BORIS Johnson visited Woolwich this morning, two weeks after rioters trashed the town centre.

The Mayor of London took a tour of the damaged areas with police and councillors, and also apologised for not visiting sooner.

He told News Shopper: "I'm very sorry. We just so many places to go to. I've been constantly aware of Woolwich and it's been playing on my mind."

The mayor also praised the DLR station, new square and forthcoming Crossrail station, saying: "This is about talking to shopkeepers, making them aware of financial help and showing that Woolwich has an amazing future. This is an up and coming area."

Mr Johnson's first stop was Poundmart, which was set alight during the riots and whose owner, an independent trader, has lost all his stock.

The mayor chatted with workers in the building and told them: "We've got to get every single bit of this rebuilt and reopened." News Shopper: Boris Johnson takes a look around

During a hectic hour-long visit, frequently delayed as Mr Johnson wandered off into stores, shook hands with passers by and had his photo taken with shoppers and traders, he visited General Gordon Square, the market, Powis Street and the Royal Arsenal where he took a look at the Crossrail site.

Newsagent Kamlesh Chotai, whose shop windows were smashed in the riots, told him: "It's nice to see you have chosen to come and see us here. This has put us back a couple of years."

Borough Commander Detective Chief Superintendent Richard Wood also showed him the big screen put up at Powis Street, which is showing images of alleged rioters all week. A 39-year-old man has already handed himself in after seeing his picture on there.

He also saw the completely gutted Blue Inc shop, being pulled down because of the structural damage, while in Phones 4 U he stopped to discuss the relative merits of iPhones and Blackberrys.

The reaction from people was almost universally positive though one youth used the chance to complain about a lack of facilities for young people and market trader Abdul Ali was also less than impressed.

He said afterwards: "It ain't going to make any difference to anybody's life is it? In Woolwich it's always the same." News Shopper: The mayor poses with post office workers

At the end of his tour Mr Johnson said: "It's been amazing talking to people on the streets here. The area is really bouncing back."

Deputy leader of Greenwich Council Cllr Peter Brooks said: "It's encouraging to see leading politicians like the Mayor of London talking to people and boosting their morale.

"That's what really needs to happen now - we need to get back on track."

The Woolwich wall

During the visit, Mr Johnson also visited the Woolwich wall, the boarding around the burntout Great Harry pub which had been filled with messages of support until it was painted over yesterday.

Site owners Powis Street Estates has admitted it was behind the painting, which caught many people by surprise.

Mr Johnson said: "I'm sorry about the loss of the Woolwich peace wall."

But Councillor Brooks was more relaxed about it, saying: "The only thing I can say is Powis Street Estates wanted to paint over it.

"I can understand why people would be upset but we have to move on. It's like when you have flowers on lamp posts for years and years."