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Posted on 20th May 2016 / 1485
Industry Type : Maritime, Transport
Public or Private Site? : Public Access
Condition : Restored, Partially Restored

The docks in Gloucester are a remarkably complete example of a Victorian port.

It was once the hub of the UK’s most inland shipping port. 

The Docks and Sharpness Canal combo solved the problem of the narrow section of the river Severn and were completed in 1827.

The glorious historic docks at Gloucester that you see today are a result of major trade boom the 1800s. However, before they were granted port status by Elizabeth I in 1580, shipping to and from Gloucester had to navigate the hugely tidal River Severn. Back then, activity was centred about a medieval quay near St. Oswald’s Priory, called the Common Quay and later Dockham Ditch. The link from sea trade to the people inland was always by the major rivers and ports sprung up at the point where the ships could go no further. Inevitably, these points grew into trade centres and became the focus for tax collection, investment and entrepreneurs.

Cargoes of grain and timber dominated, although other goods including wines, spirits and oranges and lemons were also brought by the large sea going ships.

Salt from Worcestershire was the main return cargo.

To to bypass the rapidly narrowing upper section of the River Severn, the Sharpness Canal was cut, providing a less stressful route to the Gloucester trade hub. The 16-mile canal was built to enable boats to reach Gloucester Docks, avoiding the narrow winding stretch of the River Severn – it was once the broadest and deepest in the world!

The Main Basin was the original terminus of the Sharpness Ship Canal.

It was at the Main Basin that cargoes were transferred to smaller crafts, which were able to pass through the lock and continue up the River Severn to the Midlands.

One small dry dock was sufficient at first to service the vessels, until the ships started to get larger, then in 1853 a second, larger dock was built.

Baker’s Quay came next, constructed in the late 1830s by a group of local businessmen led by Samuel Baker. At the time, the Canal Co was heavily in debt and could not finance the much needed additional quay-space themselves.

Activity grew and the Victoria Dock was opened in 1849 to deal with the queueing vessels!

Llanthony Quay, opposite Baker’s Quay, was built in the early 1850s by the Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway Co, but was taken over by the GWR shortly after. This provided the much needed rail link to export coal from the Forest of Dean.

The fine group of Victorian warehouses popped up, which can still be seen today. They predominantly stored imported grain for shipment across the country, by canal and railway – the linhays of Britain!

As time went on, timber yards and wagon works sprung-up on the Baker’s Quay side.

In 1892 the Monk Meadow Dock was opened to provide additional quay-space for the timber trade; which later received petroleum products.

After the early 1860s there were few major works in the Gloucester Docks. Many seagoing vessels had become too large to use them and for the canal leading to it.  The canal company concentrated more on the development of facilities down at Sharpness and opened docks there in 1874.

The legacy of the Victorian investment is still enjoyed at Gloucester Docks

These days, there is now an ever-changing range of visiting narrow boats, smart motor cruisers and the occasional yacht or tall ship. The relics are all around, including two of the fabulous cranes, the swing bridge, warehouses and visible rail.

Interesting vessels come to Gloucester for repair and maintenance, carried out by T. Nielsen & Co who lease the two dry docks and adjoining workshops. The company specialises in the restoration and repair of wooden sailing ships, employing craftsmen who combine the best of modern technology with traditional shipbuilding techniques. The dry docks are also used for inspection and repair of modern steel vessels. To see what interesting vessels are likely to be in dry dock – check HERE!

The 1925 steam ladder dredger built by De Klop in the Netherlands for Sharpness New Docks, lives at Gloucester and can be easily viewed. She is in steam following a lengthy restoration – phew!

The MV Edward Elgar is based at Alexandra Quay and is the biggest hotel boat now cruising UK inland waters. She offers holiday cruises for 2 to 7 days right along the Severn navigation between Sharpness and Stourport-on-Severn. To book a trip – skip to their website HERE!

The Gloucester Civic Trust provide excellent guided tours around the docks for those wishing to know more – book HERE!

The Gloucester Historic Docks are also home to the Gloucester Waterways Museum and that is a must for all you eager industrial explorers! Find them at Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EH, but check out their website HERE to make sure they’re open!

Follow the brown tourist signs to the historic dock, park up and enjoy.

Just like at the Liverpool Docks, there are often excellent events being held at the docks from markets to theatres, so maybe see if one of those takes your fancy.

As well as the historic docks, Gloucester has lovely shops and cafés, as well as an incredible Cathedral! There you can stroll the heavily carved gothic halls in which scenes from Harry Potter were filmed – so much to see at Gloucester!

 

The Docks, Gloucester, UK

Gloucester Historic Docks

The docks in Gloucester are a remarkably complete example of a Victorian port.

It was once the hub of the UK’s most inland shipping port. 

The Docks and Sharpness Canal combo solved the problem of the narrow section of the river Severn and were completed in 1827.

The glorious historic docks at Gloucester that you see today are a result of major trade boom the 1800s. However, before they were granted port status by Elizabeth I in 1580, shipping to and from Gloucester had to navigate the hugely tidal River Severn. Back then, activity was centred about a medieval quay near St. Oswald’s Priory, called the Common Quay and later Dockham Ditch. The link from sea trade to the people inland was always by the major rivers and ports sprung up at the point where the ships could go no further. Inevitably, these points grew into trade centres and became the focus for tax collection, investment and entrepreneurs.

Cargoes of grain and timber dominated, although other goods including wines, spirits and oranges and lemons were also brought by the large sea going ships.

Salt from Worcestershire was the main return cargo.

To to bypass the rapidly narrowing upper section of the River Severn, the Sharpness Canal was cut, providing a less stressful route to the Gloucester trade hub. The 16-mile canal was built to enable boats to reach Gloucester Docks, avoiding the narrow winding stretch of the River Severn – it was once the broadest and deepest in the world!

The Main Basin was the original terminus of the Sharpness Ship Canal.

It was at the Main Basin that cargoes were transferred to smaller crafts, which were able to pass through the lock and continue up the River Severn to the Midlands.

One small dry dock was sufficient at first to service the vessels, until the ships started to get larger, then in 1853 a second, larger dock was built.

Baker’s Quay came next, constructed in the late 1830s by a group of local businessmen led by Samuel Baker. At the time, the Canal Co was heavily in debt and could not finance the much needed additional quay-space themselves.

Activity grew and the Victoria Dock was opened in 1849 to deal with the queueing vessels!

Llanthony Quay, opposite Baker’s Quay, was built in the early 1850s by the Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway Co, but was taken over by the GWR shortly after. This provided the much needed rail link to export coal from the Forest of Dean.

The fine group of Victorian warehouses popped up, which can still be seen today. They predominantly stored imported grain for shipment across the country, by canal and railway – the linhays of Britain!

As time went on, timber yards and wagon works sprung-up on the Baker’s Quay side.

In 1892 the Monk Meadow Dock was opened to provide additional quay-space for the timber trade; which later received petroleum products.

After the early 1860s there were few major works in the Gloucester Docks. Many seagoing vessels had become too large to use them and for the canal leading to it.  The canal company concentrated more on the development of facilities down at Sharpness and opened docks there in 1874.

The legacy of the Victorian investment is still enjoyed at Gloucester Docks

These days, there is now an ever-changing range of visiting narrow boats, smart motor cruisers and the occasional yacht or tall ship. The relics are all around, including two of the fabulous cranes, the swing bridge, warehouses and visible rail.

Interesting vessels come to Gloucester for repair and maintenance, carried out by T. Nielsen & Co who lease the two dry docks and adjoining workshops. The company specialises in the restoration and repair of wooden sailing ships, employing craftsmen who combine the best of modern technology with traditional shipbuilding techniques. The dry docks are also used for inspection and repair of modern steel vessels. To see what interesting vessels are likely to be in dry dock – check HERE!

The 1925 steam ladder dredger built by De Klop in the Netherlands for Sharpness New Docks, lives at Gloucester and can be easily viewed. She is in steam following a lengthy restoration – phew!

The MV Edward Elgar is based at Alexandra Quay and is the biggest hotel boat now cruising UK inland waters. She offers holiday cruises for 2 to 7 days right along the Severn navigation between Sharpness and Stourport-on-Severn. To book a trip – skip to their website HERE!

The Gloucester Civic Trust provide excellent guided tours around the docks for those wishing to know more – book HERE!

The Gloucester Historic Docks are also home to the Gloucester Waterways Museum and that is a must for all you eager industrial explorers! Find them at Llanthony Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EH, but check out their website HERE to make sure they’re open!

Follow the brown tourist signs to the historic dock, park up and enjoy.

Just like at the Liverpool Docks, there are often excellent events being held at the docks from markets to theatres, so maybe see if one of those takes your fancy.

As well as the historic docks, Gloucester has lovely shops and cafés, as well as an incredible Cathedral! There you can stroll the heavily carved gothic halls in which scenes from Harry Potter were filmed – so much to see at Gloucester!

 

The Docks, Gloucester, UK

Gloucester Historic Docks
Industry Type : Maritime, Transport
Public or Private Site? : Public Access
Condition : Restored, Partially Restored
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