Location: Woolwich, SE18, is located south of the river Thames to the east of London City Centre. It is bordered to the north by the River Thames, and to the south by Shooters Hill (although it does drop slightly south of this in between Eltham Common and Danson Park). The eastern boundary is much less clearly defined, but its most easterly streets are approximately Plumstead Highstreet and Wickham Lane. To the west SE18 includes Woolwich Common, and is loosely demarcated by Stadium Road, which, as it moves north, becomes Repository Road and then Frances Street.
The SE18 postcode district lies within or includes part of the following towns, counties, localities, electoral wards and stations: Glyndon, Greenwich, Kidbrooke with Hornfair, London, Plumstead, Plumstead Station, Shooters Hill, Woolwich Arsenal Station, Woolwich Common, Woolwich Dockyard Station, Woolwich Riverside.
The history of Woolwich is largely centred around its role as a military centre, being the home of the Woolwich Dockyard (a naval dockyard built in 1512), the Royal Arsenal (arms manufacturing), the Royal Horse Artillery, the Royal Military Academy and the Royal Artillery Barracks (the chosen location for shooting events in the 2012 London Olympics).
Despite its historical significance, after the Second World War, particularly during the 1950s, Woolwich began to decline, with many of its shops closing down. However, a number of changes are taking place in the area, and it is becoming increasing popular as a result. Firstly, the site of the former Royal Arsenal was developed. The Docklands Light Railway is being extended to the area, which will make it much easier for commuters to reach the financial district of Canary Wharf and the city.
The regeneration project around Love Lane was established at the beginning of 2007 and is to include the demolition of a number of buildings, which are to be replaced with new council offices, residential property (including a modern tower block for General Gordon Square) and some commercial property (including a large supermarket).
The area of Plumstead is located within postcode district SE18, to the east of Woolwich. Plumstead has a rich history, with records going back to 960, however Plumstead as we know it began to develop towards the end of the nineteenth century, with the addition of classic Victorian working class terraces, for those employed at the Arsenal. These were typically two up, two down terraced rows. Unlike today, being located near the Thames, in the late nineteenth century, was not an attractive prospect for residents (as it was an outlet for sewage and waste). The larger, more desirable properties of the day were located around Plumstead Common.
With the shooting events at the London Olympics (2012) to be held at the Royal Artillery Barracks, and the much anticipated arrival of the Docklands Light Railway Extension, Woolwich is becoming a much more popular area.
The most northerly part of the postcode district around the waterfront has seen some modern development, such as Mast Quay, located on Woolwich Church Street, where three bedroom apartments can command asking prices of over £650,000. The Royal Arsenal itself has been stylishly converted into residential property. Here, a three bed, two bathroom property could have an asking price of around £550,000. The residential complex is also attractively placed next to the Thames, on Cadogan Road. Nearby on Arsenal Way there has been further modern development with the development of the modern residential complex, The Armouries. This area may be of interest for three reasons: firstly, because the prices, in contrast to other London suburbs are currently quite reasonable, secondly, because the area has the potential to experience substantial price rises in the future, due to the regeneration and development occurring as a result of the Olympics. Thirdly, a number of the development companies are offering shared ownership schemes, allowing homeowner-hopefuls to get on the property ladder by part-owning their properties.
Simmons Road, located close to the Grand Depot Road, has a purpose built block, with a number of one bedroom flats. Similarly purpose built property can be found slightly further south around Ha-Ha Road. Vincent Road offers still more economical property in the form of high rise blocks, with a number of two bedroom flats. A one bedroom flat in Milford Towers, on Thomas Street, will demand an asking price of around £120,000.
Around Plumstead, there are a number of rows of terraced houses, such as the three- storey properties on Griffin Road. Shooters Hill is one of the most popular areas and is located to the south of the postcode district. Eglinton Hill and Eglinton Road, near Woolwich Common, have some substantial, semi-detached Victorian properties that are very reasonably priced in comparison to some other London suburbs. Although the majority of the property in this area is Victorian, it varies in style and size, to include some terraced, some semi-detached and some detached properties. On the south side of Shooters Hill Road (A207), in Gilbert Close, is the Royal Herbert Pavilions. Like the Royal Arsenal development, this period building has been converted to provide modern interiors within a period block.
SE18 is the place to visit for military history. Firepower, Royal Artillery Museum can be found in the Royal Arsenal and tells the history and development of artillery. Dial Square, also in the Royal Arsenal, was once the Royal Gun Factory, whose workers created Dial Square Football Club, which later became Arsenal Football Club. All that remains of the building today is an arch. There are also a set of old cannons on Frances Street, which once guarded a military base. The Royal Artillery Barracks has the largest parade ground in Britain and at over 1000 feet, boasts the longest façade in Britain. The shooting events in the London Olympics will occur here.
Greenwich Heritage Centre, on Artillery Square displays the history of local life in Greenwich, by bringing together the Local History Library and the former Borough Museum. The centre features large collection of historical records, including maps and newspapers. As well as hosting a number of lectures and activities, it is a popular destination for school trips.
For some art, visit Assembly, on Royal Arsenal Pier, which is a sculpture by Peter Burke and features 16 hollow body molds.
The Thames Barrier can be found on Unity Way and is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world. There is a visitor centre, The Thames Barrier Information and Learning Centre, which offers a range of information and activities and includes a working model and fantastic views of the barrier.
Waterfront Leisure Centre on High Road has a good range of facilities, including a water park with a slide, a wave machine, a waterfall and a hot tub. There are also a number of sports played in the centre and crèche facilities and classes available.
Woolwich Common is an open natural space which allows locals and visitors to get away from the hubbub of the busy city and can be found next to the River Thames. Another attraction is Woolwich Thames Path just off Woolwich High Street. This walk along the river offers views of impressive structures, such as the Thames Barrier, the O2 (formerly The Millennium Dome) to name but a few.
Woolwich Ferry on John Wilson Street dates back to the 14th century and ferries cars across the Thames for free. It exists because the river is too wide at this point for a bridge and is necessary to link the North Circular Road to the South Circular Road. It runs daily, every ten minutes. Another interesting and unusual way to get around is the Woolwich Foot Tunnel on Ferry Road, which runs from Woolwich Docks to North Woolwich, underneath the Thames.
Woolwich Markets on Beresford Square and Plumstead Road, is renowned in London, with over 100 stalls, selling a huge variety of products. The market is most of the week, but is closed on Sundays.