In Roman times Gloucester was a fortified port on the River Severn called Glevum. The Romans established an army camp in Gloucester to protect the river crossing to Wales. The importance of Gloucester was revived when an abbey was founded here in 681. When the monastery was closed by Henry VIII the abbey church became the cathedral of the diocese.

Gloucester became a significant port in the Middle Ages but its importance was undermined by the growth of nearby Bristol. To revive Gloucester's fortunes, artificial docks and a canal connecting them with the mouth of the Severn were opened in 1827.

Primary Sources

(1) Daniel Defoe, A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724)

To Gloucester we see nothing considerable, but a most fertile, rich country, and a fine river, but narrower as you go northward, till a little before we come to Gloucester it ceases to be navigable by large ships, but continues to be so, by large barges. Gloucester is an ancient city, tolerably built, but not fine. There is a large stone bridge over the Severn; and this, and the cathedral is all I see worth recording of this place.