Closing date for the gunpowder magazine


Peter Jenkins of the Surrey Industrial History Group has provided detailed information which clarifies the date when the Greenwich gunpowder magazine was closed and demolished. A print of this magazine together with some notes by Wayne Cocroft appeared in Gunpowder Mills Study Group Newsletter 19, p 26. Mary Mills then wrote an article on the location of the magazine in Newsletter 21, pp 7-8 and there was a review of an article by Mary about the history of the  magazine, which included the same print, in Newsletter 22, p 25. Wayne thought that the print dated from the 1730s but Mary gave a date of 1794, although the costumes worn by figures in the foreground appeared to be earlier. Wayne said that the magazine closed in the 1760s and Mary in 1768.

Peter Jenkins has examined documents in Class WO 47 at the Public Record Office. This is a large and far from homogeneous class. The piece numbers in the range 34-120 are described as “Minutes, Surveyor-General” and cover the period 1749-1792. They are volumes, kept at the Surveyor-General’s office, representing his activities in executing the Board’s decisions. However the evidence does not establish them as a complete record of the Board’s

WO 47/77 Jan-Jun 1771

Feb 13, p 125: “Ordered that Lighters be sent to carry the Building Materials from Greenwich Magazine to Woolwich and that if any Store remains there they be sent to the Tower.” Apr 16, p 320: “Mr Newton Storekeeper at Greenwich Magazine having reported in his letter of the 8th pursuant to an order of the 5th instant that the Magazine and Proof House are entirely down and that there remains only the Office, part of the Guard Room, and the Stage and Bridge Standing and that there still remains a great quantity of Brick & old Timber to be sent to Woolwich which are daily sending lighters.”

Apr 24 & 25, p 340: “Mr Harwell reports that all the Greenwich magazine will be taken down and material sent away in about 3 weeks time.”
WO 47/81 Jan-Jun 1773

May 4, p 378: “Ordered that the letter from Mr John Lamb Deputy Expenditor, of 28th ult relating to the assessments on the Landholders for repairing the Walls and Banks of the River Thames, and desiring that the same may be paid for 1771 & 1772 for the Land belonging to the Late Powder magazine at Greenwich be referred to Mr Newton to report, when he quitted the Land, and all that he knows relating to what is set forth.” It seems conclusive that the magazine and proof house were demolished in 1771, probably by the end of May.

The page references in the above transcripts are hand-written ones and not printed ones

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