Streets, Buildings, Places: 20 More Facts About Woolwich
Note: My sources for this list are the Survey of London’s Vol. 48 tome on Woolwich by P. Guillery, and Woolwich Reviewed, by J. Watson
1. Before 1765, Woolwich New Road was known as Cholic Lane.
2. A.W.N. Pugin designed St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, on Woolwich New Road (built in 1842). This is a rare London work by the architect who helped pioneer the Gothic Revival movement and went on to design the interior of the Palace of Westminster.
3. The remnants of the New Cinema (1912) are in a motor garage on Woolwich New Road.
4. The Woolwich Foot Tunnel was built in 1912 as an alternative to the often fog-bound Woolwich Free Ferry (Survey of London). You can walk through the tunnel to get to North Woolwich.
5. Architect Robert Pearsall designed a fire station for Woolwich (1886-87). It’s a rare example of his work. You will find the building in Sunbury Street.
6. The Dusthole was the name of a notorious slum in 19th century Woolwich, and was located near the river, west of the Arsenal.
7. The stand-alone building you see on your right as you enter the Royal Woolwich Arsenal was built in 1772-3 for Dutch gunmakers Jan and Pieter Verbruggen, who worked in the Arsenal.
8. Equitable House on the edge of General Gordon Square was built in 1934-5, and features Art Deco flourishes. It was designed by Lionel Upperton Grace.
9. General Gordon Square in Woolwich was opened in 1928, replacing the “Smokehole”, a railway vent that had been required in the age of steam.
10. The Slazenger company made tennis balls in a factory in Woodrow (then called Lower Wood Street) in Woolwich from the 1890s to the 1940s.
11. Long-gone Woolwich pubs included the Steam Packet, the Fortune of War, the Crown and Anchor, the Jolly Shipwright’s and the Fort Tavern.
12. In the 1840s, Powis Street was home to shipwrights, ropemakers, a parasol maker, and other skilled labourers.
13. If you walk down to the end of Powis Street, just before you get to the Gala Bingo building you’ll see a stone plaque inscribed “Powis Street 1798, Rebuilt 1898” in the wall at no. 172.
14. Murray’s Yard runs off Powis Street and is named after John Murray, who ran livery stables there from 1884.
15. Up at the Royal Military Academy opposite Woolwich Common, a new cricket pitch is being laid by Blackheath Cricket Club. The first game ever played there was in 1848.
16. The houses at 18 and 19 Green’s End, Woolwich, are rare 1780s examples. You can see them peaking out from behind the Elephant and Castle, the early opener at the Beresford Square Market.
17. O’Connor’s pub, which fills up the corner of Beresford Square and Woolwich New Road, used to be called the Ordnance Arms. It moved to the current site in 1812, and was rebuilt in 1889-90.
18. Wellington Street, Woolwich, is 200 years old. Built 1811-12 to improve access to the Arsenal
19. The old Woolwich baths, on Bathway, opened in 1894, with 2 large pools and 52 private baths. The baths had 1st and 2nd class men’s entrances and another entrance for ladies. They closed in 1982 when the Waterfront Leisure Centre down by the river was built.
20. The town hall in Wellington Street is an essay in Edwardian Baroque. It was built in 1903-5 and the architect was Alfred Brumwell Thomas (who also designed Belfast City Hall). Thomas was knighted in 1906 when he was just 38.