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Occupation of Holy Cross Church, King's Cross 1982


On 17 November 1982, the ECP took sanctuary in the Church of the Holy Cross in the red-light area of King’s Cross, London for 12 days to protest “police illegality and racism” against sex workers. Our banner read ‘Mothers Need Money; End Police Illegality & Racism in King’s Cross’. 

The occupation drew widespread support including from Andaiye (Guyana’s Working People’s Alliance), Labour MP Tony Benn, Black and Immigrant women’s organisations, Greenham Common women’s peace camp, Sappho, the lesbian women organisation and gay men who brought food and blankets. 

The ECP’s occupation followed in the footsteps of sex workers in France who in 1975 occupied churches across the country to protest police arresting and fining them while doing nothing to stop rape and other violence including a number of brutal murders. 

Together they mark the beginning of the modern sex workers’ rights movement.


ECP Occupation statement 17 Nov 1982
ECP Occupation statement 29 Nov 1982




In May 2018, Sarah Walker from the ECP sat down with Polly Rodgers to record her memories of the ECP occupation of the Holy Cross Church as part of the project King’s Cross Story Palace. In the recordings below, Sarah talked about the political climate that led up to the occupation, the occupation itself, and what life was like for sex workers working in King’s Cross in the ‘80s. 


Frankie Miren interviews women who were at the centre of the occupation, and explores the legacy of their action today.


BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat report covering the occupation. Interviews with sex workers and London Councillor Brynley Heaven.


To mark the 40th anniversary of the Occupation and as part of the Bloomsbury Festival, the Holy Cross Church invited the ECP back to the Church to reflect on the significance of the occupation then and today with others who were there at the time.


Outer front cover

Hookers in the House of the Lord (40th anniversary edition) By Selma James

An account of the 1982 occupation of Holy Cross Church by the English Collective of Prostitutes to protest police Illegality and racism, with photos and press coverage from the time.

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