Don’t Let The Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart

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Published: November 24th 2023

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Gloucestershire. The Cotswolds. The area is very much on the tourist trail. Bus loads descend in the summer months on relatively tiny populations. Bourton on the Water. The Slaughters. Stow on the Wold. Similar column inches and visitor numbers are devoted to the Regency splendour of Cheltenham – home of grand Georgian buildings and of course, the famous racecourse. The county town of Gloucester is somehow overlooked by the hordes. Skirted by the M5 motorway by those on their way somewhere else and missed off the coach tour itineraries. It did not seem that way on this bright, sunny autumn morning. Traffic was busy. It showed congestion on the route towards the Quays. I cut off to head through the city centre. The major sporting stadium venue in these parts loomed. Kingsholm – home of Gloucester Rugby – is a reminder that football very much plays second fiddle in the city to rugby union. Kingsholm has been home to the rugby team since 1891 – even hosting the England national team, before they settled on Twickers as their base. The current look of the ground is as modern as any other in the new era of professional rugby union. The 16,000

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capacity venue looks disproportionate in amongst the Victorian terraces. The stands look slick and modern. Quite where a capacity crowd would park remains an unanswered question.

As we skirted the city centre, I began to doubt whether the detour would actually be time efficient. Gloucester it seemed, had the longest traffic light sequences of anywhere I could recall. The red lights seemed to stay red for an eternity. Perhaps by design? It certainly would dissuade me from contemplating this detour again. We passed the railway station and the rather unimaginatively named, Gloucester Park. The terrace streets behind hide a dark secret. This was the home patch of Fred and Rose West, who hit the headlines in the early 1990s after their 20 year murder spree was literally unearthed. Bodies were found buried in the garden of the now demolished family home in Cromwell Street. Fred killed himself in prison. Rose remains locked up. The house was demolished by the local authorities, in order to prevent the location becoming a site for macabre visitors. These days the majority of the world presumably passes on by – oblivious.

We parked up at Gloucester Quay – the thriving centre of the

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reinvented city. Gloucester was once the most inland of all British ports. The city lies on the eastern bank of the River Severn and initially attracted the Romans. Gloucester remained key to crossing the River Severn for centuries. It was the lowest bridging point until the Severn Bridge opened in 1966. The current incarnation of the Docks, thrived as a result of the construction of the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. At 16 miles long, it was an expensive and bold feat of engineering to link the city to the Severn Estuary and allowed larger cargoes to reach expanding warehouses within reach of the city centre. The Canal opened in 1827, after the investment of circa £41 million in today’s money. Cargos included grain, cargo and latterly oil – the last oil imports only ceased in the mid 1980s. We think of oil refineries being on major estuary sites, but Gloucester had it’s own until 1985.

After negotiating the route out of the Quays – not as easy as it perhaps should be, when accompanied by our 4 legged friend. Dogs are banned in the indoor shopping centre part of the Quays, directly below the multi storey car park. As

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a fairly recent dog owner, the restrictions still bewilder me …… and to be honest at times, anger me. It is perfectly fine to wander through such establishments with a screaming, destructive child ….. but a well behaved animal, smaller than a toddler, is deemed public enemy number 1. They who make decisions seem to think dog owners can’t work out whether their charge is suited to such an environment. Anyway, I digress. We crossed the Canal to the far side. I spied the floodlights of Gloucester City’s newish Tiger Turf Stadium, but resisted the temptation to head over for a look around. Alas, they are not in the dog friendly football club gang. A daft economic decision at that level of football, if you ask me – especially given some of the costs that particular football club must incur. Gloucester City play in the National League North, which makes very little sense except for an administration bod in the Football Association. Their near neighbours Hereford are similarly positioned in the same League – both are faced with return journeys of over 500 miles to the likes of Blyth Spartans and South Shields. There would be no Tigers on view

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today as there was no game on, but given the restrictions it was never going to get our custom anyway. We would find our football fix elsewhere later in the afternoon.

The Llanthony Secunda Priory beckoned. I wasn’t anticipating visiting a Priory, in amongst the post industrial Gloucester landscape, but here it was. Indeed, here it was looking splendid in the bright sunshine. The canons of Llanthony relocated from Wales in 1136 to found the establishment – hence the name, “Secunda”. The “Prima” location across the border seemed to upset the locals, so they found some new land to build their way of life. I don’t suppose it ever dawned on them, that it would end up next to an “industrial” ship canal. After 400 years or so, it the move had been a great success. The Priory became one of leading Augustine centres in the country ….. 97 churches and 51 “well appointed” manor houses were under it’s control. Today, the Priory is a cultural centre and event venue. I am sure many brides would have swapped the beautiful blue skies of this November afternoon for their no doubt soggy summer weddings earlier in 2023. The bright blue

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building of the Gloucestershire College building contrasted with the bright red paint job on the Lightship Sula at anchor in the Canal. The Sula started life in 1959 as a lightship on the Humber Estuary. It was deemed surplus to requirements – replaced by an automated navigational buoy – after 26 years and is now possibly the most unusual place to stay in Gloucester. We headed towards the city centre following the water. It was before noon, so the Gloucester Brewery in Warehouse 4 did not distract our journey. A total of 15 warehouses from the Victorian era survive, all of which appear to have been re-purposed and refurbished to find a place in the modern world. The Llanthony Life Bridge was raised as we passed by. It is not quite what it seems. A wooden swing bridge was installed in the 1790s and duly replaced by an iron bridge in 1860. The structure rising today looks every bit a Victorian creation, but dates from 1972! It stands near the National Waterways Museum, opened in a 6 storey warehouse in 1988 and devoted to the history of canals and inland waterways. The warehouse was originally built in 1873 for local

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GA Baker shopfront on Southgate Street

corn merchants, Wait, James & Co.We paused for an al fresco coffee in the Greek Deli on the Dock.

The narrow streets beyond the old Gloucester Dock gates leave the Victorian architecture behind, as you delve into the medieval parts of the old city. The Romans might have had the 1st word in Gloucester’s history, but the prosperity really arrived after King Henry I gave the city its charter in 1155. In 1216, Henry II was crowned in tye chapter house of the Cathedral. Richard II even held Parliament in the city in the late 1300s. The crowning glory of the old city is the Cathedral. As any reader will know, I love a good football ground – can’t visit enough of them. I actually know a man who does his wandering based on looking at Cathedrals. If ask him his favourite …. and trust me, he has seen a few …. he will say Gloucester. It must be good. I think he is more impressed by the architecture and the fact that King Edward II is buried within, than its use as a film set for a number of Harry Potter films. The Cathedral and the immediate environment

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looked their best today with a backdrop of blue skies. It was Rememberance Day and a crochet post box topper of a World War 1 soldier gazed across towards the main tower.

The main commercial part of the city centre was looking a bit sorry for itself, but was no worse than nany other shopping areas post Covid. The crowds are drawn to the Quays development, which draws footfall away from the traditional shops. The building occupied by G A Baker …. bespoke jewellers and watchmakers to the Admiralty …. was an impressive sight on Southgate Street. A certain Robert Raikes lived on Southgate Street and he holds the distinction of being the leading light in the formation of Sunday Schools – a forerunner of the mainstream school system as we know it today. The Emperor Nerva, Roman founder of the city in AD97, has a statue on the street – old Robert had to make do with one in London and in Toronto! We re- entered the Docks near the “Candle” – a tall piece of ironwork more commonly referred to as the Rusty Needle. A “traditional German Christmas Market was in full swing. The public’s fascination with

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overpriced goods sold from a shed never ceases to amaze me.

Football beckoned. The Roman name for Gloucester was Glevam, so it was logical to head to Tuffley Rovers. The first team were elsewhere, but the Development team were playing their counterparts from Bishops Cleeve. We set off on the journey of no more than 2 miles or so and I was pleased to see the level of congestion around the car park exits had died down. The area of south Gloucester was quite confusing, but with the aid of the satnav we were there in 10 minutes. The ground was tucked away at the top of an unmade road in the centre of an industrial estate, but was a very tidy little establishment with 3 stands and a pleasant clubhouse. I had mentioned that this game was a possibility and eyebrows were raised. However, all was good and the locals friendly. Bishops Cleeve had the better of the early exchanges, but the game seemed to turn on a superb save by the Tuffley keeper, which instilled the home side with confidence. Tuffley ran out 2-0 winners. The crowd was recorded as 52.

We had other places to

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be later in the day visiting family, so I suggested to the Other Half that we call in at Bishops Cleeve’s first team game which was close to our final destination. Bashly from the New Forest were the visitors at Kayte Lane, which had received a makeover since my last visit. The clubhouse facilities had always been second to none at their level, but a new synthetic all weather surface was now in situ as well as a proper car park. The big mystery is how the club maintains a competitive set up in the Southern League with low attendances under 3 figures. The crowd today was recorded as 99. Bishops Cleeve were 1-0 when we arrived, but Bashley secured a point to take home to Hampshire with a 2nd half equaliser.

Appendix 1

Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 2 (West)

Tuffley Rovers (Development) FC 2 Bishops Cleeve (Development) FC 0

Venue: Glevum Stadium, Lower Tuffley Lane, Gloucester. Gloucestershire. GL2 5DP

Date: Saturday 11th November 2023 @ 1500 Hours

Attendance: 52

Scorers: Shyamapant & Stevens (Tuffley Rovers)

Tuffley Rovers FC: J Abbot-Tarrant, C Blackford, E Clifford, K Derbyshire, T Hughes,

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H Law, C McGuirk, T Roberts, J Vallis-Ridler, T Shyamapant, J Stevens

Bishops Cleeve FC: A Alder, C Bean, M Brown, H Danter-Welch, H Davis, K Gardiner, T Higgins, G Lannon, T Moss, C Paterson, R Reid

Appendix 2

Southern Premier League Division 1

Bishops Cleeve AFC 1 Bashley FC 1

Venue: Everyone’s Energy Stadium, Kayte Lane, Southam, Cheltenham. Gloucestershire. GL52 3PD

Date: Saturday 11th November 2023 @ 1500 Hours

Attendance: 99

Scorers: Malshanskyj 32 Mins (Bishops Cleeve), Williams 76 Mins (Bashley)

Bishops Cleeve FC: L Clayton, W Turner, W Emery, J Nelmes, B Waugh, J Selman, B McLean, J Sunley, S Makhanskj, R Langworthy, E Dunbar

Bashley FC: R Casey, C Baughan, C Stanley, B Jefford, S Davidson, B Morris, S Wright, S Moss, M Wilcock, C Whiteley, B Williams






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