Woolwich Common’s Olympic makeover goes on

For all the hue and cry over Greenwich Park and the Olympics, there’s very little notice being taken of what’s going on at Woolwich Common, venue for the 2012 shooting and wheelchair archery events. Of all London’s Olympic sites, Woolwich Common is undergoing the most dramatic changes of anywhere outside the Olympic Park itself. You have to go up close to really appreciate the size of what’s being erected…

The first thing I thought after taking my first look for a few weeks – hadn’t I seen the design on the vents somewhere before?

The second thing… it’s huge!

You’ll see a token bit of branding has appeared on the quieter (Ha Ha Road) side of the site, but what’s happening will remain a mystery to anyone passing by on the South Circular. You can see it from as a far away as Charlton House, looming over the skyline.

While there’s been an outcry over possible damage to Greenwich Park – now looking in good shape following July’s test events – the scale of the work at Woolwich slipped through unnoticed. About half the common is out of bounds, and a small part has been covered in tarmac for a disabled car park. “It’s Woolwich grass, nobody’s bothered about that,” one local complained when imploring me to take a look.

Across Ha Ha Road, screens are being erected while the frontage of the Royal Artillery Barracks is being spruced up. While there’s worries on just how many people can be squeezed into Greenwich Park for the equestrian events, the real visible Olympic action is currently happening further east.

Speaking of squeezing people into Greenwich, we’ll hopefully find out more about plans for SE London’s road and transport networks during 2012 at an exhibition at Devonport House between Thursday and Sunday. Some local bus routes will change during the Olympics – one will see the 486 diverted at Charlton Park (presumably to steer it away from Woolwich Common), others will see extra double-deckers put on the 108 and 129 with changes around North Greenwich. We’ll find out more, hopefully, on Thursday.


  1. North Greenwich-Lewisham, of course. (Not so different from the extras they throw in the evenings to mop up Dome traffic, of course.)

  2. OMG! I have noticed it, you can’t really miss it. See this is another issue I have because I was led to believe that the firing range was going to actually happen in the army barracks. Thinking this would be sufficient, they must have a training firing range there already, but no here is it bang in the middle of Woolwich Common. A conservation area, open land, another green space. The next question we must ask ourselves will it really come down at the end of the Olympics?

  3. Just to add, we have the Spaceship what is the o2 at the Peninsular, now we have the space headquarters which is known as the firing range on Woolwich Common…lol What next?

  4. Woolwich needs its defenders too, I hope now the battle of Greenwich Park is over and important concessions have been gained there with regard to protecting the park and improving plans, that some attention will be focussed on what’s happening to Woolwich Common.

  5. I am sure there will be a group dedicated with putting this right and making sure it holds Council to account with the stipulations to be able to build here and make sure that any damage is restored when it is finally removed. One can hope anyway, if not I’m on it!!.

  6. funny how the “shooters hill” ( aka plumstead se18 ) mob wasnt up in arms about this or the nogo idiots didnt even notice this happening as it wasnt in there beloved se10 ( which greenwich council very unfairly dedicates far too many resources to as they write more complaint letters )
    so proud that woolwich and plumstead ( has mostly ) embraced the advantages and recognition that being part of london 2012 will bring

    we got the dlr and a ton of great publicity out of this and the MOD ( who manage woolwich common NOT greenwich council ) will put it all back as it should be – hey nature will do that just like in greeniwch park wont it….

    p.s isnt a park or common meant for the use of the people not just those who want to take the dog for a walk and let it crap all over the place……

  7. I think the correct term for this is “Bleedin horrible!” Ive been watching it go up & I am wondering if the plastic sheeting will survive a harsh winter, and what is the sand aren in the corner by the hospital traffic lights for?

  8. I think this is going to be the holding area for the horses that will take part in Greenwich Park. This is why I don’t understand why they wanted an equestrian centre at Shooters Hill Road, and kept calling it an ‘Olympic legacy’ when it is not going to be used for the damn Olympics.

  9. I drive by a lot and also wondered what the snad area was about. It looks a bit small for a holding area (actually, surely it is too small) but it does look horsey. Any ideas anyone?

    I was horrified to see the Tarmac go down, it looks absolutely horrendous and out of place. I assume it will be dug up after the Olympics.

    As to the actual changes, I rather like the buzz of it all. It’s temporary (isn’t it?) and the Barracks will provide a splendid backdrop to it all.

  10. I assumed the holding area would be Shooters Hill stables, as it was for the test events.

    Tarmac can only be temporary, of course – there used to be a lot more roads over Blackheath until a decade or so ago.

  11. Just to update you, the holding place for the Olympic horses will not be at Shooters Hill Road. I heard it from a good source that the horses will be held at the site in Woolwich Common. The site at Shooters Hill Road is to be a equestrian skills centre (university).

  12. I forgot to add the the ‘Holding Centre’ is to test the horses for drugs and illness before they participate in the sporting activity in Greenwich park. They wont need to be be there all at one nor for long periods of time. Hope that helps.

  13. I’m not sure exactly what is meant by the ‘sand’ area in the corner by the hospital traffic lights, but if it’s the bit where the old army buildings were knocked down, isn’t this the permanent practice area, with public viewing, for the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, who are supposed to be moving in soon?

  14. Could be for the Kngs Troop , it’s not far from their new stables, am I the only one who hears the Tellytubbies theme tune as I drive past?

  15. I was thinking that but I start to hear the theme tune from ‘Close encounters’ or ‘Independence day’ because the Council are definitely independent about their decisions!

  16. LOCOG have confirmed they’re not using the equestrian centre for the staging post – but haven’t got a new site yet for it.

  17. I was informed there has not been an answer to whether this is going to be reinstated after the games does anyone have any info on this?

  18. This is definitely the firing range, right? Because the more and more I look at it I keep thinking the bullets are going to be flying through that materiel.

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