|Area: 40.54 km²|
Gloucester (pronounced ['gl?st?]) is a city and district in south-west England, close to the Welsh border. It is the county town of Gloucestershire. In 2003 the city proper had a population of 110,207. However the built-up area extends beyond the city boundary. The 2001 census gave the population of the whole "Gloucester Urban Area" as 162,203, up 8% from the 1991 figure of 126,149.
It is located on the right (east) bank of the River Severn, 114 miles west-north-west of London. It is sheltered by the Cotswolds on the east, while the Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills rise prominently to the west and north-west, respectively.
Gloucester is a port, linked via the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal to the Severn estuary, allowing larger ships to reach the docks than would be possible on the tidal reaches of the river itself. The wharves, warehouses and the docks themselves fell into considerable disrepair until their renovation in the 1980s. They now form a public open space. Some warehouses now house the National Waterways Museum, others were converted into luxury residential apartments, shops and bars. The port still houses the most inland RNLI Lifeboat in the UK
The traditional existence of a British settlement at Gloucester (Caer Glow, Gleawecastre, Gleucestre) is not confirmed by any direct evidence, but Gloucester was the Roman municipality of Colonia Nervia Glevensium, or Glevum, founded in the reign of Nerva. Parts of the walls can be traced, and many remains and coins have been found, though inscriptions are scarce. Evidence for some civic life after the end of Roman Britain includes the mention in the Historia Brittonum that Vortigern's grandfather ruled Gloucester, and that the Battle of Deorham in 577 resulted in Wessex controlling Gloucester.
Its situation on a navigable river, and the foundation in 681 of the abbey of St Peter by Æthelred favoured the growth of the town; and before the Norman Conquest of England, Gloucester was a borough governed by a portreeve, with a castle which was frequently a royal residence, and a mint.
The first overlord, Earl Godwine, was succeeded nearly a century later by Robert of Gloucester. King Henry II granted the first charter in 1155 which gave the burgesses the same liberties as the citizens of London and Winchester, and a second charter of Henry II gave them freedom of passage on the Severn. The first charter was confirmed in 1194 by Richard I of England. The privileges of the borough were greatly extended by the charter of King John (1200) which gave freedom from toll throughout the kingdom and from pleading outside the borough.
Gloucester in 1805.Subsequent charters were numerous. Gloucester was incorporated by King Richard III in 1483, the town being made a county in itself. This charter was confirmed in 1489 and 1510, and other charters of incorporation were received by Gloucester from Queen Elizabeth I and King James I.
The Siege of Gloucester in 1643 was an important battle of the English Civil War in which the besieged parliamentarians emerged victorious.
Until the construction of the Severn Bridge in 1966, Gloucester was the lowest bridging point on the river and hence was an important settlement on the route between London and South Wales. The Severn is split into two branches at this point, so the road crosses first onto Alney Island and then onto the western bank. A road bridge on this western side at Over, built by Thomas Telford in 1829, still stands, notable for its very flat arch construction, but its fragility and narrow width means it is no longer used for traffic, and since 1974 has been paralleled by a modern road bridge. There is a rail crossing, also across Alney Island, which was the lowest on the river until the opening of the Severn Tunnel in 1886.
Gloucester was the site of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company railway works, which have now closed.
Gloucester gained notoriety in 1994 with the arrest of Fred West and his wife Rose West for the abduction and murder of more than a dozen young women between 1967 and 1987, including one of their daughters. Their home, 25 Cromwell Street, where the remains of many of the victims were buried, was later demolished and a public walkway laid in its place. To deter souvenir-hunters, the rubble was reduced to dust before disposal.
Gloucester may mean fort (Old English ceaster 'fort') on the glowing river. (Glowancestre, 1282). In Welsh, the city is known as Caerloyw, Caer = Castle, and loyw from gloyw = glowing/bright.