Sisterhood and Squatting in the 1970s: Feminism, Housing and Urban Change in Hackney

Wall, C. (2017) Sisterhood and Squatting in the 1970s: Feminism, Housing and Urban Change in Hackney. History Workshop Journal, 83 (1). pp. 79-97. ISSN 1363-3554

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To walk through Islington, Camden and Hackney in the early 1970s was to walk along street after street of soot-blackened, late Georgian and Victorian terraces and villas, boarded up and left semi-derelict. In 1971 Greater London contained 23,100 empty dwellings awaiting demolition; 29% of this housing stock was built before 1875 and 67% between 1875 and 1919. By the middle of the decade, thousands of these houses had been reclaimed and repaired by squatters, a movement which re-emerged in the late 1960s and which, by 1976,was estimated at between 20-30,000 people throughout Greater London. This historic spatial configuration of the city allowed the social and political movements of the 1970s to flourish, as groups of like-minded people began to live and work in close proximity. For women, it enabled radical experiments in collective living and shared childcare and for some feminists, active in the women’s liberation movement, it provided the framework for an extensive network of women-only housing, together with social and political spaces. This paper examines the origins of a community of women who moved in and squatted the streets surrounding Broadway Market and London Fields in Hackney during the 1970s . Through oral testimony, it uncovers the historical importance of this community to wider feminist politics in London, and the significance for women of taking control over their immediate built environment.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Squatting, feminism, lesbians, built environmnet, oral history;
Subjects: University of Westminster > Architecture and the Built Environment
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Date Deposited: 02 May 2017 13:58
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2017 14:25

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