The Society is is currently running a programme of lectures by Zoom rather than “in the room” meetings

Details and links to access meetings will be sent out to Members at the approriate times.

Members will not need to have a video camera or microphone to be able to watch the talk but, of course, will not be able to ask questions.

Many members will be used to Zoom meetings but advice on installing and using the Zoom software is available to download here. Please note that these notes are a ‘work in progress’ and comments and corrections will be welcome

Wednesday, 6 December  2023, 7.30pm.
‘The Neglected History of Boat Building in Tewkesbury’
Speaker: John Dixon, President of Tewkesbury Historical Society.

Although Tewkesbury is now infamous for its flooding, most local people are unaware of the Town’s importance in the boatbuilding industry and, thus, the importance of being at the confluence of the UK’s two major rivers – the Severn and Avon.

Queen Elizabeth I demanded that we furnish her with warships, but the industry was ad-hoc and took place where needed on riverbanks. This all changed by the migration from Bridgenorth of the Bathurst Family who produced wooden boats on an industrial scale for a century after 1843. The firm was famous for its yacht designs for river boats, especially those built c 1900. The firm went into gradual decline until WWII when the government invested in a new factory and a new manufacturer, Robinson. It built vessels for the Navy but there is historical controversy about their type – the favourite story being about glamorous Motor Torpedo Boats.

Bathurst finally went out of business in the 1950s, but it bequeathed highly skilled carpenters who carried on their tradition of building attractive pleasure boats by Durrant and Vickeridge and Beacham’s. One former apprentice became very famous when he used his boat-joinery techniques to build boats with revolutionary fibre-glass bodies. Our own Bill Shakespeare exhibited boats at the Earl’s Court Boat Show, and he became famous by breaking water speed records.

In 1971, however, he tried to break one record too many and he lost his life on Lake Windermere. With his death boarding locally died out – but Bill Shakespeare’s name lives on. The Bathurst factory has been replaced by a pub, aptly named at last the Boathouse.

Wednesday, 24 January 2024, 7.30pm
‘Making a Living on the River Severn’
Speaker: Dr Simon Draper, Assistant Editor, Victoria County History.

Please note that while we will make every effort to deliver talks by Zoom, circumstances beyond our control (like temporary non-availability of the Internet) could prevent this. We would, of course, reschedule the talk for the earliest opportunity.

For lots of inforamtion about Gloucestershire’s rich and varied industrial heritage visit