© www.dover-kent.co.uk 2000 - 2016 
Home History Defence Transport Leisure Places People Words Information Contact
Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Biggin Street

Biggin Street takes its name from the Biggin Gate in the old  town wall. The street runs from the site of this gate (at the  north-west corner of St Mary’s Churchyard) to the Maison Dieu. The Biggin Gate was demolished in 1762 as the old gateway  was so narrow an 18th century stagecoach could hardly pass  through. Two of the town’s oldest and most historic buildings,  the Maison Dieu and Maison Dieu House, are on Biggin Street,  together with the town’s War Memorial. For centuries Biggin Street was the main road out of the town  to Canterbury and London, although in places it was very  narrow. In the last week of May 1893 a traffic census was taken in the street during which time 9,440 ordinary light and heavy  vehicles, 908 cycles and bath chairs and 446 horses, passed  along the street. Of this 10,794, all passed through the  narrowest part of the street, 6,749 continued up past the  Maison Dieu, with the remaining 4,045 turning up Folkestone  Road. This number would not have been so bad if it was spread  evenly over the day but most of the traffic was crowded into  two hours every day. The street was so narrow in places that a hand cart parked in  the road or a goods vehicle delivering to a shop could cause a  line of traffic to build up the length of the street. The decision  was made by the Corporation to widen the road by demolishing  the buildings on the western side of the street and rebuilding  further back allowing a more convenient width of road. Many of  these late Victorian buildings survive, and Biggin Street now  forms the main shopping street of the town.
Biggin Street, 1890. Biggin Street before the street widening of the mid 1890s. On the right can be seen the corner of St Mary's Churchyard. The buildings on the left were demolished in the street widening. This was the site of Biggin Gate. Biggin Street c.1905. A tram can be seen coming through the recently widened stretch from St Mary's Church. Biggin Street in the early 1940s. This photo was taken during the Second World War - note the sticky tape on the windows of the Co-op department store to help prevent flying glass in the event of bomb blast. Biggin Street in 1965. This view with the traffic and parked cars seems strange to modern eyes used to the present pedestrian precinct. Back to Streets Index