Dover
Lock and Key of the Kingdom

The Marine Station
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Image:  Dover Marine Station 1921.
Dover Marine Station 1921.

In the early 1860’s the South Eastern Railway and the London Chatham and Dover Railway had started running trains onto the Admiralty Pier to connect with their cross-Channel steamers. There was little protection on the narrow platform and in stormy weather passengers and trains alike got soaked by waves breaking over the pier. What was needed was a purpose build station, with a roof!

In 1909 work started on reclaiming the land on which to build the Marine Station. The Admiralty Pier was built in a curve and a wall was constructed a short distance from the pier, straight across the curve to the original, pre-extension pier head. The area between the wall and the pier was reclaimed using chalk quarried from the cliffs.

The magnificent Marine Station had just been completed in 1914 when the First World War broke out, so its first passengers were troops on their way to Flanders and the sick and wounded returning from the front. In recognition of the part it played in war transport, the war memorial of the South Eastern & Chatham Railway was placed there rather than at one of the large London termini.

The Marine Station opened to civilian Continental traffic in January 1920 with a full passenger service by February 1922. As well as the constant stream of ordinary boat trains carrying passengers to and from the continent, the station also saw special services such as the luxury Pullman train “Golden Arrow”. Also before the advent of safe, reliable air travel, Dover was the port of entry for most VIPs from the continent, with the Marine Station welcoming European royalty and heads of state.

The Station played its part in World War 2 handling the hundreds of special trains for the Dunkirk evacuation and suffering much bomb and shell damage.

After the war passenger services returned but as the car ferry services increased the number rail passengers crossing the channel fell.

In 1994 the Marine Station closed to rail traffic and in 1996, after a major refurbishment, re-opened as Dover’s new Cruise Liner Terminal.

 

Image:  The Marine Station in 1921.
The Marine Station in 1921.

Image:  Damage to the station in World War 2.
Damage to the station in World War 2.

 


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