Love & Rage: Can the City Road squat become a community centre?

Love & Rage


Graffiti support for The Gremlins

Cardiff squatters ‘The Gremlins’ have been resisting eviction in the abandoned Gaiety on City Road since October this year.

Their eventual aim is to make this building a part of the community again by opening it up to the public as a community centre.

Who are the gremlins?

The gremlins are an anarchist group based in Cardiff. They can often be seen on City Road with their faces covered up, coming to and from their squat.

You can read about their aims on their website, or on my previous post.

A History of The Gaiety

Timeline of The Gaiety:

Click through to view an interactive histiry of The Gaiety...

Click through to view an interactive history of The Gaiety…

A History of The Gaiety on Dipity.

What do The Gremlins want to do with it?

The Gremlins describe the building as the heart of their project.

The Gremlins are planning on setting up a café, a free people’s kitchen, ‘guerilla gardening’ on the rooftop, putting on addicts anonymous support work-shops and building a skate-ramp and climbing wall in the yard space.

What are they currently doing?


Inner Spin: Inside the City Road Squat

The anarchist group currently put on a series of events, which are open to the public.

Performance & Art

The Gremlins currently put on dramatic performances, acoustic music nights and poetry readings.


The group have put on workshops instructing the community things like puppet making, printmaking, stenciling and graffiti.


A small collection of used books and magazines are available to borrow from the squat.

What are these events like? 

Really, really, really free market

The Gremlins had advertised on their website and facebook page that they would be hosting a market inside Gremlin Alley where everything was completely free. All you had to do was bring along some items to give to the gremlins.

Modelling our free clothing.

Modelling our free clothing.

So I loaded up my bag with some dry shampoo and some Lego and headed down to the squat.

I arrived outside the derelict alley and knocked on the door, there was no answer.

Two people came round the corner, a friendly couple with odd hair and hats. They had come along to give The Gremlins some old clothing and generally have a look inside the squat.

We ventured around the side of the building and tried knocking on every door. No answer.

In the end the people with odd hair and hats decided to call it a day. Before they left they turned to me and asked: “do you want some free clothes.”

Well, I wasn’t going to turn down some free clothes so we followed the couple to their car.

Once we got to their car the bloke opened his boot; it was filled with bin bags and bits of old wood: “dive in” he said.

I selected a green jumper, which is slightly to large for me and headed on my way.

Even though I had managed to get a free jumper, and keep my Lego all to myself I was disappointed I hadn’t managed to get into Gremlin Alley.

When I got home I found this message from the group on their facebook page:

“Thanks to everyone who turned up at our chilled gig and the market at the alley today, donated and took part and major apologies to those who turned up but were unable to get inside. Sorry on behalf on the sleepy gremlins. love and rage x”

Beans on Toast after party

The other night I went down to The Gremlins squat to attend an after party they were hosting following a gig by activist folk singer Beans on Toast.

I went down to the building but I felt a little bit wary about bowling on in there by myself so I stood across the road and waited to see who turned up.

Spinning outside Spin

Spinning outside Spin

After a while a car pulled up and four people piled out, two men and two women.

The men had grizzled faces and the women had pink hair. I approached them as they knocked on the door.

We tried knocking on the door to the squat for ages in the rain at midnight on City Road.

Once we were sheltered in the porch the rag-tag crew began getting circus toys out and spinning them around.

Then the other people trying to get in decided to call it a night.

I waited around for another 15 minutes then headed home as well.

Another no show from the Gremlins.

What do the residents think?

I asked people up and down City Road if they would go to the Gremlin Alley Community Centre:

While asking people what they though about the Gremlins I saw a woman in a hat and a very long scarf trying to get into the squat.

She said she vaguely knew the gremlins, I asked if we could have a chat about them. Her eyes widened, she looked at me and said “Everything I’ve said is true, I’m going for a walk now.”

It was odd.

So can a squat be a community centre?

I think what The Gremlins are trying to do is interesting, other squats have managed to become a part of a community before.

So in theory I think Gremlin Alley could be a community centre

However I don’t think it ever will be.

With so much pressure on The Gremlins to avoid eviction I don’t think they can ever let their guard down enough to actually connect with the people of Cardiff.

One Response to “Love & Rage: Can the City Road squat become a community centre?”
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  1. […] at The Gaiety, and the kind of events that have been held recently, and in his latest blog post Love and Rage, he poses the question, ‘Can the City Road squat become a Community […]

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