Over the Half Term school holidays my family and I went out for the day to the Firepower Museum in Woolwich. The in-laws came with us too and we decided to cross the river via the Woolwich Ferry, something I haven't done in many years and which brought back lots of good memories. Woolwich itself has changed a lot and everywhere we looked there seemed to be building work going on. Despite a few changes to the road layout I was able to work my way round to the rather small car-park serving the museum, literally just a couple of minutes walk from the site.
Our visit was prompted by the possible closure of the Firepower Museum announced earlier this year and scheduled for December 2016. This would see the existing building vacated and the bulk of the exhibits moved elsewhere. A much smaller permanent exhibition about the Royal Artillery and the Woolwich Arsenal would be housed in the adjacent Heritage Centre. While the Chairman of the Museum diplomatically describes this as "a significant opportunity" I would describe it as nothing short of a public outrage and an insult to the hundreds of thousands who once worked in the Arsenal and to all those who served in the Royal Artillery. Unfortunately money speaks louder than heritage and it looks likely that 200 years of tradition will soon be coming to and end.
|Inside the Firepower Museum - The main hall has ample space for some very large exhibits|
|Firepower - The Museum of the Royal Artillery|
|Target Practice! 13 inch Iron plate shows the scars of artillery testing from 1873|
|Half Term events for the kids included an Assault course to wear them out.|
|Copies of the sculptures designed by Charles Sergent Jagger from the base of the Royal Artillery Monument at Hyde Park Corner|
|British 6 pdr Mk II AT Gun - 1943|
|British 17 Pdr AT Gun - 1944|
|British 18 Pdr QF Mk II - 1936|
|Nan & Grandad 'help' my daughter make a Halloween Lantern|
|The Gunnery Hall contains some large and very impressive exhibits|
|A Soviet era 2S3 M-1973 Akatsiya 152mm SP Gun Howitzer in front of the Heritage Centre opposite the Firepower Museum|
|British 25 Pdr QF Gun - 1941|
|British 3.7 Inch AA Gun on static mounting 2C - 1941|
|First World War German helmet - The two large lugs on either side were employed to support a heavy armoured plate, called a Stirnpanzer which offered greater protection.|
|ECW Falconet on its original carriage - 17th Century|
|American 75mm M1A1 pack Howitzer used as a light airborne weapon by the British - 1942|
|The Gunnery Hall|
This is a great little museum with some surprising exhibits all displayed well with good supporting information. The museum is well kept and every gun gleams and looks as it is ready to fire at a moments notice. We got chatting to one of the volunteers - a veteran of the Royal Artillery - who said he cleans and oils the guns every day.
I often end these reviews by saying "well worth a visit" and this museum is no exception. Given that the site is due for closure next year I would advise anyone interested to get down to Woolwich as soon as possible to see the wonderful collection before it is scattered forever. When it finally leaves the heritage of the area will be immeasurably diminished.