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West London 1986/87
Squats in Hammersmith, Putney and Fulham


Hi to anyone out there who, like me, used to hang out at the following squats around about 1986/87 -

The Yard on Galena Road, Hammersmith
A disused factory (I forget its name now) on, or close to, Munster Rd, Fulham
Paddenswick Rd (or thereabouts), Ravenscourt Park
105 Deodar Road, Putney
I was with a bloke named Steve back then (a partnership long since dissolved!). We used to spend time at these squats in between chalk drawing forays around Europe; the longest spell being at Deodar Road in Putney - a home that a group of us tried, unsuccessfully, to get reprieved from an eviction order in the High Court following a less than courteous early morning police raid in November '86.

We ended up appearing in court at the same time that Private Eye was there to defend itself in the latest of a long line of libel actions brought by Robert Maxwell. In the moments leading up to our appearance (under our respective assumed names), we found ourselves waiting out in the corridor, standing shoulder to shoulder with Peter Cook who was about to be called into the adjoining courtroom (his loss turned out to be far greater than ours in the event, with Maxwell apparently winning the case and being awarded libel damages to the tune of £55,000).

Steve and I had been introduced to the squatting scene by Charlie and Roy, a couple of travellers we'd met on an overnight cross channel ferry on our way back from France in the summer of '86. There were so many great characters inhabiting these places, and we made a good number of friends along the way, all of whom we sadly lost touch with shortly afterwards - Charlie and Roy included unfortunately, along with Gary (from Wandsworth), Ben (France), Sjarrel (Netherlands), and numerous others besides.

A hippy by the name of Dave (who, as I recall, advocated a diet comprising solely of brown rice and lemon juice) used to play gigs with his band down at The Yard in Hammersmith - several of which I vaguely remember attending (usually following a few jars round at the Salutation on King Street, or, better still, festivities of an altogether more homespun variety within the confines of The Yard itself).

Some of Dave's immortal song lyrics still live with me to this day: "Remember back in 73 we climbed the Spiritual Tree / Remember back in 74 we unlocked the Spiritual Door..." Speaking of which, I came unnervingly close to unlocking my very own 'spiritual door' at The Yard one day in '87 when I very nearly electrocuted myself attempting to rig up a length of extension cable. Unbeknown to me, the cable had been connected to the mains at one end (in some far-flung corner of the building), whilst I, quite happily, proceeded to try fitting a plug at the other. As I recall, Roy's reaction immediately following the incident made me wonder if my miraculous survival had actually been worth my while (in the short term at least), and to this day I can't look at a length of orange rubber insulated three core electric cable without turning a distinctly whiter shade of pale.

As there doesn't (as yet) appear to be a website dedicated to the likes of 'Squatters Reunited', this would seem the next best forum for saying 'hi' to anyone that happens to remember any of these squats, and possibly even remember me - in which case, here's wishing you Peace, Love and Happiness and hoping that somehow, miraculously, like me, you're still alive (unless of course over these past twenty years you've been adhering to a diet comprising solely of brown rice and lemon juice, in which case I'm not entirely sure if that makes you eligible to still be alive, but hey, here's hoping anyway!!!)

Sharon, Birmingham, UK (sharon.hinsull@safe-mail.net)

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