DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
John Bavington Jones

Published in the South Kent Gazette, 25 April 1979.

A PERAMBULATION OF THE TOWN, PORT AND FORTRESS.

PART 4.

 

The population of the area, later included in the Municipal Borough of Dover, was 7709 in the year 1801. Fifty years later the number had increased to 20,929; and at the close of the next fifty years, in 1901, the population of the same area was 41,974. Subsequent census figures were:ó1911, 43,645; 1921, 39,995; 1931, 41,097; 1951, 35,215; 1961, 35,554; 1971, 32,850. In 1978 the figure was thought to be 34,000 and for the Dover District Council area was quoted as just over 100,000.

The growth of population and physical changes, owing to the recession of the sea, have, from time to time, led to extensions in the boundaries of the town. The earliest Dover occupied the slopes of the Western Heights and the foot of the Castle Hill, forming two little communities, with a wide tidal river between them. As the estuary filled up, places for habitations were found on the eastern side of the Market Place, and the parish of St. James, which had originally been confined to the Wardenís Down, on the foothills of the Castle, spread across the reclaimed land, on the eastward bank of the narrowed Dour. Simultaneously, the town commenced to grew landward beyond the old Biggin Gate, in the direction of the Maison Dieu.

Next, the growth extended under the western cliff, towards Archcliffe Point, where Henry VIIIís harbour works reclaimed the land, the whole of the Pier district, from Snargate westward, as well as the present Sea Front, having been built upon land reclaimed since the beginning of the 16th Century. Later developments have carried the borough of Dover into Charlton, Buckland, and Hougham parishes, the old parish boundaries for civil purposes being disregarded, St. Mary's, St. Jamesís, Charlton, and Buckland, with parts of Hougham and Guston, being in 1895 constituted one civil parish of Dover. In 1904 an extension added to Dover territory in the parish of River, as far up as River Church and the approach to Kearsney Railway Station. Another boundary extension in 1921 included land on the north of Crabble Hill, on which stands the Buckland Housing Estate. It also brought into Dover all the Piers which jut out into the sea from the Borough of Dover. By a law that was amended in 1929, reclamations previously had formed part of the County, but not of the Borough.

In 1932, in connection with the first review of County Districts ordered by the Local Government Act of 1929, a further extension of the Borough was settled and came in force on 1st April, 1934. This borough in the East Cliff Dockyard and a large area west of Dover in the form of a triangle, of which the base extends from Dover to Lydden Spout on the shore to the west, whilst the apex is at River. There was a further extension of the Dover borough boundary just after the Second World War.

 

COMMERCE AND INDUSTRIES.

As the commerce of Dover depends largely on the harbour, special efforts have been made from time to time to improve its accommodation. Since the harbour was projected at Archcliffe Point, there have been two periods of special activity. The first commenced in the reign of Henry VII, and continued till the close of the reign of Elizabeth; and the second under the powers of a Dover Harbour Act of 1828, since when, excepting short intervals, improvement works have been continuous, the largest local effort being the building of the Prince of Wales Pier (begun 1893, opened in 1902), creating the outer Commercial Harbour, and the largest National undertaking being: the Admiralty Harbour (built between 1895 and 1909), which, in 1923, was handed over to the Dover Harbour Board, following the abandonment after the War of its use as a Naval base.

Doverís ancient monopoly of carrying in its ships all passengers crossing from Kent to the Continent has long been ignored; but the geographical position of Dover, as the nearest point to the Continent, still attracts to it the largest share of that traffic. At the time when the first edition of this book was written in 1906, the Continental traffic amounted to 500,000 passengers per annum, and, in addition, ocean liners calling at Dover embarked or landed many passengers to or from all parts of the world.

In the year prior to the war, the total cross Channel passenger traffic at Dover had grown to 653,284. In spite of passport restrictions, after the war the Channel passenger traffic continued to grow, and in 1928 totalled 982,648. The world financial crisis that began about 1930 led to a rapid decline, and the traffic was in 1933 back to 629,754 passengers. But there followed a rapid growth in traffic, particularly in the transport of cars, as many as 14,572 cars being carried by vessels adapted for the purpose, in 1934. A later development was the train ferry service between Dover and Dunkirk which came into operation in 1936. By 1978 cross-Channel traffic had grown dramatically, despite competition from other ports.

Apart from the commerce of the port, and the business associated with the Garrison and the residential population, Dover has had a variety of industries. Industries which once flourished, and have now wholly disappeared include the gas works, corn-milling, cork-cutting, shipbuilding, ropemaking and two other ancient industries ó brewing, which continued until 1927, and tanning, abandoned in 1923. To make up for the disappearance of those and other industries and the decline of others there has been the boom in port trade since the Second World War and the discovery and development of the Kent Coalfields has also created employment. By 1934 over 7,000 men were employed in the four local collieries, a fair proportion of them living in Dover or making use of it for business purposes. By 1978, however, the number of pits had dropped to three and the mineworkers to 3,300.

 

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