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Woolwich ( or ) is a suburb in south-east Londonmarker, Englandmarker in the London Borough of Greenwichmarker, on the south side of the River Thames, though the tiny exclave of North Woolwichmarker (which is now part of the London Borough of Newhammarker) is on the north side of the river. Woolwich formed part of Kentmarker until 1889 when the County of London was created. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London. It is notable as a river crossing point, having the Woolwich Ferrymarker (and the lesser-known Woolwich foot tunnelmarker) to North Woolwich, and as the one-time home of the Woolwich Building Society (now relocated in Bexleyheathmarker and owned by Barclays plc).

History

In 1796 Daniel Lysons wrote, "this place in old charters is called Hulviz, Wolwiche, Wollewic, &c. I can find nothing satisfactory relating to its etymology." But it is now generally believed that the name Woolwich derives from the Anglo-Saxon name, "trading place for wool". Woolwich has been inhabited since at least the Iron Age, and a Roman fort was found in the current Riverside park.

Woolwich remained a small Kentish village until it started to become a leading military and industrial town. It was home to the Woolwich Dockyardmarker (founded in 1512), the Royal Arsenalmarker (dating back to 1471), the Royal Military Academy (1741) and the Royal Horse Artillery (1793); the town still retains an army base at the Royal Artillery Barracksmarker (although it is no longer the Royal Artillery but infantry soldiers who are based in Woolwich), and the Royal Artillery Museum, Firepower. The nearby Greenwich Heritage Centre also houses exhibits relating to the Royal Arsenal.

Arsenal Football Club were founded in Woolwich in 1886 by workers at the Arsenal – the club were initially known as Dial Square, then Royal Arsenal and then became Woolwich Arsenal in 1891. They moved to Arsenal Stadiummarker, Highburymarker in north London in 1913, and dropped the Woolwich prefix the following year. This is a rare example of a British football team moving from its local area, albeit relocating within the same conurbation. Royal Ordnance Factories F.C. was founded in response to Woolwich Arsenal joining the League but only lasted several years.

In 1889, Woolwich became part of London, with the formation of London County Council. In 1900 Woolwich, Elthammarker and Plumsteadmarker became the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwichmarker until boundary changes in 1965 created the current London Borough of Greenwichmarker.



The original gatehouse to Woolwich Royal Arsenal.
(February 2007)


Woolwich Polytechnicmarker, founded in 1892, merged with other local colleges and became Thames Polytechnicmarker in 1970. In 1992 it was granted university status as the University of Greenwichmarker. In 2000, the University began a relocation to the Old Royal Naval College, several miles to the west in Greenwichmarker town centre, leaving only an administrative presence in Woolwich.

Woolwich was the start of the route of the last London tram, on 5 July 1952. A special tram was driven through enormous crowds to New Crossmarker, finally arriving at New Cross depot around 1am on the 6 July.

Woolwich was home to the experimental Auto Stackermarker car park. Built on the site of the Empire Theatre, it was officially opened in May 1961 by Princess Margaret. It was never actually used by the public and was demolished in 1962, after the council could not get it to work.

Woolwich is the location of the United Kingdommarker's first branch of McDonald's (the 3,000th in the world), which opened in 1974. Woolwich was chosen because it was considered to be a representative English town at the time.

Woolwich once had four cinemas. Today, one is a bingo hall, another a nightclub, and another (which once hosted Buddy Holly) is now a Pentecostal church.

Woolwich was used as a location for the 2006 film Children of Men.

Recent development

Woolwich declined as a town in the late 20th century, starting with the closure of the Siemens factory in 1968 and continuing as the Royal Arsenal scaled back operations and finally closed in 1994. Without major local employers, the local economy was affected and the demographics of Woolwich changed. In the town centre, department and chain stores closed and the sprawl of the town centre shrank. The focus of shopping activity was limited mostly to Powis Street and the area around the market. By the early 1990s, the town centre had the typical appearance of a town in decline—discount retailers and charity shops using the empty stores. The local Council used several properties as offices. The last cinema, the Coronet, closed and in general Woolwich seemed to have lost its previous vigour.

However, once redevelopment of the former Royal Arsenalmarker site began, Woolwich started to enjoy a small renaissance. Several High Street chains previously absent from Woolwich have opened branches, and longer-established shops have been refurbished. The new terminus of the Docklands Light Railway's London City Airport branch, Woolwich Arsenal stationmarker, opened on 10 January 2009.

In early 2007, large-scale redevelopment of the area around Love Lane, near the eastern end of Powis Street, was in the final stages of consultation. The project includes demolition of several buildings including the Post Office, Peggy Middleton House and Thomas Spencer Halls of Residence, and the construction of new council offices and housing, local shops and a large branch of Tescomarker. A tall residential tower block is planned for General Gordon Square.

Some local residents have been concerned about the design of the development. Plans exhibited to the public originally preserved the Director General public house, but in the later plans by Greenwich Council the pub is to be demolished.

At time of writing, December 2008, the Director General has been demolished, as has one of the council buildings, the Borough Treasurer's Office. The demolition of the former University of Greenwichmarker halls of residence Thomas Spencer House is just about completed.

Planning for further development around the "Woolwich Triangle" area at the other end of town is in the early stages. This development includes plans to demolish the old art deco "Co-op"/Scottley's building at the west end of Powis Street. These plans have now been made public and exhibitions of the plans held. Since these plans became public, scaffolding has been put on the building on the Powis Street Side. Some locals are not happy about the plans for the Woolwich Triangle. A petition has been raised to save the building. In October 2008 a fire in the Woolwich Triangle area left the upper storeys of an empty Victorian shop building severely damaged, contributing to the decline of the area. The cause of the fire is not known.

The likely to be demolished art deco Co-Op on Powis Street (Nov 2008)


Some redevelopment has begun at the Riverside end of Woolwich already, with the June 2008 demolition of the derelict Crown and Cushion pub (the last remnant of the "old" riverside) next to the Waterfront leisure centre, and the rapidly progressing development of a residential block on the site of the old Union Tavern, next to Riverside House. The last buildings which once stood on Beresford Street at the junction with Warren Lane have been demolished, and this site has been cleared with residential development planned. It is currently being used as a car park.

The 2012 Summer Olympics will include Woolwich as a venue for shooting events, and building work has begun in the barracks for the location. The choice of Woolwich as the venue for the shooting has not been universally welcomed.

Famous residents



Education

For education in Woolwich see the main London Borough of Greenwich article


Transport and locale

Nearest places

Inside Woolwich Foot Tunnel


Nearest railway stations



Nearest tube station



Docklands light railway



Buses

Woolwich is served by 18 Transport for London bus routes, including one dedicated night-only route and two 24-hour services. All routes serve the town centre; some also serve the south of the town, the Dockyard area and/or the Woolwich Common area. Three routes serve the nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and another three terminate there. Some services use central Woolwich as a terminus.

The routes serving Woolwich are as follows:

These routes provide a variety of links to locations within the London Borough of Greenwichmarker, nearby and neighbouring boroughs including Bexleymarker, Lewishammarker and Bromleymarker, plus links into Central Londonmarker and to Bluewatermarker which is across the London boundary in the Dartfordmarker borough of Kentmarker. Some locations are only served directly from Woolwich by the N1 and thus not served directly during the run of daytime routes - these include Aldwych, Holborn, Waterloo and Surrey Quaysmarker.

River

The free Woolwich Ferrymarker service operates across the River Thames to North Woolwich in the London Borough of Newhammarker carrying trucks, cars, cyclists and pedestrians during the day until 8pm on Weekdays. A two boat service runs on Mondays to Saturdays and Sundays only has a one boat service. Woolwich foot tunnelmarker is also available for use by pedestrians (and cyclists pushing their cycles) at any time. It is served by lifts during traditional shopping hours.
Ferry departing north terminal
London River Services, operated by Thames Clipper, provide a peak hour, seven days a week service to central London (Savoy Piermarker) from Woolwich Arsenal Piermarker (adjacent to the Royal Arsenal residential development).

The Thames flood barriermarker is located a mile upstream from the tunnel and ferry.

See also



References

  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. BBC on this day: 6 July accessed 23 Apr 2007
  4. Greenwich Guide, day by day accessed 23 Apr 2007
  5. Interview with McDonalds UK CEO Evening Standard 16th December 1991 accessed 23 Apr 2007
  6. DLR service change from 10 January 2009, accessed 13 Jan 2009
  7. Love Lane Woolwich
  8. Local resident concerns
  9. Director General public house
  10. Change of plans
  11. Coop site redevelopment
  12. [3]
  13. [4]
  14. [5]
  15. Central Woolwich TfL map PDF
  16. [ http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gettingaround/maps/buses/pdf/woolwichsouth-13977.pdf Woolwich (South) TfL map PDF]
  17. Woolwich Dockyard TfL map PDF
  18. Woolwich Common TfL map PDF


External links



Future Development



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