A look around forgotten backstreets of Woolwich as new tower plan drawn up

Plans are again being drawn up for a tower on part of a hidden treasure between Woolwich High Street and Powis Street.

This isn’t the first idea for the site. Far from it. And this seems a fair bit better than the previous application which was withdrawn. That flattened every ounce of character in this incredibly evocative part of Woolwich.

One early plan for site

The winding cobbled backstreets and interwar industrial architecture was all to go.

No longer.

And all the better for it. This revised proposal actually has some imagination and integrates the existing character of the area into a revised tower plan across 249 homes proposed on the site.

Tower far better than previous ideas. Former co-op department store on right

I should add these images are not from the final application but recent consultation though it’s almost certain what’s to be submitted will appear very similar.

The image above is seen from the west end of Powis Street. Quite some years ago all businesses were evicted and then little has happened.

All closed some years ago after land purchased

A little part of the overall Furlong’s complex survives here but appears in line for demolition as are all other buildings between the former co-op department store (not residential) and the former Granada cinema (now a church).

The structure seen below was the car showroom part of the complex and another interwar structure so prevalent in this part of Woolwich with the two former cinemas and co-op.

Furlongs structure facing Powis Street

Nearby on Powis Street sits the entrance into Mortgramit Square.

Entrance

You’ll barely see a soul about half the time upon entering. That quietness around here which can seem a little odd given we’re still in the town centre.

That speaks to how far this end of town has fallen in terms of footfall.

Proposed changes

Once in Mortgramit Square we can see a comparison between how it is now – and how it will probably end up.

Firstly, as seen recently.

Backstreets of Woolwich

Below is how the proposal is looking. Note the bridge has gone as has the building on the right.

A new structure replicating what exists appears in consultation images as seen to the right.

Proposed development

The garage and workshops located on site dating from the 1930s structures now sit disused.

Head forward and the forecourt facing Woolwich High Street now functions as a car wash – and is not locally listed.

Existing use

It’s all a tad different here to how it looked in the 1950s as seen in this image.

The chequerboard road surface is no more, and a lot of those streamlined features are hidden or apparently gone.

Current appearance with features lost or hidden

Strange name, Unusual place

So what is Mortgramit Square anyway?

Well, for one it isn’t really a square at all but a winding cobbled link between Powis Street and Hare Street, with a connection via a car wash and a narrow alleyway through to Woolwich High Street.

Bridge links two structures

Formerly home to a brewery in the Victorian era, Furlong’s garage was constructed between the wars as so much of this part of town.

 

And unlike much of the town, this area hasn’t really changed in decades.

Looking through alleyway towards Waterfront. Mortgramit and Dog’s Yard are behind

We have Conservation Zone status given to the area in recent years alongside local listing for now preserving what’s here.

That also helped secure a couple of million from Heritage England to restore buildings.

Whether that will allow a submission to permit removing some elements remains to be seen. However, unlike the previous plan that swept everything awa, this does attempt to integrate new builds with some of what exists so on balance it may gain approval.

A planning application is due this year so we’ll find out soon enough. Perhaps.

Furlongs garage with area to right set for tower

For now though if you’ve never been it’s well worth a visit.

The area is steeped in history and there’s very; very few areas like it where you can truly imagine and feel what it was like decades ago.

 

 

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J 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.

One thought on “A look around forgotten backstreets of Woolwich as new tower plan drawn up

  • I remember the RACS department store surviving up to the early 90s – by then Cuffs (where Iceland is now if I recall) had shuttered and the RACS was just about holding on. I still have one of the milk bottles with the RACS logo on it from the days they were the local milk delivery service. For the life of me though, can’t remember the store next door to it.

    One place that’s always surprised me there is the head shop on Hare Street. I remember seeing it first in my early teens and even buying a zippo from them, and somehow that yellow-fronted store has survived into its fourth decade.

    Reply

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