The ferry crossing at Woolwich in southeast London has been in use for centuries, with the first proof of an established ferry service dating to the 1300s. The ferry route connects Woolwich in Greenwich to North Woolwich in Newham.

With the creation of an ammunition depot in 1671 and of a gun foundry in 1717, the need for ferry service increased. The British Army began operating a military ferry at Woolwich in 1810; the following year, a commercial ferry service was founded, but it only lasted until 1844. In 1846, Eastern Counties and Thames Junction (ECTJ) Railway built a rail line that ended at a wharf on the Thames, allowing rail passengers to link to a ferry. From the 1840s to the 1880s, three steam ferries ran between Woolwich and North Woolwich, but even that number proved to be insufficient for the traffic in that busy part of London.

After toll bridges in west London were made free, it was proposed that ferry service across the Thames in east London also be made free. In 1889, the Woolrich Free Ferry began service. Now essentially owned and financed by the maritime branch of Transport for London (TfL), the Woolwich Free Ferry has been operating under contract since 2008 by the Serco Group.

Today, the Woolwich Free Ferry carries automobiles, trucks, pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames every day all day. The terminals now being used were built in 1965; the ferries themselves, 1963. Along the same stretch of the Thames, the Hilton Docklands/Canary Wharf Shuttle carries passengers between the Hilton Hotel in Rotherhithe and the office development area near Canary Wharf. Thames Clippers runs small commuter passenger boats at peak hours every day from the Savoy Pier in central London to and from the Woolwich Arsenal Pier.