Victorian Colour Photo of the Admiralty Pier, Dover Harbour, Kent, England, UK

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

This 2100-foot section built 1847-1872 terminating in Admiralty Pier Turret with 2 Armstrong muzzle-loading 81 ton guns. A 2000-foot extension and new lighthouse then built 1898-1909. Area on left reclaimed and Dover Marine Railway station built 1909. English Channel and coastal (Hastings, Ramsgate) paddle steamers. Port of Dover Listed Building, History, Travel, and Tourism.

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Comments (3)

John Latter on March 30, 2013

Derived from a United States Library of Congress photomechanical print dated circa 1890-1900.


Modern views of the Admiralty Pier include:

Sunrise over the English Channel and Dover Harbour


MS Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship at Sunrise, Dover Harbour


Panorama of MS Balmoral Cruise Ship and Admiralty Pier, Dover Harbour

The Victorian photo was taken from the Lord Warden Hotel (the Royal Navy's HMS Wasp during World War II ). See:

Former HMS Wasp Shore Station seen from St Martin’s Battery at Daybreak


A Dramatic Sky and the Lord Warden House under Snow

The Admiralty PIer

The following abridged notes are © Crown Copyright and are reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Admiralty Pier was begun in 1847 to form the western arm of Dover Harbour. The idea was to form a large national harbour of which Admiralty Pier was deigned to be only one part, the direct outcome of a third Royal Commission of 1845. The other parts of the scheme were never executed. Admiralty Pier was designed by the distinguished marine engineer James Walker (1781-1862) and his pupil partner Alfred Burges (1797-1886) and completed after his death by Sir John Robinson McClean FRS (1813-1873). Sir John Hawkshaw (1811-1891), engineer to the Harbour Commissioners, also had a design input. The contractors were Henry Lee and Sons and the work was executed in stages under three successive contracts. By 1850 the pier had solved Dover Harbour's ancient problem of shingle drifting eastwards. In 1861, the South Eastern Railway extended their line onto the still unfinished Admiralty Pier for the interchange with continental ferries and from 1864 the London, Chatham and Dover line also ran onto the pier. There were two parallel railway tracks, belonging to two railway companies before their merger in 1899. By 1872 the structure was 2,100 feet long.

In the beginning granite was used but later on concrete blocks were used below the water. The Admiralty Pier was the first marine structure in the country in which pre-cast concrete blocks were used. In the mid-C19 most breakwaters were constructed using the "pierre perdu" method (French, "lost stones": ie stones thrown in at random) but this was a notable example of a solid masonry structure with straight sides. It included a lighthouse at the south-east end, and in 1882 a circular gun turret was constructed at this end containing twin Armstrong muzzle-loading 81 ton guns. The guns, originally steam-driven, were the only steam powered guns ever possessed by the coastal artillery in Britain. By the end of the 1890s the advent of breach loading made these guns obsolete.

In 1909 emplacements for 2 inch breach loaders were constructed on either side with accomodation for gun detachments. In 1940-1 a Bofors light anti-aircraft gun was mounted on it. The ordnance was removed in 1944 and the store and accomodation buildings demolished in 1958.

Between 1898-1909 Admiralty Pier was extended by a further 2000 feet as the western arm of Admiralty Harbour, which also included the Eastern Arm and the Southern Breakwater. The Admiralty Harbour was designed to provide a protected anchorage for the naval fleet and increase the protection of the already existing commercial harbour. Admiralty Harbour was constructed by the firm of Coode, Son and Mathews, the successor firm to Sir John Coode, probably the greatest harbour engineer of the C19 (19th century) . The lighthouse, shown as disused on the 1907 map, was moved to the extreme end of the pier extension where it is first shown on the 1937 Ordnance Survey sheet. In 1909 the pier structure was widened at the landward end in order to build Dover Marine Railway Station for the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Co. Guns were provided in concrete emplacements, with searchlights in boom defences to defend the entrance into the harbour between the Admiralty Pier and the Southern Breakwater. During the First World War, Dover and its harbour formed one of the most important military centres in Britain. Troops and equipment were sent from Dover Harbour to the trenches, and the harbour was a haven for warships and submarines. Dover Harbour operated the Dover Patrol (see Georgian Home of Charles Lightoller, ex-RMS Titanic, and the Dover Patrol), consisting of about forty warships, motor boats and fishing vessels which kept control of the English Channel. In 1926 it was decided that the Admiralty Harbour had limited military use and it was decided to hand it, including the Admiralty Pier, to the Dover Harbour Board for administration as a commercial undertaking.

The widened landward end of the pier for the Marine Railway Station is first shown on the 1937 Ordnance Survey map. During the Second World War, Dover Harbour was particularly important in the Dunkirk evacuation as 200,000 men were returned from Dunkirk to Dover in eight days. After 1945, the navy withdrew. More recently part of the Admiralty Pier extension has been widened in order to build a Cruise terminal.

Source: English Heritage.

The Victorian Colour Photos

This is number six in a series of six. Two show views of Dover Castle:

Victorian Colour Photo of Dover Castle from Connaught Park, United Kingdom


Victorian Colour Photo of Connaught Park and Dover Castle, Kent, England, UK

One shows a close-up of the iconic cliffs:

Victorian Colour Photo of the White Cliffs of Dover, United Kingdom

Another shows the White Cliffs of Dover on the other side of town to the above (and explains the connection between this particular landmark and William Shakespeare's play, King Lear):

Victorian Colour Photo of Shakespeare Cliff, Dover, United Kingdom

Last, but not least:

Victorian Colour Photo of Dover Castle, Seafront, and White Cliffs, United Kingdom

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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

John Latter on March 30, 2013

A Pinterest Old Dover photo of the seaward half of the Admiralty Pier and it's "Admiralty Pier Light":

Pre-World War II English Channel Steamer, Dover Harbour, England

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 30, 2013
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Taken on 2013/03/30 03:51:59