Woolwich (/ˈwʊlɪtʃ, -ɪdʒ/) is a district of south-east London,
England, within the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Originally a town in
Kent, it has been part of the
London metropolitan area since the 19th
century. In 1965, most of the former Metropolitan Borough of
Woolwich became part of
Greenwich Borough, of which it remains the
The town is a river crossing point, with the
Woolwich Ferry and the
Woolwich foot tunnel
Woolwich foot tunnel crossing to
North Woolwich in the London
Docklands. Throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th and most of the 20th
Woolwich was an important naval, military and industrial
town. After several decades of economic hardship and social
deprivation, large-scale urban renewal projects have turned its
fortunes around. It is expected that the town, identified in the
London Plan as "opportunity area", will evolve from "major centre" to
"metropolitan centre" within
Greater London in the next few
3.1 Early history
3.2 Military expansion
3.3 Economic development
3.4 Urban development
3.4.5 Local government
3.5 Post-war history
4.1 Royal Arsenal
Woolwich Dockyard and Riverside
4.3 Other military buildings
6 Sports and leisure
7 Education and culture
8.1 National Rail
8.2 Docklands Light Railway
London River Services
9 Notable people
10 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Woolwich is situated 13.7 km from Charing Cross. It has a
2.5 km long frontage to the south bank of the
Thames river. From
the riverside it rises up quickly along the northern slopes of
Shooter's Hill towards the common (60 m) and the ancient London-Dover
Road (132 m). The ancient parish of Woolwich, more or less the
Woolwich Riverside and
Woolwich Common, comprises
297 ha (735 acres). This included North Woolwich, which is now part of
London Borough of Newham. The ancient parishes of
Eltham became part of the civil parish of
Woolwich in 1930. Parts
of the wards Glyndon and
Shooter's Hill are often referred to as
Woolwich, although this definition is not accepted by all. The nearest
areas are Abbey Wood, Blackheath, Charlton, Eltham, Greenwich,
Kidbrooke, Lewisham, North Woolwich, Plumstead, Shooter's Hill,
Welling and Well Hall.
Below is a table comparing
Woolwich and the wider borough of
Woolwich compared 2011
Woolwich Population 71,526
London Borough of Greenwich
See also: Old Woolwich
Woolwich has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age. Remains of a
probably Celtic oppidum, established sometime between the 3rd and 1st
century BCE, in the late Roman period re-used as a fort, were found at
the current Waterfront development site between Beresford Street and
the Thames. According to the Survey of
London (Volume 48:
Woolwich), "this defensive earthwork encircled the landward sides of a
riverside settlement, the only one of its kind so far located in the
London area, that may have been a significant port, anterior to
London". A path connected the riverside settlement with Watling Street
(Shooter's Hill), perhaps also of
Iron Age origin. Sandy Hill Road may
be a remnant of this early path.
Woolwich from 1182
It is generally believed that the name
Woolwich derives from an
Anglo-Saxon word meaning "trading place for wool". It is not clear
Woolwich was a proper -wich town, since there are no traces of
extensive artisanal activity from the Early Middle Ages. However, in
Oxford Archaeology discovered a Saxon burial site near the
riverside with 76 skeletons from the late 7th or early 8th century.
The absence of grave deposits indicates that this was an early
Christian settlement. The first church, which stood to the north of
the present parish church, was almost certainly pre-Norman and
dedicated to Saint Lawrence. It was probably rebuilt in stone around
From the 10th till the mid-12th century
Woolwich was controlled by the
abbots of St. Peter's Abbey in Ghent. This may have been a result of a
gift of 918 from Ælfthryth, daughter of
King Alfred and Countess of
Flanders, in that case the first recorded grant of English lands to a
foreign ecclesiastic institution. As a result of this tenure Woolwich
is not mentioned in the Domesday Book; it is thought that the 63 acres
listed as Hulviz refer to North Woolwich, which was then uninhabited.
Some of the
Ghent lands passed to the royal manors of
Eltham as early as 1100; the larger part of the parish, referred to as
the manor of
Woolwich but in effect not a full manor, became an Eltham
dependency in the 14th century. Not included were a riverside quay
held by Holy Trinity Priory, Aldgate, a wharf held by St Mary's
Priory, Southwark, and land around
Plumstead owned by Bartholomew de
Burghersh, 2nd Baron Burghersh, later referred to as the Burrage
Woolwich was susceptible to flooding. In 1236 many were
killed by a flood.
Woolwich Ferry was first mentioned in 1308 but may
be older. Around Bell Water Gate some private shipbuilding or repair
may have existed in the 15th century. A windmill was mentioned around
1450. Several pottery kilns have been discovered north of Woolwich
High Street and Beresford Street, testifying of a perhaps unbroken
tradition of pottery production from at least the 14th century until
the 17th century.
Woolwich Dockyard in 1790
Woolwich remained a relatively small Kentish settlement until the
beginning of the 16th century, when it began to develop into a
maritime, military and industrial centre. In 1512 it became home to
Woolwich Dockyard, originally known as "The King's Yard", founded by
Henry VIII to built his flagship
Henry Grace à Dieu
Henry Grace à Dieu ("The Great
Harry"). Many great ships were built here, such as the Prince Royal,
the Sovereign of the Seas, the Royal Charles, the Dolphin and the
Beagle. The dockyard went through many ups and downs but survived for
three and a half centuries, closing down in 1869.
Following the establishment of the dockyard,
Martin Bowes who had
gathered a fortune at the Royal Mint, bought riverside holdings in
Plumstead in the 1530s, some of it former church land
that had become available after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
His mansion was Tower Place, which was gradually closed in by a
ropeyard (1570s) and warehouses with open-air storage known initially
as Gun Wharf or Gun Yard, then The Warren (1651/71), later the Royal
Arsenal (1805). The arsenal developed from a place of storage into a
collection of military factories (Royal Ordnance Factories), playing a
central role in Britain's imperial phase and its military and
industrial expansion. At wartime, tens of thousands of workers
found employment here. Between wars, unemployment loomed. Other
military establishments that were rooted in the arsenal were the Royal
Artillery (1716) and the Royal Military Academy (1741). They both
Woolwich Common in the late 18th century. In the 19th and
20th century several large barracks were built, as well as military
schools and hospitals. To this day, the town retains an army base at
Royal Artillery Barracks and Napier Lines Barracks.
Tower Place and the old Royal Military Academy, 1775
Royal Artillery Band marching through Woolwich, early 19th c.
Open-air storage at the
Royal Arsenal in the mid 19th c.
Old Woolwich in 1929. On the hill: the parish church and the Red
Workers at the Royal Arsenal, 1862
Throughout the 18th century the navy yard remained the town's main
employer with between 500 and 1,400 men working in the docks. Due to
the malarial marshlands, it was not a popular place to work and for
Woolwich dockyard workers were paid as much as a third
more than in other naval towns. These were mostly skilled artisans who
were generally literate, Nonconformist and well-organized. The number
of artillery men grew from around 200 in 1716 to around 1,500 in 1801.
Soldiers were generally held in contempt, earning about a quarter of
dockyard labourers' wages. At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, there
were more soldiers (3,000) than dockyard and ropeyard workers (2,000),
while the arsenal employed as many as 5,000. After the end of the
wars, thousands were discharged, causing great distress. In the 1840s,
a steam factory gave a new lease of life to the dockyard and the 1850s
saw a huge expansion of the arsenal during and after the Crimean
The presence of the dockyard, the arsenal and other military
institutions stimulated economic growth in other areas, notably in
commercial activities and entertainment. The ropeyard was established
around 1570 and survived until 1832. Throughout the 17th century two
glass factories were active near Glass Yard, owned by Sir Robert
Mansell from Greenwich, who also managed the dockyard and the
ropeyard. Some of the masters here were Huguenots from Lorraine. Kilns
producing Bellarmine stoneware may also have been controlled by
continental potters. Other kilns produced earthenware and clay pipes.
Kilns were also active on the hillside south of the town, where clay
was readily available. Near
Plumstead and Charlton were sandpits; the
sand was shipped from a wharf near Tower Place. In 1863, the German
Siemens & Halske established a submarine-cable factory in the
Dockyard area, which expanded rapidly.
Hare Street in 1911
Woolwich market received its charter in 1618 but is certainly older.
The market, which had long been established in the High Street in Old
Woolwich (at a location called Market Hill), had gradually drifted
towards the Royal Arsenal's main gatehouse, more or less at its
present location. This was not approved by the authorities and a new
market was set up in the
Bathway Quarter around 1810. This proved to
be a failure and is remembered only in the name of Market Street.
Until 1879, the market at
Beresford Square remained illegal and was
regularly cleared by the police. After it was legalized, it had room
for 136 stalls.
Italo Svevo described it as "very lively" in 1903. In
1936, a covered market opened in
Plumstead Road but never formed a
threat to the main market.
Beresford Square had the largest public
houses (of which
Woolwich had many).
Powis Street and Hare Street,
laid out in the early 19th century, became the main shopping streets.
A number of Victorian shop facades, many designed by local architect
Henry Hudson Church, have survived.
In 1868 the
Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society was established, which
developed into one of the biggest consumer cooperatives in the country
with two department stores in Powis Street, shops around South East
London, manufacturing and food production plants, a building society,
a funeral service and many other areas of entrepreneurship.
Poverty map of Woolwich, 1889. The areas in black designate the
"lowest class, vicious, semi-criminals". Bright red is "middle class,
Around 1500, at the beginning of the military and naval expansion,
Woolwich had only a few hundred inhabitants. In 1665, when Samuel
Pepys stayed here to escape the Great Plague, the population was
estimated at 1,200 or more, of which about 300 worked in the dockyard.
Around 1720, the town's population had risen to 6,500, reaching almost
10,000 in 1801. During the booming wartime decade that followed,
population reached a peak of 17,000. After a period of stagnation,
building activity picked up in the 1830s. Woolwich' built-up area
expanded southward with workers' houses mostly close to the river and
officers' houses around
Woolwich Common and further up the hill. In
Woolwich had a population of 27,785; in 1861 this had risen to
41,695. At this point there were 4,596 houses in the parish, with
little space left for building; further development took place in
Plumstead, Charlton and North Woolwich, later also in Eltham. After a
dip in the late 19th century, in 1901 the population of the parish of
Woolwich stood at the same level as 40 years earlier: 41,625.
Woolwich was a rich social mix with skilled engineers along
with unskilled labourers (including women and children) working at the
Arsenal and other factories, large numbers of soldiers (making up
10-15% of the population) and a small bourgeoisie consisting of
military officers and the commercial and professional elite. Some
areas of the town were notoriously overcrowded; the so-called Dusthole
near the river was considered one of London's worst slums.
Until the arrival of the railways, the
Thames was the principal artery
Woolwich to London. In 1834 the
Woolwich Steam Packet
Company greatly improved river traffic and in 1889 the
Ferry made it easier to live in
North Woolwich and work in the
Arsenal, or to live in
Woolwich and work in the Docklands. The North
Kent Line from
Woolwich to Gillingham opened
in 1849. The station building was rebuilt in 1906 and again in
Woolwich was also on the route of two
London trams of the
first generation (1881-1952).
The post-war period brought massive changes to the town's fabric and
infrastructure. Roads were widened and entire neighbourhoods pulled
down to make room for modern housing, some of it in tower blocks. The
Woolwich High Street and Beresford Street left little of
the old town.
Woolwich was home to the experimental
Auto Stacker car
park. Built on the site of the Empire Theatre, it was officially
opened in May 1961 by Princess Margaret. It never actually worked and
was demolished in 1962. A multi-storey car park was built along Monk
Street in 1971.
Woolwich Polytechnic, 1891
Woolwich Polytechnic was founded in 1891. As well as providing a
higher education facility, it also provided secondary school
facilities, including the still-extant (but now relocated) Woolwich
Polytechnic School. In the 20th century the Polytechnic grew
steadily, taking up almost an entire block in the
Bathway Quarter and
later spreading to other areas. In 1970 it merged with other local
colleges and became
Thames Polytechnic. In 1992 it was granted
university status and a year later was renamed the University of
Greenwich. In 2001, the university relocated to the Old Royal Naval
College in Greenwich, leaving only a small administrative presence in
Woolwich was the location of the first free kindergarten in the UK.
The Woolwich Mission
Kindergarten opened in 1900, and began in a room
provided by a Christian socialist vicar of Holy Trinity church in New
Charlton, the Rev. Walter Wragge. It was founded by his sister,
Adelaide Wragge, the Fröbel-influenced principal of Blackheath
Kindergarten Training College.
Officers of the
Royal Artillery playing polo on bicycles, ca 1910
In the 18th century,
Cricket Club, later Royal Artillery
Cricket Club, were well-known cricket clubs.
Cricket and other sports
were mainly played by military officers and students at the Royal
Arsenal F.C. was founded in 1886 by workers at the
Royal Arsenal. Initially known as Dial Square, then
Royal Arsenal and
Woolwich Arsenal, they soon drew large crowds to their ground in
Plumstead. In 1913 they moved to
Arsenal Stadium in Highbury, North
Royal Ordnance Factories F.C.
Royal Ordnance Factories F.C. was founded in response to
Woolwich Arsenal joining the League but only lasted a few years.
Woolwich had several theaters and cinemas. The Theatre Royal in
Beresford Street, later renamed Empire Theatre or
Woolwich Empire, was
the biggest. Dating from the 1830s, it was enlarged in the 1880s and
90s, seating about 2,000. It both served as a variety theater and
cinema, ending up as a strip-joint. It was demolished in 1960. Shortly
after 1900, three new theaters opened with a combined capacity of
4,430. The Century cinema, which faced Beresford Square, was
previously known as Premier Cinema and
Royal Arsenal Cinema. It was
built in 1913 with 669 seats, closed in 1961 and demolished for
redevelopment in the late 1960s. The Grand Theatre in Wellington
Street opened in 1900 as a variety theater with a capacity of 1,680.
It became the
Woolwich Hippodrome in 1908 and a full-time cinema in
1923. Rebuilt in 1955 as the Regal Cinema, it closed in 1982, was then
used as a nightclub and demolished in 2015. The Granada cinema and the
Odeon, later Coronet, both seating around 2,500, are imposing
buildings from the 1930s that have both been converted into
St Mary Magdalene around 1840
The civil parish of Woolwich, roughly the area of the present-day
Woolwich Riverside and
Woolwich Common, was formerly known as
Woolwich Saint Mary. Until 1842, when the Old
Town Hall was built, the
vestry met in a room in the parish church of St Mary Magdalene.
Woolwich became part of the
London metropolitan area in the mid-19th
century, although officially still in Kent. In 1889, with the
London County Council,
Woolwich became officially part of
London. In 1900 the parishes of Woolwich,
the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich. In 1906 the new
Hall was inaugurated. In April 1965, following implementation of the
London Government Act 1963,
Woolwich was merged into the London
Borough of Greenwich, since 2012 the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The
administrative buildings of the borough are in Woolwich.
Woolwich declined as a town in the late 20th century, starting with
the closure of the
Royal Ordnance Factory in 1967 and the Siemens
factory in 1968 and continuing as the
Royal Arsenal scaled back
operations and finally closed in 1994. Other employers like the
Woolwich Building Society ("The Woolwich") and Morgan Grampian
Publishers were taken over by other companies and moved away from the
town. Without major employers, the local economy was affected and
unemployment soared. At the same time the town's demographics
changed, with initially mainly Sikhs settling down in the area, later
followed by black Africans, many from Nigeria. Despite immigration,
the population of the parish reached a low of 17,000 in 1971. In
Woolwich had lost its previous vigour. In the town's shopping
district, department stores and chain stores closed. By the early
1990s, the town centre had the typical appearance of a town in decline
with discount retailers and charity shops using the empty stores and
Greenwich Council occupying the empty office buildings. In 1974,
the United Kingdom's first branch of
McDonald's opened in Powis
Street. Amidst the decline,
Woolwich was still considered to be a
representative English town at the time.
In 1974 the
Provisional IRA bombed the Kings Arms pub in the town,
killing two. During the 2011
Woolwich was one of the
areas affected. Several buildings were attacked, with a few being
destroyed. The Great Harry Wetherspoons'
Pub was set on fire, leaving
it a burned-out shell. On 22 May 2013 the
Murder of Lee Rigby
Murder of Lee Rigby in
Woolwich caused upheaval. Drummer Lee Rigby, a British soldier based
Royal Artillery Barracks, was murdered close to the barracks by
two Islamic extremists.
The 16th Regiment
Royal Artillery left
Woolwich in 2007, but the
Woolwich barracks still house the
Royal Artillery Band and more
recently the Second Battalion
Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment
Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment and
the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, although the relocation of
these has been announced for 2028.
Construction sites in
Shooter's Hill view, 2016)
Woolwich started to enjoy the beginning of a renaissance with the
residential redevelopment of the former Royal Arsenal. Most historic
buildings on the site have been renovated and converted into
apartments. Several thousands of homes have been built or are under
construction and thousands more are planned, mainly luxury apartments
in tower blocks near the river. Additionally, a riverside walk,
several parks, a museum, a range of shops, cafés, pubs and
restaurants, and a farmers' market have made the Arsenal a desirable
place to live. In 2017 it was announced that the borough has acquired
five historic buildings around No 1 Street to create a £31 million
cultural district. It will feature a 1200-seat auditorium for concerts
and events, a performance courtyard that seats up to 600, a 450-seat
black box theatre and a riverside restaurant. The
Centre will move to new premises. The site will further include
offices, studios and rehearsal spaces for resident companies such as
Academy Performing Arts, Dash Arts,
Chickenshed Theatre, Protein
Greenwich Dance and Greenwich+Docklands International
Woolwich Arsenal DLR station, the terminus of the Docklands Light
London City Airport branch, opened on 10 January 2009.
2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics included
Woolwich as a venue
for shooting events, held in temporary facilities constructed on the
grounds of the
Royal Artillery Barracks and on
The arrival of
Crossrail in 2018 is expected to further stimulate
regeneration, especially in the area close to
Love Lane development
A large-scale redevelopment of the area west of General Gordon Square
started in 2011. The square was re-landscaped, including a new water
feature. The so-called Love Lane project involved demolition of
several buildings including the Post Office, the Crown Building, the
Director General public house, Peggy Middleton House and Thomas
Spencer Halls of Residence. New buildings included the
along Wellington Street (public library and council offices) and a
large housing development above a
Tesco hypermarket. The development
was largely completed in 2012, except for the southwestern section
(along the South Circular Road). On the other side of General Gordon
Square the 1930s
Woolwich Equitable building was refurbished. Next to
Town Hall on Wellington Street, the 1950s
Theatre (formerly the ABC Regal Cinema, then Flamingo's Nightclub)
briefly reopened as an arts centre with a cafe but in 2015 the
building was demolished to make room for apartments.
Demolition of Connaught Estate, 2015
Redevelopment around the "
Woolwich Triangle" at the west end of Powis
Street is partly underway. It originally envisaged demolition of the
art deco RACS department store, one of two imposing
Co-op buildings in
this part of town. In September 2012
Greenwich Council approved a
plan to convert the building into apartments and retail. Across
the road, the late Victorian former RACS Central Stores building was
renovated and re-opened as a hotel. Further regeneration is centred on
Hare Street and the Riverside. By relocating the Waterfront Leisure
Centre, it is hoped that this part of
Woolwich will attract new
development. Other areas for redevelopment include Trinity Walk
(former Connaught Estate, part of the One
Woolwich masterplan for
three housing estates), several sites along Wellington Street
(including the Ogilby site and the so-called Island site), the Spray
Street Quarter (between the existing station and the new Crossrail
station), and the Callis Yard site (former council stables).
See also: Grade I and II* listed buildings in Greenwich
For centuries the area between the
Thames and the present-day A206
road has been dominated by docks, warehouses and factories, starting
Royal Dockyard early in the 16th century, later eclipsed by
Royal Arsenal in scale and grandeur. In the 18th century the Royal
Regiment of Artillery and the
Corps of Royal Engineers
Corps of Royal Engineers were
established in Woolwich, followed by the Royal Military Academy. Other
military institutions completed the picture of the garrison town that
Woolwich had become in the early 19th century. The town has a
distinctive housing history and in the
Bathway Quarter it has an
equally distinctive civic centre. Although repeatedly rebuilt, its
architectural heritage reflects its unusual and important history.
Main article: Royal Arsenal
The older parts of the
Royal Arsenal constitute a conservation area.
Most buildings of historic interest have been restored and given new
uses. The Royal Brass Foundry (1717) is a grade I listed building,
while the Dial Arch (1717–20), the Old Royal Military Academy (1720)
and the Grand Store (1806-13) are Grade II* listed. Other listed
buildings include the
Royal Arsenal Gatehouse, Middle Gatehouse, the
Main Guard House, two small guardhouses near the Thames, the Shell
Foundry Gatehouse, Verbruggen House and two twin pavilions in
Laboratory Square, the oldest structures on the site (1696).
Royal Arsenal Gatehouse
Royal Brass Foundry
Cannon near the Old Royal Military Academy
Converted warehouses at the Royal Arsenal
Woolwich Dockyard and Riverside
Woolwich Dockyard and
Woolwich Dockyard relatively little of historic interest remains.
The main monumental building complex comprises a small cluster of
18th-century buildings: the entrance gate, the guardhouse and the
so-called Clock House (Dockyard offices). A pair of 19th-century docks
remain on the site of their 16th-century predecessors. The later
development of the Dockyard in the
Victorian period is represented by
the Steam Factory and the Dockyard chimney, a prominent landmark, and
further west by a group of buildings at the site of the Siemens
Between the Arsenal and the Dockyard lies an area that was once Old
Woolwich, a part of the town where little of historical interest
remains and that, once again, is facing redevelopment. The round
entrance building of the
Woolwich foot tunnel
Woolwich foot tunnel dates from 1912. Further
Thames Barrier is an interesting example of modern
architecture and technical achievement. The
Thames Path is a National
Trail that connects these sites.
Woolwich Dockyard entrance gate
The Dockyard chimney
Woolwich foot tunnel
Other military buildings
Royal Artillery Barracks; Royal Military Academy, Woolwich;
Royal Artillery Barracks § Related institutions in Woolwich
Royal Artillery Barracks
Royal Military Academy
Elsewhere, monumental buildings testify of Woolwich's rich military
Woolwich Common with its surrounding buildings has been
designated a conservation area. The Neoclassical façade of the Royal
Artillery Barracks (James Wyatt, 1776-1802) is the longest façade in
London, stretching along the north end of the common. Across the road,
Government House (1781), was the quarters of the Garrison Commandant
from 1855-1995. Of the nearby Garrison Church of St George only the
shell remains after it was bombed during the Second World War. Its
Neo-Romanesque architecture and remnants of mosaics are still
impressive. John Nash's Rotunda, a round brick building with a leaded
tent roof, until 2001 housed the
Royal Artillery Museum and now serves
as a boxing ring for the
King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery
King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in nearby
Napier Lines Barracks.
The Royal Military Academy at the south end of
Woolwich Common was
also designed by
James Wyatt and has an almost equally long façade in
Mock Tudor style. Other military buildings that survive include
Connaught Barracks (built as the
Royal Artillery Hospital in 1780),
Green Hill Military School and
Royal Herbert Hospital
Royal Herbert Hospital on Shooters
Hill. The Royal Engineers' HQ was moved to Chatham in 1856, but a
small detachment remained in Woolwich, quartered in what is now
Engineer House on Mill Hill, just off the Common. Several listed
buildings were demolished in the 1970s, including the Grand Depot
Barracks of the Royal Military Artificers (1803), Cambridge Barracks
(1842, of which the gatehouse still stands) and Red Barracks (1858,
only the boundary wall and entrance gate remain). The latter two, on
Frances Street, were originally built as the Royal Marine Barracks,
Woolwich for the
Woolwich Division of the Royal Marines, and each was
considered an innovative and influential design. The Marines departed
with the closure of the Dockyard, whereupon the buildings were
converted into barracks accommodation for various military corps.
Rushgrove House (1806) housed the Colonel Commandant of the Marine
Barracks (later Cambridge Barracks) from 1855.
Ruined Garrison Church (1863)
John Nash's Rotunda (1814/20)
Former Connaught Barracks (1780)
Engineer House (1858)
Government House (1781)
Former Red Barracks gate (1860)
Gatehouse Cambridge Barracks (1848)
Rushgrove House (1806)
Virtually nothing is left of the old town of
Woolwich which was near
the ferry and the parish church along the Thames. In the early 19th
century the commercial and administrative centre moved south to its
present location around Powis Street,
Beresford Square and the Bathway
Quarter. Although 20th-century economic decline and infrastructural
works have had their effects, there are still some interesting
Woolwich town centre. The best preserved area is perhaps
Bathway Quarter with the former Public Baths, the Old and New Town
Hall, the former Magistrates Court and Police Station, the Old Public
Library and several historic buildings of
St Peter's rectory, church and school
Powis Street and Hare Street some late Victorian shop
façades have been preserved, notably by local architect Henry Hudson
Church. The western end of
Powis Street is dominated by two former
Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society (RACS) department stores, one late
Victorian, the other one in
Art Deco style. Nearer to the river are
two large cinemas, both built in 1937 and both in use as Pentecostal
church halls. The former Odeon Cinema (now occupied by the New Wine
Church) is a fine example of an
Art Deco theatre; the former Granada
Cinema has lavish interior decorations.
Of the grand houses that once stretched along
Woolwich Common and
dotted the northern slopes of Shooter's Hill, little remains.
Rushgrove House, Shrewsbury House and Woodhill Court survive but have
lost their spaceous gardens.
Woolwich parish church, St Mary Magdalen
is a plain brick 1730s building with a spireless tower. Other
religious buildings of interest include the Roman Catholic St Peter's
Church (by Pugin), and two
Sikh gurdwaras, one a former Methodist
church, the other a former Masonic hall.
Woolwich Polytechnic College
Victorian RACS building
Art deco former RACS department store
Former Odeon Cinema
Former Granada Cinema
Parks in central
Woolwich are generally small. St Mary's Gardens has
been laid out as a park in Romantic style on the grounds of the former
churchyard of the parish church of St Mary Magdalen. Some historic
grave markers have been placed against the peripheral wall. Tom
Cribb's memorial, a lioness resting her paw on an urn, stands near the
northeast entrance. The park features a belvedere which offers views
of the river Thames. At the Royal Arsenal, several new parks and
gardens have been landscaped but some can only be accessed by
Woolwich Common and
Oxleas Wood are
situated higher up the hill and are all part of the South East London
Green Chain. Repository Woods is a forested part of
The area around the lake is a military training ground that is not
open to the public. The same applies to Mulgrave Pond and Shooters
St Mary's Gardens
Dial Arch Square
New Riverside Park
Sports and leisure
Arsenal F.C. is originally from Woolwich; Charlton Athletic's stadium,
The Valley, is approximately 2 km west of Woolwich. The area also
Non-League football clubs:
Bridon Ropes F.C.
Bridon Ropes F.C. and Meridian
F.C., who both play at Meridian Sports & Social Club.
Barrack Field at the
Royal Artillery Barracks was a famous cricket
ground in the 18th century but is now merely used for recreational
Royal Arsenal Rugby Club plays rugby here.
Greenwich Council has plans to demolish the 1980s Waterfront Leisure
Centre next to the
Woolwich Ferry and build a new leisure centre in
Wilmount Street. There is an indoor climbing wall in the Docklands
Education and culture
Public art works in Woolwich
The University of Greenwich's dramatic arts department is based in the
Bathway Quarter in the centre of Woolwich. The old Grand
Theatre, which briefly reopened in the 2010s, closed in 2015. The
Tramshed, until 1953 an electricity sub-station for the borough's
tramways, is a music and entertainment venue run by the Royal Borough
Woolwich currently has no movie theatres. Cinemas
are included in the plans for Spray Street quarter and the Island
site. The town was used as a location for the 2006 film
Children of Men.
Woolwich has one museum, the
Greenwich Heritage Centre at the Royal
Arsenal (Firepower – The
Royal Artillery Museum closed in 2016 after
having been based in
Woolwich for almost two centuries). Second Floor
Studios in the
Woolwich Dockyard area is one of London's largest
concentrations of artists' studios. The town has a number of
public sculptures: one of Roman origin, several statues and reliefs
from the 19th and early 20th century, and a number of modern
sculptures. One of the
Woolwich Arsenal DLR station
Woolwich Arsenal DLR station entrances features
a large mural in tiles by Michael Craig Martin.
See also: List of public art in
Greenwich § Woolwich
Woolwich Arsenal railway station
Woolwich Arsenal DLR station
The nearest stations are
Woolwich Arsenal and
Woolwich Dockyard for
Southeastern services towards Barnehurst, Dartford, Gravesend, London
Cannon Street and
London Charing Cross.
Docklands Light Railway
The nearest station is
Woolwich Arsenal for Docklands Light Railway
London City Airport, Bank and Stratford
Crossrail Station is scheduled to open in December
Elizabeth line services towards Abbey Wood, Canary Wharf,
London and Heathrow Airport. This will provide the area with
faster, more frequent and more direct rail services.
Woolwich is served by many bus services all provided by Transport for
London. These connect
Woolwich with areas including Bexleyheath,
Bluewater, Catford, Central London, Chislehurst, Crystal Palace,
Dartford, Elephant & Castle, Eltham, Erith, Greenwich, Lewisham,
North Greenwich, Orpington, Peckham, Sidcup,
Thamesmead and Welling.
Woolwich Ferry service operates across the River
North Woolwich in the
London Borough of Newham carrying trucks, cars,
cyclists and pedestrians during the day until 20:00 on Weekdays. A two
boat service runs on Mondays to Fridays with weekends being served by
a one boat service.
Woolwich foot tunnel
Woolwich foot tunnel is also available for use by
pedestrians (and cyclists pushing their cycles) at any time. It is
served by lifts during traditional shopping hours.
London River Services
London River Services, operated by
Thames Clipper, provide a peak
hour, seven days a week service to central
London (Savoy Pier) from
Woolwich Arsenal Pier
Woolwich Arsenal Pier (adjacent to the
Royal Arsenal residential
Thames flood barrier is located 1 mile (1.6 km)
upstream from the tunnel and ferry.
Garry Bushell (born 1955), journalist and political activist, born in
Tom Cribb, 19th century bare-knuckle boxer, born in Bristol but
resided and died aged 66 in
Woolwich in 1848, he was buried in St.
Mary's cemetery. A road in
Woolwich is named after him.
Charles George Gordon
Charles George Gordon (1833–1885), general, born in Woolwich.
Joseph Grimaldi (1778–1837), pantomime clown, lived in Woolwich
during the early 1830s before moving to Islington.
Charles Hutton (1737–1823), mathematician, lived and died in
George Thomas Landmann (1779–1854), military and civil engineer,
born and raised in Woolwich.
Richard Lovelace (1618-1657), poet, born in Woolwich.
Jonathan Guy Lewis (born 1963), actor, born in Woolwich.
William Livingstone Robe (1791–1815), army officer, born in
Forbes Macbean FRS (1725-1800), army officer, lived and died in
Scott Maslen (born 1971), actor and model, born in Woolwich.
Keith Milow (born in 1945), painter and sculptor, lives in Woolwich.
Noizy (born 1986), Albanian musician and actor, lived in Woolwich.
William Ranwell (1797-1861), artist, lived and died in Woolwich.
Ray Richardson (born 1964), painter, born and lives in Woolwich.
Frederick Robe (1801–1871), Governor of South Australia, born in
William Robe (1765–1820), army officer and architect, born and died
John Tapner (c. 1823 – 10 February 1854), last person executed in
the island of Guernsey, came from Woolwich.
Glenn Tilbrook (born 1957), guitarist, born in Woolwich.
Lesley Vickerage (born 1961), actress, born in Woolwich.
George Whale (1849–1925), solicitor and bibliophile, Mayor of
Woolwich, founded the
Samuel Pepys Club In 1903.
Ian Wright (born 1963), former professional footballer, born in
List of people from Greenwich
List of schools in Greenwich
Royal Ordnance Factory
Princess Alice – a passenger steamer sunk off
North Woolwich pier on
3 September 1878 (a memorial to those lost can be found in Woolwich
Old Cemetery, Kings Highway, Plumstead)
^ "When metropolitan bounderies were defined in 1888 they were
contorted to embrace an unmistakably urban Woolwich". Saint, A.,
Guillery, P. (ed.),
Woolwich - Survey of London, Volume 48, p. 1. Yale
Books, London, 2012. ISBN 978-0-300-18722-9.
^ Mayor of
London (March 2015). "
London Plan (Consolidated with
Alterations since 2011), page 374" (PDF). Greater London
Town Centre Masterplan SPD (April 2012), pp. 12-14, 60-61.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 1-2.
Woolwich is made up of the Glyndon, Plumstead, Common and Riverside
^  Archived 28 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), p. 2.
^ M. Little: '76 skeletons have been discovered from Saxon Woolwich',
originally published by southlondonpress.co.uk, 16 October 2015.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 2-3.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 2-5.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 2, 5.
^ John Cotter, "Medieval London-type Ware Kilns Discovered at
Woolwich". In: Medieval Pottery Research Group, newsletter 6, 1 August
2008, pp. 3-5 (PDF).
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), p. 129.
^ a b Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 9-17.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 15, 41.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 49, 226-227.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 197-200.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 18-22.
^ BBC on this day: 6 July accessed 23 April 2007
Woolwich Polytechnic Day Schools". AIM25. Retrieved 24 April
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 269-275
^ Brehony, Kevin J., (2000) "The kindergarten in
In: Wollons, Roberta (2000). Kindergartens and cultures: the global
diffusion of an idea. New Haven. Yale University Press. p. 72
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 15, 80, 228, 275-276.
^ In 1991 27% of the population of St Mary's Ward (the area south of
the Dockyard) was unemployed; 84% lived in council housing. Saint
& Guillery (2012), p. 17.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), pp. 17-18.
^ Neate, Rupert (18 November 2014). "UK fast-food workers get US
lesson in protesting against poverty wages". The Guardian. Retrieved
11 May 2015.
^ Interview with McDonalds UK CEO Evening Standard 16 December 1991
accessed 23 April 2007
^ "Pictures of the destruction on
Woolwich streets following a night
of violence and looting". Newsshopper.co.uk. 2011-08-09. Retrieved
^ "Man dead in suspected
Woolwich terror attack". English Heritage
list. BBC News Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
^ Ministry of Defense (Nov–Dec 2016). "A better defense estate"
(PDF). The Crown.
^ "New creative district for
London in the heart of Woolwich".
Royalgreenwich.gov.uk. 2017-03-29. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
^ Hill, Liz (2017-03-30). "Go-ahead for
Woolwich creative district".
Artsprofessional.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
^ DLR service change from 10 January 2009, accessed 13 January 2009
^ Gilligan, Andrew (2008-08-28). "Olympics minister orders rethink
over 2012 plans for
Greenwich park - Olympics - Evening Standard".
Thisislondon.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
^ Fancyapint Ltd (2010-04-06). "Director General public house".
Fancyapint.com. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
^ "Coop site redevelopment". Icsouthlondon.icnetwork.co.uk. Retrieved
Town Centre Masterplan SPD (April 2012), pp. 24-49.
^ Saint & Guillery (2012), p. 26.
^ History of the Tramshed,
Lewisham Young People's
^ Spray Street Masterplan,
Greenwich Council, January 2015.
^ Second cinema coming to
Woolwich as part of new 310-home scheme on
fromthemurkydepths.wordpress.com, October 8, 2016
^ Website Second Floor Studios
Daniel Lysons (1792), "Woolwich", Environs of London, 4: Counties of
Herts, Essex & Kent, London: T. Cadell
W.E. Trotter (1849), "Woolwich", Select Illustrated Topography of
Thirty Miles Around London, London, OCLC 681272905
James Thorne (1876), "Woolwich", Handbook to the Environs of London,
London: John Murray
Edward Walford (1883), "Woolwich", Greater London, London: Cassell
& Co., OCLC 3009761
"Woolwich". Chambers's Encyclopaedia. London. 1901.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Woolwich.
Wikisource has the text of The New Student's Reference Work article
Royal Borough of Greenwich
Royal Borough of Greenwich website
London page about Woolwich
Woolwich Ideal Homes: a history of South-East London
S.E.18: Impressions of a
London Suburb - 1964 film about Woolwich
History of the
Royal Artillery Theatre, Woolwich
We Love Woolwich
Digital Public Library of America. Works related to Woolwich, various
Royal Borough of Greenwich
Greenwich Peninsula/North Greenwich
The Bob Hope Theatre
Emirates cable car
Greenwich Heritage Centre
National Maritime Museum
The O2 arena (formerly the Millennium Dome)
Old Royal Naval College
Royal Artillery Barracks
St Alfege Church
The Valley (Charlton Athletic Football Club)
Parks and open spaces
Avery Hill Park
Bostall Heath and Woods
Maryon Wilson Park
Erith and Thamesmead
Greenwich and Woolwich
Bridges and tunnels
Greenwich foot tunnel
Woolwich foot tunnel
Elverson Road (in LB of Lewisham)
Coat of arms
Grade I and II* listed buildings
Areas of London
Central activities zone
Holloway Nags Head
Kensington High Street
King's Road East
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Lists of areas
Barking and Dagenham
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Kingston upon Thames
Richmond upon Thames
Canley (borough) (The Bill: TV soap)
Charnham (suburb) (Family Affairs: TV soap)
Gasforth (town) (The Thin Blue Line: TV series)
London Below (magical realm) (Neverwhere: TV series, novel)
Walford (borough) (EastEnders: TV soap)
London Plan 2011, Annex Two: London's
Town Centre Network –
Greater London Authority
Capital Ring Walking Route
Beckton District Park