This view or ‘prospect’ of Woolwich shows the town (now a suburb in south-east London) as it was in the early 18th century. Woolwich had become a leading military and industrial town and was home to the Dockyard, Royal Arsenal, Royal Military Academy and the Royal Horse Artillery.
The Woolwich panorama is part of a series of prospects of England and Wales, produced by brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck between 1728 and 1753. The brothers undertook tours around England and Wales every year, producing detailed views of the locations they visited. They would typically plan their travels carefully, advertising their work in the local press of the places they intended to visit before arriving, in the hope of attracting potential subscribers. The prospects were published over a number of years and were made available to non-subscribers only once all the impressions had been collected.
The south-west prospect of Woolwich was taken from the opposite side of the River Thames, from where many of the city’s landmarks could be viewed.
Brothers Samuel and Nathaniel Buck were the leading British topographical draughtsmen and engravers of the 18th century. They produced several hundred drawings and engravings, including 87 ‘Prospects’ of England and Wales. The engravings are important visual records of the appearance of British urban landscapes prior to the Industrial Revolution. In many cases, the places depicted have since disappeared or changed beyond recognition. Their dedication in recording almost every corner of the country has left modern viewers with an invaluable record of Britain’s past. As demand for their prints fell away, Nathaniel took over a furniture business, while Samuel tried several professions, including teaching draughtsmanship and cleaning pictures.
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