The Royal Arsenal

A military stronghold
Royal Arsenal Woolwich

The Royal Arsenal has been at the centre of Woolwich life since 1696, when fireworks began to be manufactured there. The following year New Carriage Yard, where old gun carriages were repaired or scrapped, appeared.

Ten years later the Royal Brass Foundry was built and the Arsenal was born.

By the time George III paid his first visit to Woolwich in 1773, the site was home to the Royal Regiment of Artillery and the Royal Military Academy as well as workshops and factories for the manufacture, proof, inspection and storage of cannon and shot.

Royal ArsenalThe Napoleonic and Crimean Wars increased activity on the site, which expanded eastwards. By 1907 the Royal Arsenal covered 1,285 acres and stretched for three miles along the Thames.

It reached its peak of production during the First World War, when it employed close to 80,000 people.

During the Second World War production was distributed among other Royal Ordnance Factories nationwide, because of the risk of air attack. Even so, Woolwich saw a high increase in activity.

However, in the post-war years, changes in technology and the nature of warfare led to a decrease in operations and eventually in 1967 to closure. The Ministry of Defence finally left the site in 1994.