Plumstead: A 19th suburb of Woolwich's industrial and military might

by Barbara Ludlow

Bostall Estate, Abbey Wood

Bostall Estate, Plumstead, 1927

Between 1900 and 1914 the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society built over one thousand homes on land that they had bought at Abbey Wood at the eastern extremity of Plumstead. In 1915 the population of Plumstead was 77,357 by 1919 it approached 80,000.

After World War I the workforce in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich declined very rapidly causing a consequent reduction in the population of Plumstead to 76,778 in 1921 then to 70,200 by 1932.

In the 1920s and 1930s Woolwich Council built large new estates on green field sites in Eltham. The new growing new suburb at Eltham had a long-term effect on the growth and prosperity of Plumstead, which had been Woolwich’s first and oldest suburb.