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The Arsenal site has been used for the testing and manufacture of armaments since the 16th century

The Royal Arsenal Woolwich, aka The Arsenal, Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF), & in Tudor times the Royal Dockyard, Woolwich

The Regiment of Artillery

The Regiment of Artillery was established in Woolwich. By subsequent good organisation and training of officers and gunners, the Regiment ensured that the cannons, guns and mortars went into their battle positions early and continued firing until ordered to cease.

In those days the normal method of obtaining a commission in the Army  cavalry or infantry, was by purchase. But the infant Regiment of Artillery broke tradition, and early commissions were obtained from the ranks; i.e. trained gunners were promoted to Chief Bombadiers or Chief Petardiers before graduating as commissioned officers.

This procedure was acceptable to some degree, but not entirely. Within a year or so a new method of providing future artillery officers was instituted. This was carried out by increasing the complement of each Company to include Gentlemen Cadets. The Royal (Regiment) Artillery was hidebound in some ways, but its separate existence spared it the inefficient snobbery of aristocratic leadership and the absurd system of promotion by purchase.

In 1720 an attempt was made by Brig. General Michael Richards to place the cadets education on a much firmer footing, but the arrangements at Tower Place, Woolwich never proved entirely satisfactory. Two decades later however the establishment of a cadet school under a Royal Warrant provided the impetus of properly training an Officer Corps for the Royal Artillery. The Cadet Company was formed in 1741. The school for cadets at Woolwich Warren (Arsenal) to instruct inexperienced persons in the several parts of gunnery, fortification and mathematics necessary to qualify them for service in the Artillery and the business of Engineers, was considered such a successful scheme that in 1752, new barracks were constructed facing the Regimental parade ground in the lower part of the Warren near the Plumstead Road. The estimate for the building of the barracks was £529. (Cadet Barracks)

In later years these were modified to accommodate middle managers of the Royal Arsenal, whose duties demanded, for one reason or another, that they be 'on site'. They were demolished in the 1980's to make way for Plumstead Road eastbound much to the disgust of the Georgian Society.

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Woolwich Arsenal maps

click map for large size

Places of Interest within the Arsenal which can still be seen

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