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Athol Terrace Biography

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Historically, Dover's seafront developed from the action of the tide and inland waterways. A bank of shingle gradually grew in the river mouth, splitting the river into an East Brook and West Brook. The East Brook ran into the sea below the castle and the West Brook ran into the sea at Archcliffe.

As the shingle bank grew, East Brook disappeared and the shingle bank became Dover's new seafront. This was reclaimed by Dover Harbour Board in 1817. They planned a vast crescent of houses, hotels, apartments and lodgings and promenades to take advantage of the new Georgian fad for sea bathing and seaside constitutionals. Prior to 1817 there were no buildings on this bank apart from a ropewalk and Smith's Folly.

The first phase was 96 residences with ornamental lawns. This was completed in 1820 and named Marine Parade. The esplanade was started in 1833 and Waterloo Crescent in 1834. The last and smallest section was Athol Terrace which was built 1841-2.

The Terrace, like the rest of the seafront development, was intended as Dover's visitors’ quarter and thus consisted of mainly apartments and lodging houses, although there were also a few family residences. Lady Catherine Boyles and Lady Sarah Boyles lived there from the 1840s until the 1870s and famous summer residents included George Eliot, author of Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch, who lived there in 1855.

Athol Terrace was actually built on wasteland outside the Parish of Dover and as such, escaped paying rates until 1847 when it was declared to be in the Parish of Guston. In 1907 it became part of the Municipal Borough of Dover.

The Terrace stood on the beach facing the sea until 1903 when work on the Harbour of Refuge began and a new harbour arm was built in front of the Terrace. After the Second World War more land was reclaimed from the sea for the ferry port and Eastern Docks and thus Athol Terrace is now a good few tens of metres inland from the sea.

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