1974, ½ inch, black-and-white, 8 mins, 5 mins (excerpts), original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).
Squatters used video to record street life, police atrocities and evictions. The video shows squatters of 93 Prince of Wales Road peacefully defending their house against ongoing eviction. The squat movement flowered in London in the 1970s, when an estimated 30,000 people lived in squats in Greater London, and the movement provided the base for many London subcultures over several decades.
Sue Hall remembers squatting in West Kentish Town
«Hundreds of houses were occupied over a period of 2-3 years. It was because Camden Council wanted to encourage Arts and Culture so they made old factories available to groups of artists and tried to help students by providing accommodation that was not suitable for families. Why were the houses empty? The original residents were victims of what was by then known as urban renewal but previously had been called slum clearance. The occupants of the houses to be demolished were told that the housing was unsuitable and that they should move to more modern accommodation for their own good. Often they where moved to a tower block on the outskirts of London. The Council was slow to get on with large-scale redevelopment.
A lot of the residents were still left and resented the squatters moving in and not paying any rent while they were still paying rent on their houses – however unsuitable. Also, many of them belonged to an organisation called the National Front, which was right wing and racist. They didn’t like the longhaired squatters who didn’t live in nuclear family groups. The residents couldn’t understand why middle-class people who they thought ought to be rich wanted to live in these old houses when they were being moved out of them. They really didn’t want to live next door to us!
Their resentment quite quickly turned violent. People didn’t have guns in those days but fisticuffs were fairly common whereas the early squatters were mainly hippies and had a view that violence was bad and would not solve anything. They wanted to solve problems without being violent so there was a clash of styles & culture. The Council who had brought these two groups into such close proximity with each other took no responsibility for the consequence of their own policies and seemed to regard it as an aberration that conflict might result.»