Frestonia declares its independence: It happened here

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Choosing a rehearsal studio in which to write songs for their 1982 album ’Combat Rock‘, The Clash picked a location with a suitably rebellious history. Ear Studios (formerly The People‘s Hall) on Freston Road, W11 was certainly handy for Notting Hill inhabitants Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, but the story surrounding the building would have appealed to their revolutionary nature.

  • In October 1977, the Greater London Council planned to knock down the derelict buildings on Freston Road but met resistance from 120 squatters, who declared themselves to be the Free And Independent State Of Frestonia. They applied for membership of the UN and The People’s Hall became HQ, where residents would watch 'Passport To Pimlico’ and a film on the Sex Pistols for inspiration. The Minister of State for Education was two-year-old Francesco Bogina-Bramley and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was dwarf actor David Rappaport-Bramley. All inhabitants adopted the surname Bramley so that the GLC would have to rehouse them as one family if they succeeded in their eviction. The Frestonians even designed their own postage stamps, and commissioned a national anthem (they ended up with three of them).

    With TV crews from New Zealand and Japan surrounding the area, the GLC agreed to talks and former Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Howe even sent a letter of support. Eventually, a public enquiry was set up and Frestonia won. Over time they rebuilt the area with ‘foreign aid’ from Great Britain and, in 1980, Ear Studios took over The People’s Hall. It wouldn’t be long until The Clash and miscreants like Motörhead moved in to be inspired.

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CL Reed
CL Reed

We lived at No. 90 Freston Road in the '70s I was brought up there, I remember when Motor head played. Tony Sleep is the photographer for Freston Road and he has some amazing images of our time and of all the residents in the Roads and area. You can find his photography on-line.