If you go down to the docks today, you’ll be in for a big surprise – where once Gloucester Docks were a hive of economic hustle and bustle, they’re now one of the most popular free destinations in and around the city. They’re home to fascinating museums, model boat displays, bars, cafés and restaurants, as well as being the site of the Gloucester Quays which we’ve written extensively about elsewhere.
One of the furthest inland shipping docks in the UK, Gloucester Docks were built in 1827 and quickly became a thriving transport and commerce hub full of narrowboats, steamships, barges and sailing ships. Thanks to museums, such as the Gloucester Waterways Museum, you can now explore that fascinating history, and step aboard several narrowboats and barges to get a real sense of what life was like during the Victorian boom.
Alternatively, head to the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum at the north end of the docks to find out more about the Gloucestershire Regiment over the past 300 years. They’re one of the most decorated battalions of all time.
You can also take a cruise down the waterways and explore the area from water via the canal and even venture on to the River Severn. Or, you can go one step further and hire a narrowboat for the day, weekend or week and get to grips with a slower pace of life. You’ll also find paddleboard hire and tuition at the docks, as well as the Gloucester Model Boat Club, where you can take their miniature yachts, paddle steamers, patrol boats and more out on the waters every Saturday afternoon.
From getting high street bargains at the Gloucester Quays to catching the latest Hollywood blockbuster at the 10-screen Cineworld complex, to museums and paddleboarding, the docks can be a real entertainment experience. Or simply grab an ice cream – or one of a dozen fantastic home-brewed beers from the Brewhouse nearby – and watch the world go by.