A 3 mile circular walk around Woolwich town centre, riverside and Royal Arsenal site

Begin at Woolwich Arsenal Station (also served by DLR)
The railway came to Woolwich in 1849. This 1993 building replaces the 1905 station. A terracotta panel on the platform depicts arsenal workers.

Walk to the left along Woolwich New Road
Until 1926 when the line was electrified the central grassed area (now General Gordon Square) had an open cutting. Spanning the north side are the former Woolwich Equitable Building Society premises of 1935. On the left hand side is the Tramshed (generating station) of 1908 which became a theatre in the 1970s. Further along is St Peter's Church and Presbytery of the 1840s designed by A W N Pugin.

Cross and return towards the Square then go to the left along Thomas Street
The Victorian Post & Sorting Office has been replaced by a new development with Tesco store.

Go left at Wellington Street
The Woolwich Centre includes a new library. Opposite is the former Regal Cinema. It replaced The Grand Theatre and Opera House of 1900,
renamed the Woolwich Hippodrome in 1908. This was closed in 1939 and building work had commenced when war broke out and construction was halted. The Regal eventually opened in September 1955. The new Town Hall was designed by Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas in 1903-6 when Woolwich received Metropolitan Borough status and was opened by Will Crooks MP.

Go right along Market Street
On the right is the CIVIC AREA with the new Town Hall, former Baths (1894) & Magistrate's Court (1912). Some late 18th century cottages remain on the left along with The Woolwich Central Health Centre (1939) and the police station (1910).

Go left along Calderwood Street
On the right is a former Wesleyan Sunday School and soldiers' institute building (1889-90) and just beyond the Methodist Chapel of 1816. Both are now used by the Sikh community.

Return along Calderwood Street
Beyond Market Street on the right are the former Carnegie public library (1901) and old town hall building (1842). Beyond Polytechnic Street are premises of the Polytechnic founded in 1890 by Quintin Hogg. The main hall of 1935, the original red brick & terracotta range and the 1915 corner building by Figgis & Mumby.

Walk through to Powis Street and go left. Right along Macbean Street then left at Beresford Street. Left along Market Hill
To the left is Callis Yard built in the 1890s as stabling with a hay loft.

Continue along the High Street
The boxer Tom Cribb lived with his son at number 111 in the last years of his life and died there in 1848. This and the adjoining house were built around 1780.

Pass Ferry Place and go left along Hare Street.
Numbers 33-7 which was once The Scotch House feature thistles in the ironwork.

At the end go right at Powis Street
On the left the 1903 RACS building is partly occupied by a Travelodge. The statue of the Society's treasurer Alexander McLeod is by Alfred Drury. The Co-op store of 1938 in Art Deco style opposite is awaiting redevelopment. The County Court was built in 1935. At the end of the street are two former cinemas of 1937 now owned by churches. The Granada Cinema (later Gala Bingo) was built by G Masey & RH Uren with an interior designed by Theodore Komisarjevsky. Gateway House was originally an Odeon, later the Coronet designed by George Coles.

Cross and go into the park to the left of the 'Odeon' then walk through
On the right is the parish church of St Mary Magdalene. This was one of the churches funded under the 50 Churches Act of 1711 and built between 1727-39 by Deptford bricklayer Matthew Spray. It replaced a much older church a little to the north. A stained glass window commemorates the 590 people killed in the Princess Alice disaster. In the NE corner of the churchyard there is a memorial, featuring a lion, to the boxer Tom Cribb who died in Woolwich in 1848.

On exiting the park cross Greenlaw Street into Sunbury Street and walk round.
Woolwich Fire Station opened in 1887.

Return to the corner of Sunbury Street and take the footpath through to the main road (Woolwich Church Street). Go left along this road crossing just before the subway then continue to the gateway. Follow Capital Ring signs to Thames Path.
The building just inside the gate was built as quarters for dockyard officers, later the police in 1778-84. The Woolwich Dockyard operated 1512-1869. It was founded by Henry VIII to build the flagship 'Henry Grace a Dieu'. The Co-op later purchased the western section and housing has been built on the remainder.

Go ahead to the Clockhouse Community Centre
This was built in 1778-84 as the Admiral Superintendent's house & office

Continue to the river
The Gun Drill Battery was established in the 1840s for training purposes

Follow the riverside path to the right
This continues over former Graving Docks (infilled for fishing), a dock and slipway (tidal).

Follow Thames Path signs across the access road to the ferry
The Free Ferry was opened in 1889 and now uses 3 diesel vessels named after London political leaders. The adjacent Foot Tunnel was built 1909-12 and designed by Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice. It provided an alternative crossing when weather conditions halted the ferry.

Continue along the River Walk
Bell Water Gate is an old access point to the river. Prison hulks were moored in this section of the river until 1856. Further along a new riverside park has been laid out on the site of Woolwich Power Station (1923-1980s). The coaling jetty remains. The park has some granite sculptures of local interest.

Go into the Royal Arsenal site and walk along to the octagonal guard houses and pier
Standing between the Guard Houses, back to the river, the buildings to the left have been redeveloped for residential use and incorporate the Grand Stores. The building ahead was the Royal Laboratory Offices - now the library & archive of the Royal Artillery Museum. The buildings to the right form New Laboratory Square, housing part of the RA Museum and the Borough Heritage Centre.

Walk ahead along No 1 Street
On the left is the Royal Artillery Museum 'Firepower!' in what was the Paper Cartridge Factory. On the right, set back, is the Old Royal Military Academy. Further along on the right are the remnants of the Laboratory Pavilions. At the end of the avenue on the left is the Dial Arch Block (now a pub) and ahead is the Royal Brass Foundry which is used by the National Maritime Museum for some of its collections, especially ship's plans.

Take the path between these buildings
To the left is the Officers Quarters and Verbruggen's House. Behind the Brass Foundry is the Main Guard House

Exit through the gates and cross to the Beresford Gate.
This was built in 1829 as a single storey entrance to the Arsenal and heightened in 1891. It was separated from the main site by the construction of the Plumstead Road.

Go around the gate into Beresford Square
This is the site of the market with a charter dating back to 1619. The entrance to the DLR station features artwork by Michael Craig-Martin.

Detour into Powis Street to view the former Shakespeare pub with Baroque details.

Cross the square back to the station.


london-footprints.co.uk 2016

[introduction] [additional information] [walks list]