THIS once-elegant listed building had survived Hitler’s bombers during the Blitz.
But a baying mob managed to destroy the enduring symbol of local history in a matter of minutes at the weekend.
As the landmark’s charred shell smouldered bleakly under the grey skies yesterday, firefighters kept their distance fearing its bowed walls might collapse.
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Crowds of locals, who used the Carpetright shop on the ground floor of the 1930s property, stood behind the police cordon shaking their heads in disgust.
In one night they had seen their vibrant community wrenched from them.
A fireman looks at the smouldering remains of the building
Down the road, rioters targeted a hardware store and stole sledge hammers, pick axe handles and spades to help with the frenzied destruction of property.
Shop owner Derek Lewis, 62, who lives behind Glickman’s DIY shop, has never seen violence like it here.
Born and bred in Tottenham, he said: “I was here during the Keith Blakelock riot in the 80s, but that was contained on a housing estate, this was 100 times worse. This community was already dying, now it’s dead. I can’t see how it will come back from this.”
Theresa Monuro, 54, a support worker, added: “I’ve lived in Tottenham 20-odd years and I’ve never seen anything like this. They were burning everyone’s property. It’s disgraceful.”
Every shop along this stretch of bustling Tottenham High Road had its windows smashed. Just yards from Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane stadium, rioters trashed the ticket office, breaking all the windows and wrecking furniture inside.
Tottenham riot flashpoints
Along the way a Job Centre had also been hit. Bus stops and phone boxes were destroyed and restaurants, newsagents, bookies, hair salons, shops and pubs attacked and looted.
Outside Derek’s shop, rioters scrawled a huge picture of a hand with the middle finger up. Next to it were the words “f*** police”. Gang tags including North9 and NPK were also sprayed on several shop fronts and across the walls of houses.
It is believed mobs descended on Tottenham from all areas of North London and even outside the city.
Shaking his head, Derek added: “The London gangs came together for this, tomorrow they will be fighting one another again.”
Twenty yards down the road Sammy Williams’ courier business was trashed. Rioters stole computers, CCTV kit and cash.
They even ripped out a cash machine in the wall and emptied it of money.
Sammy, 58, a relative newcomer from Ghana, believed many of the thugs were young and became involved out of spite for the authorities rather than the shooting of Mark Duggan.
He said: “These kids have nothing to do, no job, no opportunity. This riot was a way for them to get their frustrations out.”
The heart of the Tottenham’s youth was recently ripped out by brutal government cuts. The area comes under the North London borough of Haringey whose teenage clubs were shut after the youth services funds was slashed by 75% after a cut of £41million to the council’s budget.
Locals warned that there could be a repeat of the weekend’s riots if better relationships between police and the community were not established.
Roland Roberts, 53, said: “Police need to stop shooting first and asking questions later.
“This is not the first time something like this has happened. There was Cynthia Jarrett back in the 1980s and Jean Charles de Menezes, now this guy in a cab.
“If those situations hadn’t happened then my high street wouldn’t be mashed up like it is now. These buildings can be rebuilt. That man’s life has gone and he’s not coming back.” Walking along the High Road the destruction seems to get worse.
A large building not far from Bruce Grove tube station has been gutted.
Its basement was once a jewellers, but all that’s left is a pile of bricks. There had also been flats above where the firefighters’ hoses were now aimed.
Nearby, Aaron Biber, 89, who has run a small barber’s for 41 years, summed up his feelings. “They’re lunatics.” Thieves stole his haircutting equipment and even a kettle he uses to make tea.
Further along, near the destroyed Carpetright building, Bejaraho Arlex comforts tearful wife Irena and their five-year-old daughter Jenny next to his burnt-out van.
He said: “We watched from the window as it went up in flames, there was nothing I could do. My daughter couldn’t sleep she was scared.
“They were looting the shops and I even saw a young slim woman running from Carpetright with a carpet on her shoulder, she was stealing it.
“I’m Columbian, but have never seen things like this.”
Dismayed Tottenham MP David Lammy yesterday said the area had had its “heart ripped out” by the rioting.
He said: “The post office, shops, newsagents, mobile phone shops, council building that deals with complaints, smashed to pieces by mindless people, many of whom are not from Tottenham.”
Claire Kober, the leader of Haringey council, also addressed the crowd but was shouted at by angry locals. She said: “I walked along the High Road and it’s nothing short of heartbreaking.
“Our next job is to rebuild Tottenham. I urge the community to stick together and work towards rebuilding.”
Half way along High Road there sits a pub called The Pride of Tottenham.
It too has had its windows smashed.
A sign across the front states, “The Pride of Tottenham, The Place 2B”.
For the people here they must now hope that this part of London can, once again, find its community spirit and get back on track.
After all, this was a good, friendly place, with a vibrant mixed community and within spitting distance of Spurs’ White Hart Lane stadium.
But as smoke fills the air, burnt-out cars and vans block the roads and shards of glass and metal litter the pavements, it seems Tottenham, more than ever, needs a little help.