26 October 2016
26 October 2016
The Goodwin Sands – a massive sand bank in the English Channel between South Foreland and Ramsgate – have been a hazard to shipping for centuries and there are records of lights on the White Cliffs to warn mariners of the dangers since the 14th century. In 1635 two open-fire braziers were erected at South Foreland and there have been two lighthouses there ever since. In 1793 the Upper Light was converted to use oil lamps and in 1795 the Lower Light was similarly converted. Both lighthouses were purchased by Trinity House in 1832 with alterations being carried out to the Upper Light in 1842 and the Lower Light being totally rebuilt in 1846.
By 1875 South Foreland was equipped with carbon-arc lamps making it the first lighthouse to use electric light. The lighthouse was also later used by Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) as a base for his experiments in radio transmission and it became the first ever site to receive a ship-to-shore radio message and in 1899 it also received the first international radio transmission (from Wimereux, between Calais and Boulogne in France).
By 1904 the Goodwin Sands had shifted by such an extent that the visual alignment of the two lights no longer provided an accurate indication of the location of the sand bank and so the Lower Light was decommissioned. The Upper Light was fully automated in 1969 and it remained in service until 1988 when it too was decommissioned, modern navigational aids having rendered it redundant. The National Trust took over the site in 1989 and opened it to the public in 1990.
26 October 2016
Concrete sound mirrors were developed in Britain to provide early warning of approaching aircraft. The dish-shaped acoustic reflectors focused sound waves to a point in front of the mirror where a microphone would be placed, or an operator equipped with a stethoscope would be positioned. The technology became obsolete in the 1930s with the advent of radar.
The two 4.5 metre World War I sound mirrors at Fan Bay, the site of which had been filled in in the 1970s, were excavated by the National Trust as part of its restoration of Fan Bay Deep Shelter. An archaeological dig took place in 2014 to find the mirrors and 600 tonnes of spoil was removed to uncover the devices. The guided tour of Fan Bay Deep Shelter includes an opportunity to view the sound mirrors at close quarters.
26 October 2016
In 2012 the National Trust raised £1.2 million to purchase a 0.8-mile-long stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover to fill a gap in the five miles of coastline it already owned, the first stretch having been bought in 1968. The newly acquired section included Fan Bay and a team of 50 National Trust volunteers worked from 2013 to 2015 to clear the deep shelter there, in the process removing 30 tonnes of rubble from the 125 steps down into the shelter and a further 100 tonnes from the tunnels 70 feet (21 metres) below the surface.
During World War II the site of two World War I sound mirrors at Fan Bay was chosen as the location of a new artillery battery comprising three six-inch guns. The facility was constructed in 1940-41 and the deep shelter was excavated to serve as a bomb-proof shelter for the station’s personnel.
25 October 2016
Dover Castle – the largest in England – is a Grade I listed building and is owned by English Heritage. Its strategically important location on a clifftop overlooking Dover Strait in the English Channel was the site of an Iron Age hillfort. A lighthouse – the oldest still surviving in the UK – was also built there by the Romans in the 2nd century. Much of the existing castle was built by Henry II in the 12th century. Major additions were built at the end of the 18th century during the Napoleonic Wars and a network of tunnels beneath the clifftop were excavated to serve as barracks to house the extra troops stationed there at that time. During World War II the tunnels housed an underground hospital and a command centre, from where Vice-Admiral Ramsay led Operation Dynamo to rescue British and French troops stranded at Dunkirk.
|Date||11 February 2013|
|Location||Dover, Kent||TR 33802 42150; 51.13086°N, 1.34028°E|
At a distance of 21 miles across the English Channel from France, Dover is Britain’s closest port to continental Europe. Its sheltered location at the mouth of the River Dour has been associated with maritime transport as far back as the Bronze Age, and the Romans built a harbour there — in fact, Dover was the base of the Roman fleet in Britain. The Port of Dover has been owned and operated since 1606 by the Dover Harbour Board, established by Royal Charter by James VI and I. Major improvements, involving the construction of new piers and breakwaters, were started in the 19th century to create a harbour of refuge for the Admiralty’s fleet and to put an end to the centuries-old problems of the harbour silting up with shingle.
The port comprises a square mile of enclosed water. Its Eastern Docks are home to the passenger and freight ferry terminal, while a cruise-liner terminal and marina are located at the Western Docks. At the latter there also used to be a railway station, which closed when the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, and a hoverport, now demolished but which operated a hovercraft service until 2000 and a catamaran service until 2008. Currently there are plans to redevelop the Western Docks to create an additional ferry terminal.
With a throughput of 11.9 million passengers in 2012, Dover claims to be the world’s busiest passenger port. Four ferry companies run services from Dover to Calais and Dunkirk, and there is on average a departure every 30 minutes.
In 2010, the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory body with no shareholders, sought permission to privatise the port. In response to this, the Dover People’s Port Trust was set up by local campaigners with the aim of purchasing the port and running it as a ‘Big Society’-inspired community trust. Local residents voted decisively in favour of these plans in a non-binding referendum in March 2011. In December 2012, the Government tuned down the Board’s application for privatisation.