Greenwich

The London Borough of Greenwich was created in 1965 as part of the reorganisation of local government in London. It was formed by merging the former metropolitan boroughs of Greenwich and Woolwich. The borough lies to the east of the City of London and is bordered by the boroughs of Lewisham, Bromley and Bexley. Its northern boundary is the River Thames.

Population change

1966231,590 people
1998213,600 people

Because of its location on the River Thames, the borough has always had strong military and naval connections. In the 16th century King Henry VIII established a dock at Woolwich. In the 17th century King William III and Queen Mary II founded a large Naval Hospital (designed by Christopher Wren) in the town of Greenwich, which was taken over by the Royal Naval College in the mid-1800s.

The large Royal Ordnance Factory was built near the docks in Woolwich to produce guns, explosives, and ammunition. The factory grew and by the 19th century the Royal Arsenal was the largest ammunition and arms repository in the country. During the First World War it expanded to be the largest in Europe, its workforce including 30,000 women working in place of men recruited into the army.

The Royal Ordnance Factory closed in 1967, bringing to an end over 400 years of industry. By 2000, the site was set to become the second largest regeneration project in the borough, with plans to convert the buildings into housing, a museum, and leisure facilities.

The borough's largest regeneration project was the Greenwich peninsula. In the late 1990s it was transformed into the site of the Millennium Dome and the Millennium Village, a housing development built with 'green' principles of renewable energy in mind. For most of the 20th century, the peninsula had housed large dirty or dangerous industries. The South Metropolitan Gas Works opened its East Greenwich Gas Works on the site in 1889 and, at its peak, employed over 3,500 people. By the middle of the 20th century the introduction of natural gas had caused the factory to decline, and it closed in 1985.

The two foot tunnels under the Thames at Greenwich and Woolwich are part of Greenwich's industrial legacy. They were built to enable workers to move between the industrial concerns on the river's south bank and the docks on the north. Woolwich also has a free car ferry.

By the end of the 20th century, tourism was one of Greenwich's most important employment sectors. The borough has many cultural and entertainment venues such as the National Maritime Museum and Greenwich market. It also has 27 Grade 1 listed buildings and a World Heritage Site centred on the Royal Observatory. The Observatory is the home of Greenwich Mean Time, officially recognised as the standard British time in 1884.

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