THE sunshine this week turned a visit to Woolwich Arsenal into an unexpectedly delightful outing. It’s a district in the process of total transformation as a forest of new tower blocks rises up around the recently redeveloped historic arsenal buildings. The towers grow like vigorous plants, the main shoot of each concrete service core rising up and then bursting into fully fledged construction. Presumably, much of this activity is encouraged by the ope-ning of a Cross Rail Station next year.
In view of the prosperity to come, it’s sad that one institution hasn’t lasted long enough to benefit. In the middle of the arsenal is the Royal Artillery Museum, Firepower, which opened here in 2001. Scattered around the arsenal, and presumably from its collection, is a weird and wonderful assemblage of military hardware, including a large tank and a cannon cast in Dresden in 1733. I had heard about the museum’s closure earlier this year, in part the victim of MOD cuts. Nevertheless, it was both disappointing and melancholy to be confronted with the sealed front door, bearing notices that declared this relatively new museum building ‘permanently closed’. To my shame, I had never visited and, now, I won’t have the chance. JG