Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Riots and Rumours of Riots

I wandered down through New Cross and Deptford this morning not knowing what to expect, with some of the Twitter rumours suggesting a local orgy of destruction last night. Without in anyway belittling what actually did occur, there was actually very little damage in New Cross Road and Deptford Broadway with the obvious exception of Currys in New Cross, with its glass doors shattered (it was apparently looted, with nearby Sainsburys also attacked). No sign of any commotion at the Venue nightclub, reported at one point on Twitter to be on fire.

There was more damage in Deptford High Street, with broken windows at HSBC and Barclays Bank, Tesco Express and three bookies - Paddy Power (ex-Deptford Arms) and two branches of William Hill. The one at the northern end of the High Street had cash machines dragged outside:

There was a burnt out car by the Albany, but most of the local shops appeared untouched. Whether this was due to political choices of rioters or the superior shutters and limited financial value of Deptford stock I leave you to decide.

Today people at my work spent much of the day discussing various rumours of trouble in Camberwell, Peckham, Ladywell, Surrey Quays and the Walworth Road, none of which seem to have been true. Nor, seemingly, were 'reports of gangs walking from Forest Hill to Dulwich' (as discussed on twitter and East Dulwich Forum).

Of course, there was plenty of real rioting in South London last night and I saw more evidence of it as I was out and about today including the smashed up Clayton Arms in Peckham and the broken doors of the Old Kent Road Argos. Maybe there will be some more, but don't believe everything you hear. And don't blame it all on Twitter or Blackberry either - in turbulent times stories proliferate, as the following tale from the age of the telegraph illustrates.

In 1886 there were unemployed riots in Trafalgar Square and in the same week The Times reported: 'the whole of South London was panic-stricken by the report that a large body of unemployed rioters were on their way to the Borough and Newington Causeway from New Cross and Deptford', smashing shops on their way. Shops were boarded up and extra police sent down the Old Kent Road. A telegram was sent to The Times from the Old Kent Road: 'Fearful state all round here in south London. 30,000 men at Spa Road moving to Trafalgar Square. Roughs in thousands trooping to the west. Send special messenger to the Home Office to have police in fullest force with fullest military force to save London'. There was a crowd of around 2,000 gathered in Deptford Broadway but no sign of a riot there or on the Old Kent Road. In fact in Deptford the rumours were of a crowd heading towards them from the Elephant and Castle! (Times 11.2.1886).

(Brockley Central has the low down on damage in Lewisham, and like last night will probably the best place tonight to keep track of what is actually happening in Lewisham rather than what's rumoured to be happening).

See also: Deptford Dame report on Deptford riot damage.

1 comment:

Deptford Pudding said...

In 1865 in Leeds, 12,000 people rioted after a woman was convicted of stealing dripping from her employer. The army was sent from York after a man was trampled to death in a police charge.