Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
Why we think canals are better with Friends
Become a Friend of the Canal & River Trust today and you’ll open yourself up to new experiences and endless opportunities.
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
The Gloucester & Sharpness Canal was once the broadest and deepest in the world. Even today, it stands out from other navigations because of its sheer scale and impressive engineering.
Diesel Fuel Bug Removal
Offside from Sims Bridge 19 through to bay beyond Bridge 21 newly constructed road bridge.
Gloucester & Sharpness Canal
Llanthony Bridge 24 in Gloucester to the site of the former railway bridge at Sharpness
From start of former disused railway bridge to High Level Bridge 8 and to end of arm at Sharpness Point
Ryalls Farm to Stone (offside bank) at Frampton-on-Severn. Section on Stroudwater Canal from junction of Swing Bridge to Whitminster Bridge (up to start of disused section)
Bridge 23 adjacent to the cinema to boundary fence of cinema car park (formerly opposite Borros Silos)
Its immense swing-bridges and ornate bridge-keepers’ houses add to its unique identity. It connects Gloucester to Sharpness, allowing boats to bypass a treacherous stretch of the River Severn. From the canal, there are spectacular views of the Severn Estuary, the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds.
The tidal parts of the Severn are alive with wildlife, especially coastal birds. At Slimbridge, the headquarters of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, vast flocks of thousands of migrant birds visit each winter.
At Gloucester Docks, you can get a real sense of the canal’s cargo-carrying heritage. Listed warehouses have been converted into shops and leisure facilities, and the marina is still busy with boats. The National Waterways Museum Gloucester tells the story of the canal and has a fascinating collection of historic boats.
Find out about the fascinating Sharpness Port, including operating times and charges.
Find stoppages, restrictions and other navigational advice for this waterway.
Download Gloucester & Sharpness Canal towpath condition guidance for cyclists
Once a busy industrial site, Gloucester Docks has been regenerated and is now Britain’s best Victorian inland port.
Saul Junction is where the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal meets the rural Stroudwater Canal. Once an important connection, it’s now a great place for wildlife.
The River Severn was especially treacherous below Gloucester. In 1793 Midlands industrialists together with merchants and other influential residents of Gloucester obtained an Act to construct a ship canal between Gloucester and Berkeley to bypass this bottleneck. Sea-going ships would be able to reach Gloucester — with the hope that in time it would rival Bristol in importance — and raw materials could more easily be imported to the Midlands and finished goods exported, reducing costs.
By the end of the decade only five miles of the canal, as far as Hardwick, had been completed. The problems seemed insuperable: disputes with landowners; dissatisfaction with their principal engineer, Robert Mylne (better known as an architect); complaints about their resident engineers; rising prices because of the French wars and competition for labour from the other canals then being built; exceptionally bad weather; problems getting subscribers to pay the calls on their shares; and so on.
There matters remained until 1816, when it was agreed that the canal should be routed less far inland, with its terminus to the east of the point at Sharpness, a couple of miles short of Berkeley. Finance was obtained from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners, an organisation set up to give loans for public works at commercial rates of interest with the aim of reducing unemployment. The Commissioners’ engineering advisor was Thomas Telford, and thereafter he acted as consultant to the canal company.
The canal opened in 1827 — at 86ft 6in wide and 18ft deep, taking craft of 600 tons (with maximum dimensions 190ft long and 29ft wide), it was the biggest canal in England, a true ship canal. During the following decades, several large warehouses and a dry dock were built at Gloucester. The debt to the Commissioners was eventually repaid in 1850, though dividends were not paid until the 1860s.
With the increasing size of ships, particularly steamers, the entrance at Sharpness was seen to be inadequate. A new entrance and dock was opened in 1874. New warehouses were erected, both at Sharpness and Gloucester. Further improvements were made at Sharpness in the 1890s.
The docks and canal continued busy through to the 1960s, an important new cargo being oil and petroleum. However, as had always been the case, imports considerably exceeded exports. Sharpness docks are still active, though there is now little commercial traffic on the canal itself.
The South Wales & Severn Waterways
Find out what's happening on and around the waterways in the South Wales & Severn