East Greenwich

East Greenwich, Greenwich

The historically industrial side of Greenwich, including (by many definitions) the former marshland of the Greenwich Peninsula


Gasometer and That*
Gas­om­e­ter and That*

One of the first struc­tures to be built in East Green­wich was the gov­ern­ment pow­der mag­a­zine. Through­out the 17th cen­tu­ry it test­ed, stored and dis­trib­uted gun­pow­der, to the increas­ing appre­hen­sion of the grow­ing res­i­den­tial pop­u­la­tion.

The pow­der mag­a­zine was demol­ished in 1802 and the site lat­er acquired by the Ender­by fam­i­ly, Bermond­sey tan­ners who had mar­ried into the whal­ing trade. One of the explorato­ry voy­ages that they fund­ed result­ed in the dis­cov­ery of Antarctica’s Ender­by Land, as it was named.

Around the same time, local landown­er George Rus­sell built New East Green­wich, which con­sist­ed of a large tidal mill for grind­ing corn, togeth­er with work­ers’ hous­ing, some of which still stands, in Riv­er Way. The great mill became a chem­i­cal works in the 1840s before being replaced by a pow­er sta­tion. In the 1850s the new tech­nol­o­gy of cable-mak­ing began life at East Green­wich, and the first Atlantic cable was made here. The site is still in use by Alca­tel.

In the 1880s the South Met­ro­pol­i­tan Gas Com­pa­ny built its East Green­wich works. The two gash­old­ers were the biggest in Europe; only one hold­er in Amer­i­ca ever sur­passed them. The small­er of the pair still stands, described by Richard Boston in The Guardian as “a very fine gas­om­e­ter indeed with a visu­al­ly intrigu­ing criss-cross of gird­ers that rather upstages the Dome.”

East Greenwich Pleasaunce
East Green­wich Pleas­aunce*

Marked with a black out­line on the map below and shown in the pho­to­graph on the right,* East Green­wich Pleas­aunce is a tree-lined gar­den that served as a bur­ial ground for around 3,000 sailors who died at the Roy­al Hos­pi­tal for Sea­men. In 1926 the Admi­ral­ty sold the pleas­aunce to the bor­ough of Green­wich, retain­ing the right to use part as a bur­ial site ‘in per­pe­tu­ity’. Nowa­days, the ver­dant pleas­aunce is graced by Pis­ta­chios in the Park (an eco-friend­ly café) and a com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre called The Bridge. A mar­ket is held here on the last Sun­day of every month and an al fres­co cin­e­ma occa­sion­al­ly pops up in sum­mer.

Postal district: SE10
Further reading: Mary Mills, Greenwich Marsh: The 300 Years before the Dome, Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, 1999

 

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* The picture of the Gasometer and That on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Gareth James, and the picture of the East Greenwich Pleasaunce is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Marathon, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.