Opened in 1854 as a grand terminus station, closed in 1979, then a museum, and now empty, North Woolwich railway station is up for sale.

Once all fields and empty, as the area industrialised following the construction of the nearby docks, a new railway was built which ran from Stratford to North Woolwich over a few years, opening the North Woolwich extension in 1847.

Although the noted railway architect, William Tite was commissioned to design the station in 1847 it didn’t actually open until 1854. Apart from busy worker traffic, it also had a short burst of wider popularity when the Royal Pavilion Gardens opened. The station was partially damaged during World War II, restored, but then the decline of the docks meant a small metal shed ticket hall was built beside it in 1979 to replace the grand building.

The grand old station building was converted to a museum and opened by the Queen Mother on 20th Nov 1984 — who arrived on the Flying Scotsman!

It was a curious old museum, quite small but rather nice. On my only visit, having organised a group of a dozen or so people to go to the nearby Crossness pumping station, we took in this museum as well, and the manager’s eye nearly popped out of his head when he saw us walk in. I think we may have been the largest group of people he had seen in years.

The railway line was still operational though, and the small shed-like structure served as the Silverlink station for many years. The line finally closed on Saturday 9 December 2006 and the last train left at 11.37pm. The museum survived for a few more years, until Crossrail came along and the museum closed in November 2008, with the site cleared by 2011.

There was some talk of turning it into a heritage railway, but that was curtailed by the conversion of the tracks for Crossrail.

Although the museum and its contents were passed to the House Mill in Bow, in 2010 it was suggested for an arts centre, and in 2016 there was talk of a social enterprise occupying the site, in 2017 there was again talk of conversion into an arts centre, but it was costing the owners £20,000 a year to maintain, so it was sold to a property investment firm, Sav Group in 2018 for £395,000, plus £5,000 for the railway land behind.

The new owners record the property as being retained while a planning strategy was developed, but have instead decided to put it up for sale instead. It’s now being sold for offers in excess of £1 million – which is not bad if you’re the current owner, and maybe a bit of a sore point if you are the former owners.

However, if you’re thinking it’ll make a nice home, or flats conversion, think again.

The building and grounds are classified as D1 on the planning register – which is for non-residential institutions. It could be possible to seek a conversion to residential, but the buyer would be taking quite a risk that the application is refused.

It seems that the current investor owners, as they are selling up, may have faced the same problem.

If you think from looking at the photos, hang on, it’s a home already – that’s live-in guardians – people who live in empty offices and the like for reduced rent and act as local security.

The building is also listed, which limits what can be done with it, as the railway turntable is a rarity in still being in situ, and protected, as are various details of the building itself.

Any new owner can’t dig down for new foundations either – as the land underneath the old station is owned by Crossrail – as its eastbound tunnel passed directly under the building.

It’s a pity it can’t be a home for a rich railway geek, as apart from the old station building itself, the amount of ex-railway land would make for a gigantic back garden. That said, if a rich railway geek were to buy it, I’d bet the planning officers might be a bit more interested in changing the planning status to preserve the old building and its railway turntable.

If you’ve got a million quid, then Strettons want to hear from you.


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  1. Maurice Reed says:

    I’ve often wondered what happened to the railway rolling stock that had been part of this museum.

  2. Martin Wink says:

    I thought I saw the remnants of a turntable from Google Maps. Thanks for confirming it.

  3. Thomas says:

    Given how grotty the surroundings are, this would be a nice centrepiece for making the north side of the ferry and tunnel more inviting. There’s been so zombie development that something historical to create a human focus would be nice.

  4. Ryan Frake says:

    What estate agent is it on

  5. Gail Bentzinger says:

    I’d like to make it a home as long as I could fence part of the land in the rear so the dog could be let out. I don’t have £1m to buy the place let alone the money to renovate the interior.

  6. John Coletrain says:

    I visited it in the late 90’s, and as Thomas says, it was a little tired looking and it occurred to me as well that it could be now be made into something vibrant and interesting.. maybe a bijou shopping mall with (say) a restaurant set up in some old vintage carriages on the platform(?). The turntable is unique in being right next to the concourse, usually it would have been located up the track at the entrance to the site, so I can see why it is protected.

  7. JP says:

    Many’s the time that I’ve been sitting in the ferry queue admiring this wonderful building. Wall upon wall of nothing wrong with them but none-too-interesting brick housing blocks and then you sweep or crawl round the corner to be met by a classic of Victorian effort and pride.

    A terminus station building, platforms, a turntable no less! Where’s that lottery slip? Could you get by with a couple of filing cabinets to persuade the planners that it really is a business, d’you think?

  8. Plumstead Resident says:

    I visited the museum several times in the 1980s and 90s. It was indeed a very quaint museum in an otherwise culturally barren area.

    There was also a small public library inside too. I’m not sure when the library closed, but it was certainly open until at least the mid-1990s.

  9. Keith Murray says:

    This is rich…..they purchased the property for only around £350,000 and want to sell it for a million. Do people realize that the rumour is that one of the board members was on the board of Three Mills Trust before it was sold ?, Do people know that Three Mills Trust were negligent in their upkeep of the Grade 2 listed building ? they allowed important items get stolen from the station. Newham Coucil should put a compulsary purchase order on the Building and save it from becoming destroyed, it is a part of Newham’s history.

    • ianvisits says:

      Before you go around libelling people – you might want to check your facts.

      The names of people on the board of Three Mills is public information, as are the names of the investors who bought the property — and no overlap occurred. I know, because I looked up the details when researching this article.

  10. paul dyer says:

    what happened to the museum items?

  11. Michael Higgins says:

    It would make a great Wetherspoons pub!

  12. What a coincidence! I recently wrote to Wetherspoons suggesting that they should consider acquiring this building.

  13. Mo Miah says:

    Representatives of a church have been viewing the property

  14. Andrew Gwilt says:

    If it’s not allowed to be demolished then it can be remodelled into apartments with possible extension. Or maybe turn it into a museum.

  15. PAUL MEDDEMMEN says:

    I understand that the actual turntable was removed following WW2 bomb damage, although, in my view, the remains are worth and should be preserving.

  16. Dan says:

    Whats the name of the company for the live in guardians? Walked past it today and it had signs up, just cant remember who!

    Its going to end up being a very trendy bar I feel.

    Its a shame Crossrail and TFL dont seem to be interested in keeping it as a station

  17. Rosie Hattersley says:

    Went and had a look today. Lovely platform canopy is still there. Unfortunately, the plans that have been submitted involve front and rear extensions, so losing that canopy and presumably making a fair difference to the view from the front. They also want to add a mezzanine floor and make internal alterations.
    Pretty sure the new owner isn’t either a rail buff or a lover of historic railway buildings, more’s the pity!
    Planning doc is 20/02919/LBC

  18. Edward Gormley says:

    I loved visiting the North Woolwich Old Station Museum when I was a boy. I was sad to hear that it closed in 2008. I do wish it could be converted into a railway museum again – I would love to go back there and see it all decorated with railway exhibits and lots of activities you can have a go at!

  19. MARY Mills says:

    i used to teach a WEA class on industrial history there. Great for diversions to look at the river and the odd interesting boat.

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