This former garrison town is packed with attractive historic buildings and has been transformed in recent years into a vibrant residential area with its own Crossrail station.
A short history
Henry VIII founded a dockyard here in 1513, launching a shipbuilding industry which was later joined by an explosives arm following the establishment of the Royal Laboratory in 1695. The Royal Military Academy was founded in 1741 and, at the height of Britain’s empire building, much of the British Army used to camp on Woolwich common.
Woolwich went through a period of growth in the 19th century when the modern docks were built and when stations at Woolwich Arsenal and Dockyard opened in 1849, it grew still further. Woolwich ferry linking north and south of the river started in 1889.
By the early 20th century, the Royal Arsenal covered 1,285 acres and at the outbreak of the First World War, it employed over 70,000 workers. Then things began to change when the Royal Military Academy closed in 1939 and was moved to Berkshire. In the 1990s, the Royal Arsenal was decommissioned. Since then, the buildings have been redeveloped into a series of apartments with leisure amenities.
Green spaces and going out
Woolwich Common covers 150 acres some of which is still partly used by the military (it’s owned by the MOD), but the remainder is now a public park which is enjoyed by dog walkers and runners.
There is a bi-monthly farmer’s market held in Artillery Square on the second and last Saturday of every month. A new cultural hub Woolwich Works is opening in the Royal Arsenal including a large-scale concert venue, studio spaces and rehearsal rooms.
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Did you know?
The first McDonald’s in the UK opened in Woolwich in 1975.