Port of Dover
The Port of Dover is a cross-channel ferry, cruise terminal, maritime cargo and marina facility situated in Dover, Kent, south-east England. It is the nearest English port to France, at just 34 kilometres (21 mi) away, and is one of the world's busiest maritime passenger ports, with 11.7 million passengers, 2.6 million lorries, 2.2 million cars and motorcycles and 80,000 coaches passing through it in 2017, with an annual turnover of £58.5 million a year. This contrasts with the nearby Channel Tunnel, the only fixed link between the island of Great Britain and the European mainland, which now handles an estimated 20 million passengers and 1.6 million trucks per year.
|Port of Dover|
|Operated by||Dover Harbour Board|
|Owned by||Dover Harbour Board|
|Passenger traffic||11,723,411 (2017)|
|Annual turnover||£58.5 million|
The modern port facility features a large artificial harbour constructed behind stone piers and a defensive concrete breakwater. The port is divided into two main sections: the Eastern Docks and the Western Docks. The Eastern Docks serves as the main cross channel ferry terminal. Cruise ship piers, cargo handling and marina facilities located in the Western Dock area.
The Port of Dover has an extensive history and is the location of a number of listed buildings and structures. The port is currently owned and operated by the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory corporation formed by Royal Charter in 1606 by King James I. Most of the board members of the Dover Harbour Board are appointees of the Department for Transport. The port has its own private police force, the Port of Dover Police.
Recent archeology indicates that the Dover's history as a port and trading gateway dates back at least as far as the Stone and Bronze ages. Known as Dubris during the Roman occupation of Britain the port has always enjoyed a significant strategic position due its proximity to continental Europe and as the location of sheltered River Dour estuary between two imposing chalk cliffs. The development of the port led directly to the growth of Dover as a settlement and, over many centuries, to the building of extensive defensive fortifications including Dover Castle and the Dover Western Heights. In the Roman era a walled town was built on the West Bank of the River Dour and the port grew into an important military, mercantile and cross-channel harbour. Dubris was one of the principal starting points of the Roman road later known as Watling Street.
Dover grew further after Norman invasion of 1066 as a member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports. After the martyrdom of Archbishop Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral in 1170, Dover flourished as the only designated port of entry for foreign pilgrims and as a point of departure for the Third and subsequent crusades. Following Edward III’s success at the battle of Sluys in 1340 a large defensive wall was built around the town. Although few concerted attempts to manage the shingle deposits blocking the harbour entrance were made during the late Middle Ages, a short pier and two defensive towers were constructed at the port in years immediately prior to Henry VIII’s departure to the royal summit known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520.
In the 16th Century, under the direction of Thomas Digges and championed by Sir Walter Raleigh, early port infrastructure work commenced to address siltation through the use of sluices and the development of an enclosed pool of water known as the Great Pent. The Great Pent was formed by the construction of a cross wall across the existing natural shingle lagoon at the mouth of the River Dour. The subsequent construction of Wellington Dock, designed by James Walker in the early 1830’s, occupies the approximate footprint of the Great Pent.
After the threats of the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the 19th Century the Admiralty selected Dover as the most suitable location of a harbour of refuge for the fleet between the dockyards of Chatham and Portsmouth. In 1847 construction began on the Admiralty Pier. Envisaged as the Western Arm of the proposed haven, completion of the massive first stage in 1871 effectively stopped the silting of the harbour mouth as it cut off the drift of shingle from the direction of Folkstone. The Admiralty Pier was constructed using a foundation of Portland Stone blocks surmounted by granite and durable Bramley Fall stone on the seaward facing exterior. Further construction from 1897 onwards established the Eastern Arm of the current harbour, the Southern Breakwater and a further extension of the Admiralty Pier.
Dover's Eastern Docks were used for ship breaking beginning during World War I when the Admiralty began dismantling ships there. The Stanlee Shipbreaking and Salvage Co. Ltd. took over the ship breaking operation commercially in 1920. Many of the ships broken up were naval vessels from the First World War. The company also handled machinery and general scrap, including the dismantling of the Dover Promenade Pier. The yard began to shrink after World War II and was closed in 1964 to make way for port redevelopment and a car ferry terminal.
In 1966 well over 600,000 accompanied vehicles travelled through Dover's Eastern Docks en route to France or Belgium.
After rail services were extended to Dover in 1844, the Western Docks were used as a terminal for the Golden Arrow and other cross-channel train services with its own railway station, Dover Marine, later renamed Dover Western Docks). At Dover Marine station an estimated 5 million troops departed for the trenches of the First World War and nearly 1.5 million wounded soldiers returned. In 1920 the remains of Unknown Warrior were landed prior to transportation to London and a ceremonial internment at Westminster Abbey. Dover Marine railway station closed in 1994, later to be redeveloped into Cruise Terminal One.
The Western Docks area was also used from 1968 to the early 2000s for a cross-channel hovercraft service run by Hoverspeed. Hoverspeed also ran catamaran services until being declared bankrupt in 2005. Another catamaran service ran from 2004 until November 2008 run by the single ship of SpeedFerries, SpeedOne, with up to five services daily to Boulogne-sur-Mer. The hoverport has now been demolished and redeveloped as a cargo handling facility.
The harbour is divided into two main sections, the Eastern Docks and the Western Docks, about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) apart.
Cross channel ferry services to France operate from the seven twin-level ferry berths and associated departure buildings of the Eastern Docks:
- P&O Ferries: 6 ships in service. Up to 29 ferries daily to Calais (motorists and foot passengers).
- DFDS Seaways: 3 ships in service. Up to 12 ferries daily to Dunkirk (motorists only).
- DFDS Seaways: 2 ships in service. Up to 10 ferries daily to Calais (motorists only).
An adjacent freight terminal (with three loading cranes) is scheduled to be repurposed under port redevelopment plans but can currently be used by ships of up to 180 metres (590 ft).
This part of the port is formed by the western arm of the harbour, Admiralty Pier, and its associated port facilities. Recently the focus of a £250 million port redevelopment project co-financed by the European Union.
Cruise Ship TerminalEdit
Conversion and restoration of the historic former Dover Marine rail terminus, and the opening of a second, larger, cruise terminal building in 1996, have supported a significant expansion in cruise ship traffic. Cruise Terminal 2 is able to accommodate ships as large as the Celebrity Silhouette at 319 metres (1,047 ft) in length overall, a beam of 36.8 metres (121 ft) and 122,400 gross tons. The cruise ship terminal can accommodate up to three ships at any one time.
Dover Cargo Terminal West opened in December 2019 replacing berthing and handling facilities at the Eastern Docks. Two new berths can accommodate ships of 340 metres (1,120 ft) and 240 metres (790 ft) simultaneously with a minimum quay depth of 9.5 metres (31 ft). The new purpose built cold chain and warehousing complex is capable of handling fresh produce, containers, project cargo, general cargo, breakbulk, grain and Roll-on/roll-off.
Marina facilities, primarily targeted a recreational sailing and power boating, are provided in both the historic Wellington Dock and adjacent to the cruise terminal and cargo wharves.
The port is accessible by road from the M20/A20 (leading to Folkestone) and the M2/A2 (to Canterbury), and by train from the town's railway station (Dover Priory is a 20-minute walk away) - the port bus no longer runs. From here, there are trains from Dover Priory to London St Pancras International via Folkestone Central, Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International, Stratford International as well as trains to London Victoria or London Charing Cross via Canterbury East and the Medway towns such as Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester or via Ashford International then either via Tonbridge and Sevenoaks or Maidstone East. There are trains to Deal and Ramsgate.
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- Port of Dover official website
- Dover Ferries Forum
- Dover Ferry Photos Website & Forum
- Dover Cruise Ships: Photos and Info