Debenhams has announced that hundreds of goodwill messages written on boards covering windows smashed during rioting in Clapham Junction are set to become a national treasure.
High street store Debenhams has decided that they should be preserved to show how British people rallied around after the unprecedented street disturbances.
It believes the words on the boards make them a valuable piece of history, reminding everyone how local people felt, and that the violence and destruction was the product of a tiny minority.
Said Debenhams Battersea store manager, Neil Roberts: “The generosity of the people of Clapham and Battersea has transformed plain pieces of wood into a testament for our times.
“Their words of support are proof that, in times of adversity, Londoners still have the strength of character to stand up and offer a helping hand.”
So many messages of support were scrawled on the boards covering Debenhams’ ransacked Clapham Junction store that they quickly became a local landmark.
Visitors came from all over London – and even a few from overseas – to see what had been written, and to add a message of their own.
Among the messages were: “We have taken Clapham back. The rioters won’t stop our community”. Others said: “Clapham, we love you. Get well soon”, and “We have lived and loved here for 14 years. How dare you destroy our amazing community”.
So many messages of support were written that they filled every available inch of the boards, each measuring 9ft by 6ft.
Neil Roberts at Debenhams said: “While looting and destruction grabbed the headlines, the voices of ordinary people went virtually unheard.
“These boards, tell us, in their own words, how they felt at that time. They have become priceless pieces of social documentary.
“After the riots, hundreds of local people turned up to sweep away the broken glass and to help us get our store up and running again. We didn’t have to ask. Instead, they came and did all that they could to rebuild their community again.
“These boards record the very essence of that human spirit.”
The boards have now been taken down and are being preserved carefully by Debenhams. Conversations have been taking place to try and find a home for them in a prominent location where the general public can come and view them.