London riots reach Peckham

It was perhaps unsurprising that Like Tottenham and Hackney on previous successive nights, the riots that have broken out in various areas of London (nationwide as I write) reached Peckham. Rumours had emanated from a number of sources, some shops closed early and police sirens wailed from late afternoon into the evening. I noticed a crowd of mostly but not exclusively young people at Peckham square their gazes and kino eyes of their camera phones pointing towards Rye Lane. A thin police line in full riot gear formed a barrier from just beyond number 3 Rye Lane, the old Jones and Higgins store clock tower on one side and to the pawn brokers on the other side of the road. On Peckham road in the direction leading towards Camberwell stood a small number of hooded youth. Younger boys rode through in what I can only describe as “ride by rioting” which involved randomly throwing objects whilst riding away at speed. Where the police stood their ground, the rioters dispersed, but went on to choose a new target. The lack of police numbers meant this game of cat and mouse went on for a number of hours. The controversial “kettling” police tactic would not have been effective due to lack of police numbers and the fluidity of the rioters. Some rioters had managed to break in and loot the clothing store Blue Inc located underneath the clock tower of the old Jones and Higgins store that police had earlier formed a line just beyond. Some rioters attempted to set fire to the store a few times, but luckily others extinguished it. Having seen the sad sight of the massive fire that destroyed the House of Reeves store in Croydon, I dread to think what would have happened if they had succeeded. The clock tower, albeit underused is an important building in the history Peckham.

Clothing store Blue Inc located under the historic clock tower is looted

Further down rye lane rioters looted Iceland and Clarkes factory outlet store. By the time the police had caught up some others had broken the glass of the Santander bank. It was easy for the rioters to evade the police, regroup and attack a new target, darting and diving down roads leading off Rye lane.

Clarkes  store after looters had left
Clarkes was one of stores broken into









Amongst the youths a middle aged woman urged people to regroup at Peckham police station, as she still had no answers about the death of her son after ten years. The attempted gathering at Peckham police station whether at her behest or not was met by lanes of police cars and a procession of armoured vehicles.

Armoured police cars by peckham police station
Armoured police vehicles by peckham police station

Whilst this was going on, further down Rye Lane a shop had been set on fire, helicopters paused overhead and once the fire had been extinguished the cat and mouse games continued well into the night with youths throwing fireworks at the police.

A store is ablaze along rye lane
A store is ablaze along rye lane







This was a tragic but surreal experience, amongst the small number of rioters and looters I noticed tourists amongst the spectators joking about the ammount of people that stopped to take pictures of a damaged “ATM”. In one barber shop it was business as usual, the metal grilling down but a gentleman getting a short back and sides. Wheelie bins were set alight and placed on Peckham Hill street by the library, cars and buses drove on to the pavement to avoid hitting the bins. Excited youths, a lot of them not rioting nor looting narrowly avoided being ran over by motorists too frightened to slow down or stop at red lights due to the youths running towards any “action” and running away once the police charged.

Wheelie bins were set alight and placed on Peckham Hill street by the library
Wheelie bins were set alight and placed on Peckham Hill street by the library

As night fell the Giselle boutique was broken into, a fracas developed as some girls ordered fellow rioters to return what had been taken before preventing anyone else getting in. Unfortunately this didn’t last as later in the evening the shop was again looted this time according to press reports with no restraint shown.

Crowds gather at Peckham square
Crowds gather at Peckham square
Later police are in charge at Peckham square
Later police are in charge at Peckham square, but this fluctuated during the riot
the poilce line before the looting of Blue Inc on Rye Lane
The poilce line before the looting of Blue Inc on Rye Lane
Rear of police line just outside Peckham Police station
The window of Primak is smashed as spectators gather
The window of Primak is smashed as spectators gather
Police stance at HSBC
“Cat and mouse” another Police stance on Rye Lane this time at at HSBC



























In the last couple of day,a project initiated by Chicken Shed theatre has become the go to “something positive, feelgood story” tv news programmes ardor. The idea is to leave a message reaffirming Peckhamites love of Peckham.

Messages for Peckham
Messages for Peckham
we love peckham

2 thoughts on “London riots reach Peckham

  1. Peckham will be regenerated eventually, the middle class are starting to move in and property prices are increasing due to nearby hipsters and the middle class. Peckham will inevitably be developed rapidly and the poor will have no choice but to migrate to nearby areas like Croydon, Balham, Lewisham which are already densely populated and comprises of the poorer demographic, not to mention the areas are already socially deprived and violent.

    There are other areas which probably will not see development and gentrification in a long time. Areas such as Harlesden, Tottenham, Edmonton, Walthamstow and many parts of Hackney. No doubt there are countless areas in London that just comprise of high amounts of crime, deprivation. The areas are seen less irrelevant as oppose to areas like Peckham and Camberwell because in the south of the river, the development scale is rapidly increasing due to the open space and need for new skyscrapers, office buildings etc.

    I do predict that most of West London will become very futuristic within the next 10 years. West London has so much potential and most of it is already developed unlike areas in it such as Harlesden, Kilburn Etc. I hope London does become more developed however I would hate it if all the areas started gaining a hipster reputation. I absolutely find Hipsters cringey and there’s enough of the stuck up individuals flooding Dalston & New Cross.

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