Sharpness

Extract from Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire, 1923.
Transcribed by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2012

SHARPNESS is a port and village, on the eastern bank of the river Severn, on a ness or promontory formed by a head of the stream towards the south; it is in the tithing of Hinton and parish of Berkeley, 2½ miles north-by-west from Berkeley, 16 south from Gloucester and 22 north-by-east from Bristol, in the Thornbury division of the county, hundred and petty sessional division of Berkeley, union of Thornbury, county court district and rural deanery of Horsley and archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester. The Gloucester and Berkeley ship canal joins the Severn just above the point, and is navigable for vessels of moderate tonnage. This place was, until 1879, the terminus of the branch of the Midland railway, but in that year the line was carried across the Severn and continued to Lydney, Coleford and Lydbrook, forming connections at these places with the Great Western railway.

In 1895 the line from-Berkeley Road to Lydbrook junction, including the Coleford and Cinderford branches, became the property of the Great Western and Midland railway companies, and is worked by them as the Severn and Wye Joint Railway. The railway bridge, opened by Earl Ducie, Oct. 17, 1879, occupied four years in construction, and was built at a cost of £200,000, from designs by Messrs. Keeling and G.W. Owen; it is 4,162 feet in length, including a viaduct of masonry, 70 feet in height, on the north side of the river, and a swing bridge, 200 feet in length, spanning the Gloucester and Berkeley canal and the shore on the south side; the bridge proper consists of 21 openings, consisting of bows and girders, carried on piers formed of cast-iron cylinders sunk deeply into the rocky bed of the river and filled with concrete; of the spans or openings 14 are 134 feet in width, 5 have a width of 171 feet each, and over the navigable portion of the river there are 2 of 327 feet each, with a headway of 70 feet above high water ordinary spring tides, the headway of the remaining spans gradually decreasing from 70 to 50 feet.

This line shortens the distance from South Wales to Bristol by 30 miles, and besides affording increased facilities for shipping coal and carrying on the general trade of the district, furnishes an improved means of communication for the extensive traffic maintained between the Forest of Dean and the south-west of England; the total cost, contributed to by the Midland Railway Company and the Sharpness Docks and Gloucester and Birmingham Navigation Companies, amounted to £400,000; the Severn Bridge Company is now amalgamated with the Severn and Wye Railway Company.

The docks here are extensive, situated about half a mile below the old entrance to the canal, and opened November 25th, 1874; they consist of a tidal basin 545 feet in length by 300 feet in width; lock 326 feet by 60 feet, divided into two portions by three pairs of massive iron gates, floating dock 2,200 feet in length, with a varying width of 200 to 455 feet and 24 feet in depth, and covers an area of 13½ acres, and graving dock 350 feet in length by 50 feet in width and with a depth of water of 15 feet; a cutting 720 feet long and 150 feet wide connects the docks with the ship canal and there are timber jetties extending into the river Severn for a distance of 400 feet. The graving dock is held under a lease by the Cardiff Channel Dry Docks and Pontoon Co. Limited. There are two coal staithes.

The larger ships for the port of Gloucester berth here. The chief imports are grain, timber and petroleum; the exports being mostly coal, salt and pitch. The excursion steamers of Messrs. P. and A. Campbell Ltd. of Bristol, make frequent trips during the summer to Weston-super-Mare, Ilfracombe and other places. The iron church of St. Andrew was erected in 1877: a new organ was provided in 1920: the Rev. Arthur Charles Richard Clarke has been curate in charge and Dock chaplain since 1910. A church room was erected in 1912. The Congregational and Baptist Union chapel was erected in 1901-2 at a cost of £2,228. There is also a Wesleyan Methodist chapel. Sharpness Point is much frequented by the neighbouring inhabitants during the Summer months.
[Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire, 1923]

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