Posts Tagged ‘Forest of Dean’

Industrial Archaeology: Gloucestershire, 1988

Tuesday, December 7th, 2021

Lock gates, Lydney Harbour, 1988 88-7a-62-positive_2400
Lock gates, Lydney Harbour, 1988 88-7a-62

Some time in 1977 I visited Kew Bridge Engines in Green Dragon Lane, Brentford and was greatly impressed by the huge beam engines there, once used to pump water to the top of the tower. I had joined a local camera club, and they were running a photographic competition in conjunction with the site and allowed us free access. One of my pictures ended up with the second prize (rather to the surprise and disgust of many club members as I wasn’t really a ‘club photographer’) and also got printed in Amateur Photographer. You can see this and many other pictures on my web site London’s Industrial Heritage.

Blast furnace, Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, 1988 88-7b-63-positive_2400
Blast furnace, Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, 1988 88-7b-63

But it was there, either on that visit or a later one when I took my young sons and friends to Kew Bridge Engines for a birthday treat that I picked up a leaflet about the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society, and I’ve been a member ever since. Though none of us to this day know how to pronounce GLIAS. And as I say on the web site set up for me by one of those two young boys 25 years on, “I’m not really an industrial archaeologist, but over the last twenty-five years I’ve photographed many things that interest industrial archaeologists.”

Gloucester Docks, 1988 88-7b-65-positive_2400
Gloucester Docks, 1988 88-7b-65

At least one of those boys came with me on a coach trip organised by GLIAS in June 1988 to Gloucestershire where we visited Lydney Harbour, Gunns Mills at Flaxley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucester Docks, the Old Sharpness Canal entrance and Sharpness Docks. It was a long day out, and we arrived back in London only just in time to run for the last train to Staines.

Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 198888-7b-21-positive_2400
Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-21

The weather wasn’t ideal, with some quite heavy rain at times, but I still took around a hundred pictures, and there are 29 of them in my album ‘GLIAS trip, Gloucestershire, 1988‘ some perhaps more interesting for their IA content than as photographs. I can’t tell you a great deal about the industrial archaeology, but I think some make interesting photographs, and others are welcome to make more technical comments either here or better on the album.

Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-24-positive_2400
Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-24
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7c-51-positive_2400
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7c-51
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7b-16-positive_2400
Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7b-16

More at ‘GLIAS trip, Gloucestershire, 1988


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Industrial Archaelogy 1988

Monday, October 26th, 2020

Some photographs from a GLIAS (Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society) coach trip to Gloucestershire in 1988. For most of the time it rained, rather restricting my photography.

Lock gates, Lydney Harbour, 1988 88-7a-62-positive_2400

Lydney Harbour was built in 1810-3 to carry iron ore and coal from the Forest of Dean. These were brought to the harbour by a tramway built in 1809. Coal continued to be shipped from here until 1960 and the harbour only closed in 1977. It was scheduled as an ancient monument in 1985 and later reopened for leisure use More recently there have been some restoration work and a £2.1m Destination Lydney Harbour project began in June 2020 to develop the area for recreation and tourism. An outer Sea gate from the River Severn leads into a Tidal basin, then a lock connects to the dock and Lydney canal. The upper lock gate is a double gate to protect against high tides in the estuary.

The harbour is the mouth of the River Lyd, and a canal leads a mile inland to Lydney. The swing bridge across the canal between the upper and lower parts of the dock was Grade II listed in 1988. Apparently timber was still carried in barges along the canal until around 1980.

Cookson Terrace, Harbour Rd, Lydney, 1988 88-7a-43-positive_2400

Cookson Terrace on Harbour Rd is a row of cottages built in 1858 as a hotel and housing by the Severn and Wye Railway and Canal Company, Grade II listed in 1988.

Blast furnace, Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, 1988 88-7b-63-positive_2400

Gunns Mills, Flaxley, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire is a Grade II* Listed Building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, being probably the oldest surviving blast furnace in the country, dating to 1683. The mill was named after William Gunne who owned an earlier mill on the site. A charcoal blast furnace built here in 1629 was demolished by Parliament in 1650. The furnace was rebuilt in 1683 but went out of use in 1743 when this became a paper mill which closed in 1879, after which some buildings on the site were used as farm buildings.

Gloucester Docks, 1988 88-7b-55-positive_2400

The main site for our visit was Gloucester Docks, a remarkable collection of fifteen Victorian dock buildings around the main basin, built in 1827 as the terminus of the ship canal from Sharpness, and the Barge Arm, provided at the same time to stop barges cluttering up the dock. A new dock, the Victoria Dock, was added in 1847 and further warehouses were added to deal with the increased foreign imports after the 1846 repeal of the Corn Laws.

As the size of vessels increased a new dock was built at Sharpness; larger vessels were unloaded there, with some goods being carried by barges up the canal, while smaller ships continued to use the canal. The docks remained busy until the 1960s but commercial traffic had largely disappeared by the 1980s. Since then the dock has become of popular leisure and residential area both for boaters and tourists.

Old Sharpness Canal entrance, 1988 88-7b-24-positive_2400

The Gloucester and Sharpness Canal was for some years the broadest and deepest canal in the world, intended to be 18ft deep and 86.5ft wide. Authorised in 1793, building was held up by financial difficulties and it was only completed in 1827. 16.3 miles long, it avoided a large loop in the River Severn with a dangerous bend. By 1905 traffic along it had reached 1 million tons a year. Our coach took us for a brief visit to the Old Sharpness Canal entrance, opened in 1827 but no longer in use, before going to Sharpness Dock, opened in 1874 to allow larger ships which could not use the canal to dock. This is still a working dock and most of the older buildings have been replaced by more modern structures.

Sharpness Docks, 1988 88-7c-51-positive_2400

I don’t actually remember much of that visit, but the photographs remain, around a hundred of them, though I’ve only included around 30 in the album. I do remember our coach back to London being held up on the motorway and arriving back in central London hours later than planned, having to run across Waterloo station to just jump on the last train home, minutes before midnight.

More pictures from the trip in a Flickr Album.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.