Home to the Royal Arsenal, once the largest munitions producer in the country, Woolwich has a rich heritage, especially as a military and industrial town.
Throughout the 1800s the Royal Arsenal was a busy military hub and a centre of excellence in mechanical engineering, even featuring its own private railway. The Arsenal carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research, and the town still keeps an army base at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Woolwich Dockyard was also a key part of the area and was once used by King Henry VIII to build his flagship, Henry Grace à Dieu, the largest ship of its day. The Dockyard may also be responsible for the town’s name, thought to mean ‘the trading place for wool’. Arsenal Football Club was founded in Woolwich, as was the University of Greenwich which retains an administrative presence in the town.
1308: The Woolwich Ferry began to operate.
1512: Woolwich Dockyard was founded.
1545: A building on the site of the Royal Arsenal was first recorded.
1720: The military academy was established at the Royal Arsenal.
1886: Workers at the Royal Arsenal founded Arsenal Football Club.
1889: Woolwich officially became a part of London.
1965: Woolwich was declared a part of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
2012: The King’s Troop Royal Artillery relocated from St John’s Wood to Woolwich.