John Harris

Journalist & Author

A lament for the death of bohemian London | John Harris

The eviction of the 12 Bar Club squatters is just the latest chapter in a devastating saga of politics aligning with business

At about 10 o’clock yesterday morning, police officers and bailiffs began to swarm into the 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street in the West End of London to evict its occupants. In December, the management had been told to leave the premises by 14 January; soon after, this most cramped and rickety of places was squatted by a group of battle-hardened activists who called themselves Bohemians 4 Soho.

Each night there were events and performances; this Monday saw a gig by the arena-filling singer Frank Turner. “The spirit of Soho, even the spirit of London, is gradually being whittled away,” one of the protesters told my Guardian colleague Peter Walker, a few weeks before the authorities turned up. “Do we just want another load of chains, Tesco and Starbucks?”

Soho: home to an alliance of artistes, chancers, impresarios and dreamers

The arrival of Crossrail – linking east and west London – has triggered this, disrupting Soho’s borders

Related: Saving Soho: the ’spirit of London’ captured for posterity – in pictures

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