Old Woolwich town hall & library to be refurbished

Greenwich Council have submitted plans to refurbish the old library and town hall on Calderwood Street.

Last year scaffolding adorned the long neglected 1842 Town Hall building. Many were mystified when scaffolding came to reveal no external changes.

The planning application states “In 2019, Potter Raper Ltd undertook emergency repairs to the Old Town Hall to stabilise falling masonry. Emergency works included reforming mouldings on the elevation and roof repairs. Continuing emergency repairs are required.”

This building typifies Woolwich in many ways over the past few decades. It was listed on 8th June 1973 though has been in long term decline. There’s not many major town centres where neglect like this would be left for so long in a prominent town centre location, through both good and bad economic times. Certainly not in a town with so many developments in the vicinity. At least work is now happening.

The plan takes us back to before 1965 as it states “Woolwich Council have provided Potter Raper Ltd the following Client’s Remit, to undertake an internal and external refurbishment and emergency works, on two Grade 2 Listed buildings, in Woolwich. The works are planned to start during the summer of 2021.”

The Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich hasn’t existed since 1965 when it merged with Greenwich to become the current authority.

Work will include “replacement of defective stucco render will be undertaken using a lime stucco render. The extent of the works is not presently known and only when scaffolding is erected a hammer test can be undertaken.

The colour will be the same pale yellow colour. Cleaning of the elevations will be undertaken using a Dos / Jos low pressure jet were necessary to avoid damage is the historical fabric.”

The old town hall was used as a town hall until 1903. The current occupiers are Unite, Citizens Advise Bureau, Indian Cultural Centre and the TUC.


The former library next door is not as bad externally but requires work in a number of areas. It is used as offices for Greenwich Local Labour and Business (GLLaB).

Interior of former library

It was constructed in 1901 and listed in 2007. Library services left the building and moved to the Woolwich Centre.

It is one of a number of Carnegie libraries in south east London. East Greenwich is in very poor shape and apparently has been sold by Greenwich Council.

East Greenwich library – or Greenwich Central as it was known

West Greenwich is far better condition and thriving. Erith is being refurbished in a £1.8 million project, though not as a library.

east Greenwich library in extremely poor condition

Click here to view plans.

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John Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

4 thoughts on “Old Woolwich town hall & library to be refurbished

  • December 18, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    It will be nice to see this historical building refurbished in Woolwich. It is a part of Woolwich’s history just like the Barracks are.

  • December 18, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve often looked at these buildings, and wondered why a community would allow such architectural gems to be ignored into dereliction?! What kind of people are these who allow their heritage to be mistreated so badly?
    Then, there’s the irony of it all. A portion of these buildings are being used by GLLaB, a huge money drain, and useless organisation, that sucks millions of pounds from Council coffers for little to no tangible results!

    • December 20, 2020 at 10:58 am

      Your 100% spot on Paul SuperUnkown. GLLaB are a huge money drain with no tangible results ! And has been for many many years !!

  • December 19, 2020 at 9:17 am

    Phew i thought they would give it away, i mean sold it off. It is a wonderful building inside and i have fond memories of treading the bords in th woolwich scouts gang show in the 60’s as did my son about 20yrs or so later. Maybe one day will have a council that cares about the borough an the people in it but I won’t hold my breath. Merry Christmas, Happy new year to th Murkydepths an everyone in the borough


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