During the summer of 1946, thousands of British families took the law into their own hands to temporarily solve their housing problems by “requisitioning” empty military camps. This mass-squatting movement was rapid, spontaneous and entirely working-class in character. While it was often driven at ground level by women, the movement soon developed a formal leadership structure dominated by ex-servicemen who had served as NCOs and warrant officers.
Bristol, with particularly acute housing problems, and a large number of former British and US military sites in and around the city, was one of the leading centres of the squatters’ movement. Eugene Byrne examines the story of the 1946 squatters with particular reference to events in Bristol and the stories of some of the families involved.
This session will be introduced and moderated by the project Bristol Squatted, mapping when, where and why Bristolians have squatted buildings and land. By mapping the impact of squatting on the city, the project aims to claim for the tactic the space it deserves in the city’s history and ask what the role is for squatting in Bristol today.
Note: the Bristol Squatted team will also have a stall at the festival, and now have their own website.