The Historic Gloucester Docks is one jewel in the city’s crown and has an interesting history. It is not far to walk to from the town centre or the other major attraction, The Cathedral. A recent addition is the Gloucester Quays outlet shopping centre, which has many great shops and more options for eateries.
There are many Victorian warehouses that make up the docks. Some warehouses are listed buildings. The docks formed when the Canal from Sharpness opened in 1827. This canal allowed boats to bypass a treacherous part of the River Severn.
This is the most inland port in the UK, historically the Docks would have been busy with the hustle and bustle of narrowboats, sailing ships, steamships and barges.
Nowadays its primary use is for leisure purposes and having a dockyard for boat repairs. The preserved docks and warehouses have been a movie set and featured in some great films, including Alice Through the Looking Glass and Amazing Grace.
Lock & Bridges
Gloucester Lock links the Main Basin to the River Severn. They formally opened the lock for the use of barges in October 1812. This enabled boats to travel upstream of Gloucester towards Tewkesbury, Worcester and beyond. They built the lock in the 1790s before they completed the canal. The digging had got as far as Hardwicke. The lock keeper typically lived in The Lockhouse, nowadays this is a holiday rental.
Llanthony Bridge is a crossing point over the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal at Gloucester Docks. They named the bridge after the nearby 12-century Llanthony Priory. the current structure is an electric bridge made of steel, the bridge keeper operates opening the bridge from 9 am until 6 pm. There were 2 other bridges at this site, the earliest being constructed in 1794. The earlier bridge was a manually operated double-leaf swing bridge.
The consists of Victorian warehouses with 2 basins of the docks.
The North Warehouse at the northern end on the main basin was the first of the warehouses in the area. They built it in 1826-27 to ensure there was storage for cargo once they completed the canal.
The three warehouses in a row on the west side of the smaller Victoria Dock were all built for local iron merchant William Partridge. This comprises of the Victoria, Albert and Britannia warehouses, all commonly referred to as Mr Partridge’s Warehouses.
The Victoria Warehouse built in 1849 was predominantly used in the supply and storage of grains. The building is currently used by the NHS as office space. They completed the Albert Warehouse in 1851. The warehouse was a corn merchant then used as a flour mill until 1979. They mainly used the Britania Warehouse in the corn and grain business after its construction in 1861.
The Lock Warehouse is located alongside the lock that joins the canal with the river. They built this in 1834 and they built a neighbouring Pillar Warehouse the year after. However, Pillar Warehouse was destroyed by fire. Corn merchants again used the Lock Warehouse.
They constructed the Llanthony Warehouse in 1873, they built it with bricks topped off with a slate roof. Inside it had wooden floors and cast-iron columns. The building’s primary purpose was to store grain. Winches in the roof and loading doors on each floor meant the grain sacks could be lifted easily in or out of this storage facility. The building currently houses The National Waterways Museum.
There are many other buildings in the docks and those that sadly no longer exist. Find a full map here.
There are a few historic cranes on display in the area. Firstly, the Midland Railway Crane in the Victoria Dock, which is burgundy and cream. The crane came from the Midland Railway goods yard at New Mills station in Cheshire. The crane dates from 1902 and could lift 5 tons.
There is also a black Steam Crane on the North Quay of the main dock. The 7½ ton steam crane is a standard Leeds type built in 1944 by Joseph Booth & Brothers of Rodley. After working for many years at the South Shields Ship Repair Yard. They then brought it to Gloucester in 1994 as a reminder of the steam cranes that used to work in the area in its heyday.
Restaurants & Pubs
There are many options to eat out in the historic docks area, including many at the quays. There are further options to eat out in Gloucester if you fancy something else.
One of the popular options in the area, The Med is a Mediterranean restaurant on the waterfront. People know them for serving great food including fish, vegetarian and also fish options. It is in the former Vinings Warehouse and is very vibrant.
Greek on the Docks
Greek on the Docks is a top-notch Greek eatery with outdoor seating on the dockside. They serve some very high-quality food and wine from Greece in a pleasant environment.
On Llanthony Road near to the Quays is Tank, a top place to enjoy a craft beer with stone baked pizza. Primarily Tank serves the wares of Gloucester Brewery alongside some top-notch guest beers. Tank Pub has a great vibe inside with big wooden tables and is spacious.
The staff here are very knowledgeable about the beers they serve. Thus it is an ideal drinking hole for beer connoisseurs. Notable house brews include the strong GB American Pale Ale or the session IPA. For lager drinkers, the brewery produces an English craft lager that also is vegan.
The Portivo Lounge is a friendly bar that is quite trendy and has a great menu. Their menu includes breakfasts and also delicious tapas plates. The bar has a great atmosphere and a mixture of seating types including outside and some soft furnishing.
There are many events and things to see in the docks. However, the premier event in the calendar is the famous Tall Ships Festival. This takes place in May every two years where visitors flock to the docks to see the boats and other historical themed events.
There is plenty to see on a normal day in Gloucester docks for tourists and locals alike.
Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum
The Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum is at the edge of the docks that has many exhibits. The theme of the museum is the history of the regiments of the county.
The Mariners Church in Gloucester Docks opened in 1849. Sailors from many countries frequented this eye-catching Church. It is near to the Reynolds and Vinings Warehouses and a stone’s throw from The Med restaurant.
They built the Mariners Church predominantly for the workers in the dockyard and crews of boats that had moored nearby. It has always welcomed all residents of Gloucester. Today, it is still a draw to people who come from far and wide to visit while exploring the historic docks.
English Holiday Cruises are a local company that provides river cruises on the River Severn and canal. You typically board one of their boats in Gloucester, then relax for a unique touring holiday through the glorious English countryside of the Cotswolds Severn Vale.
Enjoy a short boat trip on Queen Boadicea along the canal and be treated to an educating tour of the area. The boat trip typically runs for 45 minutes, which includes a commentary of the sights on the way. Queen Boadicea was part of the Dunkirk evacuations during the second world war. You can book tickets at the National Waterways Museum.
There are now many options for bars, pubs and restaurants in the dock and Quays area. However, it is becoming more and more vibrant as they develop it. The area is pretty special at night, ideal for fun-seekers and also photographers.