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Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


Family Research Resources

This page highlights the resources that are available for those researching ancestors connected with local vessels and/or the docks.

Registers of Gloucester Ships
Gloucestershire Archives D4292/1/1-12
These volumes record information about the characteristics and ownership of each ship registered at Gloucester between 1824 and 1992. The early registers mainly record trows and barges based at riverside towns north of Gloucester that traded to Bristol. Later registers record vessels owned in Gloucestershire that traded around the Bristol Channel, and the latest entries are mainly for pleasure craft. A personal names index is being compiled. Registers for 1814 to 1823 are held at the Public Record Office (BT 107).

Crew Lists of Gloucester Registered Ships
Gloucestershire Archives D3080
Twice a year, the owners of coasting vessels were required to list the names of their crews and the nature of their voyages, and these sheets are available for most vessels registered at Gloucester for most years between 1863 and 1913. The majority of the crewmen came from Gloucestershire, and voyages were mainly to ports in the Bristol Channel and Ireland, but some went further afield. There is no personal names index. A limited number of crew lists for the period 1835 to 1860 are held at the Public Record Office (BT98).

Canal Boat Registers
Gloucestershire Archives GBR L6/13/3/1-6
These volumes record information about each canal boat (mainly narrow boats) registered at Gloucester between 1879 and 1952. The information includes the name of the owner and the name of the master. These boats traded between Gloucester/Sharpness and the industrial towns in the Midlands. A transcript of the entries, carried out by the Friends of the National Waterways Museum, can be found in the Gloucestershire Archives online catalogue by searching for 'Canal Boat Register'.

Gloucester Port Books
Gloucestershire Archives has a searchable database giving the names of merchants and masters involved in voyages between Gloucester, Bristol and some other ports between 1575 and 1765.

Pilotage Records
Gloucestershire Archives D5827/1/1-4
These volumes record the minutes of the Gloucester Pilotage Authority for the years 1861-1873, 1897-1903, 1930-1943 and 1967-1984, and they include lists of names of the licensed pilots who guided ships approaching and departing from Sharpness.

Trade Directories
Gloucestershire Archives
Trade directories include the names of merchants and service providers that did business in and around the docks, carriers by water, canal company officials, pilots and customs officials.

Waterways Archives
For an on-line catalogue of archives related to canals and rivers held at the National Waterways Museum, see

Family History Mailing List
To join a mailing list for those researching canal people, send an e-mail to with the single word subscribe in the message. Then, to send a message to the list, use

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