How a disparate group of young people got together in the time of Thatcher and urged others “don't accept your lot in life”.

Rediscover the A Centre, Giros, the Belfast Youth & Community Group, Warzine and the strands of the punk movement, which continued throughout the 1980s to build resources and non-sectarian space in Belfast city centre.

The Warzone Collective began in 1984 when a few Belfast punks inspired by the Crass peace-punk era and anarchist tradition.

Crass were an English art collective and punk rock band formed in 1977 who promoted anarchism as a political ideology, a way of life and a resistance movement. Crass popularised the anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, advocating direct action, animal rights, feminism and environmentalism. The band used and advocated a DIY ethic approach to its albums, sound collages, leaflets and films.

In Belfast, similarly-minded punks decided to pool their efforts, seize the times and open their own venue, practice rooms and social space. By 1986 the Collective opened its first premises in Belfast which provided a vegetarian/vegan café/drop-in centre (Giro’s, named after welfare cheques distributed to the poor), practice and office space for bands, venue and a screen printing workshop.

Over the years thousands of people passed through the doors and were exposed to new ideas centred around the ethos of DIY and autonomy, so it became the counter-cultural hub for the greater Belfast area and beyond.

The experiment was located in the Cathedral Quarter and lasted 17 years. It contributed to building the foundations of the music industry in Northern Ireland.

cathedral quarter