Flowers for Lee Rigby in Woolwich – but what happens next?

Woolwich, 29 May 2013
There’s a carpet outside the barracks on Repository Road. Then when you walk down Artillery Place, past where last week’s murder happened, the tributes are on both side of the road.

They stretch around the corner into John Wilson Street, as do the crowds wanting to pay their respects.

Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013
Woolwich, 29 May 2013

Out of the horror of the past week, it does feel as if Woolwich is beginning to rediscover its identity. Watching from afar, I couldn’t help notice references to Woolwich as a “town” rather than as a part of London or even as part of one of its boroughs. Maybe that’s a result of the media’s historic reluctance to visit south-east London, but it strikes me as significant. Woolwich’s history comes from being a proud military town, and I suspect rediscovering and renewing those links between the community and the garrison will be an important part of its future.

That’s a very different thing from photo opportunities for generals and council leaders, but the council’s Great Get Together event at the barracks on 29 June will play a big part in that.

In the long term, though, a question springs to mind. How will Woolwich remember Lee Rigby when all the flowers have been cleared away?

Sadly, there remain those who wish to use last week’s events to provoke and divide south-east Londoners. Transpontine has a round-up of responses planned in Woolwich and Lewisham. (6pm update: Scotland Yard has now banned a BNP march.)

One comment

  1. A renewal, maybe. And a discovery for some, certainly. But I feel the carpet of flowers, and flags, and shirts is more a reflection of a community that, in the main, already has strong links with its local garrison and is proud of that association.

    What we can all agree on though is, it certainly puts a lump in the throat.

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