Dover Eastern Docks – The Advent of Drive on Drive Off (1952-53)

25/02/2017: Page updated - NT

In 2007 it is now over fifty years since motorists were first able to drive their cars on and off ships at Dover. Prior to that historic day, people taking their cars across the Channel watched from the quayside as their cars were crane loaded into the holds of ships.

The Harbour Board began work on the new £700,000 Eastern Docks Terminal within the Camber in October 1951. The area chosen was on reclaimed land at the foot of the Eastern Arm and beneath the chalk cliffs.

The main features were to be – two loading berths, each 400 feet long; the twin portals suspending the loading bridges. The twin links-pans weighed 140 tons and rose and fell automatically with the tide giving a vertical travel of 34’ 9“.………

……..the car transit parks and their approaches, Customs hall and a reception building housing a restaurant and shop, the offices of the shipping companies and motoring organizations, a bank, rest rooms and so on.

Courtesy of Lisa Hudson

Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

  Roy Thornton Collection

Roy Thornton Collection

Building Dover’s first two ferry berths began in 1952 and was completed in the spring of the following year. On June 30th 1953, the then Minister of Transport, the late Rt. Hon. Alan T. Lennox-Boyd, MP, performed the opening ceremony.

  

  

Courtesy of Lisa Hudson

  

Courtesy of Lisa Hudson

  

It was a momentous occasion which has been reflected in the growth of cross Channel traffic ever since. Not just in tourist car traffic but in all forms of vehicles. From motorcycles and coaches through to the present day large freight vehicles.

After the new terminal was opened; it was the DINARD which inaugurated the new service from Dover “East” to Boulogne on July 3rd 1953.

Roy Thornton Collection  Roy Thornton Collection

  

  

  

  

Courtesy of Lisa Hudson

During the summer season, the Car Ferry Terminal would handle up to seven arrivals and seven departures each day and in the first year of opening 100,000 vehicles used numbers 1 & 2 berths.

Matt Murtland Collection  

Roy Thornton Collection

Eastern Docks circa 1950

Roy Thornton Collection

Eastern Docks circa 1960

Eastern Docks circa 1970

The original Nos. 1 and 2 berth portals lasted until 1988 when they were demolished to make way for the Camber reclamation scheme. The Harbour Board crests were carefully removed and were preserved.

© Mark Willis

 © Mark Willis

All information is believed to be correct and no responsibility is accepted for errors and omissions.

Thanks to: Lisa Hudson, Matt Murtland and Mark Wills.

Article © Nigel Thornton (Dover Ferry Photos Group)


1 Comment

  1. Thank you I have just watched a program called Coast. Although they said about the channel convoys of WW2 they never mentioned the [ what I thought ] where sub pens in Dover Harbour. I was convinced I had seen them in the 1960s when I started to drive on the continent, but I must say in 1954/5 we went on a two week holiday with the school and our coach was crained onto the deck of the cross channel ferry
    IT ALSO COST MY DAD £11 FOR THE TWO WEEKS lets see you do that today

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *