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.
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.
Discover the history of the cliffs
The geology of the cliffs is a surprising story that unfolds over millions of years. From the smallest of creatures to the drama of cliff falls, see how time has shaped the landscape.
Langdon Convict Prison has left almost no traces, but in its heyday in the late 19th century it housed 102 prisoners on 20 acres of Dover’s cliffs. It was open only for 12 years, until 1896, although the work cost nearly £6 million in today’s money.
The cliffs were on the frontline in both world wars and, with France just 21 miles away, the White Cliffs of Dover became a crucial part of the British defences.
The ropeway was designed to deliver coal to the port for export. Railway transport was expensive, so the aerial ropeway was built to take coal to Dover Harbour, an innovative solution to a logistical problem.