Spot­light on Wool­wich

Thou­sands of new homes — some in hand­some her­itage build­ings — and the El­iz­a­beth line are pulling in young pro­fes­sion­als. By

London Evening Standard (West End Final B) - ES Homes and Property - - Property Searching -

POISED to be­come one of the big win­ners from the ar­rival of the El­iz­a­beth line, Wool­wich will have its own sta­tion stop on the new ser­vice in 14 months’ time. Trains will roll in on their way from Abbey Wood to Padding­ton, putting this south-east Lon­don town just eight min­utes from Ca­nary Wharf, 14 min­utes from Liver­pool Street and 22 min­utes from Bond Street.

Al­ready a place of great his­toric in­ter­est with many her­itage build­ings, Wool­wich is be­ing trans­formed with thou­sands of new homes and a re­vi­talised town cen­tre. Prop­erty agent CBRE es­ti­mates that house prices close to the new sta­tion will grow 4.5 per cent a year faster than in the wider area.

The former Royal Arse­nal in Wool­wich was at the heart of the mu­ni­tions in­dus­try for more than 200 years, cut off from pub­lic view by high walls and known only to those who worked there. Dur­ing its First World War peak, it cov­ered 1,285 river­side acres, stretch­ing from Henry VIII’s dock­yard in the west to what is now Thames­mead in the east, and em­ployed 80,000. In 1868, its work­ers founded the Royal Arse­nal Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety which even­tu­ally owned farms, bak­eries and hous­ing es­tates as well as shops. A statue of one of the so­ci­ety’s founders, Alexan­der McLeod, stands above its listed Ed­war­dian HQ in Powis Street, Wool­wich, be­low the motto “Each for all and all for each”.

In 1886, an­other group of work­ers started a foot­ball club in Dial Square in the arse­nal. The club soon adopted the name Wool­wich Arse­nal and even though it moved to High­bury in 1913 and long ago dropped Wool­wich from its name, fans to­day still call Arse­nal the “Gun­ners”

The re­gen­er­a­tion of Wool­wich be­gan in 2003 with the res­i­den­tial tow­ers of Royal Ar­tillery Quays on the eastern edge of the town where it bor­ders Thames­mead. This was fol­lowed by a new town cen­tre square over­looked by a fu­tur­is­tic de­vel­op­ment of flats above a gi­ant Tesco. The largest of all, though, is Royal Arse­nal River­side, the Berke­ley Homes £1.2 bil­lion de­vel­op­ment of the arse­nal site which is bring­ing 5,000 new homes to the area, some in con­verted her­itage build­ings, oth­ers in new river­side tow­ers.

Wool­wich is 10 miles south-east of cen­tral Lon­don with the Thames to the north, Thames­mead and Abbey Wood to the east, Welling, Eltham and Black­heath to the south and Green­wich to the west. Es­tate agent Pa­tri­cia Ir­win-Brown of Kin­leigh Folkard & Hayward says young pro­fes­sion­als mov­ing to Wool­wich seek value and the op­por­tu­ni­ties the El­iz­a­beth line will bring. The area’s full po­ten­tial will only be­come ev­i­dent after the line’s ar­rival, she adds.

His­toric: Wool­wich pedes­trian and ve­hi­cle free ferry links the town cen­tre with North Wool­wich and Sil­ver­town north of the river. The Domes­day Book men­tions a ferry ser­vice over the Thames in this spot

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