Retro on the Water returns this weekend.

Published: Wednesday, 23 August 2023

RETRO on the Water returns to Gloucester this weekend, 26-27 August.

With the City’s historic docks hosting an array of boat trips, displays and stalls.

The free to attend event takes place at the same time as the Gloucester Goes Retro festival across the city which is one of the highlights of the Gloucester’s festival calendar.

GloucesterTallHistoric boats

Across the two days interesting and historic boats will be moored in the docks with visitors able to enjoy guided tours on the Saturday of the 123 years-old Kathleen and May, the last of the British built three masted schooners.

There will be four boat trips and experiences available, including aboard the Dunkirk Little Ship, the Queen Boadicea II from the National Waterways Museum. Self-drive electric boats will be available for visitors to explore the docks for themselves, whilst those taking one of the nine decorated rowing boats can enjoy the water-based art installation by renowned artist Luke Jerram which features incredible water-themed true stories from different people around the world.


Specialist shipyard, Tommy Nielsen’s, will be displaying some key historic waterway artefacts and ropework demonstrations.

On the water there will be a popular race of the cardboard replica Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters, built by local businesses and individuals, a display of radio-controlled boats, competitions for best dressed boat and the RNLI will be focussing on water safety.

The Canal & River Trust and other local waterway charities, including Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust, Cotswold Canals Trust and Gloucester & District Model Boat club will be present, while children can enjoy some of the activities from Atlas Tabletop Gaming.

Treasure Trail

A Treasure Trail will help visitors adventure around the docks, with completed Trail Sheets being entered into a draw to win a star prize. The Gloucestershire Dementia Choir will be performing on Saturday, with festival organiser Tony Aldridge enthusing:

“A festival in Gloucester would not be complete without the amazing attractions in the Docks. We are delighted to be able to organise this event again, involving the local community and businesses showcasing the rejuvenation of this historic inland port, where ocean going ships met the narrow boats of the extensive inland waterways.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for people to come and see some of the different historic boats from over the decades and enjoy the other activities on offer and enjoy a weekend at the Docks.”

Caroline Kendall from the Canal & River Trust explains:

One of many

“We are looking forward to seeing the Docks alive with people and boats for what’s sure to be another brilliant event celebrating the story of the docks. It’s one of many spectacular locations on our 2,000 mile canal network that brings in visitors and tourists all year round to the centre of Gloucester.

“It’ll no doubt give everyone a taste of the waterways past and celebrate what’s fantastic about our canal network today where we are working hard to keep canals alive so they can be enjoyed for future generations.”

Retro on the Water will be taking place on the North Quay at the docks alongside the Gloucester Goes Retro festival which will also be taking place at the docks and in other parts of the city. The festival is organised by Gloucester City Council and is supported by the Canal & River Trust, Visit Gloucester, Gloucester BID and Reef Group.