The Quay to the City

Charles Dickens himself claimed that the docks area of Gloucester was ‘extraordinary’. The docks made Gloucester a very important place and even though its importance waned, what the city has since done with the industrial land, has put Gloucester firmly back on the map again. Now a fantastic example of investment, regeneration and recreational fun – Gloucester Quays has become the new beating heart of the city.

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As early as 1580, Elizabeth I bestowed Gloucester with Royal Port Status. The city has the most inland port in the country and the towering warehouses of the Victorian period still stand tall around the water. Since medieval times, the water at Gloucester was essential for maritime trade. The earliest customs house was based at the Old Quay and can still be seen today, bearing the Royal coat of arms.

Going even further back into history, the Romans built a fort here due to the natural split that occurs here in the River Severn. It was the perfect location for setting up such a fort and was the most southerly crossing point to enter Wales. If you agree with the Romans and want to set up your own fort here, then you need a Gloucester Estate Agent. For more information, visit

It was agreed in 1793 that a ship canal could be constructed here to deal with the awkward tidal nature of the river here. It wasn’t completed until 1817. More basins were opened up during the 19th century to allow small boats to keep out of the way of larger vessels. The docks were a busy, bustling, important place and warehouses were still being built well into the 1870s.

Exports included salt for Worcestershire and goods that came into the port included sugar from the Caribbean and wood from Scandinavia. The city flourished as centre for industry until the arrival of vehicles, motorways and giant container ships.

By the 1980s, the docks were a sorry sight. Empty, derelict warehouses, abandoned wasteland and the ghosts of the past still haunting the waterways. Visit this area today though and you wouldn’t recognise it. A huge complex of designer outlet shopping, multiplex cinema, restaurants galore and a proud heritage shown in museums and warehouse restoration projects.

This is the place where residents and visitors come to shop, eat, have fun and join in with the huge variety of events that are staged at Gloucester Quays. The Christmas Victorian Market is hugely popular, as is the Tall Ships Festival which attracts visitors from all of the country and the world! Celebrity chefs come to speak at Food Festivals, the annual firework display happens here and many child-friendly activities are put on during the summer holidays.

The Quays are a fantastic place to visit with something for everyone. You’ll find discounted shopping, the National Waterways Museum – celebrating the city’s watery heritage, the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum and the magnificent cathedral only a short distance away. Al fresco dining, live music, festival events and even its own brewery – Gloucester Quays offer the perfect summer day trip for the whole family.

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