Livesey Occupiers Re-Open Community Museum

Families flock to the Livesey Museum for the
re-opening of the former children’s museum to mark two years since
Southwark Council shut the building down.

It was a wet Sunday morning in South London as community activists
scurried round the beautiful Livesey museum on the Old Kent Rd, putting
the final touches to the space for a free family funday.

had called the occupiers the day before stating their intent to arrest
people opening the building, for burglary. After being being told that
such arrests would be illegal, they rang back to say they would shut the
building down on grounds of health and safety, and also take details of
anyone going into the building . If details were refused, the
individual would be arrested. Again illegal police work.

fire service arrived at 11, and gave the thumbs up for the building to
be used.

And then suddenly the family rush began!

Two years ago Southwark council shut the Livesey down as part
of a budget cut. The cost of running the building was less than money
spent on council lunches. The council then tried to sell the building
only to find that in the deeds George Livesey left the Livesey for the
people of Peckham and Camberwell. As a trustee they had no right to sell

After a community campaign to save the children’s museum by
the Friends of Livesey, the council accepted a proposal from Theatre
Peckham to use the space for rehearsals. Two years later nothing had
happened in the building.

And so it was occupied six weeks ago
by a group who want to see the building used by the community.

public meeting was held with 40 people and there was consensus to hold a
re-opening for local families.

After two weeks of
organizing families flocked from all around to attend the day of
activities: vegetable growing workshops, a treasure hunt, storytelling,
arts and crafts, a theatre workshop and bicycle maintenance.

80 people attended, and the kids had a ball especially on the treasure
island. The museum came back to life, and was placed back into use for
its original community purpose.

Around 2.30pm the fire service
returned to see what we would do if there was a fire. They walked around
to see everything was fine and then let everyone play on the fire
engine. Hoses and sirens went off, and there was a new activity for the

One police, and a community policeman turned up and hang
around at the gate for a while, after being refused entry after asking
to see inside for potential crime. So the phone calls the day before
seemed to be an attempt at intimidation.

So the Livsey Museum
was shut to the community two years ago, and yesterday the community
re-opened it, to have a brilliant day with the fire service being
co-opted into the fun.

With a court date imminent, we will see
what happens next at the Livesey but for now it is re-open and in the
hands of the community.