The Royal Artillery Museum – Woolwich

The Royal Artillery Museum is believed to be the only military museum that has been continually open to the public since 1820.  Situated in Woolwich, the museum has a history that no other museum in its field can match. Moving to its new home within the Royal Arsenal Gates in 2001 the museum was opened under its new name, the highly appropriate ‘Fire Power’, giving visitors a clear indication of the type of exhibit that they will find inside its walls. The Royal Arsenal is the original home of the regiment of the Royal Artillery and where the collection was first founded in 1778 by Lieutenant General Sir William Congreve, though at the time he held the rank of Captain.

Photo by 5DII
Photo by 5DII

The Fire Power Story

The museum chronicles the story of the Royal Artillery, it is a powerful and emotive story filled with drama and takes or courage. Visitors will be able to feel for themselves just what it is like to be on the battlefield with shells and ammunition detonating all around them in an audio visual show that will shake every fibre of their being in an experience that they will never forget, indeed it may take some time to get the roar of the guns out of your ears and out of your dreams. The arsenal here was an incredibly important centre for the manufacture of munitions a fact which was long held back from the public. Much of the incredible weaponry on display here was actually manufactured within the Royal Arsenal. In total there is around 700 years of military history on display in the museum, including a wide range of weaponry, military uniform and medals of honour, including the diaries of soldiers from the battle field.

Visitor Attractions

All of the exhibition rooms are in areas that were at one time a part of the secret Royal Laboratory Department which monitored ammunition design, testing and manufacture. As you enter Gunnery Hall you fill find yourself surrounded by weapons of all shapes and sizes that have been employed in battles around the globe, including anti aircraft guns, missile launchers and anti tank weaponry, including a range of 20th century military vehicles. Alongside each weapon you will find a description of the weapons design and range as well as details of where the artillery was deployed and the ammunition it uses. You will be able to see the weapon in use on interactive media displays as well as having missions of your own to complete too, such as shooting down an enemy bomber or disabling an enemy tank.

The Field of Fire exhibition will allow you to experience life as a war time gunner. Using a combination of archive film and real life stories, the floor beneath you trembles and shakes as each shell hits its target, the air thick with smoke and the beam of searchlights which scour the skies. The experience uses a rich mix of both heavy and light artillery to give you the sense of being caught up in battles from jungle terrain of Burma through to the centre of London during the Blitz.

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