MAIN SECTIONS >  Home  Gloucester Docks  Sharpness Docks  G&S Canal  Vessels  People  Studies
GLOUCESTER PAGES >  Gloucester Docks  Warehouses  Other Buildings  Filming  For Visitors  Regeneration

Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


Gloucester Docks

This page highlights the main features of Gloucester Docks, with comparisons of past and present views and with links to other pages giving more details. Click on the links below to see how the docks have changed since their heyday when merchant ships discharged cargoes destined for the midlands. Most of the warehouses have survived, but the old sailing ships have been largely replaced by modern leisure craft. For other parts of the docks, see:

Barge Arm  Gloucester Docks South   Former Dock Railways  Docks Details
Archaeology:   Still Ditch Culvert   Crane Base   Railway Lines 

Main Basin, Lock and Barge Arm
The Main Basin was the original terminus of the ship canal from Sharpness, opened in 1827. Here cargoes were transferred to smaller craft which passed through the lock and continued up the River Severn to the Midlands. The Barge Arm was also an early feature to accommodate small vessels bringing goods for local distribution.

Dry Docks
The small dry dock was suitable for repairing most of the vessels in the early days, but as larger ships came into service, a second dock was built in 1853 to cater for the largest ships that could pass up the canal fully loaded.

Baker's Quay
Baker's Quay was constructed in the late 1830s by a group of local businessmen led by Samuel Baker at a time when the Canal Co. was heavily in debt and could not finance the much needed additional quay-space.

Victoria Dock
The Main Basin and Baker's Quay became so busy during the 1840s that ships had to queue in the canal waiting for a place to discharge. To provide more quay-space, the Victoria Dock was opened in 1849.

Llanthony Quay
Llanthony Quay was built in the early 1850s by the Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway Co., soon taken over by the GWR, to provide a means of supplying coal from the Forest of Dean as an export cargo. Behind the quay are some ruins of Llanthony Priory that are now looked after by a buildings preservation trust.

Timber Yards and Wagon Works
During the second half of the 19th century, much of the east bank of the canal for 3/4 mile south of Bakers Quay was developed as timber yards, with several having their own saw mills and one becoming a wagon works.

Monk Meadow Dock and Quay
Monk Meadow Dock was opened in 1892 to provide additional quay-space for the timber trade, and it was later used for receiving petroleum products. To the south of the dock, Monk Meadow Quay was built beside the canal in 1965 for the discharge of timber from motor coasters.

Return to Top Menu

Main Basin

Looking south across the Main Basin, Gloucester Docks, 1883


Look south across the Main Basin, Gloucester, in 2003

Ships sometimes moored in the middle of the Main Basin so that salt could be transferred from narrow boats on each side of the ship at the same time. This painting by Harley Crossley, looking south from the North Quay, is based on a photograph taken in 1883.

The same view in 2003 shows that commercial traffic has died out, leaving the docks available for leisure uses and the restoration of historic ships.


Victoria Dock

Looking north across Victoria Dock, Gloucester Docks, c1900


Looking north across the Victoria Dock, Gloucester, in 2003 

The Victoria Dock in the 1890s was much used by small sailing vessels calling to pick up salt brought by boat from Droitwich and Stoke Prior in Worcestershire. Other vessels were laid up there while temporarily out of use. (Photo: Glos.R.O.)

The Victoria Dock now serves as a marina for locally based pleasure craft. The Britannia Warehouse (centre left) is a modern replacement after the original warehouse was destroyed by fire in 1987.

Return to Map & Top Menu   Copyright Hugh Conway-Jones 2003-08   Contact