The new Elizabeth line station at Woolwich is the latest to be transferred from the Crossrail construction project over to its new owner, Transport for London (TfL).
This is the fourth of the new Elizabeth line stations to be transferred over to infrastructure manager TfL, the others being Custom House, Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road stations.
The station was built at the historic site of the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich and was initially a dockyard established by King Henry VIII. It became increasingly important as an arsenal and ordnance factory in the 17th century, housing a military academy and Royal Laboratory, as well as a new brass gun foundry designed by Sir John Vanbrugh in the early 18th century, which remains there to this day.
The Royal Arsenal expanded rapidly in the mid to late 19th century, reaching its peak in the First World War when 80,000 people worked on the site, many of whom were women.
Today, the new station is a key part of a new development on the Royal Arsenal site which includes 3,750 new homes as well as new cultural, heritage, commercial and leisure facilities. Berkeley Group, developer of Royal Arsenal Riverside, agreed to fund and build the Woolwich station box. Balfour Beatty delivered the fit-out of the new station. Once open, people living here and across Woolwich can reach Canary Wharf in seven minutes, Liverpool Street in 14 minutes and Bond Street in just 21 minutes.
Howard Smith, Elizabeth line chief operating officer, added: “Woolwich station transferring to TfL is a testament to hard work and co-operation between us and the Crossrail team ahead of the Elizabeth line opening.
“My operations and maintenance teams will now be working to prepare Woolwich for Trial Operations.
“When the Elizabeth line opens the station will be a real gateway for southeast London and will be well connected to the TfL network, including local buses.”
Trial Operations is the final phase of testing, involving trials to ensure the safety and reliability of the railway for public use. This includes real-time testing of scenarios including evacuations of trains and stations before opening the Elizabeth line. The contractor, Balfour Beatty, will continue demobilisation from the site.
Mark Wild, Crossrail chief executive, said: “I am delighted that Woolwich station has been handed over to Transport for London.
“Woolwich is a beautiful station, surrounded by rich history which has been brilliantly captured by all those working on the station build.
“I am proud of everyone who has worked so hard to get this magnificent new railway station over the line.”
Entry to the station will be from a single 30-metre-wide bronze clad portal, which opens out onto Dial Arch Square, a green space, flanked with a series of Grade I and II listed buildings. In addition to enhancing the experience in and out of the station, the urban realm design also helps connect the station with the wider town centre.
Linking the station to its remarkable history, the two major facades depict a contemporary representation of the bronze memorial plaques that were minted here during the First World War. The black steel cladding which makes up the facades incorporates images of Britannia and the Lion which had originally featured on the bronze plaques.
The ‘Dead Man’s Penny’, as they came to be known, were ceremonial plaques, 4.72 inches (120 mm) in diameter, given to the families of soldiers who gave their lives in the Great War. More than one million of these plaques were cast at the Royal Arsenal. In 2019 Crossrail also revealed a memorial ‘Dead Man’s Penny’ plaque, outside the station.