Argyle Street, Norwich

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Argyle Street, Winter 1981

Argyle Street was a squat in Norwich from January 1980 to February 1985.

In 1979 the University of East Anglia planned to buy the Victorian terraced housing of Argyle Street from Norwich City Council for student homes, however, in December 1979 a handful of squatters moved in and Britain's longest-running and biggest squat began. In 1980 Squatters formed a co-operative, which was backed by Norwich City Council, which at the time included Pat Hollis. Together they applied for a grant from the Government-funded Housing Corporation. In 1981 a £1 million grant was agreed for a major renovation scheme, but in 1982 the Department of the Environment blocked Norwich City Council's plan to sell or lease the houses to the co-operative.[1] In 1984 Norwich City Council decided to demolish the area and develop it for sheltered homes. The final eviction of squatters from Argyle Street occurred in February 1985.[2]

In 1981 Argyle Street became the setting for scenes of a filmed adaptation of Doris Lessing's dystopian novel Memoirs of a Survivor.[3]

At its height, and in stark opposition to the neo-liberal values associated with Margaret Thatcher's government, the Wedding of Charles and Diana and the Falklands war, Argyle Street was a vibrant, supportive community of over 200 people which included artisans, musicians, painters, students, hippies and punks. It also became closely associated with the Albion Fairs and the Peace Convoy.

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