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Sharpness Port

Sharpness Port is at the top of the Severn Estuary. It's a gateway to our inland waterways. The port handles both private pleasure boats and cargo vessels up to 140m long.

The Canal & River Trust is in fact the statutory harbour authority for Sharpness Port.

The Severn Estuary from Sharpness Piers to the seaward of the Severn Bridge crossings is managed by Gloucester Harbour Trustees (GHT).

Before you travel through Sharpness Port

The Severn is known for it's strong tides and unpredictable, ever changing sea contiditions. Before you travel, please see our informaiton and a downloadable guide for craft entering Sharpness Port.

You can also get more information on navigation and pilotage on the GHT website.

Buy your licence beforehand

Any boat on our waterways will need the right boat licence before you enter the network. You can buy or update your licence by:

  • following the links on our boat licensing webpage
  • calling our licencing team on 0303 040 4040
  • visiting our Gloucester office, Gloucester Dock, GL1 2EB

Book at least 24 hours in advance

Any boat movements in the approaches to and within Sharpness Port are controlled by Sharpness Radio on VHF Ch13.

You must book your passage through the port at least 24 hours in advance of you desired arrival tide by calling Sharpness Pierhead on 01453 511968. Please leave a message on the booking answerphone with the following details:

  • Boat name
  • Customer name
  • Date and time of desired passage
  • Canal & River Trust boat licence number
  • Contact telephone number

The Port is separated from the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and the rest of the inland waterways by two swing bridges operated by Sharpness Port staff. If your boat has an air draft of more than 5m you will need the high level bridge to be swung so must also book this in advance with the Sharpness Pierhead.

Confirming your booking

Please note: Sharpness Pierhead is not manned 24 hours a day. Depending on the next tide, the watchman will call all boats to confirm bookings. If you've not had confirmation before departure, please call the pierhead again to confirm your booking has been received.

Should you need to cancel your booking, again please call the Pierhead.

Opening hours

The port is open for leisure boats between 9.00am and 9.00pm.

The two dock swing bridges only operate during daylight hours. Should you arrive when it's dark you may be asked to wait in the lock for up to 12 hours before you can pass onto the canal. The Pierhead watchman will let you know if this is the case.

A listening watch is generally kept at Sharpness Pierhead five hours before high water until one hour after high water. The lock operating hours are between three hours before high water to one hour after.

On passage

Contacting Sharpness Radio

You should contact Sharpness Radio on VHF Ch13 or by phone when passing the M48 Severn Crossing to check arrival arrangements and confirm your arrival time.


Arrive at Sharpness no earlier than one hour before highwater and no later than high water. If there's commercial shipping, it's imperative that the gates are shut at high water to prevent grounding the vessel on the bottom of the lock. To find out what commercial ship traffic is moving contact the Pierhead on VHF Ch13.

Lock traffic lights

Port entrance signals at the entrance to Sharpness Dock control the safe movement of all craft entering the port from the Severn estuary. To get any further instructions, maintain contact with Sharpness Pierhead on VHF channel 13.

When approaching the dock gates, please follow the signal lights as shown below:

Sharpness Docks traffic lights

Lockage fees

It costs £25 each way to travel through Sharpness Lock. That's on top of the boat licence fee. Group discounts are available.

If you have a long term licence you'll have the following number of passages through the lock included within your licence fee.

  • 12 month licence – 16 lockages free
  • 6 month licence – 8 lockages free
  • 3 month licence – 4 lockages free

Passage between the lock and canal

Commercial shipping takes priority over all other traffic at Sharpness Port.

You maybe asked to wait for a commercial vessel to be safely berthed before being allowed to go through the bridges and on to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. This is due to the tight manoeuvring of the vessels when in the dock. Listen to the lock staff and wait until you have permission to move from Sharpness Radio.

Joining the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal

The maximum dimensions for boats to safely navigate the entire 16.5 miles of the canal are:

  • length - 64m 210ft
  • width - 9.6m 31ft 9"
  • draught - 3.5m 11ft 6"
  • headroom - 32m 105ft

There are several manned movable bridges along the canal. To find out more information see our map on our Gloucester & Sharpness Canal page.

If your boat has an air draft of over 4.1m, you'll need to book passage through Netheridge and High Orchard bridges. These are opened on request with 24 hours notice by calling Gloucester Lock on 01452 310832.

You can contact the following structures within opening hours on VHF Ch 74:

  • Purton Bridge
  • Junction Bridge
  • Llanthony Bridge
  • Gloucester Lock

For anything else on the canal contact customer services on 0303 040 40 40.

Last Edited: 19 May 2020

photo of a location on the canals
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