29 August 2017

A Walking Tour around Woolwich Arsenal

Earlier this summer I went on an excellent tour of Woolwich Arsenal led by my friend Laurence Scales.


Laurence is interested in machines and the military, especially things that go "bang" and so is the perfect guide for this kind of walk.
I find Woolwich to be a strange place, by which I mean in the planning sense, in the same way that I find Portsmouth a bit of a mess with its three distinct yet unlinked and unrelated zones. Both towns have strong links to our Naval past and both seem to have suffered over the years not just from neglect but from planning departments who don't seem to have a clue how to integrate and relate the history to the people who live there or what we need today – they just sling up another shopping arcade.
I wonder what percentage of Woolwich 's residents actually visit the old Arsenal site because the town clearly has two different zones, just a stone's throw apart, separated by one strip of tarmac (Beresford Street) – one side is all shops and markets and old cinemas with architectural hints of a bustling and prosperous past, and the other side, the Thames side, seems like a polished up homogenised version of history as if the machines just stopped working one day and overnight the buildings were gutted and cleansed and converted into [luxury?!] flats surrounded by manicured lawns, and commissioned art. For me, the arsenal side has an eerie feeling. Mind you, I'd love an address that was in No.1 Street.

Moving on... near the old covered market facing The Thames on the shopping side of the main road I spotted some fab old hand-painted signs for a long-gone music shop:

Regaee? Nice try!
More Woolwich observations from 2013

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