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M11 History


The section of road targeted by the protesters ran from Redbridge Roundabout to Hackney Wick. Building the road would involve the demolition of 400 Victorian Terraced houses in Wanstead, Leytonstone and Leyton. The road was proposed as early as the 1940s according to some accounts, and the first Link Road Action Group was set up by local residents in 1976. The group fought the plans through public enquiries and petitions for nearly 15 years, before environmental activists from across the country became involved and introduced a campaign of direct action.


Construction of the road began in the early 1990s. At George Green in Wanstead, a 250 year old Sweet Chestnut tree was threatened with demolition and became one of the major symbols of the campaign. Security fencing surrounding the tree was dismantled to make way for a ‘tree dressing ceremony’ in November 1993, and legal history was made when a lawyer successfully declared the tree a legal residence, forcing the Department of Transport to go through eviction procedures against the people living the tree house there, and delaying the demolition process. The tree was eventually felled on December 7th 1993.


Claremont Road in Leyton was the next bastion of defense. The road of terraced houses had long been earmarked for demolition, and artists and squatters had been living in them since the early 1980s. As residents were moved out in the early 1990s, activists began moving into the empty homes, and by 1993 the road was inhabited exclusively by activists, squatters and the final few residents who had refused to leave under compulsory purchase orders. Claremont Road became an ongoing ‘festival of resistance’ before its show-down eviction on November 28th 1994.


The final house to be evicted on the route of the M11 Link Road was number 135 Fillibrooke Road, in Leytonstone. The large, four story house - detached by dint of the demolition of the houses around it - was occupied one night when security guards left it briefly un-guarded. This Last House became known as Munstonia, because of its spooky appearance.

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