As part of Open House, Peabody is opening Tump 53. Click here to find out more.


History of the site

In the 1970s The Greater London Council (GLC) pioneered a new approach to ecology and nature conservation in London, and Thamesmead Tump 53 is an excellent example of this policy. Within the old Woolwich Arsenal, the Tump was used to store explosives — now it has a peaceful future as a Nature Park for residents to enjoy.

The site of Thamesmead was originally marshland. Piecemeal reclamation began perhaps as long ago as the Roman period and in the nineteenth century the Royal Arsenal began to extend eastwards across land now occupied by the new town. This resulted in a massive concentration of buildings used for the manufacture and testing of munitions.

Early in the last century a large number of moated explosive stores or 'Tumps' were built, and the remains of some of these still survive. When it was used as part of the old Woolwich Arsenal, Tump 53 was known as Magazine No 14, Traffic Number F53 and was used by the Army Ordnance Service for the storage of Cordite (propellant).

The central Tump had a storage building (magazine) enclosed by large earth banks (bunds), surrounded by a brick wall, a wooden draw bridge style gate and a moat. There was a narrow gauge railway track leading to the storage building for the locomotives that transported the Cordite.