Port of 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 one of the world's busiest passenger ports, with 11.7 million passengers, 2.6 million lorries, 2.2 million cars and motorcycles and 80,000 coaches passing through it in 2017,[1] with an annual turnover of £58.5 million a year.[2] The Channel Tunnel in nearby Cheriton now takes an estimated 20 million passengers and 1.6 million trucks.

Port of Dover
CountryUnited Kingdom
LocationDover, Kent
Operated byDover Harbour Board
Owned byDover Harbour Board
Available berths8
Passenger traffic11,723,411[1] (2017)
Annual turnover£58.5 million

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

There are three ferry services to France operating from the seven twin-level ferry berths and associated departure buildings of the Eastern Docks:

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

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.[3]

In 1966 well over 600,000 accompanied vehicles travelled through Dover's eastern docks en route to France or Belgium.[4]

Western Docks

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.[5] From here, there are trains from Dover Priory to London St Pancras International via Folkestone Central, Ashford International, Ebbsfleet International, Stratford International as well as trains to London Victoria or London Charing Cross via Canterbury East and the Medway towns such as Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester or via Ashford International then either via Tonbridge and Sevenoaks or Maidstone East. There are trains to Deal and Ramsgate.

See also



  1. "About/Performance". Port of Dover. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  2. "A Dover Study - Dover Town Council". Dovertown.co.uk. Archived from the original on 16 March 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  3. "Stanlee Shipbreaking Yard". Dover Museum. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  4. "Cutting out the strain". Milestones. 22nd year of publication: 30–32. Autumn 1967.
  5. "Day out from Ashford to Boulogne".


  • Hendy, John (1988). Sealink Dover–Calais. Staplehurst, Kent: Ferry Publications. ISBN 978-0951350614.
  • Hendy, John (1991). The Dover–Ostend Line. Staplehurst, Kent: Ferry Publications. ISBN 978-0951350652.
  • Hendy, John (1993). Ferries of Dover. Staplehurst, Kent: Ferry Publications. ISBN 978-0951350690.
  • Hendy, John (1997). Ferry Port Dover: the development of cross-channel vehicle ferries, their services and allied infrastructure. Staplehurst, Kent: Ferry Publications. ISBN 978-1871947472.
  • Hendy, John (2009). Dover-Calais: The Short-Sea Route. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781871947939.
  • Hendy, John (2011). Ferries of Dover: Through Five Decades 1960-2011. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608187.
  • Hendy, John (2016). Dover-Calais. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608743.
  • Paterson, J.D. (1894). By Dover and Calais from early times to the present day. Dover: Printed at the "King's Arms" Printing Works. OCLC 12041086.
  • Pattheeuws, Stephen (2015). The Ostend Ferry: from start to finish. Ramsey, Isle of Man: Ferry Publications. ISBN 9781906608804.

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