Bonnington Square was constructed in the 1870s in order to house railway workers. By the late 1970s, Bonnington Square was compulsorily purchased by the Greater London Council (GLC) for the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), which intended to demolish it in order to build a new school. A Turkish shopkeeper in one of the buildings managed to prevent the demolition through legal means during the period in which all the houses' occupants were departing, and shortly afterward squatters began moving into the vacated buildings.
In the 1980s, the square was almost completely occupied. The squatters established a volunteer-run vegetarian cafė, a community garden on part of the square that had been bombed during the Second World War, a bar, a nightclub and a wholefoods shop. The squatters subsequently formed a housing cooperative and successfully negotiated with ILEA for the right to lease the buildings. The café and garden continue into the present.
In November 2021 the café was forcibly closed by Bonnington Centre community association’s (BCCA) management committee.
The residents of the square undertook a project in 1990 to change the garden into a "Pleasure Garden" (named in homage to the nearby Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens), and in the process formed the Bonnington Square Garden Association. In 1998, the housing cooperative was permitted by the London Borough of Lambeth to purchase the buildings.
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- Production of Twelfth Night on the Flute Theatre website