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Gloucester Docks

Photographs  John H. Luxton 2012

Gloucester Docks is to the south west England what Liverpool's Albert Dock complex is to north west England. Dating from the early to mid 19th Century Gloucester Docks are surrounded by impressive brick built warehouses which have been adapted for residential and commercial uses. The warehouses are not quite on the same scale as those surrounding the Albert Dock, however, they remain sizeable structures. The docks were one of several maritime locations which posed as Liverpool during the various series of the BBC maritime drama "The Onedin Line" produced between 1970 and 1980.

Though some modern buildings have also appeared around the dock area since freight handling ended in the 1980s, the surrounding dockland environment makes for a pleasant location for leisure activities both land and water based with many private narrow boats, barges, cruisers and sailing vessels to be found around the various basins as well as historic craft operated by the National Waterways Museum based in Llanthony Warehouse.

The dry docks within Gloucester Docks are still operational and operated by T. Neilson & Company specialists in traditional vessels. The docks are also base for English Holiday Cruises, operators of the MV EDWARD ELGAR and the now laid up OLIVER CROMWELL inland cruise vessels. The photographs that follow were taken on the evening of Friday July 20 and early on Saturday July 21. They are presented in a locational order commencing on the south west side of the main dock basin at Alexandra Warehouse and working around in a clock wise direction and ending in the south east corner near Llanthony warehouse. I have also photographed most of the interpretation plaques and panels which provide further information about the docks. For further information on the docks a visit to Hugh Conway-Jones's excellent web site is recommended. www.gloucesterdocks.me.uk

 

Alexandra Warehouse of 1870Gloucester Dry Docks and Pumping Station
The dry docks undertake work on traditional vessels such as the GORT a 1939 narrowboat and KOCHI a replica Bristol Channel pilot cutter. West side of the main basin opened in 1827.
Gloucester Lock is located at the north end of the docks and provides access to the River Severn.
The lock is crossed by a swing bridge and opposite the modern control cabin is located the original lock keeper's house. Interpretation panel north end of main basin.
Evening view from the north end of the main basinThe 7.5 ton steam crane built by Joseph Booth & Co in 1944 and rescued from the South Shields Ship Yard was typical of the type used around Gloucester Docks.
Warehouse interpretation panelNorth end of the dock estate home to Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in the former Custom House and the Law Courts and area known as Back Badge Square. The Beacon is a public artwork by Wolfgang Butress 

Victoria Dock was opened in 1849 to provide original quayspace to that offered by the main basin. The Britannia warehouse is a replica of the original, destroyed by fire in 1987. Located on the quayside during a redesign of the public realm in this undertaken in 2010 is a former Midland Railway 5 ton hand crane rescued by the Waterways Museum from New Mills Station in Cheshire. 

South of Victoria Dock is Mariners' Square dominated by the attractive Mariner's Chapel constructed of limestone which stands out from the surrounding brick built warehouses. which welcomed sailors for services during the heyday of the docks and which remains a place of worship.

The east end of Mariners' Square features two replica Gloucester and Cheltenham Tramroad wagons displayed on a length of plateway track outside Albion Cottages which date from 1821. The wagons were installed on the route of the tramway which passed through the dock yard wall near to the Tall Ship Inn.

The barge arm was used to keep narrowboats and canal craft out of the way of sea going ships. The south side is used by historic vessels owned by the National Waterways museum whilst the north side is used by visiting pleasure craft.
Ships Interpretation PanelMain basin looking south towards Llanthony Bridge. Passenger vessels KING ARTHUR and, OLIVER CROMWELL and EDWARD ELGAR can be seen in these two views.

View south from Llanthony Bridge Bakers Quay on the left and Llanthony Quay on the right

 

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