I don’t know squat

There’s a row of houses on Windsor Walk which have been disused for a long time; unless my memory fails me, it’s at least ten years. I don’t know why they are disused or who they belong to, although the boarding around them is in the blue/green colour of Southwark Council (how do you describe that colour?).

Recently it seemed they had been squatted; a door (with letterbox) was cut into the boards and electric lights began to illuminate the interior. I also saw people… erm, how to put this… ‘alternatively’ dressed going in and out.

Tonight as I walked past I noticed that all the lights were out, the door was boarded up once again and all seemed abandoned once more; from this I’m guessing that they were evicted sometime today.

Other houses in the row that weren’t squatted have broken windows and pigeons fly in and out; inside must be a mess of pigeon shit and rats. Now, I don’t have a strong opinion either way on squatting; but isn’t it better having people in empty houses than leaving them to collapse in squalor?

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

10 thoughts on “I don’t know squat”

  1. I think they’re owned by Maudsley / King’s College Hospital but I’ve no idea what’s going on with them — surely they can’t demolish them?

  2. Is that hospital property waiting to be redeveloped? It’s been boarded up for years, hasn’t it? Handsome houses they are, too. Any sign of life is welcome, in my view, so good luck to the crusty old squatters, as the character of Camberwell disappears along with places like the bookshop. But then that is what is happening in the whole country — it is becoming car and internet based, rather than people based. Soon, people will lose the use of their limbs and be transported in bubbles. One of the nicest places I know is the ‘open-air pub’ in Lucas Gardens by the benches where people have made their own venue self-help-style, like the squatters. They are a reasonable, articulate bunch who drink there. Maybe it’s February that’s doing it with this Soviet-style grey cold weather, but Camberwell seems to be getting duller.

  3. Yes Dagmar I think the Maudsley owns it and were planning to develop in from the back. Or maybe they are just sitting on it until its worth more?!? I have mixed feelings on squatters but as my friend says they clear out gutters and do other life saving maintenance on houses and stop them from falling down which is all too often exactly what the developers want to happen.. then they can rebuild what they like without regard to conservation area or listed building regs. There is no doubt Camberwell is changing but I don’t think its becoming boring. In my opinion Wordsworth books closing was a real setback in an otherwise slowly improving part of town. Also this is to everyone: I have taken on the chair for the Camberwell Society travel & Transport sub-committee. There are obviously many things going on in the area. At the moment I am trying to get support for building a disabled access to Denmark hill station. Its crazy that the hospital’s principle major transport link is inaccessible to many of the people it serves. I need any contact details of people who might help us in this, railways, mayor’s office, concern groups and in the hospitals themselves. Thanks

  4. It’s a shame. Look how grand it used to be…


    I say good on the squatters. At least it’s a roof over somebody’s head, and in my experience you can get worse people. And it sheds a little bit of light on the walk home from the station. Having said that I’ll probably learn that it’s a crack house! Let’s face it, the Trust has had long enough to do something with it.

    I made enquiries a while ago. Dreamt about buying one and doing it up. Didn’t get far.

    P.S. NickW, knock as many heads together as possible in your new role and good luck with it. No more buses PLEEASE!

  5. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the squatters as I walk past there twice a day and they were definitely there in yesterday morning and gone by evening. There was a tv discarded on the pavement when I went past about 8 so I think it must have been done in a hurry too! I just really hope the realisation that squatters will move in unless the hospital does something about the houses might make them pull their finger out and bring them back into service.

    NickW — you should look at the cross london rus consultation document (discussion about it and link further down the page) — there is something in there about plans for lifts to DH — my first reaction was that didn’t seem as important as saving the link to victoria but you’re right that the station it utterly inaccessible at the moment — good luck.

  6. Goods trains rumble past every day through Denmark Hill to the Isle of Grain. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a direct passenger service from Denmark Hill to Grain, during April-October. The beaches there are great, few people, fresh air, very different vibe from the urban.

  7. A direct train line to the Isle of Grain there’s a thought! As a Kent person with family down that way i’ve always found the Isle of Grain very bleak and a little bit odd to be honest (on second thoughts maybe Camberwell people will take to it their heart as a holiday destination!)

  8. Even better, Hannah, is the Isle of Sheppey. There’s a beach beyond Leysdown which is one of the best in the country and ends at a place called Shellness, which is nothing to do with the oil company, but is a beach composed entirely of shells. Grain is good enough, though, and one hour’s drive from SE5. Very few people go to either.

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