Thursday 6 November 2014

Firepower Museum

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. 


  1. You lucky so-and-so. We have a painting in the castle where I work of a parade at Woolwich circa 1790's. Always wanted to go, never made it.

  2. I am really pleased to see that you and your family enjoyed your visit to FIREPOWER. As you know, I live about a mile from the Museum and have very strong views about its closure. Hopefully your blog entry will encourage others to visit before the Museum closes.

    All the best,


  3. Looks very nice...and huge!

  4. Some awesome stuff on display there...

  5. Great collection. Real shame to see it split up. A real shame for the history of the local place as well to make way for development. BOO! HISS!
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Some of the development is preserving the old buildings by putting them to new use, and I don't have a problem with that. But I do think the current setup of the Firepower Museum and Heritage Center should remain, at the very least. At its height the Woolwich Arsenal covered 1285 acres, employed close to 80000 people and even had 120 miles of dedicated narrow gauge railway within its boundry. My Maternal Grandparents met and worked at the Arsenal during WW2 so I owe quite a lot to this place.

  6. Fantastic photos! Thanks for sharing. I'm surprised how delicate the carriage for that falconet is.

  7. Great posting Lee. The closure is a disgrace, no doubt about it :(

  8. Thanks for (another) great post. A real shame if this museum closes. But history isn't very interesting, is it? Military history even less so...
    The stupid people in power doesn't understand and/or care that this can't ever be rebuilt.

  9. That looks really impressive as well as extremely interesting!
    Many thanks for sharing.


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