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 CathedralClick thumbnail to view full-size
Millers GreenClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cathedral from Westgate StreetClick thumbnail to view full-size
Beatrix Potter on Amazon
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 CathedralClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cheese Rolling at Coopers Hill
Cheese Rolling Poll
Cheese Rolling is:See results without voting
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 QuaysClick thumbnail to view full-size
Gloucester Comments 12 comments
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