DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
John Bavington Jones

Published in the Dover Express, 6 February, 1981.

A PERAMBULATION OF THE TOWN, PORT AND FORTRESS.

PART 154.

 

ATLANTIC LINERS

In September, 1901, when he was Vice-Chairman of the Dover Harbour Board, he obtained an audience of the Kaiser at Potsdam, being accompanied by Mr. Worsfold Mowll, the Register, and Captain J. Iron, Harbour Master, with a view to securing the Emperor’s support for getting the Hamburg - American liners to call at Dover. As a result, a trial was made on July 26th, 1903, and when the "Prinz Sigismund“ then berthed at the Prince of Wales Pier the Kaiser sent a telegram of congratulation. The Hamburg - American liners began to make Dover a port of call in July, 1904, and during the two following years visitors included the largest liners then afloat, the "Amerika“ (25,128 tons) and the "Kaiserin Augusta Victoria“ (25,128 tons). The Red Star Line also called at Dover regularly. This success story for Dover was to be a short-lived one, however. As work progressed on the completion of the massive Admiralty Harbour project it became increasingly difficult for the big liners to negotiate the harbour entrances and eventually proved so dangerous during the construction of the Breakwater that Dover ceased to be a port of call.

 

SPRING GARDENS

Spring Gardens came into existence in the year 1830. The name Spring Gardens was derived from a chalybeate spring which was discovered here in the early part of the last century, yielding the same water as that for which Ladywell was famed.

In the building of Peter Street, the architect of the earlier portion, Mr. Richard Sandford, seems to have had an ambition to provide dwellings with something more than “four square walls.“ Some of the doorways in Churchill Terrace, at the corner of Spring Gardens, were ornamented and the arches of the portals centred with well-sculptured heads. Churchill Terrace was built in 1830 and the architect seems to have been sufficiently proud of it to have his name put there. Another stone facing Peter Street was inscribed "St. Peter’s Street, 1830.“ At a little later date other houses hereabouts were no doubt built to accommodate the paper makers who well employed in the short-lived early industry in Spring Gardens. After the paper mill and brewery had gone, Peter Street remained stagnant: the river was left with a makeshift bridge, and the street was unkerbed and unchannelled, the thoroughfare not being properly finished off until 1872.

 

PETER STREET CHAPEL

The Primitive Methodists chose a site on the riverside in this street to build their first chapel, the foundation stone of which was laid by Mr. Joseph Diggle, on the 2nd of March, 1860, and it was opened for public worship on the 24th of June in the same year. On the opening of the new Primitive Methodist Chapel in London Road, in 1901, the Peter Street Chapel was closed and after being used for business purposes for some years was transformed into an assembly hall in connection with St. Paul's R.C. Church in Maison Dieu Road.

 

WORK HOUSE

A short distance up the river above Peter Street bridge is Catherine's Place. Here, until 1836, was located St. Mary’s Poor House. Prom the year 1725 the poor of St. Marys Parish were housed in an old building at the Pier which, being beyond repair, in the year 1795 the inhabitants, in vestry, then resolved to purchase under the powers of the Poor Relief Act, 1782, a large piece of land on the banks of the Dour, just below Bridge Street, and to build there a Poor House for the poor of the parish, who then numbered more than all the destitute in the parishes of the River Union. Around the Poor House was a large piece of garden ground to employ the inmates.

This Poor House, which a writer in 1797 remarked presented “a handsome appearance,“ was in use until 1836, and then a new Workhouse for the newly constituted Dover Union having been erected on Buckland Bottom, this old workhouse was closed. At this time the poor sent from St. Mary’s Workhouse to Buckland outnumbered the whole of those from the other 22 parishes of the Union. A year later, on the 15th of September, 1837, the Catherine's Place Poorhouse and the freehold land belonging to it were sold by order of the Poor Law Commissioners, the buildings realizing £1000 and the land, which was set out in building plots, £2363.

 

SITE OF POORHOUSE

It was after this Poorhouse was demolished that the houses in Catherine’s Place, Colebran Street and Brook Street, and the north side of Peter Street, were built. Some of this land abutting on Colebran Street was resold by the original purchasers in 1840, when the west side of Colebran Street was built. The name Colebran has been in Dover since the time of Mr. Issac Minet, Ruth Colebran being one of his clerks, who made money by ventures in privateering. Brook Street, a cul-de-sac extending up to the back of the houses in Branch Street, was built at the same time as Colebran Street. The most conspicuous building in Brook Street was a store which towered above everything. It was originally built by a Mr. Boyce and housed the stables of Messrs. W. R. Mowll and Co.

 

Congregational Church

“No tangible reason could be assigned for this except fashion and the Congregationalists of Dover are to be congratulated on having broken down a rule which debarred them from the use of one of the most elegant styles of architecture used in buildings for public worship,“ said the Dover Express in reporting the official opening in its edition of 9th September.

The foundation stone was laid by Mr G. Forster Clark, on 17th November, 1903, and the topmost stones of the 78ft high tower were laid on 28th July the following year. An unusual feature inside the church was the placing of the pulpit in a central position. The baker’s barrow on the left of this early 20th century picture is that of W. W. Burkett a Biggin Street baker and confectioner. His was the bakery of the Old Woman in Grey in The Ingoldsby Legends.

The new Congregational Church — now United Reformed Church — was welcomed as an additional ornament to the town when it opened in September 1904. “The structure, which has been barely ten months in the building is an entirely new departure in the matter of architecture for noncomformists, no Dover dissenting congregation having previously worshipped in a building of Gothic design.

 

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