It has been part of the London metropolitan area since the 19th century. The population of Woolwich including its localities Plumstead and Shooter's Hill was 84, in the census. The town is a river crossing point, with the Woolwich Ferry and the Woolwich foot tunnel crossing to North Woolwich in the London Docklands. Throughout the 17th, 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century, 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 decades.
When a new garrison church was built in the s, the chapel within the barracks became redundant, so it was converted to become a theatre for the Royal Artillery Dramatic Society. The barracks were for the most part completed by ; by then they already housed 3, officers and men, and 1, horses. Numbers fluctuated somewhat in the first half of the century: the size of the garrison was reduced during the years of relative peace after Waterloo until in the barracks contained just 1, men and horses ; but it then began growing again.
In the census ofa total of 2, people were recorded as living in the barracks, of whom were women or children there being no officially-provided housing for married soldiers at that time.
In the wake of the Crimean Warwith the army largely garrisoned at home, the barracks became notoriously overcrowded. In work began to a design by T. Wyatt on a new building for the Royal Artillery Institution; it was opened three years later, standing immediately to the north of the easternmost block of the south range of the barracks. An 'Advanced Course for Artillery Officers' was set up within the Institution in a two-year examined course of higher scientific study.
From the Department of Artillery Studies made use of the Institution's facilities to provide instruction for all newly-commissioned Artillery officers with accommodation being provided in the adjacent south-east block of the barracks. The Horse Artillery continued to occupy the two quadrangles. One of the northernmost blocks now housed a cavalry regiment.
The theatre the former chapel burned down in and was rebuilt to a design by W. Sprague ;  and in a new Regimental Institute was built to replace the canteen it provided among other facilities a restaurant, a ballroom a library and a billiards room.
Otherwise there were relatively few structural changes during the first half of the century. In the early s, the barracks still housed some 3, soldiers, 1, horses and between 80 and officers; with mechanisationthe stables were converted into more rooms for soldiers. In troops were moved out of the barracks, which along with other facilities in the Woolwich area was vulnerable to air attack; but the following year it was filled again with evacuees from Dunkirk.
Parts of the barracks were damaged during the blitzthe easternmost block of the south front being destroyed along with the Royal Artillery Institution which had been inserted behind it in After the war, the future of the barracks was kept under discussion.
Finally, inthe decision was taken that the Royal Artillery would retain it as their depotbut with everything behind the south front demolished and rebuilt with the exception of Wyatt's officers' mess, which would remain in situ.
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Over the next ten years twelve new three-storey barrack blocks were erected on the site. Initially, the north, west and east triumphal arches which were all listed buildings were retained; those to the east and west were demolished into make way for a gym and a computer centre, and three years later the north arch was lost to road widening a plan that it would be dismantled and re-erected coming to nothing.
The retained south range blocks were reconfigured internally, and a replica of the destroyed easternmost block was built. Since the nineteenth century, the appropriateness of Woolwich as a base for the Artillery had been questioned. Suggestions of a move came to nothing until a Defence Estates Review in proposed a move to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain where the Royal School of Artillery has been based since After very nearly years in Woolwich, the last Artillery regiment the 16th left the barracks in July The place of the Artillery was taken by the public duties line infantry battalion and incremental companies of the Foot Guards who moved in from Chelsea Barracks and Cavalry Barracks.
Inan artillery link was regained when the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery moved from the St John's Wood Barracks to a new headquarters on the Woolwich site, bringing with them a complement of or thereabouts horses, historic gun carriages and artillery pieces used in their displays. In May drummer Lee Rigby was murdered by extremists just outside the Barracks in a terrorist attack.
In November the Ministry of Defence announced that the site would close inwith all army units currently stationed in Woolwich scheduled to be relocated. Inthe land in front of the south range of the barracks was levelled and laid with gravel to form a parade ground.
In a war memorial was 'erected by their comrades to the memory of the Officers, Non Commissioned Officers and Men of the Royal Regiment of Artillery who fell during the War with Russia in the years, '.
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Designed by John Bellthe memorial is topped by a large bronze figure of Liberty distributing wreaths from a basket. For many years the Infor the benefit of the public duties units moving to the barracks, the central part of the parade ground was extended so as to assume the same dimensions as Horse Guards Parade.
Barrack Field, to the south of the Parade Ground, originally formed part of the Bowater Estate along with the plot on which the Barracks themselves were erected. Having acquired the land, the Board of Ordnance built a ha-ha in along its southern boundary, to prevent livestock from straying on to it from the Common.
By the Board had acquired ownership of the common, and the line of the ha-ha was shifted further south as a way of straightening the boundary. Since then, the Barrack Field together with the Common has been used for various military purposes, including artillery exercises, physical training and large-scale military parades. The Royal Artillery Cricket Club played on a cricket ground here dating from the 18th century ; and to the east there were tennis courts and football pitches at various times.
During the Second World War part of it was turned into allotments. In the Board of Ordnance built a mortar battery for artillery training, immediately to the west of the parade ground. The battery was orientated to fire in a south-southeast direction, the target being a flagstaff positioned three-quarters of a mile away at the southern end of the common.
As described inlive-fire mortar and howitzer practice took place at the battery 'every Monday, Wednesday and Friday [from] as early as half past nine in the morning';  live-fire gun practice, on the other hand, continued to take place in the Royal Arsenal on a firing range near the proof butts. Immediately north of the mortar battery the Gun Park was laid out later known as the Upper Gun Park : it was a drill ground for field-battery exercises, around which gun-carriage sheds were built to the north and west.
Firing positions for six guns were also provided, immediately to the south of the mortar battery. These were used as a saluting battery; guns were fired from here daily at 1 p. Woolwich had extensive links with the military and with the manufacture of heavy weaponry.
Key to its character was the Board of Ordnancewhich acquired land here in the 17th century known as the Warren, which evolved into the Royal Arsenal among other things the British Government's principal armaments manufacturing facility for over years. The Board was a military as well as a civil office of state: the Royal Regiment of Artillery was first raised by them in the Warren in the early 18th century, and several other units were established or based there; but when the Royal Artillery left the Warren for the Common, the military centre of gravity shifted with it: soon a variety of military quarters, institutions and amenities sprang up the surrounding area, and a new garrison town began to emerge.
Over time Woolwich Garrison has been composed of some or all of the following elements, in addition to the RA Barracks:. Use of Woolwich Common by the military predated the opening of the barracks: guns had been tested there since the s, and in an artillery range was set up for target practice.
In four Acts of Parliament transferred leasehold ownership of the common which until then had also been used as public grazing land to the Board of Ordnance; the 'Gatehouse' on Repository Road which originally housed soldiers guarding the garrison dates from around this time.
The common, like the Barrack Field, has long been used for sport: on the west side of the common a stadium was built by the Army in ; it was used for football, rugby, show jumping, athletics, and also military tattoos.
The common was regularly used for the training and exercise of horses activities which have resumed since the return to Woolwich of the King's Troop RHA. Inat the far south-western corner of the common, a Veterinary Establishment was built by the Ordnance Veterinary Service. Adjoining it was a Remount Establishment, to procure and train new horses for the Artillery and Royal Engineerswhich was later expanded to form the main English depot of the Army Remount Service.
Alongside the Royal Horse Infirmary, a hutted camp was built at the time of the Crimean War to serve as a cavalry barracks; the 'Hut Barracks' later housed Artillery units.
In Shrapnel Barracks opened on the site, to provide accommodation for the men and horses of a field brigade of Artillery. The Royal Military Academy, which trained officer cadets of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers from towas initially founded in the Warren before moving into new premises built at the southern end of Woolwich Common in Expanded at various points, the institution remained here until being amalgamated into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in In the aftermath of the Crimean WarWoolwich gained a new military hospital named the Herbert Hospital.
Opened init was like the nearby Royal Marine Infirmarybut on a larger scale a ' pavilion plan' hospital: built in accordance with the latest design principles for disease prevention, as advocated by Florence NightingaleJohn Roberton and Douglas Galton who was the hospital's architect. In the s, Captain later Sir William Congreve created a 'Repository of Military Machines' in the Warren: a collection of guns, mortars, models and other items used to teach gunners and engineers the history and practice of their craft.
At the same time, he devised a set of practical training exercises, which were carried out under his supervision on open ground nearby; known as 'Repository Exercises', these involved manhandling heavy guns and equipment over 'Ditches, Ravines, Inclosures or Lines' designed to simulate challenges likely to be encountered in the field. In the Royal Military Repository was given formal recognition, and Repository Exercises became compulsory. In the building in the Warren burned down; but shortly afterwards Congreve re-established the Repository on recently-acquired land just to the west of the Barrack Field.
Soldiers were generally held in contempt, earning about a quarter of dockyard labourers' wages. At the height of the Napoleonic Warsthere were more soldiers 3, than dockyard and ropeyard workers 2,while the arsenal employed as many as 5, After the end of the wars, thousands were discharged, causing great distress.
In the s, a steam factory gave a new lease of life to the dockyard and the s saw a huge expansion of the arsenal during and after the Crimean War. 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 and survived until Throughout the 17th century two glass factories were active near Glass Yard, owned by Sir Robert Mansell from Greenwichwho 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.
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Near Plumstead and Charlton were sandpits ; the sand was shipped from a wharf near Tower Place. Woolwich market received its charter in but is certainly older.
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The market, which had long been established in the High Street in Old Woolwich at a location called Market Hillhad gradually drifted towards the Royal Arsenal's main gatehousemore 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 This proved to be a failure and is remembered only in the name of Market Street. Untilthe market at Beresford Square remained illegal and was regularly cleared by the police.
After it was legalized, it had room for stalls. Italo Svevo described it as "very lively" in Ina 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. A number of Victorian shop facades, many designed by local architect Henry Hudson Church, have survived. In 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.
Aroun at the beginning of the military and naval expansion, Woolwich had only a few hundred inhabitants. Inwhen Samuel Pepys stayed here to escape the Great Plaguethe population was estimated at 1, or more, of which about worked in the dockyard. Aroun the town's population had risen to 6, reaching almost 10, in During the booming wartime decade that followed, population reached a peak of 17, After a period of stagnation, building activity picked up in the s.
History. In two permanent field companies of Artillery (each of a hundred men) were formed by royal Warrant and placed under the command of the Master-General of the mcauctionservicellc.com were initially quartered in the the Warren, about half a mile from the current barracks mcauctionservicellc.com the Royal Regiment of Artillery numbered over 2, over a third of whom were usually quartered in Woolwich. Spiritual Dating in Woolwich, ME. You have found the best place to search for online singles in the Pine Tree State of Maine. Whether you're looking for Christian singles, Black singles, Asian singles, Jewish singles or local singles, go to the dating site that is responsible for hundreds of . SinglesAroundMe is the #1 mobile dating app in Woolwich township for local Woolwich township singles to meet real people that are nearby. Meet someone special byChance as you happen to cross paths. Download the app today and start experiencing the fun! News. May Apps are down.
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,; in this had risen to 41, At this point there were 4, houses in the parish, with little space left for building; further development took place in Plumstea Charlton and North Woolwichlater also in Eltham.
After a dip in the late 19th century, in the population of the parish of Woolwich stood at the same level as 40 years earlier: 41, 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 connecting Woolwich to London. In the Woolwich Steam Packet Company greatly improved river traffic and in the Woolwich Free 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 station building was rebuilt in and again in - 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. Woolwich was home to the experimental Auto Stacker car park.
It never actually worked and was demolished in A multi-storey car park was built along Monk Street in Woolwich Polytechnic was founded in 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 it merged with other local colleges and became Thames Polytechnic. In it was granted university status and a year later was renamed the University of Greenwich.
Inthe university relocated to the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwichleaving only a small administrative presence in Woolwich.
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Woolwich was the location of the first free kindergarten in the UK. Walter Wragge. Cricket and other sports were mainly played by military officers and students at the Royal Military Academy. Arsenal F. Initially known as Dial Squarethen Royal Arsenal and then Woolwich Arsenalthey soon drew large crowds to their ground in Plumstead.
Royal Ordnance Factories F. Woolwich had several theatres and cinemas.
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Dating from the s, it was enlarged in the s and 90s, seating about 2, It both served as a variety theater and cinema, ending up as a strip-joint. It was demolished in Shortly afterthree new theaters opened with a combined capacity of 4, It was built in with seats, closed in and demolished for redevelopment in the late s.
The Grand Theatre in Wellington Street opened in as a variety theatre with a capacity of 1, It became the Woolwich Hippodrome in and a full-time cinema in Rebuilt in as the Regal Cinema, it closed inwas then used as a nightclub and demolished in The Granada cinema and the Odeon, later Coronetboth seating around 2, are imposing buildings from the s that have both been converted into Pentecostal churches. The civil parish of Woolwich, roughly the area of the present-day wards Woolwich Riverside and Woolwich Common, was formerly known as Woolwich Saint Mary.
Woolwich became part of the London metropolitan area in the midth century, although was officially still in Kent at the time. In the new Woolwich Town Hall was inaugurated. 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 and the Siemens factory in and continuing as the Royal Arsenal scaled back operations and finally closed in 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. Despite immigration, the population of the parish reached a low of 17, in In general, Woolwich had lost its previous vigour. In the town's shopping district, department stores and chain stores closed. By the early s, 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.
During the England riotsWoolwich was one of the areas affected. Several buildings were attacked, with a few being destroyed. The Great Harry Wetherspoons' Pub was set on fire,  though it was subsequently remodeled and reopened. On 22 May the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich caused upheaval. Drummer Lee Rigby, a British soldier based at the Royal Artillery Barracks, was murdered close to the barracks by two Islamic extremists.
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. It will feature a seat auditorium for concerts and events, a performance courtyard that seats up toa seat black box theatre and a riverside restaurant.
The Greenwich Heritage Centre will move to new premises. The ground floor of this was built in yellow brick in and named after William Beresford, then Master-General of the Ordnance and governor of the Royal Military Academy.
The red brick upper storey was added in At its peak during World War I, the site covered ha and employed 80, people. Military activities declined in stages from the later part of the 20 th century, with dire consequences for local employment.
The Royal Ordnance Factory closed in and the eastern section of the site, including much open land used for testing, was sold off to the Greater London Council to build the new town of Thamesmead. Inthe land closest to Beresford Square was used for road widening - thus the current marooned location of the gatehouse, which was, amazingly, at first threatened with demolition under the same scheme.
The rest of the site remained in Ministry of Defence use until It has subsequently been redeveloped, though with many of the historic buildings conserved, with the former blank space finally opened to public access in Building is still ongoing and eventually there will be 5, new homes here. Woolwich is certainly no stranger to redevelopment: nearly all the old town centre between Beresford Street and the river has long since vanished under successive attempts to sweep away what was once regarded as one of the worst slums in London.
Beresford Square itself was not a planned space, owing its current shape to s slum clearance. The A road built in roughly follows the line of the old High Street from the west and then turns south to trace the line of long sheds where rope was once made, disrupting the former street pattern as well as cutting off the gatehouse from the Arsenal. The quickest way to the riverfront is along the busy and part-pedestrianised shopping streets north of Beresford Square, which began to develop in the late 18 th century when Woolwich New Road was built to link the Arsenal and the military establishments on the common, but now have a decidedly 20 th century appearance.
The parish church, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, is over to the left, on the other side of the busy roundabout where the A crosses the South Circular Road and the ferry approach. Its history dates back at least to Saxon times, although the current building dates from and is located a little to the south of the original site. The s Waterfront Leisure Centre in front of you as you cross the road covers a site that was once dense with narrow streets lined with poor housing, the so-called Dust Hole where in the mid th century up to five families lived in a single room.
Between the centre and the adjoining slipway, you follow an alley to the riverside which preserves its old name, Bell Water Gate. The same site housed the gun wharf where the Arsenal began, then from a power station which was demolished in To the south of this, on the corner of the alley and the High Street, was Market Hill, the official market site from and once home to the parish cage and stocks.
On the other side of the car park, downstream towards the Arsenal site, is the location of the Celtic settlement, now a public park, Maribor Park. The leisure centre itself is due for demolition to make way for another new residential quarter with five towers, replaced by a facility in the town centre where swimmers will no longer enjoy a view of the Thames.
Reaching the riverside, you turn upstream along the official Capital Ring link. This is also the Thames Path, or rather the Thames Path Extension, not officially designated as a National Trail but a continuation of the riverside walkway created by Greenwich and Bexley councils as part of National Cycle Network Route 1. It will eventually also form part of the English Coast Path as far as the southern portal of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, which you soon encounter tucked away in a yard behind the leisure centre.
Back then, the area around the tunnel portal on the opposite side, North Woolwich, was also officially within Woolwich: incorporated into the mediaeval manor, it was for centuries the only part of Kent on the north bank of the Thames, an anomaly only resolved in The alley leading from the tunnel to the ferry approach preserves another name from the old days, Glass Yard, running past the control building for the Woolwich Free Ferry.
The link gained in importance with the growing naval and military presence in Woolwich and in the Army established its own ferry.
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A commercial service provided by the Eastern Counties and Thames Junction Railway from soon proved inadequate, and in the London County Council launched a free steamer link, commissioned by its predecessor the Metropolitan Board of Works. The ferry incidentally helped level some of the slums of Old Woolwich, demolished to make way for a new ferry approach and pier. In the s the Woolwich Free Ferry became part of an orbital road route around London, linking the ends of the North Circular and South Circular roads in the east.
But by the end of that decade it was already struggling to cope, and conversion to the current RORO Roll On Roll Off system in only temporarily eased the burden. Now operated by Briggs Marine for Transport for Londonthe ferry remains a bottleneck for road traffic, particularly when the one-boat service is in operation weekends and evenings and the vehicle queues back up along the South Circular.
But it's a delight for walkers and cyclists, providing a free ride and wide views along this straight stretch of the Thames. In the 17 th century it had become a relatively minor installation in comparison to Deptford and newer naval dockyards at Plymouth and Chatham, but its fortunes improved in the 18 th century when for a time it was the most productive shipyard in England, expanding further upriver in the s to double in size, most of it constructed by convict labour.
It was particularly busy during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19 th century, but soon afterwards output began to decline in the face of two challenges: river silting reducing depth, and the restricted space of the site as ships continued to increase in size. The development of new technology brought new life to the dockyard.
From it acquired a specialist role as the main naval steam factory, both manufacturing and repairing steam engines. Once again, though, it was eventually outgrown by yards elsewhere, at Portsmouth and Devonport. The last wooden battleship built for the Royal Navy, HMS Repulse, emerged from the yard in and it finally closed the following year.
But as naval activities declined in the town, ordnance activities increased, and the site was converted into additional storage for the Arsenal, complete with a private railway: the tunnel under the main road which connected this to the SER is now a pedestrian subway, though a little off our route. In the early 20 th century part of the site was used by the Army for administrative purposes: during World War I it housed the largest army pay office.
Inthe newer western section was sold off to the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society. The eastern part remained in Ministry of Defence hands for a few more decades as an adjunct to the Arsenal, but was finally demilitarised infollowing the closure of the Royal Ordnance Factory.
In the early s much of it was redeveloped into a social housing estate by Greenwich council, preserving some of the late 18 th century buildings.
The larger one was once a dry dock used for repairs. You could easily miss these thanks to the distraction of the view, upriver through the cowls of the Thames Flood Barrier to the O2 formerly the Millennium Domethe towers of Canary Wharf and peeking above all these the Shard at London Bridge.
This view has changed beyond recognition since I first walked this way in the mids. It confirms not only how determinedly London has finally caught up with the skyscraper age but how its centre of gravity has slowly migrated downriver, occupying the vacuum left by declining maritime industries, the reason for its trading pre-eminence in the first place.
Further on, you reach the s housing estate and some more substantial reminders of the past: two docks behind railings on the left. Although the docks themselves are reduced in size, their footprint gives an idea of quite how limited the facilities here became as ships grew, even after the western dock the second you pass was enlarged in the early 17 th century to accommodate two vessels end-to-end. Between the docks is a rather neglected pavement mosaic depicting zodiac signs which has nothing to do with the surrounding heritage but commemorates Elfrida Rathbonea pioneer of education for children with learning difficulties.
Her special school in Kings Cross led to the formation of two charities, one of which, Rathbone, which provides work-based training for young people and adults with special needs, installed the mosaic in Further on is Gun Drill Battery, once the main landing place for the dockyard.
In a battery was built here as an exercise facility for the Royal Marines stationed on the site.
Under \u0026 Over the Thames Pt.1 - Woolwich
It takes you past some of the surviving historic buildings, including the Clock House, completed in and now a community centre, and the preserved main gates.
On the other side of the wall is the western part of the dockyard, sold to the Royal Arsenal Coop in the s. The cowls conceal the lifting machinery for ten gates that normally rest on the river bed, but can be rotated to close off the river completely against tidal surges. The steam factory mentioned above was located in this section of the dockyard, and some of its buildings remain, most obviously the 55 m octagonal brick chimney built in the late s, which looms ahead on the corner of Ruston Road.
The boiler shop to which it was once attached has been demolished. The national Cooperative Wholesale Society, which eventually took over the Royal Arsenal Coop, still operates businesses in some of the buildings further away from the river. The next site upriver was once home to another major industrial undertaking, though of a commercial nature. Inthe Berlin-based telegraphy company Siemens built a cable factory here, which became one of several competing cable-making sites along the stretch of the river from Greenwich to Woolwich.
The factory subsequently expanded into making telephone, signalling, wireless, measurement and lighting equipment, and at its peak in the s employed 9, staff.
During both world wars, the plant was seized by the government as enemy property. After various mergers and takeovers in the s it finally closed ina major upheaval to the local economy. Much of the site was then split into smaller units as the Warpsite Road industrial estate: this is also now due for redevelopment which, when complete, will provide an uninterrupted riverside walkway to the Barrier and beyond.
But admissions were much lower than expected, and in it was converted to a conventional secondary school. At the Warpsite Road roundabout, the trail crossed a former parish boundary into Charlton, which until was also the division between Woolwich and Greenwich boroughs. Just past the schools, a strip of parkland, Thames Barrier Gardens, leads down to the barrier itself, through more land once occupied by Siemens.
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There are numerous other Charltons, and this one has occasionally been distinguished under the name Charlton-next-Woolwich. After the Norman conquest it was briefly one of the many manors assigned to Archbishop Odo of Bayeux see my commentary on Crofton on London Loop 3and was given in to Bermondsey Abbey, which held it until the Dissolution.
There were numerous lords of the manor after this, but perhaps the most significant is Adam Newton, who rebuilt the manor house in grand style as Charlton House, of which much more later, and began to landscape the surrounding estate.
Between the Woolwich Road and the immediate surrounds of the house was a thick woodland known as Hanging Wood, a reference to the steepness of the Thames terraces here as they ascended from the river to the plateau occupied by Charlton village, as the trees seemed to hang on the slopes.
The official Ring route is through Maryon Park proper, crossing the North Kent Line in its deep cutting and emerging into a formal urban park with grassy lawns, tennis courts and surrounding shrubbery. It was doubtless this which prompted innovative and influential Italian arthouse film director Michelangelo Antonioni to choose it as one of the key locations for his first English language film Blowup The film stars David Hemmings as that stalwart Swinging 60s type, a successful but disconnected fashion photographer, who believes he may unwittingly have photographed a murder taking place just inside the woodland that fringes the park.
Vanessa Redgrave is a woman who tries to retrieve the incriminating film. The tennis courts feature prominently in the enigmatic closing scene where a group of mime artists use them to mime a tennis game. Despite a gap of over 50 years, those familiar with the film will instantly recognise the location, which has changed little, doubtless partly because of its links to a work that has become a cultural icon of its time. The strategic location of this high point overlooking the river is obvious, and the promontory was once a familiar navigation aid for Thames shipping.
The deer are descended from the stock donated in the s, and have since been joined by goats, pigs, ducks, geese and chickens. Instead the animal park was divested to an independent charity, but this turned out not to be viable, so in this modest but much-loved local attraction passed back into council hands.
Sinceincidentally, both parks and pit have comprised a designated Local Nature Reserve. Across another road is another park, Charlton Park. Today this is mainly a disappointingly featureless expanse of sports pitches, though with several attractive avenues of mature trees, some small but delightful garden areas and no less than three useful refreshment options.
The club was founded in and has been based here, with a few gaps, sincein another of the sand pits carved from Hanging Wood. The village stands at the crossroads of two old roads: Charlton Hill, which climbs from the Thames towards Watling Street, and Charlton Park Road, linking Blackheath and Plumstead over the high ground above the river: these briefly merge to pass the house.
Charlton retains a surprisingly village-like appearance so far within inner London, with pubs, shops, church, war memorial, red K2 phone box and manor house clustered round a small green at the road junction.
One of the pubs, the Bugle Horn, was knocked together from three late 17 th century cottages, while the White Swan dates from It combines the architecture of its day with traditional Gothic styling, and contains numerous features including its original font and pulpit and several monuments to occupants of the house. The aforementioned Adam Newton ? He later became Dean of Durham, and undertook various scholarly works and translations. The main entrance, framed by carved and moulded stone, is particularly impressive, and the interior includes a grand Jacobean staircase.
Used as a hospital in World War I, it was finally sold by the Maryon-Wilsons to Greenwich council inthough since has been managed by an arms-length charity, the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. But much of it remains closed to visitors, except by special arrangement.
On the village side of the house is a separate garden-house or orangery of the same period, which suffered the indignity of being converted into a public lavatory, now closed. Next to this is a venerable mulberry tree, planted in and perhaps the oldest of its species in the UK.
Unfortunately, he imported and planted the wrong kind of tree, Morus nigra or black mulberry from the Middle East, rather than the East Asian white mulberry M alba preferred by silkworms.
The prettiest gardens, including the remains of a walled garden, are to the south of the house. There are numerous strange stories connected with the building.
East India merchant William Langhorn died childless in and is said to haunt the place still. Spencer Perceval was so far the only British prime minister assassinated in office, shot in the House of Commons lobby, not by a revolutionary but an obsessive who believed the government had not done enough to help his wife when she was imprisoned in Russia.
Then, workers repairing World War II damage found the remains of a boy in a chimney breast, either a baby or an adolescent depending on which account you hear. The faces on the staircase get uglier as you climb.
Current manager Edward Schofield explains this by pointing out they were intended to deter rather than invoke evil spirits, who were thought to prefer the upper floors, which therefore required enhanced deterrence. An inspiration for the demonic faces might be found in the even more notorious Charlton Horn Fair. Annual fairs contributed to the business of agriculture and industry by providing networking and trading opportunities, but they also had a social and recreational function for a population which otherwise largely did manual work from dawn to dusk on every day except Sundays.
They became both carriers of folk traditions and an important pressure valve for people living hard and short lives. The Horn Fair evolved into one of the most popular of such events in the southeast, and by the mid th century was attracting more than 15, people, many of them arriving in flotillas along the river. Its name derives from the tradition of participants wearing horns on their heads, drinking from them and blowing them as instruments.
The horned ox is one of the traditional symbols of St Luke, but horns are also associated with the pagan tradition of Herne the Hunter and of course the Judaeo-Christian Devil. And they have a sexual connotation too: cuckolds, the husbands of adulterous wives, are traditionally said to wear horns.
While such events were an acceptable part of mediaeval life, as society became more complex and polarised, the ruling class looked on them with increasing concern. At best, they were unrespectable, an excuse for immoral and sinful behaviour.
At worst, they were enablers of sedition and rebellion. Charlton, sniffed novelist Daniel Defoewas:. Objectors were particularly concerned that such behaviour took place right next door to a church, and in the event was moved to an area known as Fairfields on the other side of the village.
It was finally suppressed by Parliament in The next park along the Ring, reached by following the slightly inaptly-named Inigo Jones Road and crossing Prince Henry Road, is known as Hornfair Park, but only in commemoration of the event, not, as is sometimes assumed, because it ever took place here.
Opened inthe park was another part of the estate bought by the council, conserved as an open space when the surrounding streets were built up. The Ring emerges beside the evocatively-named council tower blocks of Greenwich Heights and crosses back into Woolwich by entering Woolwich Common. This is the first of several examples on the trail of a preserved London common - originally an area of rough ground thought unsuitable for crops, nominally belonging to the lord of the manor, but which local people - the commoners - had a right to use for specific purposes.
The fragments that survive in London are usually there because such attempts were resisted through popular protest and the courts, though the latter were often unsympathetic. Woolwich is something of a special case, as the threat came not from a greedy aristocrat but from the Army and the state.
In mediaeval times, a wide and desolate heath stretched across the high, sandy ground between Woolwich and Watling Street, very much like Blackheath further west.