The Port of Dover, backed by the famous White Cliffs, is situated in Kent in southeast England and is the UK's closest point to Continental Europe. As such, Dover has always been of importance to cross-Channel traffic. Every day of the year, frequent cross Channel ferries travel operate Dover to Calais and Dover to Dunkirk in France. The Port of Dover is also a busy port for cruise shipping and a Mecca for pleasure boat owners. Originally established in 1606, Dover Harbour Board is responsible for the administration, maintenance and improvement of the Port at Dover, managing and piloting what is one of today's busiest drive-on, drive-off terminals in the world.
Dover Port History. The deep cleft in the hills formed in prehistoric times by the River Dour has always protected small ships plying across the Channel. The Romans even built a "Pharos", or lighthouse, on the cliffs on the east side of the valley. Royalty has taken a keen interest in the Port of Dover throughout centuries. Richard Coeur de Lion departed from Dover on the Third Crusade and in 1422 Henry V was brought back through Dover after his death in France. King James I gave Dover Harbour Board its Royal Charter in 1606 placing the Lord Warden and his "Board" in charge of running the port of Dover. The Port of Dover has gradually developed throughout the centuries to become the vast artificial harbour of 1050 acres it is today with depths of water up to 10.5 metres and berthing for ships up to 300 metres in length. Since WWII, further development of the port has taken place to keep pace with demand for both passenger and freight traffic. In 1978, a £12m Hoverport was opened at the Western Docks and, in 1953, Dover's first two drive-on drive-off ferry berths were opened at the Eastern Docks. This marked the end of cars and even coaches being craned on and off ferries. In the first year, Port of Dover expected to carry about 10,000 vehicles but demand was actually ten times that figure. In the last year, the Port of Dover was used by over 18 million passengers & 3 million cars, as well as over by 1.8m freight vehicles.< p> Dover Town Centre. Dover, with its Roman history, definitely deserves a visit. Main attractions include the old Lighthouse, one of the best preserved Roman constructions in Europe, the "Roman Painted House" in Priory Street, with its well preserved mural paintings and decorations, and Dover Castle with its breathtaking views of the town, along the coast and across to the hills of Calais. There has been a castle at Dover since the defences of an Anglo-Saxon fortress were strengthened by William of Normandy, who built the first earthwork castle in 1066 before moving on to London. This was rebuilt by Henry II in the 1180 s. Besides the buildings, exhibitions and walks around the castle, you can also visit the network of secret tunnels cut deep into the white cliffs during the Napoleonic Wars, and which, until 1970, were operational underground shelters, ready for the possibility of nuclear attack. Visit also the Western Heights spanning some 170 years of history including the French revolutionary wars through to WWII comprising some 5 miles of dry ditches, numerous gun batteries and barracks and examples of some of the finest military architecture in the country. Dover offers plenty of places to shop, eat and drink. There is a wide variety of antique shops, numerous hair and beauty salons, Cinema, and for those who feel lucky, the Esplanade hosts a number of amusement arcades and there is a Bingo Hall. The Tourist Information centre can be found at The Old Town Gaol in Biggin Street. The white cliffs were made famous by the Vera Lynn song "White Cliffs of Dover" which aimed to fill soldiers with pride during the WWII at what they were fighting for and where they would come back to. On the waterfront is the Dover esplanade, which features in particular the Prince of Wales pier, which has the white cliffs as a dramatic backdrop. There are also a variety of museums, which cover transport and also life in Dover starting with the ancient Celts and moving through to World War II and later. You can get bus tours and also the "White Cliffs Experience".
Dover Access by Car. Dover is approximately 70 miles from South London. From the M2, follow the A2 direct into Dover, or from the M20, follow the A20 again into Dover. Both the Eastern & Western Docks Ferry Terminals are clearly signed.