Foxtons estate agents started out in Notting Hill in 1981, and opened their second branch in Fulham two years later. It was just the time for them. Large Victorian houses were being stripped down and redone, and in a recession London property still represented a good investment. The Brixton branch of Foxtons opened last weekend. The windows are full of two-bedroom flats for 11 times the median London salary. Rents meanwhile keep going up – by as much as 15 per cent last year, according to the Standard.
From Josephine Avenue the first sign that something was up was the sound of a helicopter overhead just after midnight. A Telegraph journalist tweeted that ‘youths’ were throwing bricks and bottles at police. I walked up to Brixton High Street to have a look. Shops near the station like H&M and Vodafone had already been looted and the JD Sports was on fire, with flames spreading to the Foot Locker nextdoor.
At about 1 a.m. a group of teenagers managed to lift up the metal shutter of the Gamesmaster on the corner of Ferndale Road and the high street, attacking the window just off the high street out of sight of the police. There were shouts of ‘quick, quick’, but the police didn’t move and possibly didn’t realise immediately what was happening. One boy of about 14 stood at the corner with his thumb up to signal it was OK to carry on. The smoke from the burning shops was getting thicker and blowing towards us, and the rain was getting heavier.