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Dover - England
Dover is a town and the major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It lies across the narrowest part of the English Channel from France. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover to Calais ferry which arrives and departs from the Port of Dover. There are chalk cliffs surrounding it that have become known as the White Cliffs of Dover, as well as the narrow sea passage nearby called the Strait of Dover. Its strategic position has been evident throughout its history with archaeological finds revealing that the area has always been a focal point for anyone entering and leaving Britain. The name of the town is derived from the name of the river that flows through River Dour. The town has been inhabited since the Stone Age according to archeological finds. The Port of Dover provides a large amount of the town’s employment, as well as tourism. Dover is near the extreme southeast corner of Britain. The nearest point to the continent at South Foreland is Cap Gris Nez near Calais only 34 kilometers or 21 miles distant across the Strait of Dover. The site of its original settlement lies in the valley of the River Dour which made it an ideal place for the port, as it was sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly winds. This led to the silting up of the river mouth and the town was then forced into making artificial breakwaters to keep the port operational. These breakwaters have been extended and adapted so that the actual port area 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, had been adapted to afford protection against invaders. The town has gradually extended up the river valley incorporating several villages in its path. Nominal development is possible along the coast due to the cliffs on the edge of the English Channel. The railway, being tunnelled and embanked, skirts the foot of the cliffs. Dover has two long distance footpaths: the Saxon Shore Way and the North Downs Way. Two National Cycle Network routes begin their journey in Dover. The Dover Leisure Centre is operated by Vista Leisure, a not for profit charitable trust, catering to a wide range of sports and activities. The facilities include a 25 meter swimming pool, a teaching pool, sports hall, gym, fitness classes, sauna and steam room and are all located on Townwall Street. There are sports clubs catering for the usual range of sports, among them football (Dover Athletic F.C.); rugby; rowing; swimming; water polo and netball at the Dover and District Netball League. An event which always gets media attention is that of swimming the English Channel, but there is also an abundance of sea fishing from the beach, at the pier or out in the channel where the so-called Dover sole is found.
The Dover Harbour Board is the responsible authority for the operation of the Port of Dover. The English Channel is the busiest shipping lane in the world with ferries crossing between Dover and the Continent having to negotiate their way through a constant stream of shipping crossing in 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 ship passengers, and the old Dover Marine railway station building, together with a newly built center cater to those passengers. The ferry lines that make use of the port are responsible for numerous daily sailings. The daily crossings to Calais by P&O Ferries number 25 each day and the crossings to
Dunkerque by DFDS Seaways number 11 per day. The ferry to Calais is a popular means of transport and traveling from Dover to Calais usually takes one and a half hours to cross the Strait of Dover. The Dover Lifeboat station is based at the Crosswall Quay in Dover Harbor. There is a Severn class lifeboat, which is the biggest in the fleet belonging to the RNLI which covers all of Great Britain. The lifeboat number is 17-09 and is responsible for the numerous emergencies in the Channel. The Severn class is designed to lay afloat and built from fibre reinforced composite. 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 an expansive overview of the channel. Dover’s main communications artery, the A2 motorway replicates two former routes and connects the town with Canterbury. The Roman road was followed for centuries until sometime in the late 18th century it became a toll road. The other main roads, travelling west and east, are the A20 motorway to Folkestone and onto London and the A258 motorway through Deal and onto 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 Castle is a medieval castle in Dover founded in the 12th century and has been described as the Key to England due to its defensive capacity throughout history as well as being the largest castle in England. Dover Castle is a Scheduled Monument, which means it is a nationally important historical building and archaeological site that has been given protection against unauthorised alterations. It is also a Grade I designated building and recognised as an internationally important structure. The castle, secret tunnels, and surrounding land are now owned by English Heritage and the site has become a major tourist attraction. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is officially head of the castle, in his conjoint position of Constable of Dover Castle, and the Deputy Constable has his residence in Constable's Gate.
The Princess of Wales Royal Regiment Museum is located in the castle. Between 2007 and 2009, English Heritage spent £2.45 million on recreating the castle's interior. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 the extensive tunnels in the cliffs at the castle were converted first into an air-raid shelter and later into a military command post and an underground hospital. In May 1940, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey directed the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk from his headquarters in the cliff tunnels. A military telephone exchange was installed in 1941 and served the underground headquarters. The navy used the exchange to enable direct communication with sea vessels, as well as using it to direct air-sea rescue ships to pick up pilots shot down over the Straits of Dover. Later the tunnels were to be used as a shelter for the regional seats of government in the event of a nuclear attack. This plan was put aside for numerous reasons, including the realization that the chalk of the cliffs would not provide significant protection from radiation and because of the inconvenient layout of the tunnels and their poor structural condition. A statue of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay was erected in November of 2000 outside of the tunnels in honour of his work in the Dunkirk evacuation and the protection of Dover during the Second World War. During attacks in the war they would have to respond quickly as the Germans were just nine minutes away from Dover by airplane. There are over three miles of these tunnels deep down in the chalky cliffs of Dover. There are some still undiscovered and there are tunnels that are far too dangerous to enter.
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