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Crossing the Channel - pioneer efforts

First shipwreck? The remains of this Bronze Age boat are now preserved in Dover Museum

c. 1550 BC - 1st channel ferries

1785 - 1st crossing by air in a balloon from Dover Castle to France

1820 - 1st steam-powered ferry in regular service as a cross-channel ferry.

This was a 2-tear-old pioneer Glasgow-built paddle-steamer, the "Rob Roy" - bought by the French government to carry the mails from Calais to Dover.

It was a tiny boat by today's standards - with a wooden hull, 30-odd hp engine, about 90tons, 15ft wide, 80+ft long. It proved fast and reliable in the open sea.

See: History of Channel ferries

Early paddle-steamer running into Dover harbour at high tide.

1875 - 1st Channel swim - Captain Webb

1880 - 1st boring for a Channel Tunnel

1909 - first to fly the Channel by aeroplane, Louis Blériot

Bleriot was the first to fly a heavier -than-air aircraft across the Channel. His pioneering flight was in 1909, only 6 years after the first powered flight by the Wright brothers in the USA. He flew his monoplane from the beach west of Calais, which was re-named 'Bleriot-plage'; and landed on a hillside meadow by Dover Castle, which has since become woodland.

He was born in Cambrai, and later lived in Hardelot, where he was a director of the property company developing the resort, and a keen pioneer of sandyachting in Hardelot. He went on to design many successful aircraft.

(picture: commemorative lace in Calais Museum)

More information:
Seaside holidays

1928 - 1st regular car ferry service between Dover - Calais

1953 - 1st RO-RO ("roll-on, roll-off") car ferry berths opened at Dover and Calais

1959 - 1st Channel crossing by hovercraft (Christopher Cockerell in SRN1)

1990 - 1st tunnel completed across the Channel

1994 - Channel Tunnel opens


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Places to visit:
Transmanche Museum, Cap Blanc-Nez

Nature parks:
Boulonnais nature park - beautiful protected coastal area

Related background information
Channel Tunnel
Forming the English Channel




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