The tramway at the White Cliffs of Dover

A view of the tramway cut at the White Cliffs in 1912 © National Trust/Dover Musuem

A view of the tramway cut at the White Cliffs in 1912

The tramway cut, a wide, gently sloping ramp constructed in 1911-12 is a striking feature of the White Cliffs of Dover, located halfway between sea-level and the visitor centre. Built to extend the existing Dover tramway to the neighbouring villages of St Margaret’s and Martin Mill, the tramway cut provided a gentle slope to raise trams from the promenade to the cliff top above.

Unfinished project

The works produced a huge amount of chalk spoil that needed to be removed. This was pushed down to sea-level, loaded into barges and towed across the harbour where it was then used to infill an area next to the Admiralty pier, which was being widened at the time. Once the contractors had all of the chalk infill that they required for this project the tramway was seen as unimportant and was never completed.

A benefit for nature

When the chalk was removed the area of the cut was left without any landscaping. This provided an ideal place for rare chalk grassland plants to establish themselves and today the tramway is one of the best places to see a variety of rare orchids, which are thriving there.