The original Museum building was burnt out in 1802 and the surviving artefacts housed in the Old Royal Military Academy. In 1820 the main collection was moved to the Rotunda on Woolwich Common.
More recently, April 2001 saw the return of much of the collection to the Royal Arsenal, at the start of Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum development.
Find out more about the History of the Royal Arsenal, the buildings and developments today in this part of the site.
The Royal Military Repository, the forerunner to the Royal Artillery Museum, was formally established on the Royal Arsenal site in May 1778 by a Royal Warrant issued to Captain William Congreve RA by King George III.
History of the Royal Arsenal
Ordnance stores were first set up at the dockyard at Woolwich in the 16th century under a directive of Henry VIII.
The first recorded building on the present Royal Arsenal site was a mansion called Tower House, built in 1545, within an area known as the Warren. Gun manufacturing and proofing had taken place within the City of London but a more isolated area was desirable and from the 1650s guns were tested at the Warren. This was also the site of a 60-gun stockaded fort, built by Prince Rupert to deter attacks from the Dutch in the mid-17 th Century.
In 1671 Tower Place and 31 acres were bought by the Crown for use as ordnance stores. In 1696 the new Royal Laboratories were built and 1715-17 the Royal Brass Foundry was established after an explosion at the private foundry in Moorfields. By that time the Warren was the largest gun repository in the country. In 1805 George III visited the Warren and gave it the title of the Royal Arsenal, marking its prime significance in ordnance manufacturing.
When on 26 May 1716 the first two permanent companies of Royal Artillery were formed by Royal Warrant, Tower Place became their headquarters. The military academy was established there in 1720, obtaining its Royal Warrant in 1741 and the building is now known as the Old Royal Military Academy. It provides distinctive accommodation for corporate and community events.
The Royal Ordnance Factory closed in 1967 with the loss of thousands of jobs. The development of the Royal Artillery Museum in these historic buildings began to bring life back into the Royal Arsenal.
All of the Museum buildings were once part of the Royal Laboratory Department, which controlled the manufacture of ammunition, from design, manufacture, testing and administration.