Main Births etc
Coordinates: 51°07′46″N 1°18′32″E / 51.1295, 1.3089
Dover from air.jpg
Aerial view of Dover Harbour

Dover is located in Kent

 Dover shown within Kent
Population 31,022 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid reference TR315415
    - London  77.8 miles (125.2 km) 
Parish Dover [2]
District Dover
Shire county Kent
Region South East
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 Dover
List of places: UK • England • Kent

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 at 33 kilometres (21 mi) from Cap Gris Nez in France. It lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Port of Dover.

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.

In recent times the town has undergone transformations with a high-speed rail link to London, new retail in town with St James' area opened in 2018, and a revamped promenade and beachfront. This followed in 2019, with a new 500m Pier to the west of the Harbour, and new Marina unveiled as part of a £330m investment in the area.

The Port of Dover provides much of the town's employment, as does tourism including to the landmark White Cliffs of Dover. There were over 368,000 tourists visiting Dover castle in the year of 2019.[3]


Dover Castle seen from Castle Street.

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 preserved Roman wall paintings.[5] Dover later figured in the Domesday Book.

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.

In 1974 a discovery was made at Langdon Bay off the coast near Dover. It contained bronze axes of French design and is probably the remainder of the cargo of a sunken ship. At the same time, this find also shows that trade routes across the Channel between England and France existed already in the Bronze Age, or even earlier. In 1992, the so-called Dover boat from the Bronze Age was discovered in six metres depth underwater. This is one of the oldest finds of a seaworthy boat. Using the radiocarbon method of investigation, the year 1550 BC was determined as the year of construction of the boat.


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 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.[7]

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.

Geography and climate[]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.

Template:Dover weatherbox


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 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.[12]


The Port of Dover and the white cliffs of Dover

The Dover Harbour Board[13] 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.[14]

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.[15]

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

  • to Calais: P&O Ferries (25), DFDS Seaways (10).
  • to Dunkirk: 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[16][17] moved their Ostend service of three sailings daily to Ramsgate in 1994; this route was operated by TransEuropa Ferries until April 2013.
  • 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.
  • SeaFrance ceased operations in 2012 of their Dover-Calais service which was their only service.

Dover Harbour, from the white cliffs of Dover

Main sights[]

The Town Hall, which dates back to 1203

  • Blériot memorial: the outline of Louis Blériot's aircraft, marked with granite setts, at the exact spot where Blériot landed after the first cross-Channel flight, 1909[18]
  • Dover Castle
  • White Cliffs of Dover
  • Dover Western Heights
  • Dover Museum
  • Dover Marina
  • Dover Pier
  • Roman Painted House Museum
  • Maison Dieu, Dover
  • Samphire Hoe
  • South Foreland Lighthouse
  • Pines Garden
  • St Edmund's Chapel
  • St Mary's Church
  • St James' Church: preserved as a "tidy ruin"
  • St Paul's Church

Dover Castle White Cliffs of Dover Pines Garden Samphire Hoe Country Park

The castle from the north

Whites Cliffs seen from the Strait of Dover

The Pines Garden

Samphire Hoe beneath the White Cliffs of Dover



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".[19]

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.

In December 2020, a long line of freight trucks formed due to sudden border closures with France, because of new strains of COVID-19 within the United Kingdom.[20][21][22][23]


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. London is reached in 55 minutes by train from Dover.

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.[24] The line up to Ramsgate, via Deal, was subsequently electrified under stage two of Kent Coast electrification in January 1961.[24] The line from Folkestone into Priory was electrified in June 1961.[24]

A tram system operated in the town from 1897 to 1936.

View of the White Cliffs of Dover from France


Dover has two long distance footpaths: the Saxon Shore Way and the North Downs Way. The National Trust White Cliffs can be reached by foot from the town centre, with pathways to South Foreland Lighthouse, and St Margarets Bay along the cliff top . The walking routes from Dover pass the National Trust visitor centre on the landmark chalk cliffs overlooking the English Channel with views of France visible on a clear day.


Two National Cycle Network routes begin their journey at the town. Route one goes from Dover to Canterbury.[25] This route links with National Cycle Route 2 from Dover to St Austell, Regional route 16, and Regional route 17 in Dover. It passes three castles. Firstly from Dover on the steap incline past Dover Castle. ThenSouth Foreland Lighthouse is visible from the route. Mostly traffic-free along the east coast from Kingsdown to Deal, passing Walmer Castle and Deal Castle. Follows toll road (free to cyclists) through the Royal Cinque Ports Golf Club to the town of Sandwich. In Sandwich the route links with Regional route 15. Dover town centre is cycle friendly: There are dedicated cycle lanes along the seafront, cycle routes through the town's pedestrianised High Street area.


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.[26] The crossing time is approximately two hours.[27] Due to this route not being as well known as Dover to Calais, prices are often cheaper.[28] 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. Buses run from Dover to Elvington via Eythorne.

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


The Dover lifeboat is a Severn class lifeboat based in the Western Docks.[29] 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

Dover College is a mixed public school founded in 1871 by a group of local business men.[30]

Selective secondary schools

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

  • Dover Grammar School for Boys (DGSB)
  • Dover Grammar School for Girls (DGGS)

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

  • Duke of York's Royal Military School

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

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 ".[31]

  • St Edmund's Catholic School

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

  • Dover Christ Church Academy

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.[32] Earlier hospitals included the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Isolation Hospital and the Eye Hospital.

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 previously included 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.[33]

Dover Community Radio (DCR) currently offer internet programming and podcasts (since 2010) 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.[34] Dover Community Radio is expected to launch on FM soon as it was awarded a community radio licence by OFCOM on 12 May 2020 [35]


There are three museums: the main Dover Museum,[36] the Dover Transport Museum[37] and the Roman Painted House.[38] The town has two cinemas, the Silver Screen Cinema [39] located at the Dover Museum and the Cineworld Cinema opened in 2018 as part of the St James' Retail and Leisure complex. [12] 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.[40] The Charlton Shopping Centre [41]off the High Street has retail units, the Dover Local community hub, leisure facilities and the studios of Dover Community Radio. [42] The White Cliffs Theatre opened in 2001 [43]is based at Astor College. [44] There is also a community theatre based at St Edmund's Catholic School [45]

Twin towns[]

  • France Calais, France[46]
  • United States Huber Heights, Ohio, United States
  • Croatia Split, Croatia[47]
  • Dover, Christ Church, Barbados


Dover District Leisure Centre operated by Places Leisure [48] 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,[49] 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).[50]

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.[51]

One event which gets media attention is that of swimming the English Channel.[52]

Sea fishing, from the beach, pier or out at sea, is carried out here.[53] The so-called Dover sole (solea solea) is found all over European waters.

Dover is now the host of a variety of watersports; such as paddle-boarding and kayaking.

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."

Dover appears several times in "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens.

See also[]

  • Strait of Dover


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". 
  2. ^ "Dover Town Council". 
  3. ^ Neate, Rupert (20 December 2012). "White cliffs of Dover: locals repel buyout by the French". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ "Archaeology". The Dover Society. 
  5. ^ "Roman Dover". 
  6. ^ Oldfield, Thomas Hinton Burley. (1794). An entire and complete history, political and personal, of the boroughs of Great Britain: Together with the Cinque Ports, 2d ed. corr. and improved. London: B. Crosby.
  7. ^ "Website".,Welsh%20dwfr%20'water').. 
  8. ^ "". 
  9. ^ "Record breaking heat-wave July 2019". 
  10. ^ "Hasted description of Dover". 29 January 1998. 
  11. ^ "KS01 Usual resident population: Census 2001, Key Statistics for urban areas". National Statistics. 
  12. ^ a b "St James Dover - Retail & Leisure Park - Food, Fashion, Fitness, Film". 
  13. ^ "Dover Harbour Board". 
  14. ^ "The Dover Strait Traffic Navigation Scheme and rules relating thereto". 
  15. ^ "Cruise Port Passenger Guide". Port of Dover. 
  16. ^ Ostende ferry Script error: No such module "webarchive".
  17. ^ "". 19 September 1996. 
  18. ^ "Dover Aeroplane". 
  19. ^ "From The Life of Thomas Telford". 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". 
  21. ^ "Archived copy". 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". 
  23. ^ "Archived copy". 
  24. ^ a b c "Electric Railways". 'Stendec Systems'. 2007. 
  25. ^ "South Coast East". 
  26. ^ "DFDS Seaways acquires Norfolkline". DFDS Seaways. 
  27. ^ "Norfolk Line Ferries | Book Norfolk Line Ferries | Timetable, Offers, Reviews & Routes". 
  28. ^ Travel advice. "Travel advice: cheap ferry crossings to France". 
  29. ^ "The Dover lifeboat". The Dover lifeboat. 7 August 2011. 
  30. ^ "Dover College". Dover College. 
  31. ^ "Academy trusts: notices about poor performance". 
  32. ^ "Archived copy". 
  33. ^ [1]
  34. ^ "Dover Community Radio Website". 31 July 2011. 
  35. ^ "Radio Today - 6 New Community Radio Licences Awarded by OFCOM". 
  36. ^ "Dover Museum website". 
  37. ^ "Dover Transport Museum". Dover District Council. 
  38. ^ "The Roman Painted House, Dover- Homepage". 
  39. ^ "Archived copy". 
  40. ^ "Dover Centre". 
  41. ^ "Home". 
  42. ^ "DCR Local Radio for Dover, Deal, Sandwich and the surrounding areas.". 
  43. ^ "The White Cliffs Theatre (Astor Avenue, Dover)". 
  44. ^ "Welcome to Astor College". 
  45. ^ "About Us - St Edmund's Catholic School". 
  46. ^ "British towns twinned with French towns [via"]. Archant Community Media Ltd. 
  47. ^ "Gradovi prijatelji Splita" (in hr). Grad Split [Split Official City Website]. 
  48. ^ "Dover District Leisure Centre – Places Leisure". 
  49. ^ "Dover Leisure Centre". 
  50. ^ "Netaball league". 
  51. ^ "Club History - Dover Rowing Club". 
  52. ^ Whyte Studio. "Channel Swimming". 
  53. ^ "Sea Fishing". 


  • Statham, S.P.H. (1899). The history of the castle, town, and port of Dover. London: Longmans Green & Co.. pp. 462 p.. 
  • Foot, William (2006). Beaches, fields, streets, and hills ...: the anti-invasion landscapes of England, 1940. CBA research report 144. York: Council for British Archaeology. ISBN 1-902771-53-2. 

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