The International Steam Pages

Double Gloucester, 2011

For convenience I have now grouped lifestyle illustrated features by topic:

This page is just one of several describing aspects of our '2011 new life', for earlier and later pages use the West Gloucestershire link above.

While parts of Gloucestershire could fairly lay claim to be "God's own County", I fear that there would be few such claims for the City of Gloucester. It's certainly more attractive than some in the Midlands and North of England, but it pales into insignificance compared with the likes of Bath, Cambridge and York. As its name suggests, it dates back to Roman times and indeed there are a few remains visible below Eastgate Street. It offered the lowest safe crossing of the River Severn and Telford's 1827 bridge at Over to the west of the city is indeed a handsome construction although hardly in the same league as his classic Menai Straits bridge. Gloucester has not been treated too kindly by those who have tried to modernise it through the ages and of its late 20th century buildings, the bus and railway stations are monuments to the bad taste of the people who designed and built them and those who use them today, quite frankly they are a joint disgrace. Gloucester's Castle was turned into the county's gaol many centuries ago, and it is typical of the low regard held for local history that when the modern gaol on the site was re-developed, the archaeological remains below were quietly destroyed without any attempt being made to document them properly, let alone preserve them. 

Gloucester does indeed have a glorious cathedral (and more than its fair share of near totally ruined priories) which is well worth a visit, especially now an extensive external restoration project is nearing completion.

Nearby though is Gloucester's other cathedral, Kingsholm, the home of Gloucester Rugby Club. In most of England's cities, the Football Clubs dominate the local sporting scene, but here they are the poor relations, currently after their ground was flooded by the River Severn in 2007 (for the third time in 20 years) they are not even playing in the city but at nearby Cheltenham! Match day in Gloucester sees hordes descend on the ground with most decked out in 'Cherry and White', the club's traditional colours. Here some of them including youngsters gather for refreshment before the local Derby against Bath - another 'Rugby City'.

The ground has been massively redeveloped in the last 20 years but without losing its atmosphere. Yuehong is not only my 'Number One', she might well have worn that shirt number if she had ever taken up the game which she loved at first sight.

Inside the atmosphere is raucous, even intimidating, without ever being threatening and, unlike the round ball sport, there is no need to segregate opposing supporters. On this occasion with both sides missing many first choice players to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Gloucester rubbed dirt in the faces of their long term rivals by winning 23-6, a score which flattered them thanks to a last minute breakaway try: The home supporters pack the standing area known as "The Shed" on the left of this picture. Shortly after they indeed scored right in front of us but I was too busy urging them on to remember to take a picture. 

One of Gloucester's 'Cinderella Areas' has long been Southgate Street leading to the old docks which have now been transformed into a major attraction with 'Yuppie' accommodation, designer outlets and the like slotted into the restored warehouses and reasonably sympathetic modern replacements. Apart from the buildings, the actual docks are home to many small boats.

 The Waterways Museum has lost its 'National' title but is still well worth a visit, the dredger behind the narrow boat is steam powered.

Next to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal (possibly the least interesting in the country) is the new site of Gloucestershire College where Yiran has resumed his education part-time, in considerable contrast to the old buildings on the adjacent site of the former Llanthony Priory:

The docks have a tradition of hosting 'Tall Ships' and in late August 2011 a special weekend attracted large numbers of visitors, estimated to be in excess of 80,000 people. The weather was pretty average: 

The new flats contrast with the ships which had long queues for on-board visits. The 'Soldiers of Gloucestershire' Museum also laid on some entertainment. The Booth steam crane is one of a number of cranes scattered around:

I confess I was more interested in the minor attractions, a canal 'narrow boat' under restoration in a dry dock and a visiting compound Fowler steam roller (15813/1921):

A fun day no doubt and a much needed economic boost, but not really my scene. "Double Gloucester"? It's a cheesy thing, a bit like this report.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson