In 1768, Paul Sandby was appointed Drawing Master at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, with an annual salary of £150. He must have been regarded as well suited for such a role, as his early career had been working for The Board of Ordnance, surveying and mapping the Highlands of Scotland, which he proved adept at doing.
It was regarded as a necessary part of training for officers to be able to survey and record their surroundings. In order for them to learn to do this, they were required to copy drawings, learn perspective and the 'effect of Light and Shade; and [to become] aquainted [sic] also with Aerial Perspective. Then to proceed to take views about Woolwich and other places; which teaches them at the same time to break ground, and forms the eye to the knowledge of it' (Records of the Royal Military Academy, 1741 - 1892, 1892, p. 33).
During the thirty years that Sandby held the post, he taught numerous sons of the aristocracy, gentry, and merchant classes to appreciate and to be able to practise the art of landscape painting. Thus not only was he instrumental in the development of landscape watercolour painting in Britain through his own art but was able to help shape and influence a generation of collectors and enthusiasts.
While at Woolwich he spent a great deal of time in the Kent countryside and following his retirement he must have continued to visit the area, as suggested by the present watercolour. The weather-boarding of the buildings is a typical Kent feature. The scaffolding extending over the water would have been used to assist in loading and unloading vessels. This work demonstrates that even towards the end of his life, Sandby had lost none of his abilities and the rich colours are typical of the artist at this date.