Saturday, 15 October 2011

Lord Warden House at Daybreak, Admiralty Pier, Western Docks, Dover, Kent, UK

A zoomed view from 600 yards of the former Lord Warden Hotel, a Grade II Dover Listed Building, situated at the landward end of the Admiralty Pier in the Western Docks of Dover Harbour:

Listed Building: ex-Lord Warden Hotel, ex-Royal Navy's HMS Wasp Shore Station in World War II. Cruise Terminal I was Dover Marine Railway Station. View: St Martin's Battery (coastal artillery), Western Heights.
(Click this Lord Warden House text link to see the largest size)

Notes on the architect and architecture begin at HISTORY and MATERIALS, respectively.

Lord Warden House appears in the Western Docks at Night photo (left).

The three-arched structure behind Lord Warden House began life as Dover Town Rail Station (alt. Dover Town Railway Station, Dover Town Train Station). It then became Dover Marine Rail Station and finally, Dover Western Docks Rail Station.

Today, it is the Cruise Terminal 1 (CT1) building, the first of three on the Admiralty Pier, and provides a reception area for passengers from the cruise ships that visit Dover throughout the summer season.

This pre-sunrise photo was taken from the Victorian and World War II coastal artillery position known as St Martin's Battery (located on top of the Western Heights cliffs) at 5.40 am on the 25th of August, 2010.

Lord Warden House Listed Building

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Building Details:

Parish: DOVER
District: DOVER
County: KENT


LBS Number: 177742
Grade: II (1)
Date Listed: 17/12/1973
Date Delisted:
NGR: TR3189440330

Listing Text:

Lord Warden House
Former Lord Warden Hotel. 1848-1853 by Samuel Beazley (1786-1851). Early-C20 (C20 = 20th Century) extension to north, C20 interior alterations.

HISTORY: Dover had long been a popular destination for cross-Channel travellers. With the arrival of the railway in 1844, Dover became more convenient for those crossing to and from the Continent, and the location of the Lord Warden Hotel next to the Town Station (2) ensured its success as one of Dover's principal transit hotels.

Samuel Beazley (1786-1851), architect and playwright, was born in London and trained in the office of his uncle, Charles Beazley (c.1760-1829). Samuel Beazley went on to become the leading theatre architect of his time and the first notable English expert in this field. Beazley designed or substantially redesigned seven London theatres including the Lyceum (originally the New Theatre Royal English Opera House) and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His non-theatre work included a variety of commercial, civic and residential commissions; one of his clients being the South Eastern Railway, responsible for bringing the first line in to Dover in 1844, and for whom he built the Lord Warden Hotel.

The hotel attracted rich clientele on their way to and from the Continent. Charles Dickens (3), William Makepeace Thackeray and the deposed Emperor Napoleon III (4) were all guests. The original front elevation was to the north, with a large projecting portico supported on pairs of columns. Between 1866 and 1898 an enclosed walkway was constructed to link the Town Station with the west entrance to the hotel, and between 1898 and 1907 the whole of the north side of the building was extended out and the north elevation rebuilt as a side elevation. The west elevation became the principal elevation.

During the Second World War the hotel was taken over by the Royal Navy, becoming known as HMS Wasp. It was the headquarters for the Coastal Force, made up of motor torpedo boats, motor gun boats and air-sea rescue craft. This was where the crews were billeted and the signal section, plotting rooms and offices were located.

Since the war the building has been used as offices for the Southern Region of British Rail (being re-named Southern House), HM Customs and Excise, the shipping line Stena, and since 1999, when the building was bought by Dover Harbour Board and re-named Lord Warden House, by freight agents.

MATERIALS: Stuccoed exterior with slate roof and timber sliding sash windows.

PLAN: Near square plan with a central well. Principal entrance to the west. Open-well stair to centre of north side.

EXTERIOR: Four storeys with single storey range to south. Early-C20 (C20 = 20th Century) extension to the north with four storeys plus mezzanine. The extension extends the east and west elevations to the north by two bays. A low boundary wall runs along the south and east elevations.

The building has a parapet with dropped bracketed cornice and a band of Vitruvian scrolls beneath third floor windows to east, west and south elevations, and a cornice to north. First floor window heads have cornices on brackets and ballustrading. The ground floor is rusticated with round-headed windows. A modillioned cornice runs above the ground floor windows, to the north it follows the curve of the round heads of the mezzanine level windows. Windows are six-over-six sliding sashes, three-over-three on the third floor.

To the west elevation a portico supported on Tuscan columns marks the main entrance into the building. To the south a single storey range runs across almost the full width of the elevation and is detailed to match the ground floor of the main building. There is a central porch with pediment that protrudes in line with the boundary wall.

INTERIOR: Some elements of the original ground floor interiors survive, in particular decorative plasterwork and joinery. There have been a number of alterations to the internal layout and some parts of the building have been modernised for office use.

The building is entered from the west into a lower lobby with a modern internal screen. A short flight of steps, flanked by marble Ionic columns, leads to an upper lobby from which hallways run to left and right. Decorative plaster cornices and wall and ceiling panels survive. To the centre of the north side of the building is an open-well staircase with decorative cast-iron balusters and a hardwood handrail. A pair of Ionic columns and pilasters at ground floor level to the south of the stairwell, and a pair of marble Tuscan columns and pilasters at mezzanine level to the north of the stairwell, support moulded lintels and possibly once framed views through large internal spaces.

A modern lift shaft runs up the centre of the stairwell. The rich interior of the ballroom to the east side of the building is largely complete, with marble floor, wainscot, Ionic columns and chimneypieces. Decorative plasterwork on the walls and ceiling survive. There is some simple modern subdivision.

SOURCES: Colonel B E Arnold, Conflict Across the Strait (1982), p155
Dover Terminal 2 Historic Environment Baseline Report, Maritime Archaeology Ltd (2008)
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Entry for Samuel Beazley.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Lord Warden House, the former Lord Warden Hotel, Dover, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
  • Lord Warden House is an imposing example of a purpose-built railway hotel, which retains much of its original fabric and character, built at a time when railway transport was revolutionising the opportunity for travel.
  • The grandeur of the building and it's rich interior decoration reflect the wealth and status of the clientele it was intended to, and did, attract, and the importance of Dover as a primary route between England and the Continent.
  • Dover was a strategic port during the Second World War and the use of the Lord Warden Hotel as HMS Wasp, headquarters of the Coastal Force, associates the building directly with this major international conflict.

Source: English Heritage.

ADDITIONAL HISTORY: Louis Bleriot made the first air-crossing of the English Channel on Sunday 25th July 1909 and then visited the Lord Warden Hotel:

On Sunday 25th July 1909, Louis Charles Joseph Bleriot (1872 - 1936), aviator, inventor and engineer, made first flight across the English Channel from Sangatte in France to Northfall Meadow, Dover Castle, England.
When Bleriot climbed out of his cockpit, he was embraced with Gallic fervor by two Frenchmen, and photographed with the correspondent not from the Daily Mail but from Le Matin - together with the flag of France prominently displayed.

...But the British had Bleriot in tow moments after this display of chauvinism. After breakfast at the Lord Warden Hotel, he was approached by three authorities from the customs house, who - in the best traditions of their office - solemnly asked him if he had anything to declare. On answering in the negative, the flyer was granted clearance by an immigration officer in the following historic terms:

"I certify I have examined Louis Bleriot, master of a vessel, Monoplane, lately arrived from Calais, and that it appears by the verbal answers of the said master to the questions put to him that there has not been on board during the voyage any infectious disease demanding detention of the vessel, and that she is free to proceed"

Bleriot proceeded to London, where, through endless festivities, he was cheered, applauded, and praised.

Hidden in the countryside behind Dover Castle:


(1) Grade II: buildings that are "nationally important and of special interest".
(2) Also see:

(3) Other photos whose captions mention Charles Dickens include:

To be uploaded:

David Copperfield and the Dickens Corner Cafe (Market Square)
Charles Dickens and Pilot's Meadow (Adrian Street)
Indian Mutiny Memorial, Charles Dickens, Roman Empire (Seafront)

(4) Emperor Napoleon III, first President of the French Republic, gave a volutionary contribution to St Mary's Primary School (then Dover National School) where I was once a pupil.
(5) From Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators (Henry Villard, 2002)

The main photo first appeared at:

Lord Warden House at Daybreak, St Martin's Battery, Western Heights, Dover

Also see:

Victorian Lord Warden House, ex-Hotel and HMS Wasp Shore Station, Dover (not yet available)

Click to see photos of Dover Listed Buildings and English Heritage locations.

All photos relating to trains and rail transport first appear under the Railway tag.

A Dover Architecture, Harbour, and History photo.

Clickable thumbnails of all harbour-related photos from the main Panoramio Images of Dover website are available on this blog at Port of Dover Page (also linked to at the top below the blog title).

The main site Panoramio photos are each accompanied by a Google Earth satellite map. However, the images are smaller than those on the Images of Dover Blog and the captions are less well formatted.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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