Social centres in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom social centres can be found in squatted, rented, mortgaged and fully owned buildings. Social centers differ from community centers in that they are run autonomously, usually without assistance from the state/corporations. The aims and policies of the centres are determined by those running them.
UK Social Centre Network
The UK Social Centre Network (also known as the Social Centre Network or more recently titled 'Social Centre Network of UK & Ireland') is a grassroots initiative to establish a network between self-identified radical independent community social centres in the United Kingdom as well as also in Ireland.
There is no single policy statement but a general desire to improve communication and co-operation between "the growing number of autonomous spaces to share resources, ideas and information".
The second national gathering of social centres was held at the 1 in 12 Club, in January 2007.:34
In November 2014, the Sumac Centre in Nottingham hosted the first weekend gathering of a relaunch of the Social Centre Network. The network met again in April 2015 at the Next To Nowhere Social Centre in Liverpool and became known as the "Social Centre Network of UK and Ireland".
After a lack of gatherings in recent years, a new gathering of the Social Centre Network has been announced as being on the 22nd and 23rd September 2018 at GAS in Glasgow.
There is also a plan to launch a new website for the network and to create a shared zine about the network and the spaces in it.
Examples of long-term squatted and now evicted projects include the Spike Surplus Scheme and the 491 Gallery. Other past squatted centres in London include the Bank of Ideas, RampART (Peckham), Our Bohemia, The Square and Ratstar.
Other evicted centres include the Free Factory in Bristol, The Black Cat Centre in Bath, Pleb's College in Oxford, Cwtch Community Centre in Swansea, the Peoples Autonomous Destination (PAD) and Gremlin Alley in Cardiff, the George’s X Chalkboard in Glasgow, Matilda in Sheffield, the Mill Road Social Centre in Cambridge, Sabotaj in Brighton, Justice not Crisis, the Birmingham social centre, Free Milk! (Platt Chapel) in Manchester and most recently, Solidarity Space in Kentish Town, north London.
Some social centres occurred in a number of times and/or locations such as 195 Mare Street, Offmarket and the Really Free School. There are groups which choose to do temporary squatted events lasting a fixed time. Such groups may exist for years, such as the House of Brag (London), A-Spire (Leeds), Temporary Autonomous Arts (London, Sheffield, Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff), Anarchist Teapot (Brighton), Wildcats (Brighton) or the OKasional Cafe (Manchester).
There has been debate on whether legal spaces are a useful anti-capitalist tactic, or not.
Paul Chatterton and Stuart Hodkinson view social centres as part of the "broader 'autonomous movement,'" playing an "important role in the re-thinking and re-making 'citizenship' by bringing people together in spaces whose very reason for existence is to question and confront the rampant individualism of everyday life."
|1 in 12 Club||21-23 Albion Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD1 2LY||1981 ||Building established in 1988||1in12.com|
|56a Infoshop||56a Crampton Street, Walworth, London, SE17 3AE||June 1991||Squatted until 2003, then council rented||56a.org.uk (archive)|
|Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh||17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh, EH7 5HA||1997||Preceded by Unemployed Workers' Centre occupation.||autonomous.org.uk|
|BASE (previously Kebele)||14 Robertson Road, Bristol, B55 6JY||September 1995 (squatted); summer 2006 (owned outright)||network23.org/kebele2/ kebelecoop.org (archive)|
|Black Cat café||76 Clarence Road, Hackney, London||October 2013 ||Preceded by Pogo café, workers' co-operative, leased.||blackcatcafe.co.uk|
|Blackcurrent Centre||24 St. Michaels Avenue, Northampton, NN1 4JQ||1989 ||Building being used as a Housing co-op||blackcurrentcentre.org.uk|
|Casa / Initiative Factory||29 Hope Street, Liverpool||December 2000 / 1998||industrial and provident society||initiativefactory.org|
|Common House(, The)||Unit 5E, Pundersons Gardens, Bethnal Green, London E2 9QG||2013||Collectively rented||commonhouse.org.uk|
|Cowley Club||12 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4JA||2002||Mortgage, co-operative. Houses SchNEWS.||cowleyclub.org.uk|
|Decentre @ Freedom Press||84b Whitechapel High Street (Angel Alley), London E1 7ZX||Decentre opened April 2016. Current location of Freedom c.1968||Above downstairs bookshop, coffee and meeting space. Not in regular use.||freedompress.org.uk|
|DIY Space For London||96-101 Ormside Street, London, SE15 1TF||Collective est. 2012, opened 2015.||Co-operative, rented.||diyspaceforlondon.org/|
|Glasgow Autonomous Space (GAS)||Unit 11, 53 Kilbirnie Street, Glasgow G5 8JD||Established in 2016, now launched after 1 year of building work.||Rented on 5-year lease.||glasgowautonomous.weebly.com|
|Ground||60 Beverley Road, Kingston-Upon-Hull HU5 1YE||2016. Became part of network in 2018.||Arts, meeting and music space.||ground.tk/|
|London Action Resource Centre||62 Fieldgate Street, London, E1 1NS||1999 (bought); c.2002 (opened)||Resource Centre and meeting space||larc.space|
|MayDay Rooms||88 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1DH||c.2013||Primarily a space to safeguard historical material. With reading room and screening room.||maydayrooms.org|
|Next To Nowhere||Basement, 96 Bold Street, Liverpool, L1 4HY||2007||Underneath News From Nowhere bookshop.||www.liverpoolsocialcentre.org|
|Oxford Action Resource Centre||Upstairs in the East Oxford Community Centre, Princes St (junction with Cowley Rd), Oxford OX4 1DD||March 2005 ||Resource Centre and meeting space||theoarc.org.uk|
|Partisan||19 Cheetham Hill Road, Manchester M4 4FY||Collective exists since 2015.||Crowdfunding campaign raised £14,000. Building leased. Opened July 2017.||partisancollective.net|
|Star and Shadow||Warwick St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1BB||Originally late 1970s (by Amber Films) Stepney Bank location (November 2006) Warwick Street (May 2018)||Cinema and communtiy space||starandshadow.org.uk cannylittlelibrary.tumblr.com|
|Sumac Centre||245 Gladstone Street, Forest Fields, Nottingham, NG7 6HX||Bought in 2001, opened 2002 ||Mortgaged. Preceded by the Rainbow Centre.||sumac.org.uk|
|Warzone||Little Victoria Street, Belfast, County Antrim BT2 7JH||Collective est. 1984. First premise 1986-1991, second premise 1991-2003, current premise 2011.||Part of the Northern Irish DIY punk scene.||warzonecollective.com|
|Wharf Chambers||23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7EQ||Preceded by The Common Place||wharfchambers.org|
|121 Centre||121 Railton Road, Brixton, London||1981 - 1999||Squatted, closed due to eviction|
|491 Gallery||491 Grove Green Road, Leytonstone, London||2001 - 2013||Squatted, focus on art, music and garden, closed due to new owners (sister building Vertigo remains peppercorn rented)||491 gallery|
|Bank of Ideas||Hackney, London||2011 - 2012 ||Squatted, closed due to eviction||http://www.bankofideas.org.uk|
|Basement||Lever Street, Manchester||- 2007||Non-squatted, closed due to flood, succeeded by Subrosa||http://thebasement.clearerchannel.org|
|Black Cat Centre||various venues in Bath||2009 - 2010||Squatted social centre in Bath, closed due to eviction, and dissolution of the project||blackcatcentre.blogspot.co.uk|
|Black Rose||268 Verdon Street, Sheffield||2012 -|
|Centro Iberico||Westbourne Park Road, London W8||April 1982 - August 1982|
|Common Place||23-25 Wharf St, Leeds, LS2 7EQ||Non-squatted, succeeded by the Wharf Chambers||Archived website|
|Newport Action Centre||Lower Dock Street, Pill, Newport, NP20 (South Wales)||Autumn 2014 -||Currently in hiatus. Activities moved to PAC.||network23.org/nac|
|rampART||Rampart Street, Peckham, East London||May 2004 - October 2009||Squatted, closed due to eviction.||therampart.wordpress.com|
|Red and Black Umbrella||57-58 Clifton Street, Adamsdown, Cardiff||2011-2015||redandblackumbrella.squat.net|
|Spike Surplus Scheme||Peckham, London||1999 - 2009|
|Subrosa||27 Lloyd Street South, Moss Side, Manchester, M14 7HS||April 2014 - May 2015||manchestersocialcentre.org.uk|
|Wapping Autonomy Centre||Wapping Wall, London E1||August 1981 – March 1982||Run by the London Autonomists.|
|Radical Residency||1 Montague Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1B||February 2018 - March 2018||Squatted British Museum building by an autonomous group of students and workers.||https://www.facebook.com/radical.residency/|
- Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 - changes made to squatting laws
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