There goes the community: Woolwich wall painted over


Two weeks after the riots that wrecked Woolwich town centre, contractors have painted over the wall upon which locals had written their feelings about the disturbances.

Workers moved in at breakfast time on Monday to cover the wall, with only a small portion remaining by 10am.

Contractors told me that Greenwich Council had ordered the wall to be painted over, atlthough the freehold to the building, Thames House, is owned by Powis Street Estates, an investment vehicle which bought much of the property in Woolwich town centre from the Prudential in 2001.

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the site of the Great Harry pub is owned by Powis Street Estates and they are responsible for painting over the graffiti this morning.”

A spokesperson for Powis Street Estates told the News Shopper’s Nina Massey that Greenwich Council had been consulted about the decision to paint over the wall. (5pm update)

A similar wall in Peckham, containing Post-It notes, is being preserved by Southwark Council. Greenwich’s deputy opposition leader, Nigel Fletcher, had asked for the Woolwich wall to be similarly preserved. He said the decision was “crass and insensitive in the extreme”

Greenwich West Labour councillor Matt Pennycook said he was “astonished” to hear the wall had been painted over.

The wall had become a focal point for the community in the aftermath of the riot, and had drawn media attention from Sky News and BBC London after the initial destruction caused in the riot was overlooked by much of the press.

Danny Mercer, one of the people who created the wall, told this website: “The decision to erase the Woolwich wall after so much effort and emotion was put into it by the community is disgusting at the very least and show a typical lack of respect to all that had their say on the wall.

“Putting political issues and the the events of last week aside, I take this as a kick in the teeth, as I’m sure hundreds of others do.”

Two community gatherings were also held there. One, organised by the creators of the wall, was boycotted by Greenwich Council after it emerged one of the instigators was a former member of a far-right group.

The other, held on Sunday, was a peace rally held by the Greenwich Multi-Faith Forum. Again, the council was not represented at the event.




In other Woolwich news…

The wall may have gone, but a big screen at the end of Powis Street is now showing images of those wanted in connection with the looting. Those who go shopping for a bit of retail therapy and escapism probably won’t be impressed…

A Facebook campaign is under way to commemorate Woolwich’s recovery from the riot in a new mural to replace the one on Woolwich High Street painted over some months ago.

Greenwich Council is setting up a “Greenwich Backing Local Business” fund which people can donate to if they want to help local firms recover. Leader Chris Roberts said: “We’ve seen an outpouring of goodwill from the community in reaction to the attacks on our town centres and we have put the mechanisms in place to make sure that those who want to help really can make a direct difference to people whose lives have been badly affected by the actions of the rioters and looters”.

28 comments

  1. I’m in shock. As a former Woolwich resident I was planning on visiting the wall in the near future in order see how those who still live there felt in the wake of the riot and in some way to see for myself that the pub which was once my local has indeed gone.

    I cannot believe it has been painted over. If the council did indeed order for it to be painted over they are incredibly insensitive and have no regard for the depth of feeling the locals had post riot.

  2. Like the other councillors mentioned, I am astonished that the Woolwich Wall has gone. It’s a real shame to lose such a unifying symbol of community which has brought all different types of people together. I walked around Woolwich on Saturday and saw lots of people stop at the wall to look and discuss, then go and spend money in our town centre and help it back on its feet. Woolwich had a great vibe that day. As I understand it, Powis Street Estates have covered it up, without notice or explanation, which in my view is disrespectful to the contributors to the wall and the people of Woolwich. With notice there could have been a way to move it or preserve it in some way. I’m still quite shocked this has happened and people are right to be outraged.

    I would only add one thing: the wall has sadly gone but the community spirit it helped to capture isn’t and the wall has shown us that it you can’t loot, burn or cover up Woolwich’s spirit.

  3. That’s about the most insensitive and inconsiderate thing I’ve ever seen! What were they thinking?

  4. Who are Powis Street estates and why so little contact information? I think they may have been behind the plans to knock down the 1930s co-op building. Fortunately that didn’t happen. I recall trying to find info about them before a while back, probably due to that misguided scheme, and drawing a blank. There needs to be some digging into who they are.

  5. Couldn’t get a comment from Powis Street Estates’ representatives in Woolwich by phone today, unfortunately.

    PSE’s an investment company – according to Property Week in 2004, run by brothers Tony and Peter Khalastchi and their father Frank, the William Pears Group and private investors Alan Mattey and Alex Barnett.

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  7. The rationale is simple – the Council didn’t think of it themselves. A people’s democracy cannot be allowd to exist outside the people’s elected leaders.

  8. Very bad. Powis Street Estates own most of Woolwich Town Centre and is owned by an Iraqi family. They purchased the town centre from Prudential in 2001 and work with Brian Craddick to asset manage the estate and maximise revenue from commercial leases.

    This is one reason why Woolwich has continued to lose chain stores and even a branch of Costa Coffee in Powis Street because the high and unreasonable level of leases means retailers can’t afford to be represented in Woolwich given the level of trade and it’s one reason why Currys Digital closed, Body Shop and Top Man and Top Shop, Greenwich Council can’t be blamed for everything though they appear to lack respect for people’s and the communities feelings but at least there are more police out and about now which is a good thing I suppose as I rarely saw any before the riots

  9. Brian Craddick is known as craddick retail if you wish to google their website they are responsible for the discountification of Woolwich Town Centre with The Works and other cheap end of stores

    Talking of the town centre, I notice a number of stores remain closed.

    These include; Game, JD Sports, TMobile and Priceless shoes. Obviously Blue Inc have gone, Carphone Warehouse remain shut for refurbishment, Warren James. However, things seem better

    Some of the leases for Woolwich are ridiculous the former TopShop is on the market for nearly 80k a year not including the rates, stock and staff costs no retailer can afford those sort of costs.

    And yes Powis Street Estates own and are responsible for the Coop and the soon to be letting to Travelodge and the redevelopment of the former Burtons. Apparently they see great potential to make money in Woolwich

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