About the Dover Bluebird Heritage Trail Project
Dover and its White Cliffs are known throughout the world; however, Dover has a long history and many heritage assets that are little known except for Dover Castle, which is now a major English Heritage tourist attraction with over 300,000 visitors a year. With the castle requiring a whole day visit few venture into the town to discover Dover’s many other heritage assets. Early in 2014 the newly-formed Dover Port and Community Forum (membership includes the Harbour Board, the town, district and county authorities and a number of local community organisations), looked for a way in which the port’s and town’s many heritage assets could help regenerate Dover by attracting more visitors and make the local community, as well as visitors both British and foreign, much more aware of the range of Dover’s abundant heritage assets.
The Bluebird Heritage Trail project was born. The Forum appointed a Trail Steering Group took time to decide which heritage assets to include, the route and what form the trail should take. The simple idea of a trail developed into a free guide booklet with a route map, distinctive bronze pavement markers along the route plus a website and app. With the total cost estimated at £64,000 a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund was necessary. The Dover Society agreed to take the lead on behalf of the Forum. The subsequent application for £59,000 was successful with the balance provided by the Dover Harbour Board. The grant required a guarantee of funding to maintain the trail for 10 years, which was met by Dover District Council and Dover Town Council agreeing to provide up to £1,000 a year each for the first 5 years and The Dover Society guaranteeing the remaining years. The cost would have been greater but for donations of specialist human resources as well as substantial voluntary time given by The Dover Society.
Delivery of the project began in December 2015 and a Community Engagement Worker was recruited to engage the public via a series of workshops covering graphic design, website/app design and local history. Local schools were also involved and businesses briefed as part of the promotion. A Dover company won the website/app contract, the pavement markers were designed and made and permission sought from the highways authorities and the Harbour Board regarding location and installation of the markers. The booklet went through several drafts as the project progressed. Volunteers tested the trail route, the guide booklet, website and app.
The result is a self-guided walk linking 31 of Dover’s historic buildings, sites and monuments to help people discover Dover’s historic gems. The main section of the trail is 2 miles long and could take 2 hours, whilst the whole trail, including the optional final section from the Clock Tower to the Admiralty Pier Gun Turret, totals 3 miles.
Sincere thanks are due to everybody who contributed to the project and who also supported me through some blood, sweat and tears – in particular, Christine Waterman for her invaluable help compiling the Heritage Lottery Fund application; the ‘project delivery team’ (Lynda Pearce and Jon Iveson of Dover Museum and Michelle Boakes, the enthusiastic and efficient Community Worker), the graphic designer, Clare Limbrey of DDC; Anita Luckett and Andrew Denyer of Live Heritage (the website/app contractor) and Mick Godden, the waymarker installer.
Dover Port and Community Forum Chairman and Project Manager