I was planning to pass through Woolwich last week en route to Kent. Coming on the DLR from Canning Town (which was absolutely packed even before the evening rush hour), the sun came out on what was a warm, early spring day so I thought I’d stop off in Woolwich and have a look round. Being in no rush, I decided to get off at King George V station and walk to the ferry. I don’t think I’d been on it in many years.
The walk was a flashback. Not much had changed. There was the park beside the Thames where local schools used to go for day-trips, then the ferry waiting area. The graffiti on the walls was out of the ’90s. Declarations of love for Tommy Webster and Edweezy was here! (woz ere, surely?)
There’s a huge amount of vacant land around the ferry terminal. The former railway terminal was looking forlorn:
I was the only person who boarded the ferry on foot and one change I noticed was health and safety seemed to now prevent foot passengers from standing at the boat’s edge. The ferry seemed no more tired than it did 10 years ago. That is to say, pretty bloody tired.
And this afforded some great views of Woolwich’s new builds. An increasingly dense skyline was evident:
The next Berkeley riverside tower was up to around floor five. Around 15-20 to go.
Also evident was the first few floors of development of the Callis Yard site. Another tower will go up here:
And here’s one from the High Street opposite Waterfront:
It appears as though only the low-rise part is visible right now. Here’s how it will look when completed:
Also on the old High Street, which is now a pretty sorry and car dominated street, is Furlong’s Garage where developers United Living are looking to build 250-300 homes:
It’s also envisaged that Waterfront leisure centre will move to where Wilkinson’s now sits at General Gordon Square, and Hare Street (below) will once again stretch to the riverside:
The corner building on the right had a familiar sight seen in Woolwich and Plumstead town centres; weeds growing out of neglected buildings. A recent plan to put another floor on the building was rejected.
Onto the Arsenal site and Phase 3 aka Laboratory Square aka Pavilion Square is now taking shape:
As is the Premier Inn next door:
Here’s a close up of the third riverside tower now rising, with the concrete core visible:
Back in the town centre and the former Woolwich Building Society building is now clad in scaffolding for conversion of the upper floors to flats.
The area around the DLR entrance was a bit messy. Rationalising the paving and street furniture here would present a better welcome and be a big improvement for low cost.
The stump which is the Woolwich DLR entrance still exists despite TfL entering an “agreement” with Oakmayne to develop over and around this site almost eight years ago.
Here’s what TfL said back in 2009:
Turning off the main shopping areas and Macbean Street was still a mess years after a handsome former Victorian school was demolished six years ago. The demolition can be seen here.
The building next door is in a bad way – see the broken windows on the upper floor:
This is where Greenwich Council should be issuing Section 215 notices which force building and landowners owners to clean up and repair sites. If they refuse they can be fined, and then if the council has to fund the work, a charge levied on the properties value. That should get the owners moving.
The public indoor market has now closed. This whole stretch will be demolished and rebuilt under the Spray Street masterplan.
Here’s what’s possibly coming:
Despite all the development in Woolwich there’s still clearly much brownfield land not being utilised despite the ongoing severe housing shortage.
Overall, it was a great trip to Woolwich. I bet not many say that. But it really was good. Maybe the usual low expectations when going there helped, as did approaching it from a different angle than usual. The ferry rather than rail station was a nicer approach to the town.
The station approach sometimes offers aggressive drunks and can be pretty messy. It’s not often a good first impression, even though the revamped General Gordon Square is far better than what was there before.
I’ve not been the biggest fan of Woolwich in the past but enjoyed the shops and spent the evening with my mate in the Woolwich Equitable, where the beers, food and music were all top notch. The town is on the up. Lots to do though.