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LLANTHONY ROAD GOODS YARD GLOUCESTER

 
     
  Set at the lowest natural crossing point on the River Severn, Gloucester has always been a focus for travellers and as a result both the City and County have a rich transport heritage. As the centuries passed too, the Severn was also exploited for the movement of goods, leading Queen Elizabeth I to grant the Letters Patent that made Gloucester a Port in 1580. Indeed, the trade on the Severn was so busy by the reign of Charles I that his imposition of Ship Tax helped the citizens of Gloucester decide to stand against him in the English Civil War.

After decades of manual labour, the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal also opened in 1827, allowing the dangerous sandbanks of the river to be bypassed by ocean going vessels. The longest, widest and deepest ship canal in the World – as it was when new – also brought an abundance of timber to the Cathedral City. This in turn laid the foundation for such firms as Morelands – the "England’s Glory" match manufacturers – the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company Limited, Cotton Motorcycles and – ultimately – the Gloster Aircraft Company.

 
     
 

Great Western Broad Gauge 0-6-0 "Premier".  A similar locomotive was the first to reach Llanthony Quay from Over in September 1853.

 
     
  Great Western Broad Gauge 0-6-0 "Premier". A similar locomotive was the first to reach Llanthony Quay from Over in September 1853.  
     
  The Great Western Docks Branch to Llanthony Road Yard from a point on its subsidiary Gloucester & Dean Forest Railway at Over was opened to traffic on 20 March 1854. The Broad Gauge branch - narrowed in 1872 - was originally intended to take Forest of Dean coal to the Western side of Gloucester Docks for export. However, it soon mirrored the High Orchard Branch of the Midland Railway on the eastern side of Gloucester Docks in handling a wide range of merchandise.

In September 1853 however, the Gloucester Journal reported how a Broad Gauge locomotive first reached Llanthony Quay. the locomotive, with railway officials on board, approached across Alney Island and was met at the bridge over the east channel of the River Severn by merchants and others interested in the business of Gloucester Docks. After crossing the river several times to test the strength of the bridge, the locomotive eventually continued to the quay wall beside the canal. There it signified its arrival by two loud triumphant shrieks, which greatly astonished those in the neighbourhood who were unaware of what was happening.

The Gloucester Journal continued:

"Englishmen are seldom thoroughly awakened to the importance attaching to celebrations of this character unless there is something in prospect to gratify their gustative propensities.. Accordingly, we were not surprised to observe.. when two or three waiters were at last seen in the distance, groaning and bending between baskets of goodly provender, that all welcomed their advent, and that the palates of hungry imaginations foretastedthe contents of the hampers. To a cottage, whither the viands had been conveyed, all repaired,and ina room of small dimensions and scanty of chairs, drank champagne, consumed bread and cheese, sponge cakes, ham, pigeon pie, etc with a gusto which showed how keenly the appetite had been sharpened by the loitering without or the blowing ride on the engine. Gentlemen indulged in local toasts.. which were duly responded to..and either the luncheon, the flavour of the champagne or the event of the day drew forth high flown praise of the broad gauge."

Outside..

"..we observed a strong circle of numerous brawny navvies dancing, shouting and hurrahing round huge eathenware pitchers, which had certainly not been empty, if we may judge from the loudness and vigour of the cheers that assailed our ears occasionally. These men had been liberally treated by Mr Eassie [ the contractor ] and others."

Eventually

".. the champagne in the cottage was left to fizz its strength away, the navvies with horse voices and heavy heads returned to their work, and crowds of tantalised idlers, with appetites inflamed by the odour of good things, separated without being satisfied."

 
     
 

Llanthony Road Yard in the context of central Gloucester

 
     
  As can be seen from the pictures above and below - published on the front cover of the 1969 handbook of the Gloucestershire Society of Industrial Archaeology - Llanthony Road Yard once had a thriving rail and road traffic in cement - much of this arriving at the Blue Circle terminal in Cemflo and Presflo wagons built just across the canal to Sharpness by the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company.  
     
 

Llanthony Road Yard was thriving in 1969

 
     
  However, 1969 also saw the closure of the 1943 vintage Castle Meads power station which was supplied with coal transported by rail along the former Great Western Railway Docks branch from Over. Despite this, cement traffic continued to arrive at Llanthony Road Yard until about 1985, when much of it was rebuilt as the 125 Business Park.

In 2006 the line from Over has been partly blocked by the building of a section of Gloucester's Ring Road while the former Llanthony Road Yard land nearest the canal - not used for the 125 Business Park 20 years earlier - is being redeveloped as a campus for the Gloucestershire College for Arts and Technology (GLOSCAT). One piece of Gloucester's industrial heritage from this site though is scheduled to survive. It is the two story building shown in close up below: between Llanthony Road itself and the articulated lorry with the cable drum.

 
     
 

Could this have been the Yard Office?

 
     
  This was the yard office where the yardmaster and his staff could keep an eye on road and rail movements, monitor a weighbridge and process any neccessary paperwork. It also served as a mess room for any shunters and porters - although little is actually known about the actual activities within the building.

If you, anyone in your family or anyone you know worked in Llanthony Road Yard, Gloucester and can tell me any more about its work and life then please email me

The photographs below were taken in August 2005 and show the building in question with a flat roofed extension to the south and the pitch roofed building with a chimney to its west now demolished. It was at the time being used as a car dealership although this too has now left the premises.

 
     
 

The building framed by Llanthony Road lifting bridge

 
     
  The building framed by Llanthony Road lifting bridge. This structure replaced the swing bridge across the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in the 1970s.  
     
 

A view from the south east

 
     
  A view from the south east showing the white modern extension ( left ) and the smaller pitch roofed structure from the 1969 image ( right ). Note too the grey roof finials.  
     
 

A view from the south west

 
     
  A view from the south west with the National Waterways Museum Llanthony Warehouse ( left) and Llanthony Bridge ( right) in the background. Next to the modern glass door under the awning is a piece of the original Llanthony Road Yard boundary wall.  
     
 

West elevation

 
     
  West elevation of the building.  
     
 

North west view in evening sunshine

 
     
 

Close up of north west end

 
     
  Two views of the building taken from the north west  
     
 

North east view.

 
     
  A final view from the north east from Llanthony Road. Notice the Great Western Railway style wooden fencing under the foliage.