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The River Dour

The river Dour is about four miles long with its main source at  Watersend, near Temple Ewell. An estate map of 1774 shows a  tributary coming in from the Alkham Valley but all that now  remains of this stream are the lakes at Bushy Ruff, from where  the stream flows into the main river at Kearsney Abbey.  Sometimes though, at times of particularly heavy rain, this  stream runs again, flowing over the fields to feed the Bushy  Ruff lakes once more. From Kearsney Abbey the Dour flows on  through the town until it reaches the Wellington Dock and then  flows into the sea. It is to the Dour that Dover owes its existence. The valley cut  by the river through the chalk cliffs provided shelter to the  earliest settlers. The discovery of the Bronze Age Boat shows  that the valley has been inhabited for at least 3550 years. In  Roman times the wide estuary of the Dour made a convenient  harbour, and for a while the Roman fleet in Britain was based  here. The estuary was quite wide up to the time of the Norman  Conquest but over the years it silted up and the harbour moved  to the west of the river's mouth. It seems likely that the name of the town and the river come  from the same root, although the two have parted company  down the centuries as pronunciation and spelling changed. The Dour has had an industrial use since at least AD 762, when  the first written record of a Dover corn mill was made. This  mill, probably at Buckland, was also the first recorded mill in  Britain. Over the years the Dour has supplied the energy for  thirteen watermills, of which eight were corn mills, the others  producing paper. The river has been a source of power or water for other industries, including iron foundries, saw mills and a  tannery.
The Dour. The lakes at Bushy Ruff The Dour. Flowing through Pencester Gardens. The Dour. The arch where the Dour flows into the Wellington Dock, visible in 2011 when the dock was drained for maintenance. The Dour. Chitty's Flour Mill at Charlton c.1910. The Dour. Buckland Bridge c.1905. Back to Areas Index