Tower Hamlets On Sea

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 78 months ago

Last Updated 03 January 2018

Tower Hamlets On Sea

Tower Hamlets. Best-known for the eponymous Tower of London, being the former stomping ground of disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahman, and the white cliffs.

Wait, what?

As well as being a London borough, Tower Hamlets is the name of a residential estate and electoral ward in Dover, the seaside town in Kent best-known for its white cliffs.

Kent's Tower Hamlets is far lesser-known than east London's, so there's far less information available about it. Let's begin by looking at the road names: There's a Tower Hamlets Road, a Tower Hamlets Street, a Tower Street and even a Tower Hill (no District line though, sorry).

Image: Google Maps

The estate is wedged between Dover Priory station and Buckland Hospital.

Architecturally, Dover's Tower Hamlets is made up of a grid of streets consisting predominantly of terraced housing, with a few new-builds squeezed in.

This amateur video of the area in the 1970s was rediscovered in the 1990s:

"People think of Tower Hamlets as a drab place", laments the narrator, "but just walk, and see the throngs of people. Look at the dignity that these houses possess."

He also talks of "quiet leafy lanes" and "tiny gardens ablaze with colour" — if you're looking for a destination your next day trip out of London, you may be on to something here. In the 2001 census, Dover's Tower Hamlets had just 4,782 residents, to London's Tower Hamlets' 196,121.

A still from the film.

But that doesn't mean there are no similarities between the two. Just as the Tower of London is famous for its many executions, the video tells the story of how people used to pay for window seats in the pub opposite the gallows in Kent's Tower Hamlets.

Like London's Tower Hamlets, there's a question about the name's origins. Some suggest that it comes nearby Dover Castle, which English Heritage describes as "Dover's mighty great tower".

Dover Castle. Photo: English Heritage

However, the above film mentions an "old tower or pumphouse" from which the houses got their water when they were first built, surrounding a clay quarry, so it's equally plausible that the name comes from there.