The Aylesbury Estate – Pt I

   The flatmate showed me pictures of the Aylesbury. He lived there for five years, back in the 80’s. He said his flatmates would take sulphate all weekend, starting on Thursday night and continuing through until Monday, dropping acid when they were at the absolute low from taking sulphate. “They said it was better then, you felt the effect more. One of my mates ended up going into therapy and counseling for four years after one acid binge too many – he just didn’t come back.”

    He showed me a picture of the guy in question, taken on a beach when they went on a trip to Israel. Good-looking guy with a sort of New Wave 80’s look with the shades, the brushed up blonde hair and the chain around one of his boots. Like a fan of Human League or Duran Duran or any of those 80’s bands.

   The Aylesbury is full up now. No room for any overflow from the Heygate or anywhere else. Yet it’s still heavy. Just before Christmas a dozen or so kids set upon some poor pizza delivery man, beat him, robbed him. And stabbed him in the neck.

   He told me that the ramps which inter-connect the Heygate used to run right through all the estates, right down to Burgess Park, a distance of about a mile. “You could go right from the shopping mall to the Park without once touching the ground. The police made them blow up the ramps between the estates. The kids would commit some crime then have a couple of miles of gangways to escape into one of hundreds of flats. The police couldn’t catch anyone.”

   He lived in a squat on the Aylesbury for five years. The working class tenants had been suspicious of him and his mates at first, “but they calmed down a bit when they saw we weren’t some thieving junkies. Me mate – – – had a posh sort of accent – he was public school – and I moved around so much when I was a kid I didn’t have any accent at all. They were more like ‘don’t make too much noise breaking in,” after that. But one night six big geezers came round, thinking we’d knicked something from one of the flats. They didn’t know it was us, but we were squatters and to some of the tenants all squatters were scum ‘taking homes from decent people’. So they tried to kick the door in to get at us for four straight hours. Luckily, we had bolts in from the back – the door was a lot stronger than we had thought because they would have had to take out the doorframe and a whole section of the wall. But there we were, six skinny potheads waiting inside for these geezers to come bursting in until they finally gave up and went away.”

   “Why on earth did you stay five years on the Aylesbury?”

   “I loved it! It was close to everything, all my mates were there. It was a laugh.”

    I’ll bet. I can’t remember the details now, but a lot of his friends from that period ended up pretty fucked up. Some public school guy who ended up in a hardcase psychiatric prison in his teens for slitting a cow’s throat then, after he was released, he moved in with a friend – and the friend jumped out of a window two weeks, a month later high on acid – and all the dead man’s friends thought the first guy had killed him because he was jealous of his good looks, his success with women.

   So that was the other face of squatting. I didn’t experience it too much. My ex did, but I didn’t.


  1. a great story told about life on the aylesbury estate,i just wish there had been more to read as i could have gone on reading about life on the aylesbury forever,a brilliant gritty story,well done, kev

  2. That could have been me writing that. I suspect I know the guys in question at the beginning, and was close to the guy who died at the end. I lived on the Aylesbury and around it for years until the late 80s. Manic place, always on the edge, but the best time…1985 certainly was an amazing year!

    • Paul,

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry for the delay in replying – I’m back in N. America at the moment and not checking this as regularly as I should. Ah, the Aylesbury – glad it rang true. I didn’t make it to London until about 87 – and caught the tail end of the squatting era until the very early 90’s when you did feel an era had come to an end. Some good times though, mostly up around the Elephant, Camden and Bloomsbury of all places. London was an exciting place to be then – especially drunk and young.

      If you have any more stories, please send them on . . . or if you want check out my other site,

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