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Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


Albion Cottages

     This page explores the former uses of the two cottages just inside the Southgate Street entrance to Gloucester Docks, varying from beer shop to museum office.

Albion Cottages, Gloucester DocksOrigin
     Named after the former Albion Hotel, the large stone building on the opposite side of Southgate Street, the cottages were first recorded in 1821 on land almost certainly owned by Samuel Jones, a prominent local brushmaker who also owned the adjoining property fronting on to Southgate St. This was six years before the canal was completed, and it seems that the original tenants had no connection with dockside activities.

Dock Traders
     As the canal neared completion, however, commercial activity in the area increased, and in 1826 both cottages were rented by traders who were evidently expecting to handle goods brought in by boat. The cottage on the left was occupied by Isaac Cox, a coal merchant, and the other cottage by Thomas Mansell, a stone and marble mason who also sold beer from the premises in later years. It is likely that both men made use of the horse-operated tramroad that ran past the front of their cottages to carry their products to customers in Gloucester and possibly on to Cheltenham. In 1835, Isaac Cox was replaced by Robert Monk, a blacksmith, who presumably provided shoes for the horses collecting goods from the docks, including those pulling wagons on the tramroad.

Canal Company Employees
     In 1847, the cottages were purchased by the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal Company when the land on which they were built was separated from Samuel Jones's other property by the new docks branch of the Midland Railway which came through to the left of the cottages. After this, apart from Robert Monk who continued for a few years, all subsequent tenants were employees of the Canal Company. At various times during the nineteenth century, they included two toll clerks at Gloucester Lock, a lockman, three members of the Canal Company's engineering staff and two drivers of the steam pumping engine on the opposite side of the Main Basin.

Twentieth Century
     In the twentieth century, a notable character who lived in the right hand cottage was Jesse Hooper, known as the Captain. He had been a sailing ship master and did a variety of jobs around the docks, including skippering the steam launch Sabrina when the directors inspected the canal. Even in retirement, he always wore a peaked cap, and he walked around the docks as though he owned the place. The last residents moved out around 1980, and then the cottages were used for offices and storage. The left hand cottage became the office for the docks police, and later the other became the office for the staff setting up the National Waterways Museum. Then in 1993, both cottages were taken over by the Gloucester Docks Trading Co. for their administrative and security staff, later joined by staff of the South West Region Development Agency managing the redevelopment of the area.

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