The Gloucester and Sharpness Ship Canal was built to enable ships to travel up from Sharpness to Gloucester Docks to bypass the tidal winding lower reaches of the Severn River. The tidal range of the Severn Estury, is the second highest in the United Kingdom.
The Canal first started being constructed in 1793 but financial difficulties and rising costs delayed completion until Spring 1827.
Commercially it was significantly important in the 19th Centenary and through until the 1960's after which traffic gradually deceased finally ceasing in 1985.
Today, the Canal is operated by a Trust and is used extensively by pleasure Craft and frequently by historic ships visiting the Port of Gloucester
Originally there was no port at Sharpness, but gradually new facilities were opened, in particular the new floating dock in 1874. Sharpness is nowadays an important commercial facility.
Althoguh there are no locks on the Canal between Sharpness and Gloucestert to impede traffic flow, a significant feature are the several swing brigdes which carry the roads across. These sit with the top of their decks carrying the road level with the embankments on either side, so although canoeists with a duck of the head have no diffiuclty in passing under, all other Craft require the bridges to swing.
Close to the Canal is the world renown nature reserve, Slimbridge Wetland Centre, founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1946.
We will complete the Challenge at Saul Junction where the Canal crosses the line of the Stroudwater Canal. It is the location of the Canal Trust Visitor Centre and the Wycliffe College Rowing Club.