Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Wessex Hotel, Gloucester


Located near Gloucester stations (*), the Wessex was one of several hotels catering essentially for rail passengers and one can imagine many commercial travellers stayed there. However, with stations and goods depots nearby, the Wessex and its immediate competitors were certainly not for light sleepers!

The part of the city to the northeast of the former city walls, between Eastgate and the market, experienced a period of rapid development from the 1830s onward, fuelled by the development of Gloucester as an industrial centre and the subsequent increase of its population. The opening of the city's first railway station on land near the cattle market in 1840 accelerated the growth of the area. The Wellington Hotel opened shortly afterwards opposite the station and, just across the road, the Gloucester Hotel welcome its first customers in 1854. The two were then joined by the Spread Eagle Hotel (however it closed in 1898 and was converted into the YMCA). Station Road (formerly Market Street), which ran for most of its course alongside the Midland Railway's goods depot, was one of the last roads to be developed but the opening of the Midland Railway station at its eastern end in 1896 led to the construction of several prominent buildings, including the Royal Hotel in 1898 opposite the newly-built station, and in 1903, next to the 1895 County Chambers, the Wessex Hotel with its distinctive ground floor façade of green glazed tiles.

The manicule pointing to the hotel has badly faded

It seems the Wessex Hotel closed down towards the end of the Second World War. Its owner(s) had the property valued in 1944-45 with a view to selling it. The building subsequently housed several offices, while the ground floor is now home to an Indian restaurant.

For those who missed the painted sign, the name of the hotel was also inscribed above the entrance door.

*: the development of railways in Gloucester is relatively complex. By the time the Wessex Hotel opened in 1903, the city had two stations linked by a footbridge: one for the Great Western Railway and one for the Midland Railway (in 1951 they were renamed Gloucester Central and Gloucester Eastgate respectively). Eastgate closed in December 1975 and all services that used it were rerouted to Gloucester Central. The latter was redeveloped a couple of years later and is the station currently in use.

Location: Station Road / Clarence Street / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010

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