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Frestonia - " Nos Sumus Una Familia '

 
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:15 pm    Post subject: Frestonia - " Nos Sumus Una Familia ' Reply with quote

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frestonia

Frestonia was the name adopted by the residents of Freston Road, London, when they attempted to secede from the United Kingdom in 1977.The residents were squatters, many of whom eventually set up a housing co-op in negotiation with Notting Hill Housing Trust, and included artists, musicians, writers, actors and activists. Actor David Rappaport was the Foreign Minister, while playwright Heathcote Williams served as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Frestonia consisted of a 1.8 acres (7,300 m2) triangle of land (including communal gardens) formed by Freston Road, Bramley Road and Shalfleet Drive, W10, which belonged at the time to the London Borough of Hammersmith. This land crosses the boundary of London postal districts W10 (North Kensington) and W11 (Notting Hill), and now belongs to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Most of the residents of Freston Road were squatters, who moved into empty houses in the early 1970s. When the Greater London Council planned to redevelop the area, the 120 residents first all adopted the same surname of Bramley with the aim that the council would then have to re-house them collectively.

The Council threatened formal eviction, so at a public meeting attended by 200 people, resident Nicholas Albery - inspired by both the Ealing comedy film Passport to Pimlico and a previous visit to Freetown Christiania in Copenhagen - suggested that they declare the street independent of the rest of the UK. A referendum returned 94% of residents in favour of the plan, and 73% in favour of joining the European Economic Community. Independence was declared on 31 October 1977. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Geoffrey Howe wrote expressing his support, saying "As one who had childhood enthusiasm for Napoleon of Notting Hill, I can hardly fail to be moved by your aspirations". In a legal dispute regarding the unauthorised performance of his play The Immortalist, Heathcote Williams won a ruling from the UK courts that Frestonia was for this purpose not part of the UK.

The state adopted the Latin motto Nos Sumus Una Familia - We are All One Family - and applied to join the United Nations, at the same time warning that peacekeeping troops might be needed to keep the GLC at bay.

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There is a lot more on that page of interest - but why take an interest in " Frestonia " at this particular moment ? Because it was / is in Kensington where Grenfell Tower was / is -

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenfell_Tower_fire

The Grenfell Tower fire started on 14 June 2017 at Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey, 220-foot (67 m) high tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, west London. It caused at least 80 deaths and over 70 injuries, with a definitive figure not expected until 2018. The Metropolitan Police Service has said that 18 victims have been formally identified.

[ DATA TAKEN 03-07-17: THESE STATISTICS ARE BEING DISPUTED ]

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http://www.frestonia.org

The neighbourhood at Freston Road, acquired by the Greater London Council (GLC), had been allowed to deteriorate into such a state of disrepair that tenants had to be rehoused, effectively dismantling a community. But by the mid-1970s the area had become home to a new community; a bohemian mixture of artists, writers, musicians and drug addicts. The residents’ circumstances varied. Some gravitated to the area to keep costs low while they honed their skills, for others it was the ideal of communal life. Some had no choice. The winters were hard, resources were scarce, and police protection was a foreign concept.

Among the residents were social activist Nicholas Albery and actor David Rappaport. The playwright Heathcote Williams, a close friend of Nicholas’, lived in Notting Hill.

In 1977, the Greater London Council (GLC) announced plans to redevelop the area, the details of which are captured in an edition of the Tribal Messenger. As former resident Tony Sleep puts it:

“The GLC decided that it was intolerable having 120 people living in these damp old dirty houses and it would be a much better idea to knock them all down and make us homeless…”

Inspired by a previous visit to Christiania, Copenhagen, Nicholas Albery put forward the notion of seceeding from the United Kingdom, establishing the Free & Independent Republic of Frestonia. Albery chaired a meeting attended by 200 locals. A referendum was held on Sunday, October 30th with unanimous support for secession. Citing a legal loophole, the residents took the collective surname of Bramley, in an effort to support their request to be rehoused as a single family. An application for membership of the United Nations, was submitted, opening:

“We the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, herewith apply for full membership of the United Nations, with autonomous nation status…”

Within the application were detailed plans for an independent nation, signed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, David Rappaport-Bramley. The stunt was picked up by the media, Rappaport-Bramley made radio and tv appearances, and before long the world was watching.
The Republic issued its own postage stamps, visiting tourists could have their passports stamped with the official Frestonian visa stamp and pick up a copy of the national newspaper, the Tribal Messenger. The National Theatre presented Heathcote Williams’ play The Immortalist and The Clash recorded parts of Combat Rock at Ear Studios in the People’s Hall on Olaf Street.

The application even announced the intention to:

“generate our own power supply… [and] our own national radio station, which will in no way interfere with the broadcasts of neighbouring nations.”

The international media were captivated, with coverage from the UK current affairs TV show, Nationwide, and attention from news teams across the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Spain, Denmark and Japan. The neighbouring UK government were forced to respond and the enigmatic leader Nicholas Exelby-Bramley (Albery’s pseudonym) received letters from Sir Geoffrey Howe MP, and Horace Cutler, leader of the GLC.


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NOTTING HILL, LONDON, 1977
The neighbourhood at Freston Road, acquired by the Greater London Council (GLC), had been allowed to deteriorate into such a state of disrepair that tenants had to be rehoused, effectively dismantling a community. But by the mid-1970s the area had become home to a new community; a bohemian mixture of artists, writers, musicians and drug addicts. The residents’ circumstances varied. Some gravitated to the area to keep costs low while they honed their skills, for others it was the ideal of communal life. Some had no choice. The winters were hard, resources were scarce, and police protection was a foreign concept.

Among the residents were social activist Nicholas Albery and actor David Rappaport. The playwright Heathcote Williams, a close friend of Nicholas’, lived in Notting Hill.

Derelict house
Owners of properties in the area would often destroy their own roofs to deter squatters.
In 1977, the Greater London Council (GLC) announced plans to redevelop the area, the details of which are captured in an edition of the Tribal Messenger. As former resident Tony Sleep puts it:

“The GLC decided that it was intolerable having 120 people living in these damp old dirty houses and it would be a much better idea to knock them all down and make us homeless…”

Inspired by a previous visit to Christiania, Copenhagen, Nicholas Albery put forward the notion of seceeding from the United Kingdom, establishing the Free & Independent Republic of Frestonia. Albery chaired a meeting attended by 200 locals. A referendum was held on Sunday, October 30th with unanimous support for secession. Citing a legal loophole, the residents took the collective surname of Bramley, in an effort to support their request to be rehoused as a single family. An application for membership of the United Nations, was submitted, opening:

“We the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia, herewith apply for full membership of the United Nations, with autonomous nation status…”

Within the application were detailed plans for an independent nation, signed by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, David Rappaport-Bramley. The stunt was picked up by the media, Rappaport-Bramley made radio and tv appearances, and before long the world was watching.

A REPUBLIC IS FORMED
Visa for unlimited entry
Getting stamped with a visa for unlimited entry was a highpoint of any tourist trip to Frestonia.
The Republic issued its own postage stamps, visiting tourists could have their passports stamped with the official Frestonian visa stamp and pick up a copy of the national newspaper, the Tribal Messenger. The National Theatre presented Heathcote Williams’ play The Immortalist and The Clash recorded parts of Combat Rock at Ear Studios in the People’s Hall on Olaf Street.

The application even announced the intention to:

“generate our own power supply… [and] our own national radio station, which will in no way interfere with the broadcasts of neighbouring nations.”

The international media were captivated, with coverage from the UK current affairs TV show, Nationwide, and attention from news teams across the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Spain, Denmark and Japan. The neighbouring UK government were forced to respond and the enigmatic leader Nicholas Exelby-Bramley (Albery’s pseudonym) received letters from Sir Geoffrey Howe MP, and Horace Cutler, leader of the GLC.

AGAINST ALL ODDS
A modern view of Frestonia
The Bramleys Housing Co-operative worked with the Notting Hill Housing Trust to build quality homes for the residents who wished to stay.
The furore forced the GLC to negotiate and eventually the Bramleys Housing Co-operative was formed, assisted by local lawyer Martin Sherwood, giving the residents a voice in development plans for the area. The squatters-turned-separatists had fought hard and won.

Although concessions were made, the site was redeveloped to make safe, livable homes for the residents, many of which live there to this day, along with the generations that followed.

What became of the Republic? The United Nations never responded to the application, nor was the notion ever officially dismissed. The Republic of Frestonia is as much a reality now as it was then. And the spirit in which it was formed serves as a reminder that, faced with oppression, anything can happen when we work together as a family.

After all, nos sumus una familia.

____________

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/frestonia-the-past-is-another-country/amp/

Frestonia: the past is another country

Dave Walker
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away (the past) a brave person of restricted growth and his staunch companions threw off the bonds of oppression and created their own magical land…….

Well, perhaps that’s not the way to tell it. North Kensington, once called by Michael Moorcock “the most delicious slum in Europe” was once a hotbed of community activism. Barricades were built, protests were made, community newspapers were published, councillors were locked in meeting halls. In the days before social media and citizen journalism, people made theselves heard with all the means at their disposal. One of those means was the creation of the Free Republic of Frestonia.

The building of the Westway cut through North Kensington leaving some parts of it a bit stranded. Latimer Road was truncated, Walmer Road was bisected (see this post, which has many interesting comments from former residents) and the area south of Latimer Road was full of empty houses and industrial sites earmarked for development.

This vacuum was filled in the 70s by squatters who gradually built their own community in the empty houses and vacant sites.
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