Charlton Mansions Archive Installation from 10 August

Thursday 10 August 6pm

Charlton Mansions – Opening of an installation by Alex Talbott

Then till 30 September

Carlton Mansions


Alex has been working at Lambeth Archives for the last three months with the recently-deposited archive of the Charlton Mansions Short-Life Housing Coop as part of her collaborative MA dissertation. Part of this work has been to create an installation around the process of cataloguing the collection.

In 2014 Lambeth ‘The Co-operative’ Council re-possessed the Mansions on Coldharbour Lane as part of its ambitious plan to redevelop Somerleyton Rd. There has been a long history of the Council seeking revenge on the co-operative housing movement in Lambeth which grew out of the squatting of houses left empty as part of Lambeth’s over ambitious plans from the 1960s and into the early 1970s to knock down slums and housing capable of renovation and build new Council estates.

In January this year the Mansions were still empty!

What has happened to Carlton Mansions has to be seen in the wider context of the running of the Council. This is what MP Kaye Hoey had to say in the House of Commons in December 2011 on the then Council attack on co-operative housing:

‘Many of these issues have occurred because of the local authority’s inadequacy and incompetence over many years, for which we can blame many people, but at the end of the day the people who are suffering are the residents, whose fault it is not.’

‘… the council’s policy is misguided and has been built on many years of mismanagement and neglect. As I said, there are many people to blame for this, but they are not the residents.’

‘This is a complicated situation that is somewhat historical and almost unique to Lambeth, but sometimes in such cases, where there is clear injustice, we must find a way to stop it happening.’

Questions about the Council

In a talk I gave on community action history in Lambeth at the 2012 Lambeth Archives Open Day I posed the following questions about the Council include:

  • How has it coped with  opportunities and constraints?
  • Has it run efficient services?
  • Has it ensured that its policies and procedures have minimised the difficulties of accessing the use of its services?
  • How has it sought to moderate the worst possible effects of reductions in budgets?
  • How effectively has it planned the continual changes in the nature of the local economy, the high turnover of population, the changes in Government policies, and the demands of local people and their organisations?
  • Is it fit for purpose?

These questions still seem pertinent today and will continue to need to be asked in the future. The fiasco of the Libraries provides a massive negative answer to many of these questions.

Co-operative and Social Action History in Lambeth

I discuss aspects of the squatting and short-life co-op movement history in Lambeth in my pamphlet

Organising Things Together in Lambeth. A Historical Review of Co-operative and Mutual Social Action

£2 + £1 postage from

or by ordering through the PayPal link at the bottom of the page at







About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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