A brief history of gloucester

Roman history

Although Gloucester was inhabited by factions of the Dobbuni people it was the Romans who established it as a City (Glevum), building a fortress first at Kingsholm around 49ce before moving to the city centre location around 61ce.

Later, towards the end of the 1st.C. a Forum and Basilica were built on what is today known as the Cross. The defensive stone walls and gates followed as settlers, traders and local people moved within protective distance of the City and its Roman legions. The town was granted high status under Emperor Nerva in 96-98 ce when he declared ‘Colonia Nervia Glevensis’ was to be one of the administrative capitals of Britain; the highest status a Roman town could attain. Only Colchester, Lincoln and York shared the status. The City was a place of villas, colonnades and temples for its citizens.

Saxon history

Following the Roman era little is known until late Saxon times when Queen Aethelflaed made Gloucester an important political centre for the Mercians, redesigned the city’s street system, and repaired its walls and defences. It became a Saxon Burgh.

Aethelflaed founded the St. Oswald’s Priory where she was buried after her death.

As England became a more unified country, Kings such as Edward the Confessor, and William the Conqueror regularly held council with their nobles at the Saxon Palace in Kingsholm. In 1085 the order for the Domesday book was decreed in Gloucester.

Medieval History

During the 13th.C the city was at its greatest medieval zenith. Henry III was crowned at St. Peter’s Abbey (Cathedral) in 1216 and Edward II was buried there in 1327 but London was fast becoming the political centre.

Gloucester declined in status until the mid 15th.C when the Cathedral was completed and it became a centre of pilgrimage and a period of economic growth followed.

Post reformation, (1540) the Cathedral became a central diocese. In the 17th.C the City withheld against Charles I and 30,000 troops during the English Civil War. ‘The Siege of Gloucester.’(1643)

The modern age

The next period of economic growth came during the 19th.C when the Canal was built giving Gloucester access to the open sea and the import and export trade. Industrialisation saw the city develop Engineering, Railway rolling stock, Aircraft, Timber and Milling factories bringing wealth to the City.

During the development of the railways Gloucester became a catalyst for the unification of the line gauge. The South -Western Railway met the Midland Railway in Gloucester’s Central station where passengers were expected to cross platforms from one gauge to another because trains couldn’t use the same line. This led to an Act of Parliament bringing all lines under one unified system.

The 19th century was a period of great innovation for Gloucester with several notable inventions including the vacuum cleaner, the Concertina, the Ferris wheel and the ‘Wheatstone Bridge’ to name just a few.

Poets such as Ivor Gurney and musicians such as Hubert Parry also came from Gloucester.

During the second world war Gloucester was a major manufacturer of aircraft (Gloucester Aircraft Company), including the first jet aircraft, and tanks (Gloucester Wagon and Carriage works).