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Gloucester’s Economy and the Severn Trade

Image: Gloucester Bridge and West Gate. Gloucester developed as an industrial and trading base, route over the river and major port. Many Severn barges and trows exchanged their cargoes at the port. Larger vessels transported goods to Bristol and other British towns. The Gloucester Port Books survive as a major historical source for the economy of the Severn and the British coastal trade in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“In the reign of Henry VIII, a bridge of stone arches was erected over the Severn….Since Mr Ireland (the artist responsible for the engraving) visited Gloucester, this bridge…having fallen to decay, has been taken down, and the bridge has been replaced by an elegant structure, of a single arch, eighty-seven feet in its span. The new bridge from a design by Smirke, is of stone, from the Forest of Dean, faced with Cornish granite.

The associated companies of Gloucester are now as follows; – Mercers, including apothecaries, grocers, and chandlers; Smiths and Hammer-men, including ironmongers, cutlers, saddlers, and glaziers; Metalmen, including goldsmiths, braziers, pewterers, and pin-makers; Weavers; Tanniers; Butchers; Bakers: Joiners: Coopers: Shoemakers; tailors: barbers; and Glovers.

At present, the chief trade of Gloucester arises from the pin manufacture, the hemp and flax-dressing business, and the navigation of the Severn. A bell foundry has existed here more than three centuries. Gloucester has its Custom-house, at which, though few foreign entries are made, considerable business is done with coasters.”

Harral, vol. 2, p 177-178.


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Image creators: Image from Thomas Harral, Picturesque Views of the Severn, 1824.
Image courtesy of: Shropshire Records and Research

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1532-0A Journey down the Severn from Thomas Harral’s Picturesque Views of the River (1824) 562-0Introduction: the Severn Waterway 517-0Poetry and Visions of the River Severn 514-0The Severn and its Origins in Wales 516-0Newtown to Montgomery 518-0Powis Castle to Welshpool 519-0Welshpool to Shrewsbury 520-0Shrewsbury 521-0The English Bridge, Shrewsbury 522-0The Welsh Bridge, Shrewsbury 524-0Atcham Bridge, Shropshire 525-0The Wrekin 526-0Buildwas Bridge and the Severn Earthquake of 1773 529-0Coalbrookdale and the Ironbridge 530-0Madeley, Broseley and Lilleshall 535-0Bridgnorth 536-0Bridgnorth’s Economy 537-0Bridgnorth Castle 538-0Quatford and the nearby Landscape 539-0Bewdley 540-0The Wyre Forest 542-0Stourport 543-0Stourport Bridge 545-0Worcester 546-0Worcester to Upton-on-Severn 547-0Tewkesbury 550-0Gloucester 551-0Gloucester’s Economy and the Severn Trade