The site of the wharf can still be seen to the west of the A38 Bristol Road although the two buildings have been much altered in recent years. (For sources, see end of page.)
This wharf was the first to be opened on the Stroudwater Canal when construction from Framilode reached this point in 1776. It continued to handle coal and road stone throughout the life of the canal. At times the wharf received special cargoes destined for Fromebridge Mill on the other side of the valley.
The Wharf House (nearer the road) was occupied by a succession of tenants who traded as coal merchants and were paid a small wage to look after the nearby lock. The second house began as a small warehouse for storing perishable goods and was later converted into a house for a Stroudwater Company employee. Both eventually passed into private ownership and have been much extended in recent years.
Up to 1820, the wharf was serving a wide area to the south, including Cam and Dursley, and it handled as much coal each year as at Wallbridge, Stroud. But the opening of the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal led to the establishment of a new wharf further south at Cambridge (on a branch of the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal), and traffic to Bristol Road Wharf dropped dramatically, but there was still much road stone for local roads.
The wharf continued to handle coal and roadstone for the local area. The map shows the main yard was divided into pens, and it appears there was also a yard on the south side of the basin. As well as selling coal, widow Elizabeth Critchley traded as a grocer and beer seller for many years, but in 1866 the Company ordered her to give up beer selling and to pay attention to her duties as lock keeper.
By 1875, the District Council was using part of the wharf for breaking stone for use on local roads, and this continued well into the 20th century. Meanwhile tenants of the wharf were still supplying coal to the local area, and this continued after the canal closed in 1954.
Near Bristol Road Wharf are the remains of a Second World War pillbox built in 1940 when Britain was threatened with invasion. A second pillbox stands beside the access road to Fromebridge Mill. They were part of Stop Line Green, a line of defensive structures intended to defend the Bristol area from an attack from the east, but a change in government policy made the project redundant before it was completed.
For start of trade at the wharf, see D1180/4/1.
For the buildings and occupants, search this site for 'Bristol Road Wharf'.
For drop in traffic handled, see D1180/2/2.
For Elizabeth Critchley, see D1180/1/5 p435.
For breaking stone, see D1180/9/4 p453.