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Monday, 17 November 2014

Peabody web page

Thamesmead in the First World War
During the First World War Thamesmead was part of Woolwich Arsenal, and the manufacture of munitions which took place there was vital to the war effort.
unnamed.  Is this group of workers Royal Arsenal?


see ...

Monday, 3 November 2014

Monday, 22 September 2014

SILBERRAD, Oswald(1878-1960)


Oswald Silberrad,

born: 1878 at Buckhurst Hill, Essex

died: 17 June 1960

buried at the parish church in Loughton.

studied chemistry at the City and Guilds Technical College.

1898-1900 he attended the University of Würzburg.

1901-1906 superintendent of research, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich,

younger brother of the writer Una Lucy Silberrad.

Simon Coleman National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists (University of Bath) ...

The paper resulted from the speaker's work at the National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists, Bath, on the archive of this little-known industrial consulting chemist and the research laboratory that he founded. The paper highlighted some of Silberrad's important contributions to munitions research at the Royal Arsenal while he was still in his early twenties. An experimenter of rare ability, Silberrad discovered a new means of detonating high explosive shells by using a substance known as 'tetryl'.

He also demonstrated that TNT worked well as a high explosive shell filling, possessing advantages over the lyddite then in use. ---Royal Navy ordnance,a practice that was already well known in Germany.

Successfully developed and tested a 'flameless' artillery propellant for small calibre guns. The archive contains part of Silberrad's unpublished memoirs, which document this period of his career, in particular his difficult relations with the War Office which resulted in his resignation as Superintendent of Research.

The Silberrad Papers are held by the Science Museum- Library".2014.08.29 Greenwich Industrial History


1901 appointed chemist to the Government Explosives committee. Later he took the position as head of the committee’s research institute at Woolwich.

This committee had been set up after the Boer War to investigate the shortcomings of British explosives.


1904 lived ...

Hill Top, Shrewsbury Lane, Plumstead

1906 he left the institute, and in 1907 founded the Silberrad Research Laboratories, first at 22 Stag Lane, Buckhurst Hill, and later moved to Loughton, where he had a special laboratory block added to his new house. As a consulting chemist, he mainly focused on the study of explosives. He also developed a new alloy, solving the problem of the erosion of warships' bronze propellers. In 1921 he campaigned unsuccessfully for a position at the Royal Society.

1960 lived ...

Dryad's Hall,


Sunday, 21 September 2014

VOCE, James(1865-1933)


VOCE, James

Born:1865 in  Salisbury, Wiltshire, England  

Death 10th January 1933 of Middle Park, Eltham



30 Ancona Road, {in 1919 at 160 Ancona may be due to renumbering?
VOCE, James engineers turner gun manufacturing.
JACKSON, RosalieThirza(1866-1917)
 MabelFrances;  DorothyMartha;  EdwardJohn;  RosalieHannah;  Beatrice;  FredrickLeonard;


secretary of the shop stewards {Royal Arsenal


Chairman of All Grades Movement and an All Grades Committee. {Royal Arsenal
Following the First World War, local Labour activists launched a campaign to find alternative work within the Royal Arsenal that would utilize the skills of the workers and now idle machinery -i.e. the making of non-munitions during peacetime.  


Local Councillor {London Borough of Woolwich 


1939 Road in Plumstead renamed after him




Monday, 22 September 2014 {Deborah O’B. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

1907 explosion

Go to home page — National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.    


Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume II, Issue 101, 9 April 1907, Page 6

See ...

2014.09.19 Reproduced Newspaper artical

Monday, 15 September 2014

Britain's lost munitions factories

4 September 2014
Home Front Legacy project logo
The UK-wide Home Front Legacy project, coordinated by the Council for British Archaeology, is calling on volunteers to help track down a series of lesser-known ‘National’ munitions factories created to kickstart the war effort. These sites..........................................
see ...,2RPOL,8BB1WV,A2V13,1

Munitions worker  a munition worker


Sunday, 7 September 2014

STREATER, Florrie()

Spotted in Royal Artillery Museum, as part of their WW 1 exhibition.

Is she a real person?
Who is the  person pictured?
The "Ammunition worker" was she a volunteer or conscripted?

1911census Florrie aged 15year daughter of Ann and John STREATER described himself as a Hair Dresser working at home in Seven Sisters Road, Tottenham.

1911census FlorenceMaudeBeatriceMary STREATER aged 17year Employed as a Nurse/housemaid in Twickenham. (In 1914 a Miss F STREATER nursemaid went to South Africa.)


Saturday, 30 August 2014


Royal Arsenal Woolwich Historical Society (RAWHS)
see ...


Football "ladies"


Did the shops within the Arsenal in Woolwich have any football teams? (Also any local firms)

BBC History Extra about Munitions Girls and Football.

3) Munitions girls kept football going

The Football League suspended its programme after the 1914
–15 season (although the FA continued to allow clubs to organise regional competitions), and amateur tournaments were difficult to run with so many men in the army, so women stepped into the breach. 

Munitions workers – ‘munitionettes’, as they were known – formed football teams and played against rival factories. Munitionette football attracted a wide following, and many matches were played at the grounds of professional clubs. When peace came, however, the female players had to hang up their boots and go back to the domestic lives they had been leading before the war. But the sport continued to enjoy success until women were banned from playing in Football League grounds in 1921. [ McFARNON

I'm sure the Arsenal Munitionettes had a team. Anyone know?


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

BENTWICH, HelenCaroline nee FRANKLIN(1892-1972)

BENTWICH, HelenCaroline FRANKLIN(1892-1972) 

The Daughter of Caroline and Arthur Ellis FRANKLIN a banker

Married in 1915sep Paddington 1A 314

Norman (1883-) Barrister-At-Law; Journalist

1939 Kelly’s Post Office Directory
BENTWICH, Norman De Mattos, OBE
Barrister, 11 Stone bldgs. Lincoln Inn WC2


Principle Overlooker
At £4..10..0 per week

Was dismissed for not doing a far day’s work for a far day’s wage.
In the TV dramatization hinted that this was because of her Trade Union activities.  Which would have put her position as an over looker into question.  The anti Jewish element was not raised. 
In 1937.03 she was elected a Labour Alderman for North Kensington on the London County Council.

Played by Claire FOY in The Great War: The People's Story (TV, 2014)

Monday, 4 August 2014

WEST, Gabrielle()

 Born in Gloucestershire

Gabrielle WEST Played by Naomi SHELDON BBC 2 Diaries of the Great War (Looks film).
Naomi Sheldon

Showed her arriving in Woolwich, starting at Arsenal and being in a Zeppelin raid. Is this a true story or just fiction as was the stage scenes?


railway- GIHS 2014.06


Narrow Gauge Railways on the Royal Arsenal

Copied unedited from … [Posted by M]


The June meeting of GIHS heard a talk by Ian Bull on the Narrow Gauge Railways of the Royal Arsenal.  The following report is by Richard Buchanan (with thanks to WADAS) with some annotations by Ian Bull.


The Arsenal found railways to be the best way of getting about on a marshy site – they built few roads.  Its first was a plate railway in 1824, developed from the Surrey Iron Railway (of 1802) and horse drawn.  At this stage the Arsenal was about the size of what has been retained since its closure, though at its height it stretched 3¼ miles, all the way to the Crossness outfall works, and 2sq miles in area.  It then had 147 miles of track; the east of the site with its several isolated high explosive (HE) facilities being served only by rail.


There were three fiefdoms in the Arsenal, the Royal Gun Foundry, the Royal (gun) Carriage Department and the Royal Laboratories (for ammunition).  They did not co-operate; if one had a spare wagon it would not lend it to another that might need one; if there was accidental damage to a train operated by one department, that department had to make good, even if delays ensued.


In 1849 the North Kent Line of the South Eastern Railway reached Woolwich, and the Arsenal entered into an agreement to interwork with them, and build an internal standard gauge railway (the three departments still working separately).  The connection was at “the hole in the wall” in Plumstead. However in 1870 the Army decided that an 18 inch gauge railway would better suit their needs particularly if it were to be deployed in narrow trenches for siege warfare; and be easier to transport.  They had good experience in the Crimea with such railway - The 'Grand Crimean Central Railway' which was steam worked and standard gauge.


So the Arsenal built an 18” railway, which could manage sharper curves, and took it into buildings - anywhere where heavy loads were to be handled.  Inside buildings special cast iron track was made (by the Royal Laboratories from redundant cannon balls) with a level top surface apart from grooves for the wheel flanges.  The standard gauge railway continued in use; where necessary a third rail was laid inside standard gauge track for the 18” gauge.


The 18” railway was steam hauled from the outset (though at Chatham Dockyard, with a system whose length reached 20 miles, horses were used).  The locomotives followed normal practice with the frames inside the wheels; the first engine had the cylinders inside tharger cylinders outside, were not too wide (though side swipes between trains on adjacent lines were not uncommon.  The 18" railway at Woolwich used locomotives with *outside* frames (there were a very few exceptions). The Royal Engineers visited the London & North Western Railway's Crewe Works in the 1850s where the 18" locomotives had frames inside the wheels and cylinders inside the frames. Said cylinders could only be very small and the Military waited until the Hunslet Engine Co. developed outside frames in 1870.


As time passed guns and ammunition got heavier, and stronger rails were laid.  And passenger trains were provided to get workers quickly from the Arsenal gates to the more distant work places.  Faster locomotives were needed for this, with larger diameter wheels.  Open knife-board bogey wagons were made, the bogeys giving some comfort - but also the ability, with the knife-board removed, to take heavy loads at other times.  First class covered carriages were also produced by the Carriage Works.


An 18” railway was sent to Africa and laid to help in the unsuccessful relief of General Gordon at Khartoum in 1885; it was packed up put in charge of the Royal Engineers under Percy GIROUARD a Canadian of great promise then aged 23.  He re-laid decrepit 1860s track with the heavier rails brought back from Africa, and ran it as a single railway.  He remained in charge until 1895.


A compression-ignition engine came in 1896 – slow, but not having a fire it was much safer where high explosives were handled; four more soon followed.  Otherwise steam continued in use, and with rapid expansion in WWI more of a “Culverin” design first purchased in 1884 were ordered; and 16 of a more powerful “Charlton” class was ordered (of which the “Woolwich” is the remaining one).


In 1922 it was decided to scrap the 18” railway; at the time it had 3000 items of rolling stock including 1100 powder wagons.  Most of the steam engines, which had been worked hard during the war with less maintenance than they should have had, were sold off and scrapped.


However parts of the railway lingered to 1971.  A Diesel locomotive was bought in 1932, from the Hunslet Engine Co.. The loco was called 'Albert'. and another, the “Carnegie”, in 1954 – with cab heating!  Three small Diesels were bought during WW2.


Ian said that however it was run the Arsenal railway was always technically up-to-date.


The “Woolwich”, the “Carnegie” and one of the small Diesels had a new lease of life at the Bicton Woodland Railway in Devon from 1960. Woolwich' went for scrap in 1959 and was purchased from the breakers by Bicton in 1962. 'Carnegie' went directly to Bicton from the Arsenal in 1966. One of the small diesels was scrapped in Greenwich, one went to Bicton where it still is, and one to the Great Bush railway via a Nursery in Littlehampton and the Isle of Wight.


But by 2000 they were worn out, and new management got a Diesel powered ‘steam’ engine.  The “Woolwich” and “Carnegie” went to Waltham Abbey Gunpowder Mills.  The “Woolwich” was moved again, visiting Woolwich in 2011, to the Crossness Engines Trust, who are now rebuilding it.  The “Carnegie” remains at Waltham Abbey awaiting substantial repair.  The small Diesel is now at the Great Bush Railway in Sussex.


The Crossness Engines Trust has several wagons, including the powder wagon which recently stood outside the Heritage Centre, and with the “Woolwich”, could make up a train.  Thames Water, wishing to keep the Trust’s visitors away from their sewage treatment plant, are putting in a footpath by the sewer bank to Plumstead – wide enough to also accommodate a railway track (on the route of the spur line used in building the original Outfall Works).  This would make the Trust much more accessible.


100 years WW1

A simple service was held this morning (4th) at the only remaining Arsenal War Memorial. By the staff at Firepower Woolwich to mark the 100 years since the British Empire joined in the European War. 
The curator of the Royal Artillery and assistant prepare to lay a wreath.
 W M.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Building 17

Looking through the doors of Building 17 recently. This was the typical design.

The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich
BBC sound 05.58 min

Part of World War One at Home stories


Sunday, 1 June 2014

BBC- WW 1 on munition workers

World War One: The risks for women on the home front.

Workers at the munitions factory near Banbury 


Monday, 21 April 2014

WW1 Air Raid on Well Hall,


The War in the Air, a science fiction novel by H. G. Wells written in four months in 1907 and serialised and published in 1908 in The Pall Mall Magazine.

" For the workers toiling in the munitions factory in Woolwich the threat of an aerial bombardment seemed like a science fiction story rather than a real threat. Yet by 1915 the large looming Silver Fish in the sky, guided by the moonlit gilded Thames would wind their way to London. They knew that if they dropped their bombs before they reached the bulge in the river, Greenwich Peninsula, there was a chance they could hit the Royal Arsenal, so crucial to Britain’s war effort. "

Munitions workers who had flocked to Woolwich to take up work in the Royal Arsenal soon had experience of the Zeppelin raids.

1916.08.25 Raid
damaged property in Dickson Road, Sandby Green and completely demolished a house in Well Hall Road all on the new Garden City Estate that had been built to house workers. Three members of the same family were killed.

1916.09.03 Raid ?


Saturday, 12 April 2014

1936 explosion

Plumstead Cemetery SE2


1936.07.08 accidental explosion at 3pm in the Research Department of Woolwich Arsenal in which five men were declared killed. Testing a way of filling a High Explosive Shell. The isolated building in the Danger Area about a mile from the gate, was completely destroyed. The sound was hidden by the normal firing(testing) of a 15inch guns at the time.



Commander PaulAlaricMasters LONG RN(retired) aged 43year an Officer in the Armament Supply Department of the Admiralty. Worked in the Arsenal for thirteen years. 

Lived in Holley Bush House Sevenoaks, Kent. With his wife and two children


FrancisCharles LEWIS  scientist

Lived Commonwealth Way, Abbey Wood, London.


Jack BRIGNALL  laboratory assistant aged 26year
Lived Somerset Avenue, Welling, Kent with wife married in 1935


StanleyHerbert COOPER leading factory hand aged 41year

Lived in Raglan Road, Plumstead, London with wife no children.


WilliamEdward JOHNSON factory hand
Lived Spring Street, Deptford, London


Ernest CLARK factory worker injured abrasions and shock.


1936.07.10 Inquest held in Greenwich


1936.07.14 remains buried Plumstead Cemetery by the War Office.





Friday, 4 April 2014

HUGGETT, RichardHenry(1864-1927 )


HUGGETT, RichardHenry


Wife MaryAnn CULLEN(1863- 0

1886.12.25 Married St Margaret Plumstead Common,


1891census 61 Hanover Road, ‘Gauger of Projectiles’

1901census 48 Plumstead Common Road, ‘Overlooker of Projectiles’

1911census Gipsy Road, Welling, Kent


See …

Friday, 28 February 2014

WW 1 project at Greenwich Heritage Centre


To highlight the important part Woolwich and area played in the Great War of 1914 to 1920.

Un identified posed uniformed group.

 Greenwich Times
Titled: DANGEROUS DUTY: woman female munitions who packed shells with high explosive in the 'Danger Buildings'.

2014-02-25  Greenwich Times
The Greenwich Heritage Centre (Lottery Funded) on March 13th 6pm to 9pm to find out more.

contact ...


War Memoral Hospital


Woolwich and District Hospital Association

War Memorial Hospital.

Shooters Hill,
Opened in 1925, to replace the much smaller Woolwich, Plumstead and District Cottage Hospital. Following an appeal. On land owned by Major CES PHILLIPS(1871-1945).

The hall of remembrance contains two books of local dead from both World Wars including the Arsenal.

Greenwich Times

See …





PRINCE, Nathan()


Example of a Munitions worker identity card.

Description: Printed card wih blue fabric cover made out for N Prince with a number of validation stamps

See ...


SEWELL, LouiseMary nee COX()


Mrs Louise Mary Sewell (née Cox) worked at Woolwich Arsenal during the First World War.
The dress was amongst three boxes of clothing presented to Gunnersbury Park Museum in 1993 by Mrs Sewell's two daughters.
The dress, of which there were two examples, was passed to this museum in 1993 at the suggestion of the Museum of London.;

Example of a workers (female) uniform

© IWM (UNI 5193)

Description: dress beige heavy-duty cotton, long-sleeved dress -

See ...


Thursday, 27 February 2014

OXLEY, Henry()


Henry OXLEY aged 12 (assumed 1899jun Shoreditch 1c 103)  at 17 Cools Road, Peckham, SE

Series of eight IWM sound recordings done in 1975.
Being interviewed when then an old man. As a young man before being "called up" in April 1917.

one      lasts about 16minutes
two      lasts about 16minutes
three    to eight   army service.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014


The main problem in identifying photographs from the war period is that the Woolwich system (buildings; dress; machinery layout ;) was copied all over the Empire. Also for security signs were removed.

This from Sheffield Museum could easily be in the Arsenal.


Templeborough, West Riding, Yorkshire, England.




Monday, 24 February 2014

HOGG family


Found amongst their family archives - was this picture taken at Royal Arsenal circa 1916
Any one name the building and type of work?

taken from ...


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Workers homes

A street being constructed for "Woolwich arsenal workers "

Do we know where and when ?

possibly Eltham or Welling or Abbey Wood

The War Illustrated magazine vol 3  {Old photos of London and the East End


Friday, 14 February 2014

1903 explosion (2)

Greenwich Industrial History


updated web site

see ...


Arsenal Railway


Train ready for a visit of King George V.

Mercury special edition "Connection" 1986

Is it ...
Crossness Engines

“Pompey” class 0-4-0ST (Kerr Stewart of Stoke on Trent )


SEWELL, WilliamThomas(1858-1920)


SEWELL,  William aged 61years buried Plumstead Cemetery.
1920mar Woolwich 1D 1476

Three generations of my Sewell family have worked at the RA. My Grandfather, Thomas Edward Sewell (1885-1954) worked at the RA for over 50 years retiring in 1952. He was first a machinist, then an overlooker in the laboratory and finally worked in the storeroom. The house that my grandparents lived in at Eltham was one of many built to RA specifications before the First World War. It included a bathroom, range, scullery and garden with a green in the centre of the road between the houses for the children to play.

His father William Thomas Sewell (1858-1920) according to the census of 1871 at the age of 14 tears was a Cartridge Maker alongside his two elder brothers. John (Daniel John b.1850) age 20 was a labourer, while Alfred (William Alfred Jones b.1856) at 15 years was a Bullet Maker. William Thomas continued working at the RA as a labourer in the Laboratory until his death in 1920 at the age of 61 years. Their father, Jonathon William (1824-1881) had moved from Suffolk, where he was born, to the East End working as shipbuilder and engineering labourer. When the family moved south to Plumstead in the early 1860's he worked as a labourer at the RA.

Copied from …




Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Jolly Boys

The Jolly Boys Concert Party - Royal Arsenal 1914-18




Sunday, 26 January 2014

Post Card.
date ?

Wellington Statue
Millet mortar

The real woolwich community for real community people