Days Out UK - Historic Gloucester

The Historic City of Gloucester and Gloucester Docks

Gloucester became rather well known a few years ago because of the exploits of a couple of it's less hospitable inhabitants Fred West and Rosemary West. They were a married couple who became conspirators in a serial killing spree that lasted some 20 years, living in and employing their grizzly trade from 32 Cromwell Street close to Gloucester Park, now demolished and removed from the site

It's a real shame that they blotted the copybook of what is actually a very nice city that sits as the gateway to the South West of England in a lovely part of the country and central to the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills, all of which are areas of outstanding natural beauty.

I live in the South of France now but originally came from the Forest of Dean for which Gloucester is the capital city. I spent many years as a teenager traveling up to Gloucester from the Forest on Cotterall's double decker bus and witnessed many changes over that period which spanned the 1970's when Fred and Rose were most active, but they weren't the only ones committing heinous crimes in the city at that time.

I will get it out of the way so we can move on to more positive aspects, most of the changes during that period were to the detriment of this lovely city and to the shame of the planners who allowed it to happen. I offer you King's Square as an example of what I am talking about if you ever get to Gloucester to see for yourself. I can't bring myself to provide a photograph of Kings Square for fear I will put you off the city before we even get started , on the bright side however it is a very small section of Gloucester and there are plans to correct the misdemeanors of the past, the sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

They do seem to have learnt some lessons from the past and the developments that are going on in the city now appear to be both sympathetic to the history of the city and are embracing the new in a way that will enhance anyone's experience of the place should they visit.

This is exactly what I did a few weeks ago and while I was there I took the opportunity to have a look at how the place is today having been very remiss as a teenager and not really taking too much notice of what the city really had to offer outside of the horrendous Kings Square.

Click here for a map of Gloucester

Gloucester Cathedral

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The famous Gloucester Cathedral photographed through the Infirmary ArchesThe plaques posted around the cathedral tell you of the history much better than I canThe Infirmary ArchesWalk past the arches and you find yourself in Palace YardPalace Yard PlaqueLooks a bit medieval don't you think?
The famous Gloucester Cathedral photographed through the Infirmary Arches
The famous Gloucester Cathedral photographed through the Infirmary Arches
The plaques posted around the cathedral tell you of the history much better than I can
The plaques posted around the cathedral tell you of the history much better than I can
The Infirmary Arches
The Infirmary Arches
Walk past the arches and you find yourself in Palace Yard
Walk past the arches and you find yourself in Palace Yard
Palace Yard Plaque
Palace Yard Plaque
Looks a bit medieval don't you think?
Looks a bit medieval don't you think?

Millers Green

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The Cathedral from Millers GreenHouse with wisteria in Millers GreenArchway through to Millers Green and Palace Yard from the Cathedral side
The Cathedral from Millers Green
The Cathedral from Millers Green | Source
House with wisteria in Millers Green
House with wisteria in Millers Green
Archway through to Millers Green and Palace Yard from the Cathedral side
Archway through to Millers Green and Palace Yard from the Cathedral side

Cathedral from Westgate Street

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Millers Green PlaqueThe Cathedral from Westgate Street sideNot sure this would be considered PC today, Nuclear Electric supporting historic buildings try suggesting that in ChernobylMain gates via Westgate StreetClose up of the statues over the main entranceKing Edwards Gate PlaqueSitting on the lawns in front of the cathedral groups of children get history lessons from speakers in costume of the period and find out all about the archers of the day and how a traditional English meal was boiled beef and carrots (the purple and St Lucy's Garden, a good place to eat fish and chips from Ye Old Fish and Chip Shop just around the corner and the best in GloucesterSt Lucy's Garden PlaquePin making an industry past that employed mainly women and childrenSt Michaels Gate Plaque
Millers Green Plaque
Millers Green Plaque
The Cathedral from Westgate Street side
The Cathedral from Westgate Street side
Not sure this would be considered PC today, Nuclear Electric supporting historic buildings try suggesting that in Chernobyl
Not sure this would be considered PC today, Nuclear Electric supporting historic buildings try suggesting that in Chernobyl
Main gates via Westgate Street
Main gates via Westgate Street
Close up of the statues over the main entrance
Close up of the statues over the main entrance
King Edwards Gate Plaque
King Edwards Gate Plaque
Sitting on the lawns in front of the cathedral groups of children get history lessons from speakers in costume of the period and find out all about the archers of the day and how a traditional English meal was boiled beef and carrots (the purple and
Sitting on the lawns in front of the cathedral groups of children get history lessons from speakers in costume of the period and find out all about the archers of the day and how a traditional English meal was boiled beef and carrots (the purple and
St Lucy's Garden, a good place to eat fish and chips from Ye Old Fish and Chip Shop just around the corner and the best in Gloucester
St Lucy's Garden, a good place to eat fish and chips from Ye Old Fish and Chip Shop just around the corner and the best in Gloucester
St Lucy's Garden Plaque
St Lucy's Garden Plaque
Pin making an industry past that employed mainly women and children
Pin making an industry past that employed mainly women and children
St Michaels Gate Plaque
St Michaels Gate Plaque

Beatrix Potter, Rugby and Cheese Rolling

There is a little alley that runs off Westgate Street to the Cathedral that was used by pilgrims visiting the toomb of Edward II who is buried there. The alley takes you through St Michael's Gate and past the Beatrix Potter shop. Beatrix Potter is of course famous for her story of the Tailor of Gloucester who having fell ill failed to complete a fine waistcoat for one of his rich clients on the eve of collection, when he awoke in the morning however the waistcoat was finished courtesy of the mice who lived in his shop.

Wikipedia is always a great source of information and no less so for the History of Gloucester and the surrounding area, including the synopsis of the Tailor of Gloucester and for more information on Gloucester Cathedral itself.

Of course these days Gloucester is probably as well known for its rugby and Gloucester Rugby Club, who are based at the famous Kingsholm Rugby Ground, as the Cathedral. I have to admit I knew the rugby ground better than the cathedral having played a few games there and having lived on Kingsholm Road when I was much younger, free and single, my city pad no less. Don't tell the wife I was hankering after it though you will get me in trouble.

There are one or two rather strange traditions that originate from Gloucester in days gone by and none stranger than the cheese rolling that takes place at Coopers Hill just up the road from the city. What happens in effect is that a crowd gathers at the top of the hill, a cheese is pushed off and rolls down the hill. The crowd races to the bottom of the hill and the first to the bottom wins the cheese, he /she is actually supposed to beat the cheese down and catch it, absolutely no chance, take my word for it.

Sounds simple enough until you realise that the hill is more akin to a cliff face than the gentle rolling hills associated with the Cotswolds. I have included a video to help you appreciate this strange activity, because seeing is believing. Just not sure what happened to the health and safety officers, couldn't see one anywhere.

St Michael's Gate and the Cathedral

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Beatrix Potter Shop and the GateJust beyond to the Cathedral
Beatrix Potter Shop and the Gate
Beatrix Potter Shop and the Gate
Just beyond to the Cathedral
Just beyond to the Cathedral

Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill

Cheese Rolling Poll

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Gloucester Docks and Quays

No article on Gloucester could be considered complete without mentioning the fact that Gloucester is actually a port that is accessed via the Sharpness Canal which allows relatively large vessels to make their way up to Gloucester Docks.

The docks have seen quite a bit of restoration in recent years and are now used as the headquarters for the Gloucester City council, they play host to one of the National Waterways Museums and may of the buildings have been renovated to provide a centre consisting of antique centres , shops, pubs, restaurants and accommodation for local residents.

The latest addition is a designer outlet that opens on the 21st May 2009 called Gloucester Quays, this is an ultra modern development that includes multi-story car parking, the completion of a new road system designed to ease congestion in the area and to provide a much needed boost to the local economy. Have to say when I visited it didn't look like it would be finished by the due date, there was still lots to do but it was a lot better looking than Kings Square.

You can actually walk from the cathedral to the docks past the jail or through Blackfriars relatively easily and it only takes about 5 minutes. It would be about the same back to the junctions between Nortgate, Southgate, Eastgate and Westgate streets which marks the historic centre of the city.

So wandering down to the docks is none to arduous and you can have a bite to eat, browse your way through the antique centre or just admire the boats moored on the water. Really is a nice environment now and a great place to visit.

Gloucester Docks and Quays

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Dr Foster went to Gloucester and opened a pub in the docksThe Antiques CenterSharpness CanalThe warehouses looking a bit posh these daysThe cathedrals not far away, 5 minutes topsThats a big boatGet a good view of the city from the top of hereA few narrow boats always seem to attract the ducksBit of the old giving away to the newThe designer outlet still a little more to do when I visited
Dr Foster went to Gloucester and opened a pub in the docks
Dr Foster went to Gloucester and opened a pub in the docks
The Antiques Center
The Antiques Center
Sharpness Canal
Sharpness Canal
The warehouses looking a bit posh these days
The warehouses looking a bit posh these days
The cathedrals not far away, 5 minutes tops
The cathedrals not far away, 5 minutes tops
Thats a big boat
Thats a big boat
Get a good view of the city from the top of here
Get a good view of the city from the top of here
A few narrow boats always seem to attract the ducks
A few narrow boats always seem to attract the ducks
Bit of the old giving away to the new
Bit of the old giving away to the new
The designer outlet still a little more to do when I visited
The designer outlet still a little more to do when I visited

Gloucester Comments 12 comments

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

It's been a good few years since I was last in Gloucester, but I remember it as a handsome city with plenty of character. Fred West did Gloucester's image few favours, but he'll be forgotten in time. You've certainly done a good job of describing your home town. It sounds like a great place to grow up in, and I expect you get quite nostalgic when you go back there.


darkside profile image

darkside 7 years ago from Australia

I was in Gloucester just a couple of weeks ago!

Though it was the one in Australia :D


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Brian, I just re-read your hub and my comment, and realised that actually you grew up in the Forest, but visited the town frequently. Sorry, I missed that bit on my first reading of the hub. My aunt married a man from Cinderford, and lived there for some years before emigrating. My uncle never lost his forest accent despite living abroad for over 40 years. He had a very endearing country burr.


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France Author

Hi Darkside, you should write a hub on that visit, I would read it.

Hi Amanda, well it's a small world, although I wouldn't want to paint it, I used to live in Cinderford as well and have that very same 'burr'.

It conjours up an image of someone wearing a brown smock, cloth hat and chewing on a straw. Often considered as being 'strong in the arm and thick in the 'ead'.

I have a tape recording of some Foresters' speaking which I would love to get published on the internet, just need to work out the best way of actually doing that. I am pretty sure my accent has helped me through life, it's certainly been entertaining to people who have not heard it before.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Fantastic hub, I loved it! It's a great city, and your photos do it justice.


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

Fabulous photos! I really enjoyed reading this hub.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Enjoyed the stroll very much!


BristolBoy profile image

BristolBoy 7 years ago from Bristol

This is a very good hub with amazing photos. I love Gloucester, although have only been there a couple of times despite spending the majority of my life living relatively close by.


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

I have never heard of Cheese Rolling, but I suppose as a kid I tried it myself. For someone my age it would be suicide!! Helmets and tremendous amounts of safety gear would be require here in view of the many lawsuits sure to follow.


BrianS profile image

BrianS 6 years ago from Castelnaudary, France Author

Hi Everyone, Thanks for all the comments. Sad thing is that I heard the cheese rolling got canceled this year due to health and safety reasons. Apparently the crowds of people coming to watch have got too big!!!! Don't you just love H&S, here is the link to the story http://www.metro.co.uk/news/817172-health-and-safe...


stereomike83 profile image

stereomike83 2 years ago from UK

Reading this made and realising that Gloucester is probably in a minority of parts of our country I haven't visited! Will have to look to rectify this!


BrianRS profile image

BrianRS 2 years ago from France

Hi Mike, yes you definitely need to visit Gloucestershire, especially with nearby Cheltenham, the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean. Lovely place to visit.

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