Claremont Road road protest, 1994 Inspirational east London anti-motorway protest, 1993-1994
The anti-road protest at Claremont Road, east London was one of the inspirations for urban75 and a major landmark in the growing anti-road movement in the early/mid 1990s.
We visited the site several times before the eviction took place and one of the first articles we wrote for this site was about our experiences at Claremont Road. Here's an excerpt:
One of the biggest ironies that struck me when I first visited Claremont Rd, 1994's precursor to Newbury, was the fact that here was everything that the Government claimed today's society was missing.
A community working together, looking out for each other and caring for each other. And yes, even that old chestnut about 'you could leave your front door open' was true. A community bound together not by greed and self interest, but by a unified belief that it was wrong to keep destroying homes and sacrificing the environment to the Great God of Tarmac.
The next time I visited Claremont Road was at night, just after I'd seen my football team lose again at nearby Leyton Orient. Coming straight from the aggression of the match (well, I am a Cardiff City supporter) the first thing that struck me was the quiet and almost surreal nature of the street, with floodlights picking out details of the overhead walkways and netting.
Mad and cheerful sculptures made out of found objects sprung from walls and stumbled into the street. A ramshackle old cafe at the end of the street served up generous portions of veggie food, while some tuneless crusty troubadour struggled to wrench a tune from his battered guitar. The cafe was warm, full and inviting, save for a few hideously drunk French punks, desperately trying to turn the clock back to 1976.
I consumed a huge plate of veggie food washed down with some cider offered from some wide-eyed mohican with Clash lyrics on his jacket. It didn't feel like London and I instantly felt at home there. I went back as often as I could - often dragging along quickly converted cynical friends - but I always seemed too busy with something else to get more involved.
Claremont Road evictions (photo: Indymedia)
I didn't make it to the big evictions at the end and I can still remember the overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and anger as I watched the last protester being grappled off his lofty perch from the comfort of my room. I'm not ashamed to admit that a few tears rolled down my face as I saw the bulldozers flatten what was left of Claremont Road, E11