Thursday 16 May 2013

Woolwich - the view from 1993

Thanks to Diana Rimel a whole lot of old leaflets and info has been given to us for this blog. First up is an article from 'Waterfront Community News' written by our Chair, Sue Parker, in 1993.
I suppose comments should be 'contrast and compare'

anyway - here it is - A Walk Along the Waterfront.

"If you travel along Woolwich Church Street from west to east, you will pass by the wall of the former Royal Dockyard, which is now called the "Commonwealth Buildings" site.   Sometime after the closure of the dockyard in 1869, this part of the yard occupied by the RACS, which now, as the CWS only retain the statutorily listed gate house buildings. The old steam factory building remains on the site. It commemorates the transition from sailing ships to steam power in the Dockyard, and is at present used for storage purposes. Several housing schemes have been projected for this site.   A river-side walkway should be made here to link up with the walkway in the adjacent Dockyard housing estate.  The walkway passes a small historic gun battery, and leads to two former docks. The Clockhouse has been retained and is now a community centre, and the Gate house is now a public house.   The dockyard walls remain around the estate.
Below St. Mary's Parish Church, there is now a welcome sight, a boat building and repair yard, very suitable for this area.   

Woolwich Free Ferry is threatened by the proposed East London River Crossing, but whatever the outcome of this the ferry should be promoted as a tourist attraction, and part of a tourist-trail through historic Woolwich. Walkways and a riverside cafe-restaurant should be made in the area leading from Ferry Approach to the Waterfront Leisure Centre. The leisure centre itself unfortunately obscures the view of the river, although there is a good view from its restaurant. This together with the nearby Crown & Cushion public house, also with its river views could make a striking riverside leisure area.
On the site of the former Woolwich Power Station. A complex of administrative and teaching buildings for the new Greenwich University is planned, and this looks, according to the plans, quite suitable for the area, and small in scale. However, there is a Victorian building plus associated weigh-bridge on the site which should be incorporated, and not destroyed.  This site is also important for its archaeological significance being the site of a Roman, and Iron-age waterfront fortification. Any future redevelopments need to be preceded further official archaeological investigations.

In the 1970s an important 17th century pottery kiln was found in the vicinity of the former Crown & Anchor public house, and this is now in store awaiting public display. The archaeological excavations which uncovered the kiln had been launched to discover any remaining traces of Anglo-Saxon Woolwich or the Roman road. After the dig was over, the site was due to be developed as an office block, but eventually the Waterfront Leisure Centre was built there instead.     

Market Hill still retains historic buildings, and together with Hare Street and Powis Street, and Cally Yard with its horse stables, could become a conservation area. Above the modern shop fronts many Victorian and Edwardian facades remain, including the terracotta RACS building with its statue of Alexander McLeod. There are also two listed cinemas built in the 1930s in this area.   
Woolwich market is in important local area, and is well used. The indoor market is less well known, and has an interesting internal roof structure.  The distressing state of the former Royal Arsenal Gate-House is a lasting reproach to Greenwich Council, and immediate repair and use is essential in any tourist initiative.     

The opening up of the Royal Arsenal site itself is of immense importance, and careful integrated plans need to be formulated, perhaps under a heritage trust to safeguard its historic buildings and promote appropriate developments.   
other articles in the newsletter include
Transport Working Group - a report
Port Greenwich
Community Grants Crisis
meeting reports
- happy to scan and add if people are interested


The traditional Woolwich Arsenal Station has been demolished recently, and a new structure will appear instead, to many inhabitants   regret.     

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