Port of Dover

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Port of Dover
Country United Kingdom
Location Dover, Kent, England
Opened 1606
Operated by Dover Harbour Board
Owned by Dover Harbour Board
Available berths 9
Piers 2
Passenger traffic 16,000,000
The Port of Dover, with the Eastern Docks in the foreground and the Western Docks in the distance
The Port of Dover, with the Eastern Docks in the foreground and the Western Docks in the distance.
P&O in Dover

The Port of Dover is the cross-channel port situated in Dover, Kent, south-east England. It is the nearest English port to France, at just 34 kilometres (21 mi) away, and is the world's busiest passenger port, with 16 million travellers, 2.1 million lorries, 2.8 million cars and motorcycles and 86,000 coaches passing through it each year, with an annual turnover of £58.5 million a year.[1]

The port has been owned and operated by the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory corporation, since it was formed by Royal Charter in 1606 by King James I. Most of the board members are appointees of the Department for Transport. The port has its own private police force, the Port of Dover Police.


The Harbour is divided into two sections, the Eastern Docks and the Western Docks, about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) apart.

Eastern Docks[edit]

There are three ferry services to France operating from the nine docks and associated departure buildings of the Eastern Docks:

  • P&O Ferries: 6 ships in service. Up to 29 ferries daily to Calais (motorists and foot passengers).
  • DFDS Seaways: 3 ships in service. Up to 12 ferries daily to Dunkirk (motorists only).
  • DFDS Seaways: 2 ships in service. Up to 10 ferries daily to Calais (motorists only).

The eastern docks also used to be served by the now defunct MyFerryLink, LD Lines and Sea France.

The adjacent freight terminal (with three loading cranes) can be used by a ship of up to 180 metres (590 ft).

Eastern Docks: history[edit]

Dover's eastern docks were used for ship breaking beginning during World War I when the Admiralty began dismantling ships there. The Stanlee Shipbreaking and Salvage Co. Ltd. took over the ship breaking operation commercially in 1920. Many of the ships broken up were naval vessels from the First World War. The company also handled machinery and general scrap, including the dismantling of the Dover Promenade Pier. The yard began to shrink after World War II and was finally forced to close in 1964 to make way for a new car ferry terminal.[2]

In 1966 well over 600,000 accompanied vehicles travelled through Dover's eastern docks en route to France or Belgium.[3]

Western Docks[edit]

The last commercial hovercraft service enters the Western Docks
Container Vessel unloading at Dover Port

This part of the Port is formed by the western arm of the harbour, Admiralty Pier, and its associated port facilities. It was initially used as a terminal for the Golden Arrow and other cross-channel train services (with its own railway station, Dover Marine, later renamed Dover Western Docks) – it was here that the Unknown Warrior was landed. The railway station closed in 1994. The Western Docks were also used from 1968 to the early 2000s for a cross-channel hovercraft service run by Hoverspeed. Hoverspeed also ran catamaran services until being declared bankrupt in 2005. Another catamaran service ran from 2004 until November 2008 run by the single ship of SpeedFerries, SpeedOne, with up to five services daily to Boulogne-sur-Mer. The Hoverport has now been demolished for re-development.

The railway station, with its platforms filled in to create a roofed car park and new buildings added, re-opened as the Dover Cruise Terminal in the 1990s. It can accommodate up to three cruise ships at a time.


In the north Docks, between the cruise terminal and the former Hoverport is the entrance to a boating harbour.


The port is accessible by road from the M20/A20 (leading to Folkestone) and the M2/A2 (to Canterbury), and by train from the town's railway station (Dover Priory is a 20-minute walk away - the port bus no longer runs.[4] From here, there are trains to and from London St Pancras, London Charing Cross, London Victoria, Canterbury East and Ramsgate).

Harbour wall


  1. ^ "A Dover Study - Dover Town Council". Dovertown.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  2. ^ "Stanlee Shipbreaking Yard". Dover Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Cutting out the strain". Milestones, the journal of the IAM. 22nd year of publication: 30–32. Autumn 1967. 
  4. ^ http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?p=2129600

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°07′09″N 1°19′46″E / 51.11917°N 1.32944°E / 51.11917; 1.32944