Day Out: Archive Films
Presenter Gwyn Richards in Sharpness
Day Out: Sharpness
Watch a BBC West programme made in 1978 of a day spent exploring Sharpness, Frampton-on-Severn and other nearby villages...
Originally broadcast in November 1978 was this charming half-hour television programme which took a look round Sharpness and some of the villages along the banks of the Gloucester to Sharpness canal - including Frampton-on-Severn and Purton.
As part of the BBC West 'Day Out' series - which visited a different Gloucestershire and West Country locale every week - presenter Gwyn Richards is shown exploring the area.
Exploring Sharpness Docks
Sharpness Docks lie at one end of the Gloucester to Sharpness Canal and have played an important part in the history of shipping in the area. Gwyn begins his journey on Sharpness pier and rings a bell made in 1807 - used to warn ships not to get too close during fog.
Gwyn explains how and why the Gloucester to Sharpness ship canal was built - to allow boats to get from the Bristol Channel to Gloucester and English Midlands without having to navigate past a dangerous stretch of the River Severn.
We get a history lesson about its construction and learn that the engineer Thomas Telford was involved. At the time of its opening in the early 1800s it was the broadest and deepest canal in the world, and remains the only navigable route from the Severn Estuary to 2000 miles of inland waterways beyond.
The Old Dock House
We learn that Sharpness is known as the "Dock in the Fields", see a row of dock workers' houses, and learn of plans from British Waterways to renovate the port and turn it into a "modern commercial shipping centre".
The Old Dock House is shown as a typical example of the distinctive canal architecture, and we see the old stone quays of the first dock which would have been busy in its heyday but in 1978 is mainly deserted.
Gwyn next meets John Hobson and gets a lift along the canal in his boat. We hear the story of the old railway bridge across the River Severn which was destroyed when it was hit by a barge in 1959.
Gwyn gets a boat ride along the canal
A huge oil tanker is seen in the village of Purton, making its way down the canal from the depot at Quedgeley. We also hear a story of the old village cricket pitch in Purton, and the walnut tree next to the pub. We hear of the old Purton Derby, a horse race that used to be run on the turf next to the river.
We meet Bridgeman Bob Ely, and we hear how canal water is sold to the city of Bristol for drinking water. We also hear about the architecturally stunning bridgeman's cottages and view the one at Splatt Bridge near Frampton. From the canal we see Frampton Church, Buckholt House and the Cadbury chocolate factory.
Back on dry land Gwyn visits Frampton-on-Severn, and we hear of local claims that the village green is the largest in England. We hear of the history of Frampton, and learn of the history of Frampton Court, and we hear the story of Fair Rosamund said to have been born at Manor Cottage.
We then go inside the grounds of Frampton Court to see sights such as the miniature ornamental canal and the orangery, and we see the old gravel pits now filled with water and used by the local sailing club.
Bridgeman Ivor Prosser
Then it's back to the boat for another history lesson, and a look around the boatyard at Saul Junction. We hear of the problem of the old Stroudwater Canal which is blocked at Sapperton tunnel and no longer navigable between Saul and Framilode.
Finally we meet Ivor Prosser - the longest serving bridgekeeper on the Sharpness to Gloucester Canal - at Sellars Bridge near Quedgeley. At the time of filming he'd been in charge of the bridge for 33 years.
Check out the other fascinating films from the 'Day Out' series which were filmed in Gloucestershire by clicking on the links at the top right of this page.
last updated: 21/01/2009 at 14:33
Have Your Say
Do you recognise anyone featured in the programme? What memories does it bring back?
Mrs Lyn Alder nee Prosser