Dover

Street Map 1927 Tour of England

Dover (/ˈdoʊvər/; French: Douvres) is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent’s administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover Calais ferry through the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs have become known as the White cliffs of Dover, and the narrow sea passage nearby – the Strait of Dover. Its strategic position has been evident throughout its history: archaeological finds have revealed that the area has always been a focus for peoples entering and leaving Britain. The name of the town derives from the name of the river that flows through River Dour. The town has been inhabited since the Stone Age according to archeological finds, and Dover is one of only a few places in Britain – London and Cornwall being other examples – to have a corresponding name in the French language, Douvres.

Services related to the Port of Dover provide a great deal of the town’s employment, as does tourism, although many of the former ferry services have declined. There was a military barracks in Dover, which was closed in 2007.

Dover’s name originated with its river – the River Dour, deriving from the Brythonic Dubrās (“the waters”), via its Latinized form of Dubris. The cliffs also gave Britain its ancient name of Albion (“white”). The Romans called it ’’Porte Dubris’’; the modern name was in use at least by the time Shakespeare wrote King Lear (between 1603 and 1606), in which the town and its cliffs play a prominent role.

Dover’s history, because of its proximity to France, has always been of great strategic importance to Britain. Archaeological finds have shown that there were Stone Age people in the area; and that by the Bronze Age the maritime influence was already strong. Some Iron Age finds exist also, but the coming of the Romans made Dover part of their communications network. Like Lemanis (Lympne) and Rutupiae (Richborough) Dover was connected by road to Canterbury and Watling Street; and it became Portus Dubris, a fortified port. Forts were built above the port; lighthouses were constructed to guide passing ships; and one of the best-preserved Roman villas in Britain is here.

Dover figured largely in the Domesday Book as an important borough. It also served as a bastion against various attackers: notably the French during the Napoleonic Wars; and against Germany during World War II. It was one of the Cinque Ports during medieval times.

Dover is near the extreme south-east corner of Britain. At South Foreland, the nearest point to the continent, Cap Gris Nez near Calais is 34 kilometres (21 mi) away, across the Strait of Dover.

The site of its original settlement lies in the valley of the River Dour, making it an ideal place for a port, sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds. This led to the silting up of the river mouth by the action of longshore drift; the town was then forced into making artificial breakwaters to keep the port in being. These breakwaters have been extended and adapted so that the port lies almost entirely on reclaimed land.

The higher land on either side of the valley – the Western Heights and the eastern high point on which Dover Castle stands – has been adapted to perform the function of protection against invaders. The town has gradually extended up the river valley, encompassing several villages in doing so. Little growth is possible along the coast, since the cliffs are on the sea’s edge. The railway, being tunnelled and embanked, skirts the foot of the cliffs.

In 1800 Edward Hasted (1732–1812) reported that the town had a population of almost 10,000 people.

At the 2001 census, the town of Dover had 28,156 inhabitants, while the population of the whole urban area of Dover, as calculated by the Office for National Statistics, was 39,078 inhabitants.

The Dover Harbour Board is the responsible authority for the running of the Port of Dover. The English Channel, here at its narrowest point in the Straits of Dover, is the busiest shipping lane in the world. Ferries crossing between here and the Continent have to negotiate their way through the constant stream of shipping crossing their path. The Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme allots ships separate lanes when passing through the Strait. The Scheme is controlled by the Channel Navigation Information Service based at Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Dover. MRCC Dover is also charged with co-ordination of civil maritime search and rescue within these waters.

The Port of Dover is also used by cruise ships. The old Dover Marine railway station building houses one passenger terminal, together with a car park. A second, purpose built, terminal is located further out along the pier.

The ferry lines using the port are (number of daily sailings in parentheses):

  • to Calais: P&O Ferries (25) and DFDS Seaways (10).
  • to Dunkerque: DFDS Seaways (11).

These services have been cut in recent years:

  • P&O Ferries sailings to Boulogne (5 daily) were withdrawn in 1993 and Zeebrugge (4 daily) in 2002.
  • SNCF withdrew their three train ferry sailings on the opening of the Channel Tunnel.
  • Regie voor Maritiem Transport[10][11] moved their Ostend service of three sailings daily to Ramsgate in 1994; the route now operates as TransEuropa Ferries
  • Stena Line merged their 20 Calais sailings into the current P&O operation in 1998.
  • Hoverspeed ceased operations in 2005 and withdrew their 8 daily sailings.
  • SpeedFerries ceased operations in 2008 and withdrew their 5 daily sailings.
  • LD Lines ceased the Dover-Dieppe service on 29 June 2009 and Dover-Boulogne 5 September 2010.

The Dover lifeboat is a Severn class lifeboat based in the Western Docks.

Dover’s main communications artery, the A2 road replicates two former routes, connecting the town with Canterbury. The Roman road was followed for centuries until, in the late 18th century, it became a toll road. Stagecoaches were operating: one description stated that the journey took all day to reach London, from 4am to being “in time for supper”.[13]

The other main roads, travelling west and east, are the A20 to Folkestone and thence to London and the A258 through Deal to Sandwich.

The railway reached Dover from two directions: the South Eastern Railway’s main line connected with Folkestone in 1844, and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway opened its line from Canterbury in 1861. A tram system operated in the town from 1897 to 1936.

Dover has two long distance footpaths: the Saxon Shore Way and the North Downs Way. Two National Cycle Network routes begin their journey at the town.

Also, the ferry to Calais is a popular transport. From Dover to Calais it usually take one and a half hours to cross the Strait of Dover. The Strait of Dover is the stretch of water between Dover and Calais, and also the stretch of water the Dover-Calais and Calais-Dover ferries cross.

The town’s main shopping streets are the High Street and Biggin Street. There is also the Castleton Retail Park to the north-west of the town centre.

The town has a number of retail chains, including Marks and Spencer, Boots, WH Smith, Costa Coffee, a large Peacocks store in the former Woolworths store, and branches of Dorothy Perkins, and Burton Menswear as well as Argos.

There are a high number of empty shops in Dover, as is also the case nationally but Dover Town Centre has fallen behind other comparable towns since the 1980s and increasing number of retailer’s are no longer represented in the town including H. Sameul, Evans, Internaccionale, Thomas Cook / Co-operative Travel, Millets and Barratts, Bon Marche, Johnsons Drycleaners, and Vodafone.

There are long awaited plans to redevelop the St James area of the town centre but these are taking a while for fruition. Due to demographics and income, Dover like many places has been successful in attracting Poundland, Morrisons, Greggs and Brighthouse as retail stores to the town centre and is seeing a re-emergence of independent stores in what is prime retail area of Biggin Street and High Street. There are more charity shops as is common across the country in the current economic environment.

Dover Lifeboat station is based at crosswall quay in Dover Harbour. There is a Severn class lifeboat, which is the biggest in the fleet. It belongs to the RNLI which covers all of Great Britain. The lifeboat number is 17-09 and has a lot of emergencies in the Channel. The Severn class is designed to lay afloat. Built from fibre reinforced composite (FRC) the boat is lightweight yet very strong and is designed to right itself in the event of a capsize. There is also a coastguard station in Dover. Based on the top of the white cliffs it has a great over view.

Dover was the home to television studios and production offices of Southern Television Ltd, the company which operated the ITV franchise for South and South East England from 1958-1981. The studios were located on Russell Street and were home to programmes like ‘Scene South East’, ‘Scene Midweek’, ‘Southern News’, ‘Farm Progress’ and the nightly epilogue, ‘Guideline’. The studios were operated by TVS in 1982 and home to ‘Coast to Coast’, however they closed a year later when the company moved their operations to the newly complete Television Centre in Maidstone.

Dover has two paid for newspapers, the Dover Express (published by Kent Regional News and Media) and the Dover Mercury (published by the KM Group). Free newspapers for the town include the Dover and Deal Extra, part of the KM Group; and yourdover, part of KOS Media.

There are three museums: the main Dover Museum, the Dover Transport Museum, and the Roman Painted House.

Dover has three twin towns: Calais, France; Huber Heights, Ohio, United States; and Split, Croatia.

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