Docks Tour

Gloucester Lock

Gloucester Lock

For over two thousand years, Britain’s longest river, the Severn, has been a major trade route.

Gloucester’s strategic location meant that a quayside has been in use since Roman times and continued during the Saxon and medieval period (even though the course of the river has changed many times). As ships became larger in the late 18th century, carrying wine from Spain and Portugal, fewer and fewer were able to make the journey up river safely due to the spring tides.

Gloucester Lock connects the River Severn to the Gloucester Sharpness Canal. When the lock was opened on 12 October 1812, the celebrations became muted after one of the three swivel guns misfired and exploded, severely injuring three spectators and killing one of them.

In 2012, on the two hundredth anniversary of the opening of the lock, the Hereford Bull (which also took part in Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee River Pageant) and a boat carrying schoolchildren in Victorian dress recreated the opening ceremony. A cannon salute was also given, though thankfully history did not repeat itself. A plaque commemorating the occasion can be found on the wall next to the lock.


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Estimated time: 3 minutes

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