British Listed Buildings

History in Structure

If you log in, you can comment on buildings, submit new photos or update photos that you've already submitted.

We need to upgrade the server that this website runs on. Can you spare a quid to help?.

Clock Tower and Former Lifeboat House, Dover

Description: Clock Tower and Former Lifeboat House

Grade: II
Date Listed: 16 December 2009
English Heritage Building ID: 507157

OS Grid Reference: TR3194440738
OS Grid Coordinates: 631944, 140738
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1190, 1.3129

Location: Esplanade, Dover, Kent CT17 9TF

Locality: Dover
Local Authority: Dover District Council
County: Kent
Country: England
Postcode: CT17 9TF

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

Explore more of the area around Dover, Kent at Explore Britain.

Listing Text


685/0/10034 Clock Tower and former Lifeboat House

Clock tower, 1876-7 by George Devey (1820-1886) and former Lifeboat House, 1866 with late 1870s and C20 alterations.

MATERIALS: Rough faced snecked ragstone with dressed stone details. The Clock Tower has metal-framed casement windows, the Lifeboat House has timber framed casement windows.

PLAN: The Clock Tower has a square plan with four stages and an off-set hexagonal stair tower to the north west corner. The former Lifeboat House has a rectangular plan and is single storey.

EXTERIOR: Each face of the tower bears a circular clock-face beneath a projecting modillion cornice with parapet above. On the roof of the tower is a flag pole with a weather vane. Above the stair tower is a lead-covered hexagonal roof with ball finial, supported on shaped columns. Two doors to the first stage give access to the base of the stair tower and an electricity sub-station in the base of the main tower. The principal entrance to the building is on the second stage, accessed via a flight of stone steps with solid stone balusters. The door surround is of dressed stone with a four-centred head and stop-moulded jambs. Fenestration is irregular and sparse, generally comprising small rectangular openings surrounded by dressed stone. On the second stage of the east elevation is a canted oriel window with mullioned lights.

The former Lifeboat House is set at an angle to the north west of the Clocktower. The roof is pitched with gable end parapets to the east and west, a parapet to the north and eaves to the south. There is a central pitch-roofed half dormer to the north with a central louvred oculus and a pair of casement windows beneath, these are flanked by two casement windows. To the west the lifeboat doors have been replaced with a simple timber shop-front comprising a half-glazed door to the left and a shop window to the right. A continuous hoodmould runs around the timber lintel over the shop-front and continues along the length of the north elevation. Above the shop-front is a stone mullioned window with three six-light casements with an infilled oculus above the central casement. A hoodmould runs over the window. The west gable is topped with a ball finial.

INTERIOR: The Clock Tower contains a stone spiral staircase. The clock mechanism is contained in the fourth stage.

The Lifeboat House has a modern commercial interior that is not of special interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The buildings are linked by a short section of decorative cast iron railing.

HISTORY: The Lifeboat House was built in 1866 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), which had taken over the lifeboat service from the Dover Humane and Shipwreck Institution in 1855. The building was modified in the late 1870s to accomodate a bigger lifeboat.

The Clock Tower was built in 1876-7 to the designs of George Devey (1820-1886). The work was commissioned by the Dover Harbour Board, and following the completion of the Clock Tower, Devey was further commissioned to design a marine bathing establishment and to lay-out some adjacent building land. The building work was undertaken by a local builder, W.J. Adcock. The Clock Tower is all that remains of Devey's work, the rest being destroyed by shelling in World War II.

The Lifeboat House was originally orientated with its doors to the north, and Devey located the Clock Tower to the east of the Lifeboat House and linked the two buildings to the north with an archway. Devey created both a stylistic as well as physical link between the two buildings, giving the appearance of a complex, rather than two isolated structures. In 1892, construction started on the new Prince of Wales Pier so the Clock Tower and Lifeboat House, in the way of the new pier approach, were both carefully taken down and re-erected a very short distance away, but on a different alignment with one another. The connecting archway was lost at this time.

George Devey was born in London in 1820. During the latter part of his formal education, between 1832 and 1835, he attended King's College School, London, where he was taught drawing by John Sell Cotman. A skilled draughtsman, he was articled to, and later employed by, architect Thomas Little in Northumberland Street, London, who appreciated his talent for drawing. It was not until 1846 that Devey set up an architectural practice by himself. As well as designing new houses, much of Devey's work was remodelling older houses and designing estate buildings. It was through these more modest buildings that he revealed most clearly his understanding of, and sympathy for, vernacular building. Devey is now recognised as a pioneer of the interest in English vernacular architecture in the late C19. He enjoyed the patronage of a number of Liberal politicians, and it was Devey's friendship with Lord Granville, Liberal statesman and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, that brought him the commission for the Clock Tower at Dover Harbour.

J Allibone, George Devey: Architect 1820-1886, (1991) p61-63, 171
English Heritage, Dover Harbour, Notes on Historical and Engineering Interest, (2008)
Dover Terminal 2 Historic Environment Baseline Report, Maritime Archaeology Ltd (2008)

Reasons for Designation:
The Clock Tower and former Lifeboat House at the Western Docks, Dover, are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* The Clock Tower has special architectural interest as an unusual and distinguished design by an influential English architect.
* The former Lifeboat House has special historic interest as a relatively early example of this building type and as an evocative reminder of the altruism and charity which established the RNLI.
* The buildings are two of the few remaining buildings in the Western Docks area which reflect the C19 development of this nationally important harbour.
* The buildings have group value with other designated assets within the Western Docks.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.