I represent the parliamentary constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich (which covers parts but not all of the Royal Borough of Greenwich). The constituency of Greenwich and Woolwich came into being in 1997, merging the whole of the former Greenwich seat and the western half of the former Woolwich seat. The constituency is made up of the communities of Woolwich, Charlton, Greenwich and parts of Blackheath and Plumstead, each of which retain their own distinct character and community spirit.
The area is one of the most exciting, diverse, and vibrant in London. It’s a place where people from all over the world have come to live and create a life together, first Irish and Scottish, then Nigerian, Ghanaian, Somali, Indian, and more recently, Nepali.
The constituency contains a number of nationally famous landmarks such as the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, the Old Royal Naval College and the O2 arena. But its proud history extends beyond the tourist sites of ‘historic Greenwich.’ The area was once a great manufacturing hub, home to shipbuilding, glass-making and skilled engineering – most prominently the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich which at its peak employed around 100,000 people.
It also has a rich legacy of progressive social reform. The Royal Arsenal Co-operative society, formed in 1872, was one of Britain’s first cooperative societies. The Woolwich Provident was one of Britain’s first building societies. Woolwich was the birthplace of the second Polytechnic in the country, created with the aim of providing education for working adults. And it’s the place where the Labour party established itself as a mass membership organisation and in 1903 became the fourth constituency in the land to elect an MP, Will Crooks, pledged to the banner of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC).
Previously heavily dependent on traditional heavy industry the area was hit badly in the postwar decades as industry and the engineering works that lined the road from Greenwich through Charlton to Woolwich relocated outside inner-London. While challenges remain, recent decades have seen significant regeneration, strong business growth and, more recently, the rise of cultural and creative industries aided by a range of essential transport improvements including the Docklands Light Railway, the Jubilee Line extension and the recently signed-off Crossrail station at Woolwich.