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Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal


News Archive 2009

Plan to Extend Antiques Centre

Gloucester planners are considering an application for change of use to permit the Antiques Centre to expand into the first floor of the building on the opposite side of High Orchard St to their existing site and to use the bridge over the road to link the two premises (App Ref 09/01281).

Purton Waste Weir
Contractors have completed repair work on the outfall from Purton waste weir into the River Severn. The river bank there was seriously eroded by the exceptionally high flow of excess water from the canal at the time of the 2007 floods.

Llanthony Road Traffic
As so many drivers are abusing the ban on cars and vans crossing Llanthony Bridge, County Highways have decided to install improved signage and a number plate recognition camera to catch those who still offend. (Gloucester CCCP)

Road Train Starts
A road train linking the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre and the city centre started operating on 10 December and will continue up to Christmas. It runs every half-hour between the Docks and Northgate St, with an intermediate stop in Southgate St, and each trip costs one pound. (Photo)

Risga at Hayling Island
The motor cruiser Risga that was based in Gloucester during the 1940s and 50s is being restored at Hayling Island, near Portsmouth. While at Gloucester, she was used by the directors of the Dock Co, and later by the local management of the British Transport Commission, for entertaining business clients. (More details)

A Day to Remember at Sharpness
By a happy coincidence, a group of children from Sharpness primary school were on hand to witness the departure of the Earl of Pembroke on 9 December. The children also saw the departure of the ship Arklow Spray. (Photo: Mike Nash)

Two Pilot Cutters Launched
After much refurbishment work at Tommi Nielsen's shipyard, Bristol Channel pilot cutter Cornubia (photo) and replica pilot cutter Kochi were launched from Monk Meadow Quay on 2 December. Cornubia was built in 1911, she was renamed Hirta in 1939, and she is now back to her original name.

Wind Turbines for Sharpness?
British Waterways and the Partnership for Renewables are to assess the feasibility of siting wind turbines on the River Severn at Sharpness Docks. A public exhibition to introduce the proposals to the local community is planned for early next year. (Dursley Gazette 26 Nov 2009)

Start on Phase 2 Public Realm
Local contractors Britannia started to set up a site office in the Southgate car park on 23 November. Over the next few months, they are due to install new paving, street furniture, lighting and art work in the area to the east and north of the Victoria Dock.

Piling Below Patch Bridge
Sub-contractors CPC Plant have started piling the canal bank on the towpath side a few hundred yards below Patch Bridge where the existing piling had collapsed. New steel piles are delivered to the site by barge, having been loaded from a temporary jetty near Purton Upper Bridge. (Photo)

Heritage Boards Replaced
The two heritage interpretation boards at the north and south ends of the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre, which originally had wording intended for the other location, have been replaced. While the two sets of wording are now in the right places, some factual errors have still not been corrected.

Chocolate Coming to Llanthony Rd
Plans have been submitted to convert the listed building on the corner of Llanthony Rd and High Orchard St into a shop/cafe trading as 'All Things Chocolate'. The unit will sell quality chocolates and will offer a simple cafe style menu where chocolate features heavily. (App Ref 09/01182)

Southgate Car Park
The South West Regional Development Agency has applied for planning permission for a new entrance to the Southgate car park direct from Southgate St. The existing entrance near the Victoria Dock will be closed as the land there is due to be given new paving. (App Ref 09/01160)

Docks Heritage Features
Gloucester planners have approved the installation of two heritage features in conjunction with the improved paving about to be laid to the east of the Victoria Dock. An ex-Midland Railway crane will be positioned on the quayside and two replica tramroad wagons will stand in front of the Albion Cottages.

Docks Artwork Approved
Gloucester planners have approved the installation of two pieces of artwork to be included in the improvement of the public realm along the east and north sides of the Victoria Dock. One is a 22 metre high candle flame made of corten steel at the bottom of Kimbrose Steps (photo), and the other is a floorscape showing the outlines of bygone ships moving and turning in front of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.

Coach Drop-off Point Resolved
As it is intended to keep most vehicles out of the docks, Gloucester planners have agreed that a new drop-off and pick-up point for visiting coaches should be created near the bottom of Commercial Rd where the lane branches off to cross the lock bridge. With some re-arrangement of the existing carriageway and footway, this will cater for two or possibly three coaches.

Site Office at Purton
Contractors May Gurney have established a site office in the car park beside Purton Upper Bridge. They are preparing to carry out maintenance work near Patch Bridge, at Purton waste weir and on the north pier at Sharpness and to replace the outer gates at Sharpness.

G&S Canal Book Republished
The book The Gloucester & Sharpness Canal - an Illustrated History by Hugh Conway-Jones has been republished. Following the demise of the original publisher, Tempus, this edition has been produced by Amberley Publishing of Chalford. (More details)

Oldenburg Visits Gloucester
The Lundy Island supply ship Oldenburg arrived at Gloucester on 29 October carrying passengers who had boarded at Sharpness. After an open day on 31 October, she returned to Sharpness for dry-docking. (Photo)

Bridge House Repainted
The outside of Llanthony Bridge House has been repainted, resulting in a much improved appearance.

Royal Visit
Huge crowds welcomed the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh when they visited Gloucester Docks on 23 October on board two Royal Navy patrol boats. Having boarded at Monk Meadow Quay, the royal couple were taken up the canal to see the recent developments around the Main Basin, and then back to Llanthony Quay where they went ashore to see the remains of Llanthony Priory and to have lunch at the Gloucestershire College. (Photo)

Money for Docks-City Link
The Government has authorised the South West Regional Development Agency to spend £7m providing new paving, lighting and street furniture for the lower part of Southgate St and the pedestrian route through the docks towards the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre. Further funding has been allocated for the completion of the Docks Masterplan, including a new bridge over the Barge Arm. (GHURC Regeneration News Nov 2009)

Development Proposal for Malthouse
The Beswick Partnership, on behalf of the Bishop family, have submitted plans for a mixed use development of the former Downing's malthouse between Merchants Rd and High Orchard St. By modifying internal features of the listed building, adding some new structures and demolishing two of the four adjoining 'cottages', the development will provide a mix of leisure, office and residential uses with circulation and ancillary spaces. See view from High Orchard St. (App Refs 09/01097 and 09/01098)

New Bench at Saul
A new bench in the form of a lock balance beam has been installed outside the Cotswold Canals Trust's heritage centre at Saul Junction. It was constructed by inmates of Leyhill Open Prison under the guidance of a boat-owning prison officer. (Cotswold Canals ENews)

Llanthony Makeover
In preparation for the Queen's visit to the docks on 23 October, contractors painted the abutments of Llanthony Bridge and the piles in front of Llanthony Quay, and undergrowth was cleared at the southern end of Llanthony Quay.

Man Rescued from Canal
A cyclist was rescued from the canal on the night of 7 October after he veered off the towpath in the dark and ended up in the water near the new Sainsbury's store. For twenty minutes, he struggled unsuccessfully to pull himself up the piling at the side of the canal until eventually two youths heard his cries and came to his assistance. (Citizen 8 Oct 2009)

New Salon on West Quay
A new hairdressing salon known as Studio 1 opened in the unit at the south end of the South Point block of apartments on 30 September.

New Outfall
A new storm water outfall has been constructed on the towpath side of the canal north of Hempsted Bridge to avoid excess water collecting on the nearby road.

Excavation at Purton
The Friends of Purton carried out an archaeological excavation on the remains of the Kennet barge Harriett over the weekend 19-20 September.

Painting on Docks Wall
An impression of King Kong on the tower of Gloucester cathedral has appeared on a wall in Severn Rd opposite the premises of Just MOTs. It was created by a 19-year old from Gloucester who goes by the name of Tommy Trix. (Citizen 19 Sep 2009)

Proposed Use for Biddle Unit
Gloucester planners are considering a proposal to use the southern half of the ground floor of Biddle Warehouse for complementary and beauty therapy. This would require the installation of internal stud work walls to create treatment rooms and welfare facilities. (App Refs 09/00981 & 00987)

Stop Gate Inspections at Saul
On 7 September, British Waterways staff and divers began work on lifting, inspecting and replacing each of the four stop gates at Saul Junction. The passage of boats was stopped while divers were in the water.

Ship's Wheel for Chapel
A ship's wheel has been attached to the front of the pulpit in the Mariners' Chapel. It was unveiled by the Mayor of Gloucester, Coun. Chris Witts, at the annual Merchant Navy Day service on 6 September.

Llanthony Warehouse Tenant
After an extensive refurbishment, Levels 5 & 6 of Llanthony Warehouse are now occupied by the Adult Education section of Gloucestershire County Council.

Toilets Removed
The temporary toilets beside the Victoria Dock have been removed in preparation for work to start on repaving the whole area. The nearest public toilets are in the Gloucester Quays shopping centre.

Museum Plaque Reinstated
The plaque commemorating the formal opening of the National Waterways Museum by Prince Charles in 1988 has been put back on show after disappearing from the wall of the former Museum cafe earlier in the year. The missing plaque was found in the possession of the present occupiers of the cafe building, who had removed it in order to put up one of their own signs.

Historic Lifeboat at Saul
The former lifeboat Edmund and Mary Robinson is at R W Davis's yard at Saul to be restored once a sympathetic owner has been found. When based at Moelfre, Anglesey, her coxswain was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal in 1959 for rescuing eight crewmen from a motor vessel that was drifting towards rocks in a hurricane.

Rugby in the Docks
Thousands of rugby fans visited the docks on 31 August to meet the Gloucester players and to try their hand at various rugby-related challenges.

Appeal For Museum Volunteers
The Mayor of Gloucester has renewed an appeal for volunteers to help keep the National Waterways Museum open. An earlier appeal produced a good response, and Gloucester Civic Trust has pledged to help by moving its visitor information point from College St to the Museum foyer, but more volunteers are still needed to keep the Museum sustainable in the longer term. (Citizen 28 Aug 09)

Gloucester Lock Stoppage
On 24 August, some debris prevented one of the lower gates of Gloucester Lock closing properly, and after this was cleared by sluicing, there was a serious leak under the gate. On the following day, a diver found that a length of the rubber seal along the cill was missing, but the lock could be operated again in spite of the leakage. (Photo)

Lydney Boats Visit Gloucester
Half a dozen boats from Lydney Yacht Club visited the docks on 22 Aug, having come up the river and over Llanthony Weir on one of the highest tides of the year. They returned down the canal to Sharpness, where they waited for the evening tide to cross back to Lydney.

Coal Boats at Gloucester
John Jackson's canal boats Roach and Comet were moored by Llanthony pontoons on 22 August while on one of their regular visits delivering coal. (Photo)

Wheel Stops Turning
The Ferris wheel at Gloucester Docks ceased operation on 16 August after an estimated 25,000 people had taken a ride on it. (Citizen 17 Aug 2009)

Fretherne Bridge Restriction
Fretherne Bridge was restricted to opening only at three hour intervals over the weekend 15-16 August because the bearing of a roller wheel had failed. A replacement roller was fitted during the following week when the bridge was opened permanently (and closed to road traffic) for a scheduled resurfacing of the bridge deck.

Street Entertainers at Docks
Marketing Gloucester has arranged for a variety of street entertainers to perform their skills at the docks on Sunday afternoons in August and through to mid-September. The performances take place in front of the Mariners' Chapel.

Demolition Approved
On 4 August, Gloucester Planning Committee approved a proposal to demolish the former Merchants Quay shopping mall. They also approved the erection of two replacement buildings having commercial uses on the ground floor and 48 one and two bedroom apartments above, but there were strong reservations about the design of the new buildings, and the margin of approval was just one vote. (Citizen 6 Aug 2009)

Bridge House For Sale
Rea Bridge House, with two double bedrooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen and bathroom, is on the market for £299,950. For enquiries, contact Michael Tuck.

Limited Uses for Llanthony Rd
Contractors have cleared away their obstructions on Llanthony Rd east of the bridge, and the route is open again for buses, taxis and cyclists but not for cars. Unfortunately some car drivers ignored the restriction signs, and so cones have been deployed as a deterrent.

Wall Panel Demolished
Contractors began demolishing one panel of brickwork in the wall along the north side of Llanthony Rd on 21 July. The aim is to improve pedestrian access between the western part of the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre and the main docks area.

New Docks Cafe Opens
The Italian-style Caffe Tucci opened on 20 July in the ground floor of the Barge Arm East apartments. The owner's aim is to specialise in top-quality coffee and the best Italian-style cakes.

Docks Float Wins Carnival Cup
A float organised by Gloucester Yacht Club and featuring many other docks-based organisations won the cup for the best 'general' entry in the Gloucester carnival procession on 18 July. (Photo)

Pump Given Make-over
The large centrifugal pump preserved on the West Quay has been given a coat of blue paint. The original white paint on the lower half has been covered over to discourage graffiti.

Heritage Boards Confusion
Two stylish heritage interpretation boards have been erected in the south foyer of the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre and on the corner of Llanthony Rd and High Orchard St. However, it has been pointed out to those responsible that the wording on each board was evidently intended for the other location and that both boards contain several errors of fact.

Award for Sea Cadets
Following their annual inspection by the Royal Navy, Gloucester Sea Cadets were awarded the top Burgee standard for the fourth year in succession.

Antiques Centre Move
Gloucester Antiques Centre, which formerly occupied the warehouse by the lock, has moved to a refurbished building on the corner of Llanthony Rd and High Orchard St, and it opened there on 15 July. Its new home was built as a warehouse for Matthews furniture factory, was later used by the Gloucester Carpet Co and has recently become part of the Gloucester Quays development. (Photo)

Tall Ship Hits Bridge
As the Earl of Pembroke was passing up the canal on 12 July, she was caught by a gust of wind while approaching Rea Bridge. Her bobstay came up against the railing of the eastern bridge abutment, causing the tip of her bowsprit to break off. (Photo)

Steam Boats Visit Gloucester
Ten steam boats cruised from Saul to Gloucester on 4 July and made a fine sight moored in the Barge Arm. The owners paid a visit to the National Waterways Museum to see the steam engine in the dredger operating specially for them. (Photo)

Geoff Burch at Saul
The official commissioning of the refurbished Cotswold Canals Trust's Heritage Centre at Saul Junction was marked by a visit from Geoff Burch of BBC 2's ĎAll Over the Shopí on 4 July. Geoff praised the work that had been done, mainly by volunteers, and he entertainingly suggested ways of helping customers to get even more from their visits in future. (Photo)

Junction Heritage Website
A new website featuring the heritage of the area around Saul Junction was launched at an open morning at Whitminster Village Hall on 4 July. Prepared by a keen group of local people, the website has an eclectic mix of photos, facts and stories about the places linked by the waterways which meet at the Junction.

Rifles Receive Freedom of the County
The Rifles Regiment, based at Beachley, were presented with the Freedom of Gloucestershire at a parade beside the Victoria Dock on 27 June. After the ceremony, the first battalion of the regiment marched through the streets of Gloucester led by their regimental band. (Photo

Ketch Departs for Australia
The ketch Argonavis, which has been at Gloucester for the last year following repairs to her bowsprit, set sail for Sydney, Australia, on 25 June. A crew of five expect to make the voyage in seven stages via the Panama Canal, taking around 100 days. (Photo

Quay Rings on Docks Skyline
An eye-catching trio of rings has been set up on the roof of the recently opened Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre. The rings are above the building that was formerly Matthews furniture factory and are in the place of a water tank that supplied the factory's sprinkler system. (Photo)

Sainsbury's Opens With New Moorings
Sainsbury's new food store near High Orchard Bridge opened to the public on 17 June, and early boaters who tied up at the new moorings alongside were given a £5 voucher from Sainsbury's for use in the store. (Photo) The new pontoons along Bakers Quay were also opened officially on the same day, and early boaters who bought something at the nearby designer outlet centre were given a bottle of champagne by British Waterways.

Replacement for Merchants Quay
Developers Crest Nicholson have submitted plans for the demolition of the vacant Merchants Quay shopping mall and the erection of two linked buildings with commercial uses on the ground floor and 48 one and two bedroom apartments above. (Illustration) Should there be a delay between the demolition and start of construction, Crest have proposed an interim strategy for the public realm that would avoid the need for temporary hoardings. (App Ref 09/00585)

Historic Ship on the Canal
The Marjorie, built on the Clyde in 1913 as a ketch-rigged motor yacht and later converted to a brig (her owner having served on a square-sailed naval training ship), is now based at Sharpness. She has recently undergone major repairs at Sharpness Shipyard after running on to some rocks off the south coast. (Photo: Suzie Blades)

High Orchard Bridge Hold-up
After High Orchard Bridge was raised and lowered to allow a vessel to pass through on 30 May, the inter-locks did not re-engage properly, and the road barriers could not be raised for a couple of hours or so. This stopped the traffic on St Ann Way and disrupted the Waterwells park-&-ride bus service which now uses this route.

Gloucester Tall Ships Festival
Thousands of people visited Gloucester docks over the weekend 29-31 May to see five tall ships, two lifeboats and a number of leisure narrow boats moored in the Main Basin. Historical re-enactment groups performed on land and water, and visitors could also enjoy circus acts, arts & crafts activities, model boat demonstrations, musical entertainers, fairground rides and a beer festival. (Photos)

Tall Ships Draw Crowds
Large crowds gathered at several of the canal bridges to see the tall ships Kaskelot and Earl of Pembroke making their way up the canal on 29 May, and the resulting concentration of cars created gridlock on some approach roads for a time. Progress of the ships was slowed by a high level of mud in the bottom of the canal, which made steering Kaskelot very difficult and raised significant concerns about the risk of collision with bridge structures. (Photo)

New Cafe for Docks
An Italian style cafe is due to open soon in the ground floor of the Barge Arm East apartments. The owner intends to offer the best Italian cakes and top-quality coffee. (Citizen 28 May 2009)

Bank Holiday Crowds
Thousands of people visited Gloucester Docks over the late May Bank Holiday weekend to see the new designer outlet centre, the Ferris Wheel, a helicopter from HMS Gloucester and the boats attending the Three Clubs Regatta. Many also walked the short distance into town. (Photos)

Outlet Centre Open
The first phase of the Gloucester Quays designer outlet centre opened to the public on 21 May, offering well-known brands at substantial discounts on normal shop prices. (Photo) Throughout the day, the centre was crowded with bargain hunters and those who were just curious, with entertainment being provided by a variety of street entertainers.

Pontoons Along Bakers Quay
Contractors have started installing pontoons along the northern half of Bakers Quay to provide more moorings for visitors. (Photo)

Skippered Cruises Available
Elite Canal Cruise offer skippered cruises on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in the 12ft wide canal boat Eagle Spirit. Starting at Saul Junction, a three-day cruise covers the whole canal with overnight stops at Patch Bridge and Gloucester, and a one-day cruise goes to Sharpness and back.

Phase Two Public Realm
Plans for a second phase of improvements to the public realm at Gloucester docks have been submitted to Gloucester city planners. They include details of paving, street furniture, lighting, trees, public art and historic features around the north and east sides of the Victoria Dock and the entrance from Southgate St. (App Ref 09/00398)

Landscaping for Sainsburys
British Waterways staff have landscaped the canal-side in front of the new Sainsbury's food store and have attached timber baulks to the steel piling for boats to moor against. While clearing the land, they uncovered the foundations of the former office and store of John Harker Ltd, tanker barge operators.

Historical Guide Book
Gloucester Docks - an Historical Guide, published on 13 May, describes the historical background to surviving features of interest around the docks and includes many old and new photographs. Copies are available from the National Waterways Museum shop and other outlets, price £5.00. (More details)

Oliver Cromwell Mooring
Gloucester planners have received an application for the Oliver Cromwell to be used as a floating hotel, restaurant and cabaret venue, moored in the Main Basin alongside the Alexandra Warehouse. Recognising that this location is not suitable for such a large vessel, the application indicates an intention to move the vessel to the south of Llanthony Bridge when services are available there in three to five years time. (App Ref 09/00492)

Gloucester Yacht Club Refurbished
The completion of refurbishment work at Gloucester Yacht Club was marked on 30th April by Miss Gloucester cutting a ribbon in the presence of the club's 95 year old President and members of the Committee, supported by a large gathering of club members and invited guests. (Photo) The club, in the north-east corner of the docks, welcomes visitors every Friday from 17.00 till late and Saturday from 20.00 till late.

Ferris Wheel at Docks
A giant Ferris Wheel was erected at the south end of the Victoria Dock in just two days, 28-29 April, and it will be operating until 16 August. The wheel is 110ft high with 24 gondolas, each capable of carrying six passengers, and it rotates at 2.6 revolutions per minute. (Photo)

Body Found in Canal
The body of a man was recovered from the Sharpness Canal near to Hempsted Bridge on 27 April.

New Bungalow Near Sellars Bridge
A new bungalow is being built on the vacant plot beside the Watershed bungalow to the north of Sellars Bridge. It has a timber frame and cedar cladding.

Heritage Centre Refurbished
The interior of the Cotswold Canal Trust's Heritage Centre at Saul Junction has been transformed with improved information displays, a slatboard system to display stock and a smaller counter which leaves more space for holding meetings. Most of the work was carried out by the Trust's volunteers, with financial support from Stroud District Council, British Waterways and Land & Water. (Photo)

Hairy Bikers Filming
Television chefs Si King and Dave Myers visited the North Quay at Gloucester on 18 April to film scenes for their next series of the Hairy Bikers.

Heritage Boat Comes to Gloucester
British Waterways workboat Renton, recently leased by the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust, was brought to Gloucester on 18 April by members of the Canal Trust. Renton is a former Grand Union Canal Carrying Co 'large Northwich' motor boat that has been shortened to 45ft to become an ice-breaking tug. (Photo)

Pier Repairs at Sharpness
Refurbishment work has started on the North Pier to replace pieces of timber fendering and metal fixings that have become damaged over the years.

Record Cargo at Sharpness
MV Balticdiep arrived on 13 April carrying 5181 tons of cement from Seville - the largest cargo received by Dragon Alfa cement since the firm came to Sharpness in 1987 and the largest import cargo into Sharpness since 1992.

Unusual Cargo at Sharpness
MV Opus arrived on 11 April carrying four huge brewing silos from Moerdijk in the Netherlands as deck cargo. Two mobile cranes were needed to lift each silo on to a low loader to be taken to a temporary storage yard before being delivered to Ledbury in May.

Double Exposure
Two film crews were in action in the docks on 7 April. While BBC Points West was reporting on the need for volunteers to help run the National Waterways Museum, an independent company was filming a commercial for the nearby designer outlet shopping centre that will be opening in May.

Patch Bridge Replacement in Use
The temporary fixed bridge at Patch was removed on 3 April, and the newly installed replacement bridge was brought into use for road traffic. The new bridge was formally opened by David Drew MP and children from Slimbridge School on 22 April. (Photos)

Demolition Plans for Bakers Quay
Gloucester planners are being asked to approve the demolition of a number of unsightly structures adjoining listed buildings on the Bishop family's land at the south end of Bakers Quay, including a row of four derelict houses, a concrete silo and a steel frame shed. (App Ref 09/00346)

Purton Stop Gates
Contractors began removing two of the 10 tonne stop gates at Purton on 30 March for their periodic inspection and any necessary maintenance. The work extended into a second week due to the diver finding unforeseen ground conditions. (Photo)

Lost Roof!
During a sharp rain shower on 28 March, a mini-whirlwind with the sound of an express train lifted the roofing felt off the bridgeman's hut at Parkend, allowing rain to run down the internal walls. British Waterways staff covered the hut with a tarpaulin, dried out the electrics and had the bridge working again the following day.

Ecclesiastical Plans Deferred
Ecclesiastical Insurance has shelved plans to move to purpose-built offices on the current car park between the Victoria Dock and Southgate St. The company blamed the decision on increased building cost estimates and the general economic downturn. (Citizen 27 Mar 2009)

Vehicle in Canal?
British Waterways received a report that a motor vehicle was pushed into the canal near the fuelling pontoon at the Gulf petrol station on Sparrow's Wharf during the night of 19 March. A removal team was assembled, including mobile crane and diver, and they found not just one car but five!

Revised Plan for Monk Meadow Quay
Bloor Homes are seeking approval of a revised plan for housing on their current development at Monk Meadow Quay. The proposal includes less apartments and more individual houses to suit a market that has changed dramatically since the original application was granted. (Details) (App Ref 09/00250)

Replacement Deck for Patch Bridge
The new deck for Patch Bridge was lifted into place by a huge crane on 17 March. On the previous day, the temporary fixed bridge was moved to one side for two hours to allow the classic yacht Halcyon and other vessels to pass through. (Photos)

New Decking for Pontoons
British Waterways staff have completed the installation of slip-resistant granite reinforced plastic panels on the pontoons in the Main Basin at Gloucester.

Heritage Centre Refurbishment
Cotswold Canal Trust volunteers have started to refurbish the interior of the Trustís Heritage Centre at Saul Junction with financial support from Stroud District Council, British Waterways and Land & Water. The main room will have improved information displays, a slatboard system to display stock, a smaller counter and more space for holding meetings.

New Use for Sharpness Stables
The former stable block at Sharpness Old Dock has been refurbished to provide enhanced toilet and shower facilities for those using the marina.

Purton Hulks on Countryfile
The hulks on the Severn foreshore at Purton were featured on the BBC's Countryfile programme broadcast on 8 March, when Paul Barnett was shown being interviewed by John Craven.

Outlet Centre to Open In May
The designer outlet centre in the Gloucester Quays development will open on 21 May, and there will be a number of fashion and maritime theme events over the next ten days. (Citizen 4 Mar 2009)

Canal Bridge Lights in Use Again
The lights for controlling boat movements at bridges were brought back into use on 2 March after much concern was expressed by boaters during the 15 months they were switched off. A red light means 'Stop', a flashing red light means 'Wait' and a green light means 'Proceed'.

Busy Time at Sharpness
During a good period for ship movements at Sharpness, 2 March was particularly notable as there were seven ships in the dock at the same time. Two had brought fertilizer, two cement, one coal, one organic cattle food and one was loading wheat. (Photo M Nash)

Marketing Team Sets Up in the Docks
Marketing Gloucester Ltd, a new company formed to make Gloucester a better place to live, has established a temporary base in the Alexandra Warehouse to serve until permanent offices are found nearer to the city centre. The firm is responsible for city centre management, destination marketing and events management.

Sharpness Shipping Website
A new website featuring ships at Sharpness has been set up by well-known photographer Mike Nash. As well as showing photos of recent arrivals and some earlier visitors, the site lists ships expected in the next few days.

Priday's Mill Ground Floor
Temple Row Developments have applied for planning permission to provide 13 one-bed apartments on the ground floor of Priday's Mill. The space was intended for retail, professional or refreshment units, but no tenants have come forward. (App Ref 08/01632)

Lightship for Llanthony Quay
The owners of a former lightship have applied for planning permission to moor the vessel on Llanthony Quay, opposite Downing's malthouses, and to use it as a centre for complementary health care with ancillary sales and living accommodation. The lightship, which still retains many original features, is currently undergoing renovation at Sharpness Shipyard. (App Ref 09/00189)

Ferris Wheel in the Docks
British Waterways have applied for temporary planning permission to have a Ferris Wheel at the south end of the Victoria Dock from 5 June to 16 August. The proposed wheel will be 110ft high with 24 gondolas, each capable of carrying six passengers, and it will rotate at 2.6 revolutions per minute. (App Ref 09/00163)

St Valentine's Day Blessing
After a Registry Office wedding on St Valentine's Day, Councilors Chris Witts and Susan Jones attended the Mariners' Chapel for a blessing. The groom has long connections with the docks as he started work on Harker's tanker barges and later was a skipper on Healing's grain barges.

Mariners' Chapel Anniversary
A special service of thanksgiving was held in the Mariners' Chapel on 11 February to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the opening of the chapel in 1849.

Rock Salt Arrives at Sharpness
MV Imi arrived at Sharpness on the morning tide of 11 February with a much needed cargo of 4000 tons of rock salt. The cargo was hurriedly discharged into lorries and on to the quayside, and it was taken away for gritting the roads of Gloucestershire and surrounding counties. (Photo: M Nash)

Sluice Repairs At Sharpness
Work started on the removal of defective sluice mechanisms at the Sharpness inner gates on 2 February, and as diving operations were involved, no shipping movements were possible on some afternoon tides. (Photo: M Nash)

Tunnel Tug Back on the Canal
The replica tunnel tug Gloucester, which made a brief appearance at the 2008 Saul Festival, is currently moored at Saul Junction again, although she is not fully operational due to the firm who built her at Brimscombe going into liquidation. The original tug Gloucester towed boats through the tunnels on the summit level of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal.

Bridge Lights to Be On Again
After listening to the concerns of canal users, British Waterways have agreed to re-instate the operation of the bridge lights where bridgemen are on duty - probably starting on 2 March. Details will be published on the Waterscape website.

Plans for New Antiques Centre
Plans have been published for using the upper floors of the former Matthews furniture warehouse facing Llanthony Road to house the businesses now in the Antiques Centre beside Gloucester Lock. A small ground floor shop unit, fronting on to High Orchard Street, will act as a display area advertising the new Antiques Centre above. (App Ref 08/01566)

New Decking For Pontoons
British Waterways staff have started to replace the decking on the pontoons in the Main Basin. The new granite reinforced plastic panels will be more slip-resistant than the former wooden slats. (Photo)

Landmark Building Designer Named
The new headquarters building for the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, planned for the car park between Southgate St and the Victoria Dock, will be designed by Sir Terry Farrell and Partners. The partnership has designed many famous buildings that overlook water, including the MI5 building on the Albert Embankment in London. (GHURC Regeneration News Jan 2009) 

Canal Boat Fire
Firefighters and rescue boats were called to a boat fire at Saul Junction during the evening of 6 January. The interior of the narrow boat Suzanna Lucy was severely damaged, but no one was hurt. (Photo)

Bakers Quay Outfall Completed
A storm water outfall from the new designer outlet centre has been formed in Bakers Quay, and the original coping stones have been replaced over the opening.

Temporary Bridge at Patch
A temporary replacement for Patch Bridge was installed on 6 January to allow the old bridge to be dismantled and a new one built. The temporary bridge is fixed, and so no boats will be able to pass along the canal until the work is completed in March. (Photo & more details)

Ice on the Canal
After a very cold night, the canal near Sellars Bridge was frozen over on 4 Jan for the first time in eight years. (Citizen 5 Jan 2009) The ice was so thick at Parkend Bridge on 9 Jan that two narrow boats could not get through and had to turn back. 

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