london diary

Soptember 2015

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my london diary


Four Seasons Occupy Staines Oast House

Staines, Middx. Tue 22 Sep 2015


The centre closed down finally around 8 years ago, though it had been run down for some years

The occupiers had put their lock on the door in July, but only moved in full-time after the eviction of the

Runnymede Eco-village. A sign says 'Welcome Runnymede Refugees'

Surrey County Council want to sell off the whole site for redevelopment, but the building range is Grade II listed



 a noticeboard lists some of the things they intend to set up here as well as meetings and some instructions

They hope to have a free cafe, a free library and events and workshops


The Squat Guidelines lay down rules for the squat, including how to talk to police - from a first floor window

There is a large empty space with a large mirror - the ballroom

and many smaller teaching spaces and offices

As well as a computer room which seems to have been used to dispose of old cabinets

The reception area

  And the domestic science room.

The mission statement from when there were cooking classes

An art area includes a potters wheel and a kiln left here when the centre was abandoned - Four Seasons hope

to get this working again. There was also one of several kitchen areas here


A small printing press and a large gas cooker along with lots of tables

Tables are still piled up in what apparently used to be a cafe area which Four Seasons hope to reopen as a free cafe

And the start of a free library at the centre

The meeting room has been tidied up but an enormous amount of work rermains to be done

I visited again around ten days later and found the place in much better order already. Surrey failed to get an
immediate eviction order largely because they appeared to have lied to the court and the occupiers were able
to show they had had a presence in the building for several months, fitting thier lock in July.

This was once part of Harris's brewery complex, with some more buildings still standing on the main road,
though the only use in recent years has been of its large car park close to the town centre..

Staines and neighbouring Stanwell are very much more a part of London than Surrey, with similar demographics
and similar social problems. There are people relying on the food bank and others living camps in a local area of
common land, and a lack of spaces for community use.

Although electorally a strongly Conservative area there has been considerable disaffection among local party
members, many of whom left the party in recent years to stand as independents, though without winning seats
and many party members and voters are dissatisfied with the local MP who seems to have little time or interest
for his constituency.


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