In the nineteenth century Dover was a major port and seafaring town. The town's most prosperous industries were ship-building, boat repairing, rope-making and sail making.
Many of the local people were employed in one of these maritime based industries, but Dover's military connections also gave rise to other industries. Watch-making was established in order to provide ship's chronometers and officers' dress watches. Similarly, leather working became popular in order to provide boots and belts to the navy and army.
Alongside the river Dour there were also corn, paper, timber and oil mills. The milling and brewing industries expanded with the military centre, providing the ships and garrisons with flour, bread and ale.
Brewing became one of the largest non-maritime trades in Dover. Historians estimate that in 1850 there over eight large breweries in operation.
The famed Phoenix Brewery was one of the oldest, largest and last to close. The Brewery's origins can be dated back to the 17th century. It was taken over by Leney's in 1859, which later merged with the Maidstone brewers Fremlins. Fremlins closed Phoenix Brewery in in 1926.
In the later years of the nineteenth century, vast social and industrial changes had occured accross Britain. The industrial revolution also had an effect on Dover's fortunes.
The discovery of coal under the Dover area in 1890 seemed to guarantee a bright and prosperous future for Dover and much of South-East Kent. Shakespeare Colliery commenced business in 1896 and a futher eight other colleries were established over the next twenty years. Despite the bright prospects coal seemed to promise, it was not until 1912 that the the first coal reached the surface.
Only four collieries survived beyond 1920. This was largely due to bad management, poor investment, severe flooding problems and the depth and quality of the coal.The last Kent colliery closed in 1989.