Hackney Citizen

Squatters occupying 195 Mare Street ‘want to give building back to community’

Grade-II listed Georgian-era residence could become venue for performances this month

The squat at 195 Mare Street. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval

The squat at 195 Mare Street. Photograph: Eleonore de Bonneval

Squatters occupying a historic grade-II listed mansion say they are carrying out repairs to the building and hope to start staging cultural events there this month.

The Georgian-era residence at 195 Mare Street has been lying empty and derelict for many years and is recognised by amenity group The Hackney Society as a major heritage asset because of its associations with the social reformer Elizabeth Fry, who established the Institute for the Reformation of Women Prisoners in the building 1845.

The building later became the Landsdowne Social Club, which closed in 2003.

The Hackney Citizen understands the freehold was recently sold, though the identity of the buyer is unclear.

One of the squatters, who refused to give her name, said: “We don’t want this to be a squat just for squatters, we want it to be an open space for the community.”

She added: “It is better now than it was. We have been working on it and cleaning it. We hope that if we can stay here we can stage a performance this month.”

Another of the occupiers said: “The opponents of squatting are always focusing on the negative behaviour of a few squatters rather than on people’s right to housing.”

The squatters have been dishing out free vegan burgers. They say they want to highlight the lack of affordable housing.

Residential squatting became a criminal offence last year but the offence does not cover commercial buildings.

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7 Responses »

  1. It’s been squatter before….who owned it then? Why has it been left in this state for years? Remember that Sutton House was a squat in the 80’s and look at that today! (Houses not Heritage!)

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  2. Good on them.

    Successive property owners have been letting that place fall to rack and ruin while housing problems continue to mount in the borough – it’s them and their price-gouging mates who need a kick up the backside.

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  3. well done.

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  4. It is great to hear about good people doing good things. Well done for restoring a building and giving out free food and entertainment. Some people just make the world a better place.

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  5. http://www.theguardian.com/news/blog/2013/sep/10/squatting-exhibition-outlawed-but-still-relevant

    Squatting: outlawed but more relevant than ever

    A new exhibition – held in a London squat – tells the story of squatting and re-affirms its neccesity in a city scarred by housing shortages and sky-high rents.

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  6. I like the concept, all what they are doing, language schools, art classes, clothes swap …

    People working on behalf of the local community, creating social space

    They have my full support,and I hope the support of the local community.

    Keep up the good work.

    http://keithpp.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/195-mare-street/

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  7. This is just another example of wasters attempting to steal another persons property under the guise of trying to help the community,for Gods sake Hackney dont fall for these peoples lies and BS.

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