Streets of Dover
160 Pages, Softback
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Situated at the mouth of the River Dour, a small chalk stream flowing into the English Channel, Dover always was, and still is, strategically placed at the shortest crossing point to continental Europe. Over the centuries from at least Roman times the river was crucial to Dover's existence, providing a sheltered haven for shipping and a constant source of fresh water as well as power for a variety of industries. The original estuary that the Romans knew became choked with silt and shingle and much of modern Dover is built over the ancient haven. Defended by a succession of Iron Age, Roman, medieval, Napoleonic and later fortifications, the most impressive of them – the extensive medieval castle – still dominates the town from its lofty perch.
Dover fits into the general pattern of town development albeit with its unique geographical position so close to continental Europe. The Romans introduced an urban society and culture to Britain, which declined rapidly after their departure, but the 9th and 10th centuries saw a revival when mints and markets began to play key roles. By 1086 10% of the population is thought to have lived in towns, remaining more or less static for some 500 years. Towns often acquired town walls in medieval times within which were closely set houses fronting directly onto streets. Once population numbers recovered after the Black Death, the 16th century was a time of declining trade with much vagrancy and poverty. From this time on most towns grew continuously either primarily as manufacturing centres, as ports or later as pleasure resorts – some managing to combine all three elements. Overcrowding and problems of urban living were gradually overcome by the 19th and 20th century reform of local government and improvements to sanitation (both water supply and sewage disposal) as well as by slum clearance and rehousing.
Dover is steeped in history, but this book concentrates upon its physical growth and development from earliest times to the present day. It also provides an extensive list of past and present streets in the current Dover Town Council area with information, wherever possible, about their formation (and, where appropriate, their demolition) and an explanation for the name of the road.