Just like in Liverpool, Gloucester had its run-down and disused docks refurbished and converted to a sought-after residential area from the 1980s on. The result is a wonderful inner-city space of old red-brick buildings surrounded by the basins of the docks in which some ships are at anchor. A few cafes and shops add to the atmosphere, as do the large inscriptions bearing the name of the respective dock. A stroll along the canal not only offers great vistas but also many a photo opportunity. There is also a museum of the docks and another one about the soldiers of Gloucestershire. The former offers boat trips along the canal, alas only in summer.
See more photos from the Gloucester Docks in my travelogue.
One of the most charming things about western Europe, especially England, is the network of rivers and canals that criss-cross the land. The National Waterways Museum tells the story of the waterways. Once vital arteries of transportation, they were replaced by the railroads for carrying passengers, and by the motorways for shipping goods. Now, they're used mainly for pleasure.
Miles inland, far from the sea, but Queen Elizabeth I declared Gloucester a 'port' in 1580. In 1827 an 18 mile stretch of shipping canal was opened and big sailing ships arrived in the city. Gloucester made its fortune exporting grain to the rest of the UK.
These are serious Victorian dockyards ~ massive brick warehouses, one after another. It is nice to see that they are not all used for posh housing these days. There are a number of office headquarters. And a medium sized shopping mall with cafes, pizza bars and craft shops.
Here at the Docks you can find the National Waterways Museum and also Gloucester Antiques Centre, four floors of antique stalls and art galleries.
And a small Tourist Information Office, also open on Sundays, run by local volunteers (closes 3.30pm).
Growing up just a few miles from the town, I enjoyed many of the one day children’s activities they organise here during the school holidays. They were always fun and, given that I still remember many of the things I discovered then, a very effective learning experience.
While the museum is worth a visit, even just for its historic timber building, the collections are interesting too, including a Victorian kitchen and classroom to show how local people went about their daily life at this time and some displays with a local theme, for example covering the area’s pin making and farming industries. The museum also holds occasional demonstrations of various local crafts.
The house at 38 Southgate St (now a pub) was once the fine town house of Robert Raikes. it is a sixteenth century house that has been recently restored.
It has a decorative timber framed facade with octaganal brick chimney stacks. It's three gagles have unusual barge boards in the shape of yokes.
At first floor level on the streey it has a threes sugar loaves sign suspended from a cast Iron bracket which is the sign for a Grocer shop ans commemorates the buildings connection with Robert Raikes the Younger.
It is now a really nice pub with rooms decorated in different periods and some pictures and diagrams on the walls that show how the house was restored and which beams ect were replaced.
We only had a drink here but the food looked really nice and it is definatly worth a visit just to see this fantastic building
The well known Gloucester Clockmaker GA baker began trading from an old medieval building at 9 Southgate street in 1882. The existing building dates from 1904. Above the shop frontage an unusual mechanical clock can be seen. This fantastic spectacle was manufactured by Niehus Bros of Bristol. It has five striking Jacks or figures representing England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales that sound the chimes in the notes of A, B, D, and G respectively with father time striking the hours in D.
Robert Raikes house is a fine sixteenth century building with decorative timber-framed facade and octagonal brick chimney stacks. It has been lovingly restored and now houses a great pub/restaurant with many rooms decorated in period style providing a great atmosphere. The food here really did look nice but as we'd just eaten before our visit, we just called in for a drink!
On the exterior of the building you can see three sugar loaves haning from a cast iron bracket - this is a sign that the building was used as a grocers in years gone by.
A Church was recorded on this site as early as 1140. Little survives of the original Norman Church apart from some archesin a blocked up portion of the crypt. The Crypt has had some unusual uses int the past. In the medieval period the crypt may have been used as a charnel house containing bones of the dead but by 1576 it was occupied by living parishioners as it had been converted into a tavern. The tavern remained for nearly a hundred years! Following on from the siege of Gloucester in 1643, the Church was turned into an explosives manufactory and ammunitions store for the defending garrison.
The Old Crypt Schoolroom came about thanks to John Cooke, a Wealthy mercer who in the 1520's wanted to break the Monopoly of fee paying schools and create a schoolroom providing free education. Cooke unfortunately died before realising this ambition but work proceeded under the direction of his widow, Joan.
The Crypt School opened in 1539 and continued on this site until 1861. Nowadays you can view the exterior of this fine building whose facade faces out onto Southgate Street. It has a facing of stone and mullioned windows. Don't miss the rear elevation of the Schoolroom - a walk through the arch will give you a fine view of the rear of the building which is constructed of Tudor brickwork with limestone buttresses and windows.
This house has been described as the finest town house in Gloucester. The tall facade is constructed of brick with dressings of Cotswold Stone. It was built by Henry Wagstaffe in around 1704. The house interior is said to contain someof the City's most impressive 11th Century plasterwork and has some wonderfully decorated ceilings in other rooms.
Ladybellegate House is not open to the public but can be admired from the outside.
The portico was first built in 1856 on a site to the West of its' current position and was re-erected here in 1973 following a redevelopment of the area. The three tall arches supported by large Corinthian columns formed an impressive entrance to the new Eastgate Market which was originally on two off street sites - these were relocated here in a bid to create a main thoroughfare through the City.
Today, the Portico reveals the entrance to the Eastgate Shopping Centre where the main attraction is the Animated Beatrix Potter Clock which comes to life on the hour.
By the first half of the sixteenth Century the Bell in was a famous hostelry and in 1783 was appointed as the official stopping point for the London Mail Coach as well as the Bristol and Bath stagecoaches. There was a concert room at the inn which featured the latest music of the day, this proved very popular with the locals. The Bell Inn was immortilised by Henry Fielding in his satirical novel Tom Jones, published in 1749. In this he recommends the fayre and hospitality available.
The Bell Inn of today is still a lively establishment with a very tasty looking restaurant specialising in pan-Asian dishes.
The Bell Inn was closed during the time of our visit but I'm sure this means we need to visit another time during opening hours!
The first East Gate was contructed by the Roman Army as one of the four access points into the fortress built at Gloucester in the late 60's AD. The later Roman gate survived into the Saxon period to form and important part of the town's defences; this was replaced by a simpler tunnel style gateway after the Norman conquest in the eleventh Century. Impressive D shaped towers were added in the 13thCentury together with a new drawbridge across the moat. Since then the miliatary importance of the gate declined and it lived out its' days being used as a women's prison and house of correction and a pool to wash the horse and carts entering the City.
Nowadays an underground viewing chamber, (provided by the Boots Company) allows you to view the substantive remains of the East Gate through perspex windows. The South tower, horsepool and a section of the Roman Wall are clearly visible. They were revealed during an archaeological excavation in 1974.
Here you'll find a large collection of War memorabilia and tells the story of what it would have been like in the regiment over the last three hundred years.
There are interactive displays, contemporary film records, medal collection and a highly decorative collection of uniforms, weapons and souvenirs from all over the globe.
Admission price is £4.25 for adults with concessions available. They are currently offering a 2 for one admission ticket if you sign up on their mailing list - see website detailed below.
Built between 1239 and 1270 Blackfriars is one of the most complete Dominican Priories to survive from the Middle Ages.
The Dominican of Black Friars order was founded in 1217 by St Dominic and they first arrived in England in 1221. The Friars were essentially teachers and evangelists and they either travelled alone around the countyside or lived in urban friaries.
The Gloucester Black Friars were founded in 1239 on a site once a part of the bailey of the old Norman castle.
In accordance with their role as teachers the friars at Gloucester established a library, which is the oldest surviving in Britain today.
The friary prospered for the next two centuriesbut was in a steady decline by the early sixteenth century with the former complement of between thirty or forty friars reduced to a prior and only six brethren living in extreme poverty by the time of the Dissolution.
In 1539 Sir Thomas Bell who was a wealthy Gloucester 'capper and clothier', purchased the property for £240.5s.4d. He remodelled the church turning it into a private house with the other buildings being converted for cloth munutacture and providing employment for over 300 local people.
Sir Thomas Bell died in 1566 followed a year later by his wife and the property passed to the Dennis family until the late seventeenth century and by the 1930s Bell’s mansion had been divided into two separate houses along with various industrial units.
The buildings have since been restored and opened to the public.
When we visited in Febuary 2011 the Abbey buildings were undergoing restoration and it was closed.
Adult £3.50 per ticket
Child £3.00 per ticket
English Heritage Members £3.00 per ticket