musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: narrow boat

Gloucester Harbour

It is strange to find a harbour so far from the sea, but then you really need to remember that the Severn is not a small river. Gloucester harbour is not a deep water port as I know it, but was built more as a harbour for barge and small vessel traffic. Unfortunately, like so many of these places the need for it became superfluous as the truck and better roads brought about a whole new way of moving goods from one place to another.  Even the railways were not immune to this new way, and Gloucester, like Tewkesbury and Cheltenham were all in the firing line of the Beeching axe

Today the harbour is a small boat and pleasure craft harbour, with a lot of narrow boats and yachts and small pleasure craft (aka floating gin palaces). However, the buildings remain, being converted into yuppie pads and trendy working areas or shops for those that are attracted to them.

Use the image above to get an idea of what this area looks like and realistically the easiest way to see the harbour is to use our fictional vessel: “Diverse Alarums” and start from where the River Severn splits and the left fork is the entrance to the locks that will enable us to enter the “Main Basin”

Do not be tempted to go to starboard because there be dragons. Seriously though, that part of the river may not be very navigable, as I saw trees drifting downstream along it. 

The lock also has a lifting vehicle bridge over it, as well as an associated control cabin. The road would take you to the back of the warehouses on the right bank of the Main Basin. I did not really explore that area too well though.

Assuming we were successful, the Diverse Alarums would exit into the “Main Basin” which has a number of interesting things in it.  The image of the basin below is looking towards the lock which would be in the top left hand corner.

Sailing down the basin, roughly midway there is a cut that is the entrance to the Victoria Dock. It is really just pleasure craft that are berthed there and is of no real interest to somebody like me who prefers working vessels. 

Going full astern to escape the the throng of very expensive craft we are safely back in the main basin. On the right hand side of the basin are two drydocks, and these are really fascinating places for somebody like me. I did a blog post about drydocks many moons ago and these two feature in that post. Today both docks were in use.


Just past the drydocks is what is known as the “Barge Arm”. It is occupied by a bucket dredger with the rather quaint name “SND no 4”

The building in the shot is home to the National Waterways Museum. I visited it in 2015 but I was not impressed. It seemed more geared towards young visitors instead of jaded oldies like myself. 

If we go astern again and turn back into the basin we will be presented by the Llanthony Bridge which is a lifting bridge. It is the third bridge at this site and was built in 1972. 

Exiting from this bridge the quay to our Starboard side is known as the Llanthony Quay and it was built in the early 1850s by the Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway Co., soon taken over by the GWR, to provide a means of supplying coal from the Forest of Dean as an export cargo.

Baker’s Quay would be on the port side and was constructed in the late 1830s by a group of local businessmen led by Samuel Baker at a time when the Canal Co. was heavily in debt and could not finance much needed additional quay-space.


The red vessel in the distance is the former Spurn Head lightship that used to be moored at the mouth of the Humber Estuary. She was decommissioned in 1985, she has served as the headquarters of a yacht club and as a tourist attraction in various locations. She was extensively restored and converted into a treatment centre for alternative medicine under the name “Sula” and at the moment she is up for sale. If only I had vast amounts of money….

The area opposite her on Baker’s Quay is not accessible and recently a warehouse burnt down there. There is some serious foliage on the one building, 

I did walk into this area but there was not much to see except for the sort of space that would make any urbex buff smile knowingly.

If we had continued along past the Sula and the old warehouse buildings we would be facing the High Orchard Bridge. I have not gone much further than the lightship though. Maybe another day? I did see a sign for a Telford Bridge so need to do some investigating of that. 

It is  bascule bridge but I have not seen it raised yet. Beyond that I have no idea. At one point I will go on a boat trip downriver and see how far it gets us. There is quite a lot of interesting stuff down river but at this point we will disembark from our well found tub because our tour around the harbour is complete. The Gloucesterdocks website covers most of this in much better detail than I can and is well worth the visit.

Ships and small craft.

There are not too many vessels that catch my eye here, but some are worth showing.

This beauty is called Johanna Lucretia, she is a topsail schooner and was built in 1945 in Belgium.

Johanna Lucretia

Severn Progress  is a tug and was built in 1931 by Charles Hill & Sons Ltd, Bristol. Her low profile is necessary to sail under low bridges.

Severn Progress

Sabrina 5

FY86 White Heather


Random Images


© DRW 2015-2018. Created 04/06/2017

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:58

Going through the locks

I must admit the canals in the UK fascinate me, they are a rare glimpse of an age that has passed and which has become somewhat of the domain of the inland boater and canal fan.  I have never really been able to explore them properly, and only just see the occasional length of water in my travels. In Tewkesbury we have two major rivers: The Severn and the Avon, and at one point they are joined together through the Avon lock. The Avon Lock may be seen in the map below.

Just by chance I was there when a narrow boat traversed from one to the other.
At this point the narrow boat has turned across the Avon river and is now heading into the lock, the gates on the Avon being open, and the other side being closed. The water level inside the lock is the same height as that of the Avon.
I am now standing next to the open lock gates, the black and white beam is one of the arms of the gate which would have been manually operated but which is now electrically operated. You can just see the bow of the narrow boat on the right.
The narrow boat is now inside the lock and is being moored to the side of the lock, however, the mooring lines are not tied down, the one end is held by the skipper so that he can pay the line out as the water level drops. The lock gate is still open at this point. Now the gate on the Avon side gets closed with the narrow boat inside, the water level is still the same as it was.
This is the gate from the outside.
The water in the lock is now drained into the other side of the lock, lowering the level of the water till it matches that on the other side side of the lock.
Once the water level is the same the Severn side set of lock gates can be opened.
And the narrow boat can start moving into the Avon and a bit further down into the Severn 
and the gates can be closed once again, ready for the next customer. It can work in either direction, the only difference being that to rise up into the Avon water would be let into the lock from the Avon side. 
This whole process took 9 minutes according to the file information of the first and image above. 
It is as easy as that…
The Avon joins the Severn just a bit past the narrow boat in the image.  If you had turned to Port you would have eventually reached the Upper Lode Lock
and if you had turned to Starboard you would have come to the Mythe Bridge.
Of course when the rivers flood the lock gates become moot anyway.
 DRW © 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016, added in upstream and downstream links 24/06/2018
Updated: 24/06/2018 — 15:13

Barton Under Needwood

On this fine morning I had a job interview close to a small village called Barton Under Needwood, and like many of these small villages it is an interesting place that really needs a lot of investigation to be able to appreciate it. Live there? maybe, although I expect it would take a bit of getting used to.  My route took me on the number 7 bus that heads out into the direction of Burton on Trent, although my destination was somewhere between Alrewas and Burton on Trent. The village of Alrewas I had encountered before when I visited the National Memorial Arboretum in April. It too is a small village and it had a very nice war memorial too. My route would end at Barton Lodge, and that seemed to be the closest stop to where I wanted to be, but the bus driver took me 2 stops further down which was even closer to my destination. The lodge is a really nice building, but I have no idea what the purpose of it actually was/is. It is also in an awkward place to photograph.

Because I am a perpetual panicker when it comes to being late, I am always early, and on this day I had an hour to kill, so I consulted my handy map and headed back the way I had just come to the first church that popped up.  That church happened to be a really stunning building that dates back to 1533, and it is known as The Parish Church of St James.

It is a very pretty church on the inside, with an atmosphere that is pleasant, but not heavy, and I was able to stroll around and look at the windows and memorials and all the other trappings of these small churches that are the centre of their communities.

I suspect the warm sunny weather may have contributed to the beauty of the church as it played on the stain glass windows. Outside the church there was a substantial old graveyard as well as a newer extension. There are 8 CWGC listed casualties in the graveyard and I was able to pick 5 of them without really looking too hard.

Outside the church, on a small island is the village War Memorial.  and the street in front of the church had a nice collection of old houses and of course the local pub (or one of the local pubs I should say).

My watch was reminding me that time was marching so I headed towards my destination which was about 1,5 km away. It was a pleasant walk, through a mostly residential area. I also passed the village pond,

and this small body of water led me to another thing that was curious about: canal and narrow boats. This area does have an extensive marina close by and a canal flows parallel with a portion of the road. I would have to cross this canal to get to the place where my interview was going to happen. Would I be lucky today?

For once I was, and this beaut glided past me just as I arrived at the towpath. One of these is my version of a dream home, whether it is stationary or gliding down the water is irrelevant; I want a narrow boat!!  Oddly enough this is the closest I have come to one so far, and the only one I have actually seen up close and personal sailing down a canal .

Excitement over I went for my interview which did not work out too well. Don’t call us, we won’t be calling you!

It was now just a case of retracing my steps back the way I came. I had 45 minutes to get to the bus stop, although I could also walk up to the church again and look around a bit more. I was tempted to pause for a pint while I was there, but needed my change for bus fare.

Unfortunately I had pretty much seen all there was to see in the village and so I had to hang around at the bus stop while time passed. I could not help but think of that narrow boat though, I really need to get to the marina and have a good look at those beauts.

I am generally not a fan of boats, but these are a whole different kettle of fish altogether, although I am sure that they too are really deep holes that you end up throwing money into.

While I was waiting I had a phone call, and I crossed the street to get away from the noise of a lawnmower, and spotted this guy in the courtyard of the lodge. He is a beaut.

Did I mention how nice the church was? yes I did, and will leave this post with some more images from the church. It is not often that you find one of this age, and very rare to be able to get into it too. Who knows, maybe one day I will be around here again, and the marina will be in my sights!



© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:41
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