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Dover from air.jpg
Aerial view of Dover Harbour
Kent UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Kent
Population31,022 (2011 Census) [1]
OS grid reference TR315415
  London 77.8 miles (125.2 km)
Civil parish
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town DOVER
Postcode district CT16, CT17
Dialling code 01304
Police Kent
Fire Kent
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
List of places
51°07′46″N1°18′32″E / 51.1295°N 1.3089°E / 51.1295; 1.3089 Coordinates: 51°07′46″N1°18′32″E / 51.1295°N 1.3089°E / 51.1295; 1.3089

Dover ( /ˈdvər/ ) is a town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. 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 are known as the White Cliffs of Dover.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

South East England region of England in United Kingdom

South East England is the most populous of the nine official regions of England at the first level of NUTS for statistical purposes. It consists of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex. As with the other regions of England, apart from Greater London, the south east has no elected government.

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.


Archaeological finds have revealed that the area has always been a focus for peoples entering and leaving Britain. The name derives from the River Dour that flows through it.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.

River Dour river in Kent, United Kingdom

The River Dour is a chalk stream in the county of Kent, in Dover, England. It flows from the villages of Temple Ewell and River, through the village of Kearsney. It is roughly 4 miles (6.4 km) long.

The Port of Dover provides much of the town's employment, as does tourism. [3]

Tourism travel for recreational or leisure purposes

Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller's country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go "beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only", as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours, business and other purposes".


First recorded in its Latinised form of Portus Dubris , the name derives from the Brythonic word for water (dwfr in Middle Welsh, dŵr in modern Modern Welsh). The same element is present in the town's French name Douvres and the name of the river, Dour, which is also evident in other English towns such as Wendover. However, the modern Modern Welsh name Dofr is an adaptation of the English name Dover.

Middle Welsh is the label attached to the Welsh language of the 12th to 15th centuries, of which much more remains than for any earlier period. This form of Welsh developed from Old Welsh.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Wendover market town in Buckinghamshire, England

Wendover is a market town and civil parish at the foot of the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire, England. It is situated at the point where the main road across the Chilterns between London and Aylesbury intersects with the once important road along the foot of the Chilterns. The town is some 35 miles (56 km) north west of London and 5 miles (8 km) south east of Aylesbury, and is very popular with commuters working in London.

The current name was in use at least by the time of Shakespeare's King Lear (between 1603 and 1606), in which the town and its cliffs play a prominent role.

<i>King Lear</i> play by William Shakespeare

King Lear is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It tells the tale of a king who bequeaths his power and land to two of his three daughters, after they declare their love for him in an extremely fawning and obsequious manner. His third daughter gets nothing, because she will not flatter him as her sisters had done. When he feels disrespected by the two daughters who now have his wealth and power, he becomes furious to the point of madness. He eventually becomes tenderly reconciled to his third daughter, just before tragedy strikes her and then the king.


Dover Castle seen from Castle Street. Dover Castle (Castle Street).JPG
Dover Castle seen from Castle Street.
A very early photograph showing a Dover street scene, c. 1860 Street Scene, Dover (4052820752).jpg
A very early photograph showing a Dover street scene, c. 1860

Archaeological finds have shown that there were Stone Age people in the area, and that some Iron Age finds also exist. [4] During the Roman period, the area became part of the Roman communications network. It was connected by road to Canterbury and Watling Street and it became Portus Dubris , a fortified port. Dover has a partly preserved Roman lighthouse (the tallest surviving Roman structure in Britain) and the remains of a villa with the only preserved Roman wall painting outside Italy. [5] Dover later figured in the Domesday Book .

Archaeology, or archeology, is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities. In North America archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology, while in Europe it is often viewed as either a discipline in its own right or a sub-field of other disciplines.

Stone Age Broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make implements

The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric period during which stone was widely used to make implements with an edge, a point, or a percussion surface. The period lasted roughly 3.4 million years and ended between 8700 BCE and 2000 BCE with the advent of metalworking.

The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. The concept has been mostly applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy, also to other parts of the Old World.

Forts were built above the port and lighthouses were constructed to guide passing ships. It is one of the Cinque Ports. [6] and has served as a bastion against various attackers: notably the French during the Napoleonic Wars and Germany during the Second World War.

Geography and climate

1945 Ordnance Survey map of Dover, showing the harbour Dovermap1945.jpg
1945 Ordnance Survey map of Dover, showing the harbour

Dover is in the south-east corner of Britain. From South Foreland, the nearest point to the European mainland, Cap Gris Nez is 34 kilometres (21 mi) away across the Strait of Dover. [7]

The site of its original settlement lies in the valley of the River Dour, sheltering from the prevailing south-westerly winds. This has led to the silting up of the river mouth by the action of longshore drift. The town has been 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.

Dover has an oceanic climate (Koppen classification Cfb) similar to the rest of the United Kingdom with mild temperatures year-round and a light amount of rainfall each month. The warmest recorded temperature was 35.9 °C (96.6 °F), recorded on 25 July 2019. [8] The temperature is usually between 3 °C (37 °F) and 21.1 °C (70.0 °F). There is evidence that the sea is coldest in February; the warmest recorded temperature for February was only 13 °C (55 °F), compared with 16 °C (61 °F) in January.

Climate data for Dover Harbour (Beach), elevation: 0 m (0 ft), 1981–2010 normals
Average high °C (°F)7.8
Daily mean °C (°F)5.6
Average low °C (°F)3.3
Average precipitation mm (inches)74.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)12.310.610.610.
Mean monthly sunshine hours 66.083.4117.5185.2214.7213.3221.6223.4159.4126.076.755.81,743
Source: Met Office [9]


In 1800, the year before Britain's first national census, Edward Hasted (1732–1812) reported that the town had a population of almost 10,000 people. [10]

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. [11]

With the expansion of Dover, many of the outlying ancient villages have been incorporated into the town. Originally the parishes of Dover St. Mary's and Dover St. James, since 1836 Buckland and Charlton have become part Dover, and Maxton (a hamlet to the west), River, Kearsney, Temple Ewell, and Whitfield, all to the north of the town centre, are within its conurbation.



The Port of Dover and the white cliffs of Dover Douvres (5).JPG
The Port of Dover and the white cliffs of Dover

The Dover Harbour Board [12] 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. [13]

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. [14]

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

These services have been cut in recent years:

Dover Harbour panorama.jpg

Dover Harbour, from the cliffs above.


View of the White Cliffs of Dover from France France manche vue dover.JPG
View of the White Cliffs of Dover from France

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 4 am to being "in time for supper". [17]

The other main roads, travelling west and east, are the A20 to Folkestone and thence the M20 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. Southeastern trains run from Dover Priory to London Charing Cross, London Victoria or London St Pancras International stations in London, and Ramsgate or Sandwich in Kent.

The Chatham Main Line into Priory was electrified under British Railways in 1959 as part of Stage 1 of Kent Coast Electrification, under the BR 1955 Modernisation Plan. [18] The line up to Ramsgate, via Deal, was subsequently electrified under stage two of Kent Coast electrification in January 1961. [18] The line from Folkestone into Priory was electrified in June 1961. [18]

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.

The Port of Dover is a 20-minute walk from Dover Priory railway station.

The Dover to Dunkirk ferry route was originally operated by ferry operator Norfolkline. This company was later acquired by the pan European operator DFDS Seaways in July 2010. [19] The crossing time is approximately two hours. [20] Due to this route not being as well known as Dover to Calais, prices are often cheaper. [21] The location of Dunkirk is also more convenient for those travelling by road transport on to countries in Northern Europe including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and further afield.

Stagecoach in East Kent provide local bus services. Dover is on the Stagecoach Diamond network providing links to Canterbury and Deal. The Western Docks at the port of Dover are served from the town centre as well as Canterbury and Deal. Dover is the start of The Wave network to New Romney via Folkestone, Hythe and Dymchurch. There are services to Lydd via Lydd Airport, with one continuing from Lydd on to Hastings via Camber and Rye. There is a link to Sandwich and Ramsgate. Buses run from Dover to Canterbury via Aylesham.

National Express runs coaches from Dover to other towns in Kent including Canterbury, Folkestone, Ashford, Kent, Maidstone, Gillingham at Hempsted Valley shopping centre and Greenhithe at Bluewater Shopping Centre for Dartford to London including Bexleyheath, Eltham, Walworth, Canary Wharf, Elephant & Castle, The City (The City of London) and to Victoria Coach Station

All buses serve Pencester Road except route 68 to Maxton operated by Regent Coaches.[ citation needed ]


The town's main shopping streets are the High Street, Biggin Street, Market Square, Cannon Street, Pencester Road and Castle Street. The Castleton Retail Park is to the north-west of the town centre. The new St James' Retail and Leisure Park opened in 2018 and is a southern extension of the town centre and consists of shops, restaurants, a Travelodge Hotel and a Cineworld Cinema. [22]


The Dover lifeboat is a Severn class lifeboat based in the Western Docks. [23] 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 are seven secondary level schools serving Dover.

Public schools

Dover College is a mixed public school founded in 1871 by a group of local business men. [24]

Selective secondary schools

There are 2 single-sex grammar schools and a mixed military school.

Both grammar schools require the Dover Test or the Kent Test for admission to Year 7.

Duke of York's Royal Military School is a selective secondary school with academy status and England's only military boarding school for children of service personnel (co-education ages 11–18), located next to the former site of Connaught Barracks.

Non-selective secondary schools

There are 3 ex-secondary modern mixed schools, all with academy status.

Astor College federated with St Radigunds Primary School (then renamed White Cliffs Primary College for the Arts) to form the Dover Federation for the Arts (DFA). Subsequently, Barton Junior School and Shatterlocks Nursery and Infant School joined the DFA. In 2014 the DFA was warned by the Department for Education about "unacceptably low standards of performance of pupils ". [25]

St Edmund's Catholic School federated with St Richards Catholic Primary School to form the Dover Federation of Catholic Schools.

Dover Christ Church Academy is located in Whitfield, 4 miles north of Dover.

Technical College

Dover Technical College is part of the East Kent College (EKC) group.

In addition, 16 primary schools and 2 special schools add to the educational offering.

Public services

Dover has one hospital, Buckland Hospital [26] built in 2015 near its previous premises (in a former Victorian workhouse) on Coombe Valley Road. The town once had four hospitals, Buckland, Royal Victoria, Isolation and the Eye Hospital, in various places.

Local media


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.


Dover has one local commercial radio station, KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country, broadcasting to Dover on 106.8FM. The station was founded in Dover as Neptune Radio in September 1997 but moved to Folkestone in 2003 and was consequently rebranded after a takeover by the KM Group. Dover is also served by the county-wide stations Heart, Gold and BBC Radio Kent.

The Gateway Hospital Broadcasting Service, in Buckland Hospital radio, closed at the end of 2006. It was the oldest hospital radio station in East Kent being founded in 1968. [27]

Dover Community Radio (DCR) currently offer internet programming and podcasts on local events and organisations on their website. The online station of the same name launched on 30 July 2011 offering local programmes, music and news for Dover and district. [28]


There are three museums: the main Dover Museum, [29] the Dover Transport Museum [30] and the Roman Painted House. [31] The town has two cinemas, the Silver Screen Cinema [32] located at the Dover Museum and the Cineworld Cinema opened in 2018 as part of the St James' Retail and Leisure complex. [22] The Discovery Centre located off the Market Square houses Dover's library, Dover Museum, Silver Screen Cinema, the Roundhouse Community Theatre as well as adult education facilities [33] . The Charlton Shopping Centre [34] off the High Street has retail units, the Dover Local community hub, leisure facilities and the studios of Dover Community Radio. [35] The White Cliffs Theatre opened in 2001 [36] is based at Astor College. [37] There is also a community theatre based at St Edmund's Catholic School [38]

Twin towns


Dover District Leisure Centre operated by Places Leisure [41] located in Whitfield opened in March 2019 replacing the previous facility on Townwall Street, which was operated by Your Leisure, a not for profit charitable trust, [42] which caters for sports and includes a swimming pool.

There are sports clubs, amongst them Dover Athletic F.C., who play in the National League; rugby; swimming; water polo and netball (Dover and District Netball League). [43]

Dover Rowing Club is the oldest coastal rowing club in Britain and has a rich history, at one time becoming the best club on the south coast. More information can be found on the history page of the club's website. [44]

One event which gets media attention is that of swimming the English Channel. [45]

Sea fishing, from the beach, pier or out at sea, is carried out here. [46] The so-called Dover sole (solea solea) is found all over European waters.

Places of interest

Colton's Gate in Dover Castle Dover Castle - Colton's Gate.jpg
Colton's Gate in Dover Castle

Notable people

In literature

M.R. James used the Dover landmark, the Lord Warden Hotel, as a location in his short ghost story "Casting the Runes", first published in More Ghost Stories in 1911.

Matthew Arnold used the setting of Dover in his famous 19th-century poem, "Dover Beach."

See also

Related Research Articles

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