Dial Arch Square RAR is one of the interesting green spaces in the former Royal Arsenal in Woolwich. The project is managed by Berkeley Homes who are also responsible for the new Kidbrooke Village development.Read more: Dial Arch Square RAR
Royal Arsenal Riverside (RAR)
Royal Arsenal Riverside (RAR) is a £1.2 billion regeneration project by Berkeley Homes over thirty years, starting in 2001 and covering 88 acres on the riverside. It is the largest site of Grade I and Grade II listed buildings converted to residential use in the UK and will provide 5,000 new homes when finally completed.
Housebuilding is about more than building houses. Regeneration schemes create new neighbourhoods, too, with distinct identities and a vibrant feel. Meanwhile, the whole site is now filling up nicely with shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants.Best Regeneration Project Award in the Evening Standard New Homes Awards in 2022.1
Dial Arch Square
You step out of the Elizabeth Line Station in Woolwich into a pretty green square surrounded by historical buildings, almost a village green. And just like a genuine village green it has a pub, in fact two! It is a busy space, with a constant stream of life passing under the substantial London plane trees.
Dial Arch Pub
On your right is The Great Pile which was built in 1717-20 as workshops. (This was once the site of a Roman cemetery.) The engineers who worked here formed the Dial Square Football Club in 1886; two years later this became the Royal Arsenal Football Club and in 1891, when the club turned professional, it became the Woolwich Arsenal Football Club. The final change came in 1913 when the Arsenal Football Club move to Highbury.
Today only the frontage of The Great Pile remains. In 1764 this carried a sundial which is probably the origin of the square’s name and the building is now the Dial Arch pub.
The second pub overlooking the square is in the former Guardhouse.
A statue of Nike, a Winged Victory, stands outside the pub and was a gift from Greece during the 2012 Olympics. The statue is by Pavlos Angelos Kougioumtzis. Apparently copies of this statue have been presented to every host city since 1996.
To your left is the Verbruggen House. Jan Verbruggen and his son Pieter came to Woolwich in 1770 to run the Royal Brass Foundry. Jan Verbruggen was born in West Friesland and trained as an artist and architect. He worked for the Admiralty and the Foundry in the Hague where he developed new techniques for making cannons. He brought this knowledge to England and later it was essential to the development of steam engines.
Father and son were appalled by the existing accommodation and built themselves a new house which today is offices.
The Brass Foundry
The Royal Brass Foundry dates from 1716-17 and is a Grade I listed building. It may have been designed by Vanbrugh and it was extended by Verbruggen. It is a rare example of a purpose-built foundry and workshop.
Dial Arch Square is an interesting little square in this new riverside development and I look forward to seeing it in summer weather when I hope it will be a little less bleak.