Woolwich

Woolwich .—Taking the south side of the river instead of the north, and availing himself of steamers or of trains, (from Charing Cross, Fenchurch Street, or Shoreditch,) the stranger finds the next place of importance below Greenwich to be Woolwich .  This is a busy town in Kent, eight miles from London by land, and ten following the course of the river.  Here, in the reign of Henry VIII., a dockyard for the construction of vessels of the royal navy was established; and ever since that time the place has been distinguished as an arsenal for naval and military stores.  The dockyard was closed 1st October, 1869.  From the river, a view is obtained of the arsenal, now greatly improved.  The ground of the arsenal, for nearly a mile in length, is bounded on the river side by a stone quay, and is occupied in part by prodigious ranges of storehouses and workshops.  Among these is included a laboratory for the preparation of cartridges, bombs, grenades, and shot; a splendid manufactory for shells and guns; a gun-carriage factory of vast extent; and a store of warlike material that never fails to fill a stranger with amazement.  Adjoining are barracks for artillery and marines, military hospitals, &c.  On the upper part of Woolwich Common is situated a royal military academy for the education of young gentlemen designed for the army.  Strangers (if not foreigners) are admitted to the arsenal only by a written order from the War Office.  The number of government establishments in and near Woolwich is very large; and there is generally something or other going on which a stranger would be interested in seeing.

Woolwich

Below Woolwich .—Numerous steamers during the day, trains on the Tilbury Railway, and others on the North Kent Railway, give easy access to a number of pleasant places lower down the river than Woolwich.  On the Essex side are Rainham, near which onion gardens are kept up; Purfleet, where vast stores of government gunpowder are kept; Grays, where immense quantities of chalk are dug, and where copious springs of very pure water are found in the chalk beds; and Tilbury, where there is a regular fortification for the defence of the river, and a steam-ferry over to Gravesend. Tilbury FortOn the Kent side are Plumstead Marshes, where artillery practice by Woolwich officers is carried on;Crossness Point, where the fine buildings connected with the Southern Outfall Sewer are situated, (and near which were the great Powder Magazines that blew up in October, 1864;) Erith, with its pretty wooded heights; Greenhithe, where the late General Havelock passed some of his early years, and where Alderman Harmer built a mansion with the stones of old London Bridge; and Northfleet, where much shipbuilding is carried on.  Beyond Northfleet is Gravesend, a famous place for Cockney picnics, but fast losing its rural character.  Commercially, Gravesend is important as being the place where the customs' authorities recognise the port of London to begin; all ships, incoming and outgoing, are visited by the officers here, pilots embark and disembark, and much trade accrues to the town in consequence.

Gravesend Reach