Located in the corner of Southeast England in the county of Kent, Dover is a major port town for the area and indeed the UK’s premier ferry port. It is also the administrative centre for the entire Dover District Council area.
Dover’s prominence as a port city is not a recent development. In fact, recent archaeological discoveries have shown that people coming into and departing from Britain have always used Dover extensively.
Dover got its name from the River Dour, which was later Latinized into “Dubris,” and later evolved into Dover, we find Dover being used by at least the 1600s.
Surrounding Dover are some beautiful chalk cliffs, which create a kind of gateway to the Dover port. Nearby is also the Strait of Dover, a narrow sea passage.
Because Dover is so close to France, it has historically been of significant importance to Britain from a strategic point of view. Some archaeological discoveries show that, as far back as the Stone Age, there were people in this area. By the Bronze Age, we see a strong maritime influence already emerging.
Today, services related to Dover’s port are responsible for a large amount of the city’s employment. In previous years, ferry services provided much of this employment, although recently, these ferry services have declined. As a result, unemployment has risen above other areas of Kent; Dover also has a strong tourism industry.
The English Channel finds its narrowest point at the Straits of Dover, the Channel is the world’s busiest shipping lane, and much of that prosperity flows straight through Dover. Ferries crossing between the continent and Dover must navigate through a constant influx of shipping traffic crossing through their paths.
To help control this traffic, the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme designates separate lanes for ships when they pass through the strait. This Scheme is monitored and controlled by HM Customs’ Maritime and Coastguard Agency, headquartered in Langdon Battery at Dover.
Also making heavy use of the Port of Dover are cruise ship passengers as well as the former Dover Marine Railway Station.
Currently, the following ferry operators use the Port of Dover, P & O Ferries, MyFerryLink and DFDS Seaways (ferries to Calais), and DFDS Seaways (ferries to Dunkirk). Sailing times to Calais are from just 80 minutes and 2 hours between Dover and Dunkirk.
Dover will likely never become a major metropolis; there is no desire for that, really. But as long as Nature provides it with an important sea route, it will remain crucial for Britain’s future.