Exploring the Royal Arsenal Woolwich in London

It’s rather incongruous that there’s a busy main road behind the Royal Arsenal Gatehouse that you have to cross to enter the Royal Arsenal site.in Woolwich. The former armaments manufacture and explosives testing site is now a mix of historic buildings, many of which have been converted to residential use, and new-build blocks of flats.

royal arsenal woolwich gatehouse

Royal Arsenal Gatehouse

The first thing that I noticed upon entering in Woolwich was the sculpture of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory.

royal arsenal woolwich nike

The Nike sculpture

A former workshop has been transformed into the Dial Arch Gastro Pub.

royal arsenal woolwich dial arch

Dial Arch Gastro Pub

Opposite the Dial Arch Pub there’s a sculpture of a football commemorating the founding of Arsenal Football Club

royal arsenal woolwich football sculpture

Arsenal FC plaque and sculpture

The Royal Military Academy dominates Artillery Square, where you’ll also find the Greenwich Heritage Centre.

royal arsenal information sign

Information board in Artillery Square, the Academy to the left, Heritage Centre to right

Opposite Artillery Square is the Firepower – the Royal Artillery Museum. Unfortunately, as I visited the area on a Monday, both the Greewich Heritage Centre and the Firepower Museum were closed. It seemed strange to me that they are both also closed on Sundays, you’d think that’d be one of their busy days. It’s free to get into the Heritage Centre, but there’s an admission fee for the Firepower Museum; £5.30 for adults, £4.60 concessions and £2.50 for kids.

royal arsenal woolwich museum of fire power

Firepower – the Royal Artillery Museum

As you’d expect, there were plenty of cannons dotted around Royal Arsenal.

royal arsenal cannon on wheels

Cannon on wheels

royal arsenal cannon

A monster cannon in Royal Arsenal

By the entrance to Woolwich Arsenal Pier, a stop of the Thames Clipper water bus service, there’s the Assembly Sculpture by Peter Burke. The sixteen hollow cast iron figures seem quite appropriate for an ex-industrial setting.

royal arsenal woolwich figure sculptures

The Assembly by Peter Burke

The Shell Foundry Gates were made in 1856 but were moved to another Royal Ordnance factory near Manchester in the 1960s. However, they were brought back home to Woolwich in the early 1990s.

royal arsenal woolwich shell foundry gates

Shell Foundy Gates at Royal Arsenal Woolwich

royal arsenal woolwich shell foundry gates close up

Close up of Shell Foundy Gates

The Grand Store Warehouse is so different to the steel shed style of most modern warehouses.

royal arsenal woolwich grand store warehouse

The Grand Store Warehouse in Royal Arsenal

It was quite strange wandering around Royal Arsenal. Although many of buildings have been converted to homes, it was like a ghost town during the day, although there were lots of parked cars everywhere. I noticed several security and cleaning staff employed by the Royal Arsenal Riverside (the name of the residential development). It felt like a pristine gated community without the gates.

royal arsenal woolwich wellington sculpture

Wellington sculpture in Royal Arsenal

I didn’t quite know what to expect when visiting Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, but I found it to be very interesting.