The Porto Bello Gardens & the Dog and Duck

On the high ground overlooking the Severn in Henwick Road, just north of the Dog and Duck Ferry, were the Porto Bello Gardens, pleasure gardens open to the public. There was a fine view from the 18th- century house to the cathedral and it was a very popular place with the young bloods of the city. In Regency days the gardens were famous and an enthusiastic writer of the time described them as superior to the London tea gardens. Sadly, they were closed in the 1850s because of maliciously spread 'rumours of evil reports'.

The Dog and Duck, opposite Pitchcroft on the other side of the river, was once a well known watermen's inn and ferry. It took its name from the 'sport', then popular among watermen, which involved the catching of ducks and dogs. After the tendons of their wings were cut to prevent them flying the ducks were taken out into the middle of the river and the dogs were loosed from the bank. The 'sport' provided the usual opportunities for betting, but some time before the 1850s it disappeared, perhaps due to the pressure from churchmen who had taken an interest in the watermen.

The site, both beautiful and interesting, was a Severnside wharfing, and its donkey path still remains. The ferry, one of the most used in the city, was well placed to serve the Martley area, and goods, especially bricks and coal, came downstream and were carried in panniers on the backs of donkeys up to the main road.