Dover is a town on the south-east coast of England, in the county of Kent. The town has a population of just over 28,000 and dates back to the Stone Age. Due to its position, facing France across the English Channel, Dover was important as a point of communication and defence between Britain and France, and relics show a maritime influence as early as the Bronze Age. Its name derives from the River Dour which flows through the town, but it also held the ancient name of Albion, meaning ‘white’, due to the iconic chalk cliffs. The ‘White Cliffs of Dover’ have been voted Britain’s most popular stretch of coastline and were the subject of Vera Lynn’s popular World War II song.
One of the Medieval Cinque Ports (five south-east coast ports which were instrumental in Britain’s overseas trade and military action), it was a notable defence during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II. In the nineteenth century, the population of the town grew by 600% and it attempted to establish itself as a seaside resort to rival popular holiday destinations like Chatham. After the heavy defences built during the war, however, Dover was destined to remain a commercial and military port – the barracks closed finally in 2007. The Port of Dover provides many cross-channel ferry services to France and is the town’s main employer, although tourism also plays a part in the town’s economy.