Harbour House and the Tonkin Liu Artworks at Sunrise, Dover Seafront, Kent, UK

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John Latter on September 6, 2011

The white Harbour House and the Tolkin Liu sculptures imbued with the golden glow of a rising sun at 6.59 am on Thursday, 1st of September, 2011 (1).

Harbour House

Dover Harbour Board's Harbour House, occuping the western section of Waterloo Crescent, is a Grade II Dover Listed Building designed by the architect, Philip Hardwick and built between 1834-1838 (2). See Golden Panorama of the Victorian Waterloo Crescent at Sunrise, Dover Harbour for the full listing text.

Harbour House is located on Marine Parade at the western end of the seafront promenade, or esplanade.

Information leaflets about the cruise ships calling at the Admiralty Pier in the Western Docks can be obtained from reception. DHB also operate the Eastern Docks (the ferry terminal).

Full postal address: The Port of Dover, Harbour House, Marine Parade, Dover, CT17 9BU. Telephone: +44 (0) 1304 240 400, Fax: +44 (0) 1304 240 465.

The flag flying above left-hand end of Harbour House carries the logo for the Port of Dover, I don't know if the flag has a formal name.

The Port of Dover is the cross-English Channel port situated in Dover, south-east England. It is the nearest English port to France, at just 34 kilometres (21 miles) away, and one of Europe's largest passenger ports, with 14 million travellers, 2.1 million lorries, 2.8 million cars and motorcycles and 86,000 coaches passing through it each year, with an annual turnover of GBP 58.5 million a year. (3)

The port has been owned and operated by the Dover Harbour Board, a statutory corporation, since it was formed by Royal Charter in 1606 by James I. Most of the board members are appointees of the Department of Transport. (3)

The port has its own private police force, the Port of Dover Police. (3)

The port claims to be the world's busiest passenger port. (3)

Excerpt from a June 2011 BBC news report (4):

Plans to privatise Dover port and set up a community trust have been discussed at a public meeting.

Dover Harbour Board, which has run Dover as a trust since 1606, sought permission from the government to privatise it last year.

The board held a meeting in the Kent town to seek views on how a community trust would be run.

Residents in the town have already voted in favour of a rival "People's Port" bid by Dover People’s Port Trust.

Excerpts from the Public General Acts of 1861 (5):

An Act to facilitate the Construction and Improvement of Harbours by authorizing Loans to Harbour Authorities; to abolish Passing Tolls; and for other Purposes.

This Act may be cited for all purposes as "The Harbours and Passing Tolls, etc. Act, 1861."

Forty one: From and after the passing of this Act, the harbour of Dover and the soil thereof, and all property, real and personal, vested in the warden and assistants of the harbour of Dover in the county of Kent, or in any person in trust for the purposes of the said harbour, with their actual and reputed appurtenances, subject to all liabilities affecting the same, shall be transferred to and vested in a board of trustees, to be called "The Dover Harbour Board," constituted as hereinafter mentioned; and the said Dover Harbour Board shall be a body corporate, with a perpetual succession and a common seal, and having a capacity to hold lands subject to the provisions of this Act.

A Victorian resident of the western section of Waterloo Crescent is mentioned in an 1870-1873 Society of Antiquaries of London journal (6):

The Rev. F. J. RAWLINS, F.S.A. exhibited, by the kind permission of Lieutenant-Colonel C. J. Cox, of 29, Waterloo Crescent, Dover, some human bones and flint chips found in a tumulus (7) near Walmer, Kent.

This tumulus (Lieut.-Col. Cox reports) is situated on the elevated downs between Dover and Walmer, near St. Margaret's Bay, and about half a mile distant from the tumuli recently opened by C. H. Woodruff, Esq. It measured about 24 feet in diameter, and 2 feet in height at the centre.

The Tonkin Liu Artworks, or Sculptures

Meandering across the pebble-strewn beach in the foreground is the Lifting Wave, part of three artworks called "Lifting Wave, Resting Wave, and Lighting Wave" designed by London-based architects, Tonkin Liu and officially opened in 2010.

Across the promenade above the beach is part of the rib-walled undulating Resting Wave, topped by three of the sixteen "light towers" of the Lighting Wave. The whole is described in a 2010 Dover District Council and Kent County Council newsletter (8):

The Lifting Wave is a series of sculptural ramps and stairs that rise and fall to connect the beach to the Esplanade.

The Resting Wave is a sculptural retaining wall that provides sheltered spaces with weathered oak benches.

The Light Wave is a sculptural line of white columns bringing improved lighting and safety. The lighting can be controlled to create a dynamic wave movement.

A more comprehensive description can be found on this Architecture Today webpage which states:

Lifting Wave, Resting Wave, Lighting Wave harnesses the architectural language of Doverʼs identity, evoking the gentle nature of waves on the sheltered beach, the rhythmical sweep of the Georgian seafront terrace and the topography of the White Cliffs.

The design has won an award from the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA):

The Dover seafront has been transformed by artworks that take the form of three waves gently washing up against the sheltered beach. The Lifting wave is a repeating form of curving white concrete ramps and staircases that rise and fall to connect the Esplanade to the lower shingle beach. The Resting wave is a second sculptural white concrete wall made up of a series of moulded curves. The recesses house oak benches, the promontories raised lawns. The third wave is the Lighting wave. The lighting columns rise and fall like froth on the bubbling crest of a wave.

These deceptively effortless interventions lend this shore line path a true sense of place and of fun.

Also see:

The Tonkin Liu Artworks or Sculptures at Sunrise, Dover Seafront

Elsewhere in the photo

Immediately behind Harbour House is the non-tidal Wellington Dock (with its swan-necked Fairbairn Crane) of Dover Marina.

The hills are the Western Heights, location of the Court’s Folly (Dover's "Lost Castle"), the Cowgate Cemetery Nature Reserve, and the Grand Shaft (part of an extensive Napoleonic and Victorian "Forgotten Fortress").

Geology (9)

A pebble is a clast of rock with a particle size of 4 to 64 millimetres based on the Krumbein phi scale of sedimentology. Pebbles are generally considered to be larger than granules (2 to 4 millimetres diameter) and smaller than cobbles (64 to 256 millimetres diameter). A rock made predominantly of pebbles is termed a conglomerate. Pebble tools are among the earliest known man-made artifacts, dating from the Palaeolithic period of human history.

A beach composed chiefly of surface pebbles is commonly termed a shingle beach. This type of beach has armoring characteristics with respect to wave erosion, as well as ecological niches which can provide habitat for animals and plants.


(1) The photo was taken during my early morning cycle ride: two laps of Robsons Yard - Eastern Docks - Prince of Wales Pier - Robsons Yard.

(2) The architecture of Waterloo Crescent can be described as Victorian or Georgian. From the wikipedia entry for Georgian architecture:

Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover - George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United Kingdom, and George IV of the United Kingdom - who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830.

(3) Wikipedia entry for the Port of Dover

(4) Dover Harbour Board holds meeting over port plans (21st of June, 2011)

(5) A Compendious Abstract of the Public General Acts of the United Kingdom 1859-1861 (Proprietors of the Law Journal Reports, 1861).

(6) "Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London" November 17th, 1870, to April 3, 1873, Second Series, Volume 5.

(7) Extract from Tumulus:

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds, Hügelgrab or kurgans, and can be found throughout much of the world.

In Britain, barrows of a wide range of types were in widespread use for burying the dead from the late Neolithic until the end of the Bronze Age, 2900-800BC.

(8) Dover District Council and Kent County Council @ your service ISSUE 39 SPRING/SUMMER 2010: "The Newsletter for Dover District residents incorporating Kent County Council’s Around Kent pages."

(9) Wikipedia entry for Pebble

Click to see all Dover Beach, Harbour, and Seafront photos.

A Dover Architecture and Urban Dover history photo.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on September 10, 2011

The Dover Marina Hotel and Spa and the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club (the other two sections of Waterloo Crescent) are out of shot to the right).

Paulo Yuji Takarada on September 23, 2011

É uma visão espetacular da arquitetura, parabéns pelo registro. F1 Saudações e tenha um excelente final de semana, de Dourados - Mato Grosso do Sul - Brasil

John Latter on September 23, 2011

Paulo Yuji Takarada, on Sepember 23rd, 2011, said:

É uma visão espetacular da arquitetura, parabéns pelo registro. F1 Saudações e tenha um excelente final de semana, de Dourados - Mato Grosso do Sul - Brasil

Thank you, Paulo. I hope you enjoy your weekend, too - Greetings from Dover, England!

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on September 6, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/09/01 06:59:17
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 31.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash