Gloucester: Public services

Pages 262-269

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 4, the City of Gloucester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1988.

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In this section


Water supply. (fn. 1)

The earliest piped water supplies were brought to Gloucester by the initiative of the religious houses. The copious springs rising on Robins Wood Hill, which provided the principal supply to the city until the 19th century, were exploited by Gloucester Abbey from the early 13th century. The sacrist Ellis of Hereford (d. 1237) was said to have built a fresh water supply for the abbey, (fn. 2) and it was presumably in connexion with his scheme that the owner of springs on the hill, William Geraud, granted the abbey the right to take water and to hold land on which a reservoir had been formed. The abbey's rights were confirmed before 1284 by a later owner, Philip, son of Philip of Matson. (fn. 3) William Geraud also granted rights in the springs to the Franciscan friars of Gloucester who later engaged in disputes with the abbey over the water; by a settlement made in 1357 after mediation by the prince of Wales the friars' pipe from the hill was limited to one third the size of the abbey's pipe. (fn. 4) The Carmelite friars also built a water supply for their house, laying a pipe from Goosewhite well on the east side of the city in the 1340s. (fn. 5)

In 1438 the Franciscans granted to the bailiffs and community of the town three quarters of the water coming through their Robins Wood Hill pipe together with the right to pipe it to the high cross or elsewhere in the town; (fn. 6) the cross had been adapted as a public conduit by 1446, when property was assigned for its upkeep. (fn. 7) By 1509 at least one house in the town had its own private pipe, for which the corporation was paid 20s. a year, (fn. 8) and the number of private pipes had proliferated by 1571 when they were causing shortages at the public conduit. (fn. 9) The corporation was retaining a town plumber to maintain the system in 1494, (fn. 10) and later it made contracts for terms of years with local plumbers for that purpose. (fn. 11) It bought the pipeline coming from Robins Wood Hill and the other quarter share of the water, together with the freehold of Greyfriars, in 1630. (fn. 12) The separate Gloucester Abbey pipeline continued to be used after the Dissolution by the dean and chapter, (fn. 13) who were associated with the corporation in an Act of Parliament of 1542 which gave the two bodies licence to exploit additional springs on the hill. (fn. 14) In the early 17th century the chapter's tenant of the Ram inn, in Northgate Street, beneath which its pipeline ran, served as the 'aquaeductor', with responsibility for maintaining the pipeline and a wellhouse on the hill. (fn. 15)

During the 17th century efforts were made to improve the city's supplies of the Robins Wood Hill water. In 1623 the corporation shared with the parishioners of St. Mary de Grace the cost of building a conduit against the wall of that church, (fn. 16) and in 1636 John Scriven at his own cost built a conduit south of the market house in Southgate Street. (fn. 17) Another conduit which stood near Holy Trinity church by 1635 (fn. 18) was dismantled c. 1690 and the cistern and pipes moved under the church tower. (fn. 19) Public wells continued to be used and in 1653 the corporation made grants to help parish ratepayers to improve two of them: an ancient well at the north gate, which had been in use in 1494, was reopened and a pump placed over it, and a pump in St. Mary de Lode parish was repaired. Orders made the same year for locking the public conduits at night were presumably part of a general concern about the adequacy of the city's supplies. (fn. 20)

In 1693 Thomas Nicholls, a Gloucester plumber who had taken over the maintenance of the Robins Wood Hill pipe for life in 1680, (fn. 21) devised a scheme for supplying the city with water from the river Severn. In partnership with Richard Lowbridge, an ironmonger of Stourbridge (Worcs.), and Daniel Denell, a carpenter of Handsworth (Staffs.), he built a pump house near Westgate bridge to pump water to a cistern installed in the top of the King's Board in upper Westgate Street and had licence from the corporation for piping supplies to householders who contracted with him. The works were completed in 1695, when three more shareholders were admitted, but the venture was not apparently a success, for of the six shares, each valued at £250 initially, one was sold for £60 in 1737 and another for £120 in 1741. (fn. 22) The company's area of supply was presumably limited to the lower part of Westgate Street and the Island. The system was abandoned with the removal of the King's Board under the improvement Act of 1750. (fn. 23)

The next major attempt to improve the city's supplies came in 1740 when an Act empowered the corporation to build new works on Robins Wood Hill. (fn. 24) The corporation made its powers over to John Selwyn, owner of the springs on the hill and one of the city M.P.s, who had paid the expenses of the Act. (fn. 25) Selwyn built two reservoirs and laid new pipes. In 1744 he was supplying c. 140 households in the city. (fn. 26) He and his successors at Matson continued to supply the city until 1836 when Viscount Sydney sold the works to the Gloucester Water company, constituted under an Act of that year with powers to build new works and supply an area which included the city and the hamlets and parishes immediately surrounding it. (fn. 27) The company's supply was fairly soon found inadequate for the growing city, particularly after 1849 when the corporation in its role of board of health began to exercise its powers to make householders connect to the supply (fn. 28) and began to put pressure on the company to extend its mains to the newer areas of the city. (fn. 29) In 1851 the company was supplying only about one seventh of the houses in the city. (fn. 30)

In 1854 the corporation acting as board of health bought the water company's undertaking. (fn. 31) Finding it possible to supply the city for no more than two days a week, the board adopted temporary measures to supplement the supply: new wells, most of which were in the event found to produce water unfit for use, were dug and water was pumped up from the Severn to the reservoirs. (fn. 32) In 1855 the board took powers for building new works at Great Witcombe and for a wider area of supply. (fn. 33) Supplies were taken directly from the Horsbere brook at Witcombe (fn. 34) until 1863 when two large new reservoirs, fed from the numerous springs in the area, were completed; a third reservoir was opened in 1870. (fn. 35) The distribution system within the city was also extended by the board and by the end of 1856 covered all parts of the city as then constituted. (fn. 36) By 1867 about five sixths of the houses within the boundary were connected to it. (fn. 37)

Regular extensions to the mains were required in subsequent years to keep pace with new building; (fn. 38) in 1879 535 applications for connexion were received. (fn. 39) Many of the old and new houses within the enlarged city still remained unconnected in 1887, however, when 1,294 were said to draw supplies from impure surface wells, (fn. 40) but the number dependent on well water had been reduced to 163 by 1893 and to only 12 by 1900. (fn. 41) From 1871 a part of the Bristol Road area, comprising 187 houses in 1893, was supplied from waterworks built at Hempsted by the Revd. Samuel Lysons; in 1897 those houses were connected to the city supply. (fn. 42)

By the early 1890s the Robins Wood Hill and Witcombe works were no longer sufficient for the city. While possible new schemes were examined, Severn water, introduced through a pumping and filtration works built at Walham in 1893 was used temporarily to supplement supplies. (fn. 43) In 1894 the corporation took powers for building what became known as its Newent works, involving a well and pumping station in Oxenhall parish and a reservoir at Madam's Wood near Upleadon. Those works were completed in 1896 and a second reservoir was built at Madam's Wood in 1901. (fn. 44) In 1911 the corporation built another well and pumping station at Ketford in Pauntley parish to increase supplies to Madam's Wood. (fn. 45) The need for yet further sources of supply led the corporation in 1936 to join with Cheltenham corporation in the formation of the Cheltenham and Gloucester joint water board. (fn. 46) The existing Cheltenham corporation works at Tewkesbury were much enlarged and water from the Severn was pumped up to reservoirs on Churchdown Hill. From 1942 that supply provided the bulk of Gloucester's needs, though the Witcombe, Newent, and Ketford sources continued to be used, (fn. 47) the Ketford works being modernized in 1951 and those at Oxenhall in 1957. Robins Wood Hill ceased to be used as a source of supply in 1924 but the reservoirs there remained in use for storage until 1946. (fn. 48) Some of the older outlying settlements adjoining the city were not connected to its supply until the mid 20th century: in 1930 Twigworth village was still wholly dependent on wells, while only 19 of the 130 houses in Longford parish and only 13 of the 115 houses in Hempsted parish had mains water. (fn. 49)

From the 1930s Gloucester corporation negotiated agreements for supplying adjoining rural areas and in 1938 began work on a scheme for the southern parishes of Gloucester rural district. In the mid 1940s a major scheme was built to provide supplies to the northern part of the Thornbury rural district. (fn. 50) The undertakings of the corporation and the joint board were taken over by the North West Gloucestershire water board in 1965 and that in its turn was absorbed by the SevernTrent water authority in 1974. Under the new authority Gloucester continued to receive most of its water from the Tewkesbury works, supplemented by water brought from the river Wye through a new treatment works at Mitcheldean. The Witcombe, Newent, and Ketford sources continued in use for supplying some rural areas of the county. (fn. 51)


A gas company was formed in 1819 when powers to provide public gaslighting were granted to the governor and guardians of the poor. It built its works in Quay Street and was incorporated in the following year as the Gloucester Gaslight company. (fn. 52) Some street lamps and supplies to some private consumers were provided during 1820, (fn. 53) but the company encountered early difficulties and improvements to the original works were found to be necessary. By 1829, however, the system was working well. (fn. 54) In 1834 the company was given powers to raise additional capital for providing a supply for the suburbs. (fn. 55) In 1872 the limits of supply of the company were widened to cover an area lying within three miles of the original (pre-1835) city boundary and it was given powers for new gasworks, (fn. 56) which were built between 1874 and 1877 on the Bristol road near Podsmead. (fn. 57) A further extension in 1898 took the limits of supply to the outer boundaries of Hardwicke, Brockworth, and Down Hatherley parishes, (fn. 58) and another in 1935 included parts of Newent and East Dean rural districts. (fn. 59) After nationalization in 1948 the Gloucester works continued in use as one of the South West Gas Board's chief manufacturing stations until the 1960s when the region was supplied with gas made from oil products, replaced in the early 1970s by natural gas from the North Sea. (fn. 60)


From 1889 onwards several companies put forward proposals for supplying the city with electricity, but the corporation decided to provide its own supply and took powers for doing so in 1896. Its works, built in Commercial Road, were opened in 1900 and the provision of street lamps and the connexion of private consumers to the supply began that year. (fn. 61) In 1927 the parishes of the Gloucester rural district were added to the corporation's area of supply. (fn. 62) In 1943 the works were replaced by a new power station built at Castle Meads with access for coal supplies from a branch railway and a jetty on the Severn. The undertaking was nationalized in 1948, (fn. 63) and the Castle Meads power station continued to supply the National Grid until it was closed in 1970. (fn. 64)


The town had regular grants of pavage from 1321; (fn. 65) in 1410 the administration of the fund was the responsibility of the stewards who expended the considerable sum of £17 17s. in that year. (fn. 66) In 1473 the bailiffs and stewards petitioned the Crown about the poor state of repair of the paving in the town and secured an order that the householders in the four principal streets should make the pavement from the fronts of their houses to the middle of the street, the officers being given power to do the work if necessary and recover the cost from those responsible by distraint; (fn. 67) the obligation of tenants to repair the pavements created under the order was later a regular provision in leases of Gloucester Abbey's houses in the main streets. (fn. 68) An improvement Act of 1776 made all householders and property owners responsible for making up and keeping in repair the streets adjoining their houses, and to superintend and enforce the work it provided for the appointment of parish surveyors, to be chosen by the city magistrates each year from lists supplied by the vestries. Pitching was to be allowed only in the side streets. The four main streets were to be surfaced with flat paving stones and were to have side gutters and foot pavements 5 ft. wide. (fn. 69) Foot pavements may already have existed in some places, for an order by the common council in 1743 allowed householders to pave with broad stones up to 5 ft. from their doors provided that 12 ft. of roadway was left between. (fn. 70) The paving of the main streets under the Act was completed in 1778, and College Court was also paved by means of subscription. (fn. 71) Under an Act of 1781 the obligation to provide flat paving was extended to include the Island, lower Northgate Street, St. Mary's Square, and Three Cocks Lane. (fn. 72)

The city corporation through its ownership of the gates, quay, market houses, and other public buildings was liable to repair a considerable area of the main streets, and it took responsibility for the upkeep of all five of the main roads between the gates and the city boundary. On the Bristol road it also repaired beyond the boundary as far as the Sud brook, using an annual sum of £4 given by Sir Thomas Bell by deed of 1562, and from at least 1651, perhaps by virtue of its hospital property, it repaired the London road beyond the boundary as far as Wotton Pitch. (fn. 73) Repair of the public pavements and pitchings was consigned by the corporation to contractors for 21 years in 1705 and 1736, (fn. 74) and contracts for shorter terms were made later. (fn. 75) In 1798 a deficit in the corporation's budget was attributed mainly to the recent heavy cost of street repairs. (fn. 76) In 1849 it was responsible for 40,886 yd. of the streets and private owners were responsible for 45,731 yd., while the Gloucester and Berkeley canal company and the spa company maintained streets laid out around their respective undertakings. (fn. 77) In that year the responsibilities of the parish surveyors under the improvement Acts passed to the corporation under its new powers as a board of health. From that date the board repaired the roadways out of the rates but the cost of repairing the foot pavements in the streets covered by the Acts remained the responsibility of the property holders until 1861. (fn. 78)

Some parts of the city streets had been macadamized by 1828, (fn. 79) but macadamization of the main streets was mostly done by the board of health in 1850. Later in that decade the old pitching of some of the minor streets and lanes was replaced by a macadamized surface and their old central gutters were at last done away with. (fn. 80)

Attempts by the town authorities to enforce street cleaning were recorded from the beginning of the 16th century, when butchers' refuse was the main cause for concern. (fn. 81) There was a common 'gorreour' responsible for clearing out the butchers' shambles in 1514; he was ordered to operate at night because of the stench that was caused. (fn. 82) The butchers' refuse was dumped on a piece of land near the quay, assigned for that purpose in 1454. (fn. 83) Bearland in the same area of the town was used for common dunghills from at least 1372 when complaints were made by the constable of the castle. (fn. 84) In the early 16th century there were other common dunghills at the south end of Hare Lane and at Goose ditch outside the east wall. (fn. 85) From 1600 the corporation periodically appointed scavengers but the post does not appear to have been established on a regular basis, (fn. 86) perhaps because of the problem, evident in the 1670s, of raising his salary by a special rate. (fn. 87) In 1641 the common council enacted that individual householders should clean once a week the parts of the paved streets for which they were responsible and instituted an inspection committee and fines for neglect. (fn. 88) In 1731 it ruled that distress might be taken from householders to enforce the removal of rubbish from outside houses. (fn. 89) In the 1760s at least two of the larger parishes employed scavengers for their own areas, (fn. 90) and in 1769 the magistrates invoked powers given them under a recent statute and appointed two for the city. (fn. 91)

The duties of the parish surveyors appointed under the improvement Act of 1776 included organizing street cleaning twice a week, and the Act also required householders to sweep their parts of the footways every Saturday and laid down detailed penalties for leaving rubbish in the streets. (fn. 92) The system created by the Act was not working satisfactorily in 1812 when the corporation attempted a more rigid enforcement of the penalties for leaving rubbish in the streets and appointed an inspector of nuisances. (fn. 93) In the late 1840s, when each parish had its own scavenger who contracted with the surveyors, the work was very inefficiently done, and some of the newer streets, having not yet been adopted by the parishes, were not covered at all. Many householders found it necessary to make private arrangements for rubbish disposal. (fn. 94) The board of health on its appointment in 1849 at first intended to employ direct labour for scavenging and bought two horse-drawn sweeping machines, but it soon decided to use contractors, who were required to sweep the streets and remove night soil three times a week. (fn. 95) Carts for watering the streets were also acquired by the board. (fn. 96) Four sites outside the town were assigned as refuse tips in 1849, (fn. 97) and later, between 1902 and 1923, a refuse destructor incorporated in the city electricity works was in use. (fn. 98)

An early measure to provide street lighting was taken by the council in 1685 when it ordered all householders paying at least 2d. a week in poor rates to hang lanterns outside their doors on winter evenings. (fn. 99) St. Nicholas's parish was maintaining public oil lamps in the 1720s, (fn. 100) as was St. Mary de Crypt in 1734, when the governor and guardians of the poor decided to take responsibility for all the public lamps of the city. (fn. 101) That responsibility was returned to the parish vestries in 1755 (fn. 102) but once more taken by the guardians under the Act reconstituting them in 1764. (fn. 103) By 1790 the guardians were maintaining c. 160 lights and employing a lamplighter. (fn. 104)

By an Act of 1819 the governor and guardians were empowered to provide gaslighting in the city, the rates levied by them to be authorized by the corporation. The newly formed gas company began to install gaslights in the streets the following year. (fn. 105) In the 1830s difficulties over securing a satisfactory contract with the company led the governor and guardians to contemplate purchasing the undertaking. (fn. 106) In 1834 commissioners, including the mayor and aldermen and the county magistrates, were appointed to light the suburbs lying within a mile from the city boundary. (fn. 107) The unequal rights levied by the two lighting authorities later caused dissatisfaction, (fn. 108) and in 1865 the lighting powers of the governor and guardians and those of the commissioners in the area added to the city in 1835 were transferred to the corporation as board of health. (fn. 109) The suburban commissioners lost a further area to the corporation under the boundary extension of 1874, (fn. 110) but in 1894 they were given powers over the suburbs within two miles of the then boundary (fn. 111) and, in the area left to them by later boundary extensions, continued to operate until the mid 20th century. (fn. 112) Electric lighting was introduced in the city streets from 1900. (fn. 113)


In 1831 the city corporation and the improvement commissioners were urged by the voluntary board of health, set up to meet the threat of the cholera epidemic, to take action on providing a sewerage system for Gloucester. (fn. 114) It was the approach of cholera to England in 1847 that once more aroused concern about the sanitary state of the city. A memorial by the city's doctors then stated that 'all the evils which arise from a total want of a system of sewerage exist here to a very serious extent' and urged the corporation to take measures for cleaning the streams and ditches surrounding the city, into which most of the sewage drained. A sanitary committee, formed by the corporation in response to that appeal, appointed an inspector of nuisances and made some attempt to improve the situation. The culverting of one of the most notorious ditches, on the city's northern boundary behind houses in Sweetbriar Street, carried out by the property owner Brasenose College at the committee's instigation, was regarded as an important improvement; but the measures taken were piecemeal and insufficient to prevent the arrival of cholera in 1849. (fn. 115) When the corporation assumed its powers as a board of health in 1849 it began culverting some more of the open ditches and improving surface drainage. (fn. 116) The building of a complete underground sewerage and drainage system, the planning of which was delayed until a detailed map of the city had been prepared by the Ordnance Survey, was begun by the board in 1853 and completed in 1855. (fn. 117) The system was based on two main outfall sewers which emptied into the Severn at the north end of the quay. (fn. 118) Modifications and additions began almost immediately, including works carried out in 1858 and 1859 to prevent pollution of the Sud brook on the city boundary in the Spa area; in collaboration with three adjoining hamlets and the Gloucester and Berkeley canal company, a sewer was laid under the bed of the stream from Parkend Road to Bristol Road, where it was connected to the new city system. (fn. 119)

Sewering the outlying areas, as new building progressed rapidly in the mid and later 19th century, was a piecemeal process, hampered by friction between the various sanitary authorities, and it was many years before the problem of pollution of watercourses, including the Twyver, the Sud brook, and the Still ditch (the Sud brook west of the canal), was completely solved. In 1863 the local boards of health formed for Barton St. Michael and Barton St. Mary took over responsibility for the newly developed lower Barton Street area. That area relied for sewerage on a rudimentary system of culverted ditches connecting with the Twyver or with the Sud brook, (fn. 120) which the boards, acting jointly, culverted from above Tredworth High Street to Parkend Road. An annual payment made to the city board for allowing the sewage to drain into the city system through the Sud brook sewer was the cause of much dispute and renegotiation, leading the Barton boards to consider plans for a separate outfall in 1871. (fn. 121) The local board formed in 1865 for Kingsholm St. Catherine on the north side of the city tackled the pollution of the Twyver by building a new system of sewers, completed in 1867, with its own outfall pipe across Meanham to the eastern channel of the Severn. Later the Kingsholm board made repeated complaints to the Gloucester board about the continuing pollution of the Twyver from houses within the city boundary. (fn. 122) Following the enlargement of the boundary and the abolition of the suburban boards in 1874, the city system was extended into the added areas. New sewers were laid in the Barton area in the years 1876–7, though it was not until 1885 that all house drains were given direct connexions to them; the continuing use of the old culverts as part of the system caused the problem of a build-up of gas, making it necessary to install ventilation pipes. (fn. 123) The Kingsholm board's sewers were linked to the city system in 1879 and the old outfall abandoned. (fn. 124)

In 1876 the Gloucester union as a rural sanitary authority formed the East End special drainage district and planned a scheme for sewering the Saintbridge area; due to the refusal of the city authority to allow it to connect with the city system, it was never built, (fn. 125) and that area was not adequately sewered until after the boundary extension of 1900. (fn. 126) In the Bristol Road area on the south side of the city co-operation was found possible. The rural sanitary authority formed the South End special drainage district in 1883, (fn. 127) and in the years 1884–5 collaborated with the city in building a new main outfall sewer from Stroud Road to the Severn below Llanthony weir and in filling the offensive Still ditch. (fn. 128) In 1897 the Gloucester rural district council formed the North End special drainage district and in 1898 completed a scheme for the Hucclecote, Barnwood, and Wotton areas, with an outfall works east of Pleasure Farm at Longford. (fn. 129) In the mid 20th century the principal scheme benefiting areas remaining outside the city was a new one built by the rural district for its northern parishes in the years 1939–41, with a treatment works by the Horsbere brook in Longford. (fn. 130)

Among significant improvements to the city system was the re-laying and enlargement of the main sewer along Barton Street in 1898, (fn. 131) and in 1912 the extension of the main outfall for the old city area under the eastern channel of the Severn to discharge into the western channel. (fn. 132) With its continuing expansion into newly built-up areas the sewerage and drainage system became overloaded and periodic flooding resulted. To ease the problem the new housing estates built after the First World War were given separate drainage systems for dealing with surface water, discharging it into streams. (fn. 133) Plans for a new main sewerage and drainage scheme were drawn up by the corporation in 1933 but it was not until 1951 that work on building it began. The scheme included various new trunk sewers, a pumping station at Netheridge opened in 1956 with an outfall on the river bank nearby, and a treatment plant built next to the pumping station and opened in 1963. (fn. 134) The new system was substantially complete by 1967 and was extended to the new area taken into the city that year. In 1974 management of the system passed to the new Severn-Trent water authority. (fn. 135)


The acquisition and maintenance of fire engines, ladders, and buckets was a periodic preoccupation of the city's common council. In 1635 it maintained fire buckets at churches and other places in the city and firehooks at the barley market house. The buckets were supplied out of a fund made up of fines from new burgesses. (fn. 136) In 1648 the council ordered a fire engine from London, the cost to be met from the bucket money. (fn. 137) A second engine was bought in 1652 and part of Holy Trinity church was adapted to house the engines in 1656. (fn. 138) In 1702 a new engine house was built adjoining the tower of the church. (fn. 139) In 1741, when it owned four engines, the corporation bought a new one, to Richard Newsham's design, capable of raising water to a height of 30 ft. (fn. 140) In 1748 the corporation appointed six firemen, who were required to practise with the equipment every six weeks. (fn. 141)

In 1836 the city firefighting equipment was placed in the care of the superintendent of the police force formed that year, and in 1838 it was decided that the force as a whole should be drilled and instructed as a fire brigade. (fn. 142) The force was provided with a new engine and more modern equipment in 1849. (fn. 143) By that time and until the early 20th century, however, the bulk of the firefighting in the city was carried out by insurance companies, (fn. 144) two of which maintained brigades there in 1841 (fn. 145) and three in 1867. (fn. 146)

In 1912 the corporation formed a new city brigade, accepting the free offer of the equipment of the Norwich Union and the Liverpool and London and Globe insurance companies, which had decided to disband their brigades. (fn. 147) A motor fire engine was bought and a fire station, opened in 1913, was built in Bearland. (fn. 148) The new brigade also took over the city's fire float. (fn. 149) That vessel, based in the docks and supplied with sufficient hose for fighting fires up to ½ mile from the canal, had been provided in 1906 as a joint project of the local firms of corn and timber merchants, the docks company, and the corporation; (fn. 150) the last had assumed complete control of the float in 1910. (fn. 151) The city brigade was taken over by the National Fire Service in 1941 and returned to the control of the corporation in 1948. (fn. 152) In 1949 it had a full-time strength of 50 men, based at Bearland and at a second station in Barnwood. (fn. 153) A new fire station, built in Eastern Avenue, was opened in 1956. (fn. 154) In 1972 the city brigade was amalgamated with the Gloucestershire county brigade. (fn. 155)


The serjeants-at-mace, bellmen, and other minor corporation officers were assisted in their policing duties in the city by a body of constables; by 1690 there were two constables each to act in the east and south wards of the city and four each in the west and north wards. (fn. 156) From 1769 one of the serjeants-atmace was appointed as high constable by the magistrates and acted as head of the city police. Early in 1786 the magistrates directed the constables to maintain a night watch for the next few months (fn. 157) but that appears to have been only a temporary measure. A plan to set up a regular night watch financed from the rates was supported by a public meeting in 1812 but met with opposition from some of the parish vestries, as did a revival of the plan in 1814, (fn. 158) and arrangements for watching were not placed on a regular basis (fn. 159) until 1821. An Act then required each parish to submit a list of three candidates each year to the magistrates who were to choose one man from each list to form the watch and make regulations for its procedure. (fn. 160)

In 1836 a full-time uniformed police force was formed for the city by the watch committee set up by the corporation under the provisions of the Municipal Corporations Act. The force comprised a superintendent, 3 sergeants, one of whom lived at the city lock-up in Southgate Street which became the police station, and 12 constables. The corporation officers and four watchmen employed by the Gloucester and Berkeley canal company were also sworn in as constables to enable them to assist the police when necessary. (fn. 161) The city police force was amalgamated with the Gloucestershire county force in 1859 when it was agreed that a force of 32 men should be stationed at Gloucester, 20 of them to be paid for by the city; the force was also to police a suburban area previously policed by a small county detachment stationed at Wotton. (fn. 162) The Gloucester force was increased to a strength of 40 after the extension of the city boundary in 1874, (fn. 163) and in 1906 it numbered 76, under the command of a deputy chief constable. (fn. 164) Marybone House in Bearland was bought for use as a police station in 1858 (fn. 165) and a large new station was built on the site as part of the new Shire Hall complex in the early 1960s.


The corporation was constituted the burial board for the city in 1856 and laid out as a cemetery a 13-acre site at Tredworth, which was opened in 1857 when burials in the old city churchyards ceased. Chapels for Anglicans and for nonconformists, linked by a central corridor surmounted by a tower and spire, were designed by the firm of Medland and Maberly. (fn. 166) The cemetery was extended in 1875, 1909, and 1911, the final extension enlarging it to 35 a. A second city cemetery, at Coney Hill, was laid out in 1934 (fn. 167) but not opened for burials until 1939. A crematorium, added to the cemetery chapel at Coney Hill, was opened in 1953. (fn. 168)


  • 1. This article was written in 1981 and revised in 1986.
  • 2. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), i. 28.
  • 3. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxxvii. 117–18.
  • 4. Glouc. Corp. Rec. pp. 351–3.
  • 5. Ibid. p. 343; Cal. Pat. 1340–3, 255.
  • 6. Glouc. Corp. Rec. pp. 391–2.
  • 7. G.B.R., J 1/1936; cf. Glouc. Rental, 1455, sketches.
  • 8. G.B.R., J 5/3.
  • 9. Ibid. B 3/1, f. 31.
  • 10. Ibid. F 4/2.
  • 11. e.g. ibid. B 3/1, ff. 49, 488; 2, p. 445; 9, f. 56 and v.
  • 12. Ibid. 1, f. 546; cf. ibid. J 3/3, ff. 51v.–52.
  • 13. Ibid. B 3/3, p. 900.
  • 14. Glouc. Conduits Act, 33 Hen. VIII, c. 35.
  • 15. S. Eward, No Fine but a Glass of Wine (1985), 25.
  • 16. G.B.R., B 3/1, ff. 487v., 494v.
  • 17. Ibid. 2, p. 39.
  • 18. Ibid. F 4/5, f. 34.
  • 19. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, ff. 40, 41; cf. G.B.R., B 3/8, p. 46.
  • 20. G.B.R., B 3/2, pp. 715, 735, 740; and for the 1494 reference, ibid. F 4/2.
  • 21. Ibid. B 3/3, p. 763.
  • 22. Ibid. B 8/17–21.
  • 23. Cf. B. Martin, Natural Hist. of Eng. (1759), 354.
  • 24. Glouc. Waterworks Act, 14 Geo. II, c. 11.
  • 25. Glos. R.O., D 149/E 33.
  • 26. Glos. Colln. NR 12.33; NX 12.2 (2); cf. Glos. R.O., Q/RI 70 (map P).
  • 27. Glouc. Waterworks Act, 6 & 7 Wm. IV, c. 67 (Local and Personal).
  • 28. G.B.R., N 2/1/1, pp. 7–8, 10 sqq.
  • 29. Ibid. pp. 26, 42, 87–8.
  • 30. Ibid. p. 338.
  • 31. Ibid. 2, min. 8 June 1854.
  • 32. Ibid. mins. 28, 31 Aug., 14 Sept., 24 Nov. 1854.
  • 33. Glouc. Waterworks Act, 18 & 19 Vic. c. 89 (Local and Personal).
  • 34. G.B.R., N 2/1/2, mins. 13 Apr. 1855, 19 Feb. 1856.
  • 35. Proc. C.N.F.C. xvii. 347–8.
  • 36. G.B.R., N 2/1/2, min. 18 Dec. 1856.
  • 37. Glouc. Jnl. 26 Oct. 1867.
  • 38. G.B.R., B 4/7/1, mins. 6 Dec. 1875, 22 Feb. 1877 sqq.
  • 39. Ibid. min. 23 Apr. 1880.
  • 40. Ibid. 6/3, min. 17 June 1887.
  • 41. Rep. of Medical Off. of Health, 1893, 1900: copies of the reps. are in Glos. Colln. N 12.141.
  • 42. Ibid. 1893, 1897; G.B.R., B 4/5/3, min. 2 Mar. 1871.
  • 43. G.B.R., B 3/27, pp. 103–4, 121, 163, 195, 224, 281, 313; ibid. rep. on Glouc. water supply, 1893.
  • 44. Glouc. Corp. Act, 57 & 58 Vic. c. 91 (Local); Proc. C.N.F.C. xvii. 349–50.
  • 45. Glouc. Corp. Act, 1 & 2 Geo. V, c. 92 (Local).
  • 46. Cheltenham and Glouc. Joint Water Board Act, 26 Geo. V and 1 Edw. VIII, c. 29 (Local).
  • 47. Glos. Colln. NQ 12.83; Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 77.
  • 48. Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 77.
  • 49. Richardson, Wells and Springs of Glos. 102, 113, 164.
  • 50. Glos. Colln. NQ 12.83.
  • 51. Glouc. Official Guide (1980), 79–80.
  • 52. Glouc. Gas Act, 1 Geo. IV, c. 10 (Local and Personal); cf. below, paving, cleaning and lighting.
  • 53. Glouc. Jnl. 31 Jan., 14 Feb. 1820.
  • 54. Counsel, Glouc. 182.
  • 55. Glouc. Gas Act, 4 Wm. IV, c. 52 (Local and Personal).
  • 56. Glouc. Gas Act, 35 & 36 Vic. c. 5 (Local).
  • 57. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1889), 816.
  • 58. Glouc. Gas Act, 61 & 62 Vic. c. 69 (Local).
  • 59. Index to Local and Personal Acts, 1801–1947, 616, 656.
  • 60. Glouc. Official Guide (1966), 56; (1980), 78.
  • 61. G.B.R., B 6/31/1.
  • 62. Ibid. 38.
  • 63. Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 82.
  • 64. Citizen, 2 Apr. 1969.
  • 65. Cal. Pat. 1317–21, 578.
  • 66. G.B.R., F 4/1.
  • 67. Glouc. Corp. Rec. pp. 15–16; a similar petition, for powers for all the streets of the town, had been made in 1455: Rot. Parl. v. 338.
  • 68. e.g. Glouc. Cath. Libr., Reg. Abb. Braunche, pp. 32, 34, 43, 53, 80.
  • 69. Maisemore Bridge and Glouc. Improvement Act, 17 Geo. III, c. 68.
  • 70. G.B.R., B 3/10, f. 23.
  • 71. Glouc. Jnl. 7 Sept. 1778.
  • 72. Glouc. Gaol and Improvement Act, 21 Geo. III, c. 74.
  • 73. G.B.R., J 3/6, ff. 364v.–365; B 8/22; F 4/5, ff. 22 and v., 48, 72, 79, 372, 431v.–433, 454v.; Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, f. 41 and v.; Glos. R.O., D 204/1/1, min. 30 Jan. 1798; 14th Rep. Com. Char. 19.
  • 74. G.B.R., J 3/6, ff. 364v.–365; B 8/22.
  • 75. Ibid. B 3/11, ff. 278v.–289; B 4/1/4, ff. 23v., IIIV.
  • 76. Ibid. B 3/12, f. 284.
  • 77. Rep. to General Bd. of Health on Samitary Condition of Glouc. (1849), 38–9: copy in Glos. Colln. N 12.119.
  • 78. G.B.R., N 2/1/1, pp. 1–2, 304, 388; 3, min. 23 Apr. 1861; Glouc. Jnl. 20 Oct. 1860; 27 Apr. 1861.
  • 79. G.B.R., B 4/1/4, f. 23v.
  • 80. Ibid. N 2/1/1, pp. 69–70, 83, 110, 115–16, 139, 775; 2, mins. 9 May 1856, 8 May, 4 Sept. 1857.
  • 81. Ibid. B 2/1, ff. 17–18.
  • 82. Ibid. f. 22v.
  • 83. Ibid. f. 48v.; Glos. Colln. 11664, no. 1.
  • 84. Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 243, 293; cf. G.B.R., B 2/2, ff. 44v.–45; J 3/3, ff. 40v.–41.
  • 85. G.B.R., J 5/3.
  • 86. Ibid. B 3/1, ff. 185, 538; 2, pp. 198, 355, 746; 9, f. 75v.
  • 87. Ibid. 3, pp. 468, 516, 570, 595, 604.
  • 88. Ibid. 2, pp. 201–2.
  • 89. Ibid. 9, f. 308 and v.
  • 90. Glos. R.O., P 154/11/OV 2/3, mins. 13 Jan. 1766, 2 Feb. 1767; 15/OV 2/4, min. 31 Oct. 1763.
  • 91. G.B.R., G 3/SO 8.
  • 92. Maisemore Bridge and Glouc. Improvement Act, 17 Geo. III, c. 68.
  • 93. Glouc. Jnl. 14 Sept. 1812.
  • 94. Rep. to General Bd. of Health on Glouc. (1849), 41.
  • 95. G.B.R., N 2/1/1, pp. 14, 30, 40, 44, 49, 242–3.
  • 96. Ibid. pp. 80, 104.
  • 97. Ibid. p. 36.
  • 98. Ibid. B 6/31/1; Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 83.
  • 99. G.B.R., B 3/3, p. 896.
  • 100. Glos. R.O., P 154/15/OV 2/3.
  • 101. Ibid. D 3270/19712, pp. 229–31.
  • 102. Ibid. P 154/11/OV 2/3; 15/OV 2/3.
  • 103. Glouc. Poor-Relief and Lighting Act, 4 Geo. III, c. 60.
  • 104. Glouc. Jnl. 5 July 1790.
  • 105. Glouc. Lighting Act, 59 Geo. III, c. 69 (Local and Personal); above, gas supply.
  • 106. Glos. R.O., D 3270/19713.
  • 107. Glouc. Gas Act, 4 Wm. IV, c.52 (Local and Personal).
  • 108. G.B.R., B 6/21–2.
  • 109. Local Govt. Suppl. Act, 1865 (No. 3), 28 Vic. c. 41.
  • 110. Glouc. Extension and Improvement Act, 1874, 37 & 38 Vic. c. 111 (Local).
  • 111. Glouc. Corp. Act, 1894, 57 & 58 Vic. c. 91 (Local).
  • 112. G.B.R., L 22/5/2–8.
  • 113. Above, electricity supply.
  • 114. G.B.R., B 3/14, f. 180v.; Glouc. fnl. 26 Nov. 1831.
  • 115. G.B.R., B 4/6/1; Glouc. fnl. 24 Mar. 1849.
  • 116. G.B.R., N 2/1/1, passim.
  • 117. Ibid. pp. 3, 404, 437–8, 595–6; 2, mins. 14 Feb. 1854, 29 Nov. 1855.
  • 118. Ibid. B 3/31, rep. on sewerage system, 1897.
  • 119. Ibid. N 2/1/2, mins. 14 May 1858–7 Feb. 1859; Glouc. Jnl. 20 Nov. 1858; 3 Aug. 1872.
  • 120. G.B.R., B 3/31, rep. on sewerage system, 1897.
  • 121. Ibid. N 5/2.
  • 122. Ibid. N 6/1.
  • 123. Ibid. B 3/31, rep. on sewerage system, 1897.
  • 124. Ibid.; cf. ibid. B 4/7/1, min. 18 Feb. 1879.
  • 125. Glos. R.O., DA 27/100/1, ff. 59v. sqq.
  • 126. Rep. on Suggested Extension of Boundaries (1899): copy in Glos. R.O., DA 27/100/4.
  • 127. Glos. R.O., DA 27/100/1, ff. 157 sqq.; 2, ff. 5–6v., 14v.
  • 128. G.B.R., B 4/7/2, mins. of joint cttee.; B 3/31, rep. on sewerage system, 1897.
  • 129. Glos. R.O., DA 27/100/3, ff. 88 sqq.; Glouc. Jnl. 31 Dec. 1898.
  • 130. Glos. R.O., DA 27/100/12, pp. 17–18, 124, 218; 13, pp. 99, 153.
  • 131. Rep. of Medical Off. of Health, 1898.
  • 132. Glos. Colln. NF 12.429.
  • 133. Glouc. Official Guide (1966), 59.
  • 134. Glos. Colln. NF 12.429.
  • 135. Glouc. Official Guide (1980), 80.
  • 136. G.B.R., F 4/5, ff. 29, 32v.–33v.
  • 137. Ibid. B 3/2, pp. 447, 451.
  • 138. Ibid. pp. 679, 859.
  • 139. Ibid. 8, pp. 46, 292.
  • 140. Glouc. Jnl. 15 Sept. 1741; G.B.R., F 4/9, pp. 281, 301, 321; for Newsham, D.N.B.
  • 141. G.B.R., B 3/10, f. 121.
  • 142. Ibid. B 4/3/1.
  • 143. Ibid. 2.
  • 144. Cf. Glouc. Jnl. 28 Feb. 1885; 26 Nov. 1887; Glouc. Official Guide (1966), 85.
  • 145. Bryant's, Dir. Glouc. (1841), 87.
  • 146. Bretherton's Dir. Glouc. (1867), 59, 125.
  • 147. Glouc. Corp. Mins. (1911–12), pp. 25, 83–5, 149, 261–3.
  • 148. Glouc. Jnl. 19 July 1913.
  • 149. Rep. of Chief Off. of Glouc. Fire Brigade (1913): copy in Glos. Colln. N 12.66.
  • 150. Glouc. Jnl. 14 July 1906; Glouc. Corp. Mins. (1905–6), pp. 14–15.
  • 151. Glouc. Corp. Mins. (1909–10), pp. 392–3.
  • 152. Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 85–6.
  • 153. Rep. of Chief Off. and Glouc. Fire Brigade (1949): copy in Glos. Colln. N 12.66.
  • 154. Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 86.
  • 155. Glouc. Official Guide (1980), 51.
  • 156. Bodl. MS. Top. Glouc. c. 3, f. 47v.; G.B.R., G 3/SR, Trin. 1690; SIb 1, pp. 37, 114.
  • 157. G.B.R., G 3/SO 8.
  • 158. Glouc. Jnl. 20, 27 Jan. 1812; Glos. R.O., P 154/11/VE 2/1; 12/VE 2/1.
  • 159. Cf. Glouc. Jnl. 18 Dec. 1815; 17 Jan. 1820.
  • 160. Glouc. Market and Improvement Act, 1 & 2 Geo. IV, c. 22.
  • 161. G.B.R., B 4/3/1.
  • 162. Glos. R.O., Q/AP 10A.
  • 163. G.B.R., B 4/3/2, min. 23 Feb. 1875.
  • 164. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1906), 178.
  • 165. Glos. R.O., DC/SJ 2.
  • 166. G.B.R., B 4/1/7, ff. 134–5, 147, 158; Building News, 26 Mar. 1858, 325–6.
  • 167. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1939), 183.
  • 168. Glouc. Municipal Year Bk. (1964–5), 78.