North Woolwich

North Woolwich, Newham

An industrialised settlement hemmed in by the King George V Dock and the River Thames

Hidden London: North Woolwich old station

There is spec­u­la­tion that what is now North Wool­wich could have been the orig­i­nal Wool­wich, lat­er lend­ing its name to what became a larg­er set­tle­ment across the riv­er. Wool from Essex sheep may have been land­ed or trad­ed here by the Sax­ons.

North Wool­wich was men­tioned in Domes­day Book of 1086 and for cen­turies was a detached por­tion of the coun­ty of Kent, and part of Wool­wich parish. It con­sist­ed of vir­tu­al­ly unin­hab­it­ed marsh­land, used only as water mead­ows, until the arrival of the rail­way in 1847 and the intro­duc­tion of a steam fer­ry ser­vice to the Roy­al Arse­nal on the oppo­site bank of the riv­er. Two years lat­er its ear­ly growth halt­ed when Wool­wich itself gained a rail­way con­nec­tion, although the estab­lish­ment of a plea­sure park in 1853 gen­er­at­ed some day-trip­per traf­fic.

Cre­at­ed by the entre­pre­neur William Hol­land, the North Wool­wich Gar­dens boast­ed the largest dance stage in Lon­don. East Ham coun­cil took the park into pub­lic own­er­ship as the Roy­al Vic­to­ria Gar­dens in 1890. The build­ing of the Roy­al Docks, cul­mi­nat­ing in the com­ple­tion of the King George V in 1921, brought fac­to­ries and work­ers’ hous­ing to North Wool­wich. Like oth­er out-of-the-way places there was the usu­al empha­sis on nox­ious indus­tries. A new sta­tion opened in 1979 but closed in 2006. The pre­vi­ous sta­tion served for a while as a rail­way muse­um but closed in 2009. The pho­to at the top shows its state in 2016.*

In 1984 BT opened the Lon­don Tele­port (orig­i­nal­ly the Lon­don North Wool­wich Earth Sta­tion) at Pier Road in North Wool­wich. Lon­don’s first satel­lite earth sta­tion, it was designed to han­dle busi­ness ser­vices from the City and pro­vide trans­mis­sion facil­i­ties for satel­lite tele­vi­sion and radio com­pa­nies. The tele­port is present­ly owned by Arqi­va.

In recent years Newham council’s (fair­ly mod­est) Regen­er­at­ing North Wool­wich project has result­ed in some improve­ments to Roy­al Vic­to­ria Gar­dens and Pier Parade.

Postal district: E16
* The picture of North Woolwich station at the top of this page is modified from an original photograph, copyright Everyman Films, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.