NEWS
29/07/2012 07:34 BST

London Riots: How Areas Have Moved On From Devastation (PICTURES)

This week will mark a year since the police shooting of Mark Duggan, which was followed by a wave of rioting, looting and arson that spread across the country.

Father-of-four Mr Duggan was shot by officers on 4 August 2011 after they stopped a taxi in Tottenham, north London.

Two days later, around 120 people went on a peaceful march in protest at his death, ending at Tottenham police station, before events suddenly spiralled out of control.

Before and after: Reeves Corner, Croydon, top, and a carpet shop in Tottenham, bottom

In the next few days, the worst riots for decades spread across the country, with town and city centres battered by vandalism and arson, with shops looted.

Some of the most evocative images of the unrest were of historic furniture shop House of Reeves in Croydon, south London, which was razed to the ground by a massive fire, having stood on the site for more than 140 years.

Trevor Reeves, 57, was forced to watch his family business burn to the ground as firefighters were unable to tackle the blaze because the area had not been made safe by police.

"It's still pretty horrible, it's still pretty raw," he said. "We've been so busy that you don't think about it until someone asks you about it, and it's only when you start talking about it that you realise what a traumatic event it was."

His father Maurice had been out celebrating his wedding anniversary that night, and came home to see television footage of the catastrophic fire.

"He phoned he and he was absolutely distraught. It was a terrible phone call, one that I will probably take to my grave, to hear that level of distress from my father," Mr Reeves said.

The family had a second shop across the road from their landmark site at Reeves Corner, and are now running their business from there.

A decision has yet to be made about what will happened to the land where the destroyed shop stood.

Mr Reeves said that the family still has "a fighting spirit", and never considered leaving the town, despite the trauma of what happened.

"Five generations have been profitable here, we've been through two World Wars and the depression in the 30s; we're resilient. Why on earth should we let one scumbag doing something like that beat us?

"To up sticks and move away could have been a business calamity, and to have done that would have been morally wrong, too. This generation has worked really hard to try and own at least part of Reeves Corner and we would not think of giving that up because of one idiot."

Gordon Thompson, 34, was jailed for 11-and-a-half years in April for starting the fire, after changing his plea to guilty three days into his Old Bailey trial.

Arsonists also struck in north London, starting a massive fire at a Sony distribution centre in Enfield. The music giant has been granted permission to re-build on the same site.

In Tottenham, five buildings, including a branch of Carpetright that was consumed by a catastrophic fire, were declared unsafe, and three of those were demolished.

Almost every shop in Tottenham Hale Retail Park was looted, and 55 homes were damaged by rioters.

Staff at bookmakers William Hill had to flee their branch, which was burned out during the first night of unrest.

Deputy manager Sean Biquette said: "Everything was peaceful, and then everything just kicked off. People were running everywhere. I saw metal bars being thrown, police cars on fire, people running for their lives."

He locked the front door and got customers to leave through the fire exit. The following day the branch was left decimated.

"You could see that the branch was in a very bad state. The structure of the building was still there, but everything else was fire damaged, smoke damaged, water damaged. There were broken pieces of chairs and screens. It was a real nightmare."

The staff from the branch, which was known as the Royal, were moved to other branches for several months, until the shop reopened in March this year.

"It was a terrible night but going back was a no-brainer. The whole Royal team said a definite 'yes' when they were asked, and it was fantastic," Mr Biquette said.

Around £41 million has been raised in funds from central government, the London Mayor and Haringey Council to help regenerate the area, and on August 1 a plan up until 2025 is due to be unveiled.

Carpetright is set to be re-built in the same style as the old building, and it is hoped that the shop will reopen in early 2014.

The area will also see the construction of Tottenham Hotspur FC's new stadium.

Leader of Haringey Council Claire Kober said Tottenham was a scene of "utter devastation" after the first night of unrest.

"If someone had said to me 'this is the aftermath of a bomb having gone off' I would not have questioned it," she said.

"It was a chaotic scene. Someone said it was as if the heart had been ripped out of the community, and it felt very much like that.

"We were trying to arrange accommodation for people who had lost their homes, and got donations from the public, from businesses, from all over the place - including the Prince of Wales.

"People had literally run out of their burning homes with nothing more than the clothes they were standing up in."

Buildings decimated in the High Road included a supermarket, a gym, the post office, a job centre, a carpet shop, a jeweller's, and people's homes.

Ms Kober said: "It's no secret that there was a need for regeneration in Tottenham before the riots. What the riots did was to make the regeneration a bigger programme.

"While we would never have wanted any of this to happen, looking at it in a positive way it has given us a huge opportunity."