Lost Brixton: old squats, stations and cafes...
Celebrating lost landmarks of Brixton
COOLTAN ARTS COLLECTIVE 1991-1995 (1998)
Cooltan Arts, 67 Effra Rd, Brixton
CoolTan Arts squatted this building from June 1991 - February 1992, taking their name from the building's previous use as a CoolTan Suntan Lotion factory.
After eviction they relocated to the squatted old Unemployment Benefit Office in Coldharbour Lane (below) in Sept 92.
Dec 2003 Cooltan Arts, Coldharbour Lane, SW9
Dubbed 'The Old Dolehouse' this former Unemployment Office once counted former Prime Minister John Major amongst its patrons. The building was squatted by the Brixton-based CoolTan Arts in Sept 92 who created a thriving community arts centre, offering workshops, exhibition space, rehearsal space, a cafe and a music venue.
The squatters were evicted in Sept 1995, and apart from two short periods of re-occupation, the building has been left to rot ever since.
To prevent the building being put back into community use, bailiffs smashed all the toilets, basins and windows, leaving the building open to the elements. It became a favourite haunt for junkies until unsightly high hoardings were placed around the building in 2002.
Several planning applications have come and gone over the years until the building was finally demolished in 2007. Why it couldn't have continued serving the community as an arts centre is anyone's guess.
Cooltan Arts, 'Then and Now'
Short history of Brixton Cooltan Arts Collective
121 CENTRE 1981-1999
(1999) 121 Centre, 121 Railton Road, Brixton
From 1981 to 1999, the three floors of the 121 Centre, 121 Railton Road, Brixton, South London hosted a squatted autonomous centre, serving the local community as as a bookshop, cafe, gig and rehearsal space, printing facility, office and meeting space.
Several campaign and community groups were based at the centre, with regular punk gigs, regular women's cafe nights and a monthly Queer Night.
After a long occupation, the squatters lost their battle against Lambeth Council in April 1999.
Short history of 121 centre
VOICE BUILDING (1998?)
(Jan 2006) The Voice building, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
The former premises of black newspaper, The Voice, this building right next to Cooltan was briefly squatted and turned into a venue for weekend raves.
After remaining derelict for the best part of eight years, the building was finally demolished in summer 2007, along with Cooltan next door.
See: Goodbye Cooltan Arts
BRADY'S/RAILWAY HOTEL (1998?)
(Jan 2006) Brady's, 20 Atlantic Road, Brixton
Closed in 1999, this famous community Brixton boozer remained empty for 12 months before being taken over by local activists in 2000.
The squatters moved into the top two floors and cleaned up the inside of the building (an immense job), before reopening the front bar and putting on bands and events in the music room at the back.
The squatters were finally evicted on 5th Aug 2002 eviction, and Brixton lost an important piece of its heritage.
History of Bradys Bar/ Railway Hotel
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