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Woolwich, one of London's most intriguing districts, grew from a Thames-side settlement with pre-Roman origins, into a dynamic military and naval centre.

In the Royal Naval Dockyard and the Royal Arsenal, both located beside the Thames, vast skilled workforces wrought ships and armaments in ever-expanding series of specialized structures. Pressure on space pushed the military to expand to the open uplands of Woolwich Common, where the grand set pieces of the Royal Artillery Barracks and Royal Military Academy survive today.

Between riverside and common, the town of Woolwich benefited from this military presence, but also struggled with poverty. It maintained a proud life of its own, expressed in buildings that include a noble Edwardian town hall set in an early municipal enclave; big co-operative department stores that represent a strong local history of mutualism; distinctive churches, including one by Pugin and fine 1930s cinemas. 

Reviews of Survey of London Vol. 48: Woolwich

"This exemplary volume shows powerfully how vital is the continued flourishing of the Survey, not merely to the history of London, but to our national prestige as a country producing top world-quality urban history."

M. H. Port, The London Journal, November 2013

"What fairly radiates off the page in the Survey of Woolwich is the social character the area once had."

Owen Hatherley, The Victorian, July 2013

Draft chapters of Volume 48

Pending a full online version, we have placed the draft texts of the Woolwich volume here. There is a map to explain the chapter divisions, but there are no other illustrations. References are in a separate file. 

Volume 48


1. Beresford Market in 2009 (Historic England, Derek Kendall)

2. The Woolwich Rotunda, 1819-20, isometric view showing structure (Historic England, Andrew Donald)

3. Woolwich Town Hall, 1903-5, long section through the Victoria Hall (Historic England, Jon Bedford and Hannah Clarke)

4. Royal Artillery Mess, Royal Artillery Barracks, 1802-3, remodelled 1842-5, photographed in 2007 (Historic England, Derek Kendall)

5. Royal Artillery Barracks c.1925 (Historic England)