Burlington Hotel Biography
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The Burlington Hotel was formed out of extensive work done on the Clarence Hotel, which was renamed the Imperial Hotel in 1867 when the lease changed hands.
Building commenced on the Clarence in 1864, and took three years, at a cost of £70,000. It was designed by Mr Whichcord, (architect, who supervised its construction), in \'the Italian Style\'. The Hotel was already under some financial pressure in its earliest days, as a newspaper article from 1867, the year building was completed, shows. Deary, a shareholder in the Clarence Hotel (Dover) Company (Limited) was being sued by the builder Glenton of non-payment of debts. Even before it opened the company was in financial difficulty as the funding to open and run the hotel was not available after its completion. But before this, there were high hopes for the Clarence. An article [DOVRM CUT/R/2.48] from 1864 praises the Clarence Hotel (a name it never traded under as a Hotel) for its proposed comfort and convenience, rather than grandeur and show. The plans at this stage include 160 rooms, a coffee room, 55feet by 30 feet; a ladies coffee room, 45 feet by 22 feet, with a conservatory for it leading into the garden; billiard room; 14 private saloons or dining-rooms, and ample domestic offices.
Before opening, the Clarence Hotel (Dover) Company (Limited) ran out of money and the property was leased to the Imperial Hotel Company, who funished building and furnishing the hotel. It opened as the Imperial Hotel in 1867. An article in the Dover Express covering its opening:
\'The opening of a new hotel at such a cosmopolitan place as Dover is an event that may be said in some degree to possess an interest to every section of that large portion of the British public, who once a year betake themselves and their families either to the seaside and the continent.\'
This shows that Dover had ambitions to be a popular holiday resort as well as just a stop-over for travellers using the port. The Imperial advertised itself more for people holidaying in Dover as a \'first-class family hotel\', rather than for people passing through as it did not want to set itself up in competition with the many hotels that already catered for the cross-channel passenger. The Lord Warden Hotel had opened just the decade before, and although catering for the richer end of the market, had the convenience of its location in its favour when it came down to competing for cross-channel passengers.
Despite its ambitions, however, the hotel proved never to be a viable proposition. The Imperial Hotel closed in 1871 and went up for sale. The sale documents (of Messrs Edwin Fox & Blousefield) show that despite having cost nearly £90,000 to build and furnish etc. the building was going on the market at the starting price of only £26,000. The sale particulars list the rooms in detail and describe the hotel as :
Freehold property comprising the Palatial Building known as The Imperial Hotel,'...a favourable opportunity for a private individual or a Public Company to secure at a small proportion of its original cost Magnificent Premises\' with 150 bed chambers, and capable of adaption as a \'Collegiate, Scholastic or Government Establishment\'.
The property was sold and kept as a hotel. Following extensive alterations, re-opened in 1897 as the Burlington Hotel.
In 1924, its owners, Frederick Hotels, opted to invest elsewhere (the Lord Warden Hotel - which catered for cross-channel passengers). The Burlington was then used for many and varied activities, being converted into fifty flats as the Burlington Mansions.
The building was an early casualty of World War II, the tower being struck in 1940, followed shortly afterwards by a shell in October of that year which struck a huge water tank on the roof. Five bombs struck the building on 7th September 1941. The structure was left in such a terrible and dangerous state that dynamite was used to bring some parts down
Fire on the upper floors in January 1946 resulted in further damage and eventually the whole building was demolished in 1949 (together with 8 Camden Crescent).
Dover Corporation paid £4,575 for the site in 1951 and the post-war years saw the whole area re-developed.
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