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The Victoria Docks on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, in Gloucester, Gloucestershire.

Conceived in the Canal Mania period of the late 18th century, the Gloucester and Berkeley Ship Canal scheme (as it was originally named) was started by architect and civil engineer Robert Mylne. In 1793 an Act of Parliament was obtained authorising the raising of a total of £200,000. The project rapidly encountered financial difficulties - to such an extent that Mylne left the project in 1798. By half way through 1799 costs had reached £112,000 but only 5½ miles of the canal had been com-pleted. Robert Mylne's role was taken over by James Dadford who had originally been engaged as resident engineer on the project in 1795. Lack of funds resulted in the company ceasing to employ Dadford in 1800.

Between 1800 and 1810 various attempts were made to raise money to allow further building but they came to nothing. Moneys from tolls and rents allowed for some improvements to be made to the basin at Gloucester in 1813.

From 1817 onwards the Poor Employment Act meant it was possible for the company to loan monbiurey from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commission. This along with further share issues provided enough money to bring the scheme to completion. After these significant delays, the canal opened in April 1827. In the course of its construction the canal had cost £440,000.

By the middle of the nineteenth century it proved possible to pay a small dividend, the debt to the Exchequer Bill Loan Commission having been repaid with the help of a loan of £60,000 from the
Pelican Life Assurance Company. In 1871 the last of the debts incurred in the course of funding the canal including the Pelican Life Assurance Company loan were paid off.

In 1905 traffic exceeded 1 million tons for the first time. Oil was added to the list of cargoes carried by the canal, with bulk oil carriers taking fuel to storage tanks sited to the south of Gloucester. In 1937 the canal was navigated by the submarines HMS H33 and HMS H49.

The canal was nationalized in 1948. At the same time the Sharpness Dock Police which had policed the dock since 1874 were absorbed into the British Transport Police. In 1955 the Board of Survey of Canals and Inland Waterways released a report that, among other things, described the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal as carrying substantial traffic and offering scope for commercial development.

By the mid 1980s commercial traffic had largely come to a halt with the canal being given over to pleasure cruisers with the exception of a few passages by grain barges. The oil trade ceased in 1985 with the closure of the petroleum depot at Quedgeley.

Tags:   Gloucester Gloucestershire West Midlands Midlands England English UK United Kingdom GB Great Britain Britain British West Mercia Gloucester and Sharpness Canal Gloucester and Berkeley Canal Gloucester and Berkeley Ship Canal canal waterway reflection bridge Robert Mylne James Dadford Poor Employment Act Exchequer Bill Loan Commission Pelican Life As-surance Company Sharpness Dock Police British Transport Police Board of Survey of Canals and Inland Waterways The Docks Gloucester Docks Victoria Docks

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