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28 October 2014

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You are in: Gloucestershire > Coast > Point 3 - Gloucester Quay

Gloucester Quay

Point 3 - Gloucester Quay

If you didn't know where to look you could easily miss this ancient and historic part of Gloucester's waterways that played a vital role until after the opening of the canal...

Gloucester Quay

In ancient times boats moored here at the quay

Gloucester's original riverside quay is not to be confused with the new Gloucester Quays project which is a modern development further south, due to be completed in the next few years.

The stone wall here, banking the Severn between the river and the modern road, was completed in 1888 and is built on the site of the original quay dating back to ancient times. See if you can spot the places where steps used to lead down to the water level.

This is where cargo boats moored to load and unload their wares - on their way to and from places like Bristol, Tewkesbury, Worcester, Bewdley and beyond.

Gloucester Quay and Docks (Edward Smith, 1878)

The Quay in 1878 (Gloucester City Museums)

In 1580 a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth had granted Gloucester port status. Before that time any vessel travelling up or down the River Severn had to call in at the custom house in Bristol which was responsible for the area, but once port status had been granted to Gloucester they could trade directly between the city and foreign ports. Eventually, the only continent not to trade with Gloucester was Antarctica!

Look out for the Royal Coat of Arms still visible on the outside of the building across the road. This was once the Custom House which was built in about 1725. The local authorities hoped to benefit from the new port status because they could collect dues on goods handled at the quay, but in practice only a few foreign-bound ships were seen at the Quay because of the difficulties of navigating the shallow tidal stretch of the River Severn approaching the city.

Gloucester Quay

Gloucester Lock viewed from Gloucester Quay

The area around the quay helped Gloucester develop as a commercial centre, and some industry remained in the area until fairly recently. Some of the locals will tell you about the infamous "Gloucester Smell" caused by the blood drying factory which stood near here, beyond where the farming and agricultural supplies store now is.

Continue walking along the footpath, following the road round to the left. Take care here - the road is often busy with traffic. Carry on past the petrol station on the left and head straight on following the blue signs towards Maisemore and Highnam, and cross over the River Severn using the footbridge.

last updated: 01/04/2008 at 11:24
created: 11/07/2005

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