Setting Out

LINKS to other pages in the Annecy and Mont Blanc website and to the Travelling Days series:

1 : Introduction and Index
2 : Setting Out
3 : Beaune
4 : Annecy
5 : Mont Blanc and Mer de Glace
6 : Aix-les-Bains and Lac du Bourget
7 : Homeward Bound
8 : Paris

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Information on this and subsequent pages was obtained from Wikipedia and other tourist and history sites. Information on this page was also obtained from the Dover Harbour Board website.

In 1606 a Royal Charter was granted creating the Dover Harbour Board to administer the harbour. Through the 17th and 18th centuries a constant battle against the blocking of the harbour by shingle was fought, with numerous pleas to Parliament for funds to help pay for the work. What was really need was a jetty to the west of the harbour entrance that reached out into deep water to stop the shingle piling up against it and creeping around the end to block the harbour. The massive outer harbour we can see today owes its origin to a recommendation made in 1845 to construct a harbour of refuge capable of handling up to 20 large naval vessels.

A start was made in enclosing the bay, beginning with the south-western quarter because of its vulnerability to storms. The Admiralty Pier was begun in 1847 and by 1850 had reached 650ft from the shore, ending the menace of drifting shingle. Extension work continued until 1875 when the Admiralty, put off by the cost, lost interest in the harbour of refuge. Dover Harbour Board then decided to complete the inner harbour itself and began the Prince of Wales Pier in 1892, only for the government to decide to complete the outer harbour, which it did in 1909.

It is within this square mile of enclosed water that subsequent development has taken place. In the Western Docks the "railway age" harbour developed with the new Marine Station opening in 1920 and the Train Ferry Dock in 1936. In the 1950s the Eastern Docks started to be developed for the growing roll-on roll-off car ferry services. In the late 1960s a regular hovercraft service was started from a purpose built hoverport.

As the car ferry services increased the Eastern Docks continued to expand. In the 1970s the hoverport moved to the Western Docks increasing available space for ferry berths. As the numbers of train passengers declined the Marine Station closed and was redeveloped in 1994/5 as a cruise liner terminal. This terminal was so successful that in 2000 a second cruise terminal opened.

In the inner harbour too, as traditional commercial shipping use declined, the Harbour Board has encouraged new uses with the successful Marina development in the Granville and Wellington Docks and the De Bradelei Wharf retail development.

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After the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, William the Conqueror and his forces marched to Westminster Abbey for his coronation. From the Cinque Ports's foundation in 1050, Dover has always been a chief member.

In the words of William of Poitiers: 'Then he marched to Dover, which had been reported impregnable and held by a large force. The English, stricken with fear at his approach had confidence neither in their ramparts nor in the numbers of their troops ... While the inhabitants were preparing to surrender unconditionally, [the Normans], greedy for booty, set fire to the castle and the great part of it was soon enveloped in flames...[William then paid for the repair and] having taken possession of the castle, the Duke spent eight days adding new fortifications to it'.

This may have been repairs and improvements to an existing Saxon fort or burgh, centred on the Saxon church of St Mary de Castro, although archaeological evidence suggests that it was actually a new motte and bailey design castle built from scratch nearby.

It was during the reign of Henry II that the castle began to take recognisable shape. The inner and outer baileys and the great Keep belong to this time. Maurice the Engineer was responsible for building the keep[citation needed]. The keep was one of the last rectangular keeps ever built.

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Massive rebuilding of Dover took place at the end of the eighteenth century during the Napoleonic Wars.

William Twiss, the Commanding Engineer of the Southern District, as part of his brief to improve the town's defences, completed the remodelling of the outer defences of Dover Castle. Twiss also constructed Canon's Gateway to link the defences of the castle with those of the town.

With Dover becoming a garrison town, there was a need for barracks and storerooms for the additional troops and their equipment. The solution adopted by Twiss and the Royal Engineers was to create a complex of barracks tunnels about 15 metres below the cliff top and the first troops were accommodated in 1803. At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, the tunnels housed more than 2000 men and to date are the only underground barracks ever built in Britain.

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 saw the tunnels converted first into an air-raid shelter and then later into a military command centre and underground hospital. In May 1940, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey directed the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk, code-named Operation Dynamo, from his headquarters in the cliff tunnels.

Later the tunnels were to be used as a shelter for the Regional Seats of Government in the event of a nuclear attack. This plan was abandoned for various reasons, including the realisation that the chalk of the cliffs would not provide significant protection from radiation, and because of the inconvenient form of the tunnels and their generally poor condition.

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Cap Blanc Nez, literally "Cape White Nose" in English, was a cape on the Côte d'Opale, in the Pas-de-Calais department. The cliffs of chalk are very similar to the white cliffs of Dover.

Cap Blanc Nez (right) is no longer a cape but a cliff that is topped by an obelisk commemorating the Dover Patrol which kept the Channel free from U-boats during World War I.

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Virtually the entire town of Calais was destroyed by heavy bombardments during World War II, so there is little that pre-dates the war. For most visitors, the town is simply a place to pass through en route to other destinations.

The town centre is dominated by its distinctive hotel de ville (town hall), built in the Flemish Renaissance style and visible well out to sea.

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The first night in France was spent at the Novotel Hotel situated close to the airport in Troyes.

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The Restaurant (left).

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The hotel bar (right).