10 things you may not know about Gloucester Civic Trust (including it celebrating its 50th Birthday in 2022)!

Sue, Pat, Richard and Marc promoting GCT at the Gloucester History Festival

Sue Smith, Pat Bosley, Richard Graham and Marc Waters promoting Gloucester Civic Trust at the Gloucester History Festival - Credit: © Michael B. Smith

Her Majesty The Queen is not the only one celebrating a notable jubilee this year. Formed in October 1972, Gloucester Civic Trust (GCT) will soon be 50 years old, and over 700 members will be attending the many events planned to mark this special occasion. The Trust has had a huge impact on the city, and was recognised in 2014 with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.  

We caught up with trustee Sue Smith to look at just some of the brilliant things achieved by GCT over its lifetime: 

Dick Whittington Pub on Westgate Street, Gloucester

Saved by GCT and brought back into use: Dick Whittington Pub on Westgate Street - Credit: gloucestercivictrust.org

  1. Gloucester Civic Trust was set up in 1972 as so many old timber-framed buildings were being demolished, including the old Southern’s Stores in Northgate Street, which acted as a catalyst. There was a public meeting in the Guildhall attended by those who wished to save Gloucester’s heritage and stop the indiscriminate demolition of old buildings. 
  2. Heritage Open Days – organised by volunteers – began in 1995, and that year 1,500 people came to see inside buildings not usually accessible to the public, or to take a free guided walk. By 2019, the numbers had increased considerably and there were 12,500 visitors over the weekend, which made Gloucester one of the biggest HOD festivals in the country. 
  3. Since 1975, the Trust has trained over 70 tour guides, who now offer their services to visitors and local residents who want to find out more about Gloucester. 
  4. The walking tours started in 1975, and it’s estimated that the number of people taking part will reach more than 106,000 by the end of summer 2022; all finding out about the city’s secret places and hearing the stories from our rich history.  
    Roger Peel taking a group of members on a Guided Walk around Gloucester

    Roger Peel takes a group of members on a guided walk around Gloucester - Credit: © 2018 Michael.B.Smith

  5. St Michael’s Tower, on the Cross, was opened as a Heritage Centre in 2009, and is run completely by a team of volunteers.  
  6. The Trust has been an integral part of Gloucester History Festival since its inception in 2011, with a large number of GCT volunteers involved each year and two trustees on the Board: John Lovell and Phil Moss. 
    Rita Apperley takes a group of visitors on a City Walking tour, starting outside St Michael's Tower Heritage Centre

    Rita Apperley takes a group of visitors on a City Walking tour, starting outside St Michael's Tower Heritage Centre - Credit: gloucestercivictrust.org

  7. In 2014, Gloucester Civic Trust became the first organisation in Gloucestershire to receive the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.
  8. Thirteen different bookable guided walks are now available around the city and the docks. Visit gloucestercivictrust.org/discover-gloucester for more information. 
  9. From Monday to Saturday, between April and October, a city tour is offered at 11am, starting from St Michael’s Tower on the Cross. Just turn up! 
  10. The Folk of Gloucester sees the reopening of the Tudor buildings of what was The Folk Museum; bringing it back to life as a community hub, and venue for events and exhibitions in 2022. 
The Folk of Gloucester

The Folk of Gloucester – previously The Folk Museum – is now run by GCT and reopening soon as an events and exhibition community space - Credit: © 2019 Michael.B.Smith

Many of our members feel they are making a contribution to the city and protecting our heritage: 

Some of the people who started Gloucester Civic Trust: Phil Moss, Robin Morris and Alan Watkins

Some of the people who started Gloucester Civic Trust: Phil Moss, Robin Morris and Alan Watkins, reunited at the Jubilee launch meeting, March 2022 - Credit: © 2022 Michael.B.Smith

  • Hugh Worsnip is Chairman of the trust’s architects panel which monitors more than 100 planning applications a year, involving listed buildings and new developments in Conservation Areas and elsewhere. ‘The City Council now has conservation officers with whom we nearly always agree,’ he says, ‘and we believe our opinions are taken seriously by those who make planning decisions.’ 
  • Phil Moss is well known for his publications about Gloucester and his talks at Blackfriars as part of Gloucester History Festival, as well as being the lead presenter for the tour guides’ training. 
    Gloucester Civic Trust members at one of the Gala Club meetings, organised by John Lovell

    Gloucester Civic Trust members at one of the Gala Club meetings, organised by John Lovell - Credit: © 2018 Michael.B.Smith

  • Volunteer Judy Williams says, ‘I love volunteering at events at The Folk – it is great fun and I have made lots of friends. I feel I am getting involved with the history of Gloucester and am part of something lasting.’ 
  • Martyn White, chairman of Gloucester Civic Trust, says, ‘I have been a member for 12 years and am pleased that we have been able to do so much to improve the environment and educate people about our city during the last 50 years. We truly have something to celebrate.’ 

To find out more about Gloucester Civic Trust, including the important work carried out, the various events organised and ways to get involved, visit gloucestercivictrust.org 

Gloucester Civic Trust walking tour 2015

The thousandth visitor on a walking tour, since they started 40 years earlier, being presented with a commemorative plate by the Mayor in September 2015 - Credit: gloucestercivictrust.org

Gloucester Civic Trust: Celebrating 50 years

Gloucester Civic Trust: Celebrating 50 years - Credit: gloucestercivictrust.org

READ MORE: Discover some incredible documents from Gloucestershire Archives.