The wonders of Woolwich

The University of Greenwich story actually started a few miles down the road at Woolwich. We remember some of Woolwich’s legendary student landmarks.

Thomas Spencer Hall fire

Through Woolwich Polytechnic, and later Thames Polytechnic and the university, our students were part of the fabric in Woolwich for well over 100 years, from as long ago as 1890.
For many alumni their introduction to Woolwich was arriving at the nine-storey Thomas Spencer Hall of Residence. For over 30 years, from 1971, this was home to generations of students, approximately 250 each year.

Alumni always seem to have a few tales to tell about life in these halls….

In a week in which London marks the 350th anniversary of its Great Fire in 1666, it appears that Thomas Spencer Hall had its own fire, in around 1993.

Steve Hill recounts: “Someone fell asleep in his room with candles going and started a small fire. Cue the alarms going off and everyone assembling outside for a couple of hours while the firemen sorted it out. I seem to remember there was a floor that was out of commission for a while.”

Sadly, Thomas Spencer Hall was demolished in 2008, but hopefully its spirit remains in the many lifelong friendships that were first made there.

“Someone fell asleep in his room with candles going and started a small fire. Cue the alarms going off and everyone assembling outside for a couple of hours while the firemen sorted it out. I seem to remember there was a floor that was out of commission for a while.”
Steve Hill

Cellar Bar

Another iconic meeting point was the basement Cellar Bar at the main site in Calderwood Street. Perhaps not the aesthetically pleasing bar by the sounds of it, and often cursed with a slippery floor, but a much revered social hub, renowned for its gigs and club nights.

Phil Windeatt (Humanities 1979) recalls: “The Cellar Bar was pretty grim – there were vinyl tiles on the floor and the toilets were terrible with graffiti all over the walls. But it was the fulcrum where you went to meet and get something to eat and drink. It had a little burger bar tacked on to the bar, a couple of pinball tables and a fantastic juke box.

“The midweek gigs there were great, just 20p to get in. It was an intimate venue with a low ceiling so the sound was pretty good.”

“The Cellar Bar was pretty grim – there were vinyl tiles on the floor and the toilets were terrible with graffiti all over the walls. But it was the fulcrum where you went to meet and get something to eat and drink. It had a little burger bar tacked on to the bar, a couple of pinball tables and a fantastic juke box.
Phil Windeatt, Humanities 1979

Rooftop photos

Another rite of passage for many alumni appears to have been the class photo on the rooftop of the main Island Site. Does anyone recognise themselves in the pictures below and can you tell us when they were taken?

The university left the main site in Woolwich in 2002 but Drama students do still make use of the Bathway building, once home to the Students’ Union, and earlier, a swimming pool.
You can see more memories of our many campuses, past and present, on Facebook and Twitter, particularly through the regular #ThrowbackThursday feature.