In its earliest days, the railway only carried goods and the station was a wooden building which sat alone beside the River Thames. In the center of a rural landscape, it had few neighbors other than grazing cattle. When the railway began to take passengers it was prompted to do so by the arrival of a new rail service serving Woolwich, or South Woolwich as it was then called. Previously goods have been taken across the river from North Woolwich, but with its own direct line to London, it was no longer necessary for South Woolwich to use the service.
The Eastern Counties Railway, which was responsible for the North Woolwich line, decided to fight back. It established the Royal Pavilion Gardens (renamed the Royal Victoria Gardens in 1890) and in 1854 the grand Italianate station building, which now houses the museum, was built. Such rapid progress was mirrored in other areas of industry and the consequent economic boom led the Victorians to a preoccupation with opulence and status. This manifested itself in the grand public buildings erected in the era. North Woolwich Station was no exception.
The front of the building is adorned with four decorative pillars, called pilasters, as they serve no structural purpose. Acanthus leaves decorate the window lintels and the keystones and cornerstones are pitted or rusticated. Such imposing buildings reflected the status of the anticipated clientele. Passengers disembarking at North Woolwich were expected to be wealthy. visiting the area to patronize the pleasure boats that docked at the pier across the road or attending the dances and entertainments at the new Royal Pavilion Gardens.
However, it wasn’t the day-trippers who were changing the face of independent property valuers perth and the surrounding area. The railway attracted industry, which in turn led to the development of new communities. New houses had already been built along the line at Canning Town, housing workers from CJ Mare’s shipbuilders and ironworks. later Thames Ironworks, and as the railway developed other factories were being established. Silver’s Waterproofing Works gave the name Silvertown to the houses that grew up around it. Eastern Counties Railways knew that to secure the future of the line it had to ensure sustainability and consequently its officers and engineers were key players in the building of the Victoria Dock, which opened in 1855.