt as an opticians was also burnt out and was somewhere that wasn't welcoming unless you were white.
  4. Dubversion

    Dubversion Gorn Banned

    The 121 Centre was a fantastic place, i think there's stuff on the main urban site about it. Started late 70s or early 80s i believe, and lasted until about 5-6 years ago (memory fails me at times like this)

    There was a printroom, a bookshop / cafe / meeting room, offices for all sorts of groups (Anarchist Black Cross, Faredodgers Association, all sorts), a basement where i went to some of the greatest parties ever, including the fucking legendary Dead By Dawn - 23 parties, some of the finest ever and featuring early sets by the likes of Hecate. absolute mayhem.

    a wonderful place, lots of happy memories.

    I wonder if the new occupants STILL get confused looking europunks showing up looking for it :D
    critical1 likes this.
  5. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    ...and CLR James lived in the flat above.
  6. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    above the 121 centre? not according to the blue plaque on the wall outside the house next to me :?:
  7. Jonti

    Jonti what the dormouse said

    ... are you sure? There's a plaque on the Brixton Advice Centre (on the crossroads of Railton and Shakespeare Roads) which claims CLR James lived there.

    Nothin' to stop the geezer from having had a few gaffs hereabouts, of course.
  8. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    :oops: Well, I'm not as young as I was :oops:
  9. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    He did dedicate one of his books to my father-in-law though.....
  10. Jonti

    Jonti what the dormouse said

    Bluestreak, take a walk along Mayall Road towards Brixton. Just after Somerleyton Passage, is a small, new-build estate. Mayall Road used to carry on run right through where that estate is, and join Atlantic Road just where Railton Road becomes Atlantic Road (at the end of Kellet Road).

    The east side of Railton Road, and the left side of Mayall Road were lined with three storey buildings, pretty much like the ones you can see now. But the two streets converged, so that the backs of the dwellings were very close together. The other side of Mayall Road was crammed even harder against the railway lines. And the west side of Railton Road (where the Dexter Road Adventure playground is now) was also housing.

    A lot of the property was in disrepair, and some of it was abandoned. This was due to planning blight (the plan was to build a motorway down Acre Lane and Coldharbour Lane into Camberwell and beyond). Many premises were squatted. Blues (illegal parties); gambling; whoring; and drug dealing were popular cottage industries. But no, it was not particularly unsafe, certainly not "no-go".

    The no-go area was established when the town erupted and threw the cops out in protest at policing methods -- subsequent enquiries by Lord Scarman established, I think, that illegal policing methods had been widely employed in the area prior to the uprising. The no-go areas did not last long, just days, and were not unsafe, not at first.

    But as the streetfighting and rioting continued, things got nastier. St Paul's in Bristol (the first of that tranche of riots) was almost a disorderly street party. Broadwater Farm was altogether different. And so it was with Brixton. In later disturbances, people were much more ready to drive into the area for a spot of looting. Other, even more unsavoury opportunists, also began to realise the uprisings could give cover for their depravity.

    The riots themselves did not seem to me particularly dangerous. For starters, there was little or no gunfire (if things kick off again in London, I'd expect a lot of shooters to be deployed). The most frightening thing was getting through the police lines to get in and out of the area. Once inside, things was well cool. At least at first, like I said.
  11. boohoo

    boohoo Crazy Tired Lady

    I read a good book about riots- I'll see if I can find out what it was called. It discussed the Tottenham, Totexth, Brixton and Bristol riots. I do remember the 81 and 85 riots but I was fairly young. I think Brixton/stockwell was rather battered back in the day. My mum said she had to walk us past two blokes waving knives at each other. I also remember the burnt out cars (not just from the riots) but as being something that happened rather regularly around the corner from my parents house. I don't know what we thought about Railton Road area, but Myatt's fields was considered dodgy, though they probably said the same about Stockwell Park estate.

    And I use to go to the 121 centre back in the day when Brixton had squatts....
  12. clandestino

    clandestino no llevar papel

    I went to Kindergarten in that synagogue!
  13. OpalFruit

    OpalFruit Well-Known Member

    If i remember rightly the police finally cleared everyone out - road blocked, helicopters etc - early in the morning on the day of the total eclipse...pesuming rightly that many residents would be in Cornwall watching the eclipse, or at least out and on the hill in Brockwell Park.
  14. reubeness

    reubeness Well-Known Member

    I remember everyone hearing the riot was going on and running out to join in - a bit of salvaging going on, Frank Johnsons was emptied out. And the shock when I drove past the pub and up Railton Road, it was like being in a war zone.
  15. Dubversion

    Dubversion Gorn Banned

    stuff from urban here http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?i...n&safe=off&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2006-38,GGGL:en&sa=N
  16. detective-boy

    detective-boy Banned Banned

    Maybe ... but far more likely a coincidence - you have more faith in the forward planning and lateral thinking powers of the old bill than I! ;)
  17. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

    heh, i dunno d_b, i've always found them pretty good at picking the right moment for many evictions. for example they chose a week predicted as the coldest in ages for the claremont road eviction, evicted another m11 camp on the solstice weekend, and another one on the first day of the school year in the area. of course, sometimes they fuck it up completely but there you go.
  18. moominpappa

    moominpappa New Member

  19. Brixton Hatter

    Brixton Hatter champions, from a wonderful town

    There's been a few documentaries on the telly over the past few years about the riots. There's some great footage of Railton Road with lots of the buildings still intact before they either burnt down or got knocked down after the riots. One was ITV, one was BBC. I believe someone on here had a video of the recent one. I think I still have a video of one of the older documentaries from about 1999/2000 but I won't promise to find it cos I can't remember where in my house it is! There might even be bits on YouTube...prob worth checking.

    I lived a few doors down from the 121 on Railton Road from around 1997 to 2002. A few great parties including a wicked daytime street party one Saturday. They used to have an advice centre and cafe open on saturdays and produced a monthly leaflet/newsletter called The South London Stress (he he) with local news and stuff in it. When they evicted the occupants it was boarded up for ages - in fact, it was actually bricked up to stop people getting back in there - before getting turned into flats and a recording studio (according to the planning notice outside at the time.) I reckon you're right Dub, they evicted the 121 in about 2000 or 2001 IIRC - about 6 years ago.
  20. Dubversion

    Dubversion Gorn Banned

    And - trivia fans - the scenes in Our Friends In The North set in the anarchist printshop were filmed at 121 (it bought them a new roof :) )
  21. Mrs Magpie

    Mrs Magpie On a bit of break...

    ....and a lot was filmed in St Agnes Place too
  22. aurora green

    aurora green Tectonic

    121 is still much missed. I went to many a varied function there over the years, met many friends that are still close to me, but the most memorable day of all for me there was the wonderful street party held in April 1999, shortly before Lambeth :)mad:) finally managed the eviction...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  23. bluestreak

    bluestreak HomosexualityIsStalin’sAtomBombtoDestroyAmerica

  24. normskii

    normskii New Member

    Do we assume you are not one of the ladies featured in the above middle photo aurora?

    (I had to ask)
  25. Spion

    Spion I hear ya

    I used to know someone who helped torch the Dogstar in a mini riot in the early 90s. He said it was down to resentment that it'd been transformed from an old black geezer's pub into a fashionable white kids' hangout
  26. Funki mamma

    Funki mamma ..still shakin' dat tush!

    During the '85 uprising we enjoyed a respite pint in what was then the

    Atlantic (Dogs Bar now). One of those surreal moments, Brixton Burning,

    and there was us listening to jazz in the pub.
  27. William of Walworth

    William of Walworth Festographer

    Fucking hell, this thread is educational; not least Dub's post. Was talking with aurora at Offline last night about 121 and related matters, but 121 wa a place I naver managed to get to :( :( :oops:

    I was hanging out at Coolltan a lot in the 90s, but never made it just round the corner ..... :confused:

    RIP 121 ....
  28. William of Walworth

    William of Walworth Festographer

    Sometimes went there to score hash in the day ... :oops: :oops: ;)
  29. aurora green

    aurora green Tectonic

    I am behind the camera.
    stuff_it likes this.
  30. moon

    moon Happy Happy Jo Wonderland

    Hehe I miss the old Brixton...just like the rest of london when I was growing up it was a lot more fun and there seemed to be loads more spontanious community culture going on.

    I'm not feeling this in london much anymore... :( too much sanitisation, crime, commercialisation etc etc.

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