MAIN SECTIONS >  Home  Gloucester Docks  Sharpness Docks  G&S Canal  Vessels  People  Studies
GLOUCESTER PAGES >  Gloucester Docks  Warehouses  Other Buildings  Filming  For Visitors  Regeneration

Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


Gloucester Dock Railways

The first rail link to the docks was a horse-operated tramroad intended to carry coal to Cheltenham. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that branches from the Midland Railway and the Great Western Railway were laid to the docks. These provided an alternative to the waterways route for carrying imports into the Midlands. For other parts of the docks, see:

Gloucester Docks  Barge Arm  Gloucester Docks South  Docks Details

Gloucester & Cheltenham Tramroad
A tramroad from Gloucester to Cheltenham was opened in 1811, and coal and roadstone was carried by horse-drawn wagons running on cast-iron rails mounted on stone sleeper blocks. Although the canal was far from complete at that time, the lock at Gloucester was opened to allow vessels to use the basin for transferring goods to tramroad wagons. The tramroad was eventually superceded by the Midland Railway, and the lines were taken up in 1861. For further information about the history of the tramroad and what survives today, see study page.

Midland Railway
After much debate and procrastination, the Midland Railway Co. completed their branch to Bakers Quay and the east side of the docks in 1848. Later the lines were extended southward along the canal bank to serve the timber yards established there. Locomotives moved wagons to and from the main line, but most movements around the docks area were done by horses, particularly as there were a number of turntables needed to negotiate sharp corners around existing buildings.

Great Western Railway
The GWR completed their branch to Llanthony Quay and the west side of the docks c1853. Initially, this was broad gauge, but in the 1860s it was converted to mixed gauge and a single span iron bridge was built across the canal at Llanthony to link up with the Midland Railway lines. It had been hoped that the GWR line would provide a ready supply of coal from the Forest of Dean for export, but most masters preferred to load coal at one of the South Wales ports.

Looking east along the North Quay, Gloucester Docks, in 1887

Looking east along the North Quay, Gloucester, in 2003

The Midland Railway team of horses with a wagon on the North Quay c1887. The hand-operated crane was only used occasionally for very heavy loads. (Photo Glos.RO)

Most of the railway lines around the docks have gone, but the foundation stones of the crane have been preserved. The warehouses are now offices for Gloucester City Council.

Return to Top Menu   Copyright Hugh Conway-Jones 2003-04   Contact