Firepower – The Royal Artillery Museum
|Established||4 May 1820|
|Location||Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, South East London|
|Public transit access||Woolwich Arsenal|
Although the museum was set up to preserve Royal Artillery (RA) history, it is in fact much more than a regimental museum as the RA has been involved in most British actions for over 200 years. Over two million men and women have served in the RA since its formation and human stories of bravery and sacrifice are told throughout the museum.
The museum is located in some of the former buildings of the Royal Arsenal, which was Britain's principal ordnance manufacturing facility from the early 18th century until the mid-20th century. Since the turn of the millennium the Royal Arsenal site has been undergoing a mixed-use redevelopment, and Firepower is one of the anchor features of this project.
The forerunner of Firepower was the Royal Military Repository, which was established on the Royal Arsenal site in May 1778. After a fire in 1802 the surviving artefacts were rehoused in the Old Royal Military Academy. In 1820 the main collection was moved to the Rotunda on Woolwich Common. The collection moved to Firepower in April 2001. All of Firepower's buildings were once part of the Royal Laboratory Department, which controlled the manufacture of ammunition. The Old Military Academy and some of the other buildings used by Firepower are grade II listed. The adjacent Greenwich Heritage Centre tells the story of the local people of Greenwich who worked in the Arsenal and made the guns.
Collection and displays
As so many people have served in the Royal Artillery, the museum's archive of 'Gunner' records are much in demand with genealogists and family-history researchers. The archive's experts have produced a handy guide for Royal Artillery family-tree researchers called "Is there a Gunner in your family tree?" which explains step by step just how to find out about Gunner ancestors and relatives.
Firepower has large collections of historic and modern weapons. It is composed of the following sections:
- Field of Fire: An interactive exhibit with sound, smoke, screens and vibrations designed to give visitors an idea of what it is like to be a modern gunner in war time.
- The Gunnery Hall: The museum's main display of 20th century weapons.
- The History Gallery: This covers the history of artillery from slings and arrows onwards.
- Medals Gallery: Displays a selection from the museum's collection of thousands of medals won by members of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, and tells some of the stories behind them.
- Modern Gunner
Gallery of exhibits
Gallery of buildings
Four historic buildings have been leased to the museum since the 1990s for the storage and display of artefacts and archives, etc, two of which were linked by a new building (1999-2001) to form the main museum.
To the left of the main entrance, the former Royal Laboratory Offices (Building 18, 1855-6) houses museum offices, the archives of the Royal Artillery Historical Trust and the James Clavell Library.
Until recently Building 41 (opposite the main museum) housed Cold War era exhibits; it was originally part of the New Laboratory Square factory complex.
Building 40 is the oldest of the buildings leased to the museum; having once housed the Royal Military Academy, it provided an early home for the Royal Artillery Museum between 1802-1820, prior to its move to the Rotunda.
Other Artillery museums
- "Woolwich Firepower Royal Artillery Museum 'to leave by 2017' - former board member hits out". Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "A statement by the Chairman of the Royal Artillery Museum Board". Retrieved 8 July 2014.
- Survey of London vol. 48: Woolwich. Yale. 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Royal Artillery Museum Woolwich London.|