491 Gallery

Coordinates: 51°34′01″N 0°00′23″E / 51.5670°N 0.0063°E / 51.5670; 0.0063
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Frontage of the 491 Gallery.

The 491 Gallery was a squatted self-managed social centre and multi-disciplinary gallery in Leytonstone, London, England, that operated from 2001 to 2013.[1] Taking its name from its street number, 491 Grove Green Road, the former factory was home to a community-led art organisation and served as an exhibition space for a diverse range of artists of different origins working in varied media. It contained a range of art and music studios, which were used to host workshops, classes and musical rehearsals.[2][3] The building was subsequently demolished in 2016.


Musicians that performed at the 491 Gallery included Lamb, who played a secret show on their final live tour in 2004.

The building, originally a factory, was later used as a storage space and warehouse for materials being used to construct the A12 that cuts through Leytonstone and the surrounding areas. Unlike the rest of the surrounding buildings, it and the few neighbouring houses were not subject to compulsory purchase orders and demolition for the A12 site.[4] When in late 2000 the building was abandoned, it became occupied by a group of homeless drug users, who remained in it for some six months. Within a month of their vacating the premises, the building was reoccupied by a group of artists,[5] who spent the next several years turning it into a community space.[2] The neighbouring building, formerly houses, was also occupied, and named Vertigo, after the film by Alfred Hitchcock, a famous resident of Leytonstone.


The 491 Gallery and Vertigo collectively collaborated on hosting regular exhibitions and offered studio space for musicians to use. They were maintained largely through small donations made by the public. Transport for London, the 491 building's legal owner at the time, agreed to allow the continued use of the building, although no formal arrangement was made with the occupants.[2] The owner of the Vertigo building allowed its use for an annual peppercorn rent of £1.[6] The Gallery regularly hosted art exhibitions, themed events and film screenings, such as a Transition Towns screening of The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil.[7]

Following a fire in 2008,[8] the Vertigo building was rebuilt throughout by its residents, and in 2009 was decorated with an exterior mural of Hitchcock to add to the artistic tributes in the local area, such as the mosaics in the neighbouring Leytonstone Underground station.[9]


In June 2012, Transport for London sold the building to property developers seeking to demolish the building and build a block of flats.[3][10]

On 14 January 2013, the 491 Gallery closed and was given to the new owners. The Vertigo building was not subject to sale.[1] In the spring of 2016 the former gallery building and its community garden were demolished. The Vertigo building was also sold, and eventually demolished in 2019.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "491 Gallery". 14 January 2013. Archived from the original on 6 December 2019. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Diane Taylor (27 August 2008). "Positive occupation". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 September 2008. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  3. ^ a b Jones, Claire (4 November 2012). "Supporters speak out for community art space". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 12 November 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012.(registration required)
  4. ^ House of Commons of the United Kingdom (15 May 1989). "City of London (Various Powers) Bill (By Order)". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Her Majesty's Government. Archived from the original on 2 July 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2008.
  5. ^ The Art Organisation. ""491 Squat Gallery activities February–March 2002", archived copy of original announcement of 491 Gallery". Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  6. ^ Sara Newman (22 January 2006). "Into the housing wilderness step 15,000 squatters". The Independent. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  7. ^ Claire Hack (12 October 2009). "LEYTONSTONE: Film on 'peak oil' to be screened". Waltham Forest Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 21 September 2009.
  8. ^ Sarah Cosgrove (12 October 2009). "Fire at the 491 Club". Waltham Forest Guardian. Archived from the original on 18 February 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  9. ^ "A mural of Alfred Hitchcock has appeared in the film legend's birthplace, Leytonstone". Waltham Forest Guardian. 12 October 2009. Archived from the original on 17 October 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2009.
  10. ^ Figen Gunes (26 July 2012). "Community art space under threat". Waltham Forest Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2012.

External links[edit]

51°34′01″N 0°00′23″E / 51.5670°N 0.0063°E / 51.5670; 0.0063