Sort file:- Dover, January, 2024.

Page Updated:- Tuesday, 09 January, 2024.

PUB LIST PUBLIC HOUSES Barry Smith and Paul Skelton

Earliest 1947

White Cliffs Hotel

Latest 1993

(Name to)

Marine Parade


From the Dover Mercury, 30 August 2001. Photo below circa 1945.

White Cliffs Hotel circa 1945

Charmed life of Cliffs hotel.

UNLIKE the rest of the seafront further towards the Eastern Docks, these buildings were virtually untouched by enemy action in the Second World War.

This is one of the series of pictures believed to have been taken by an American, possibly a serviceman or a journalist.

On the back of the back of the photo he wrote: "Hotel along the promenade at Dover, England. This place escaped great damage for some reason or other."

It shows what was the White Cliffs Hotel, and is now the Churchill Hotel, as well as the train tracks that used to run along the seafront.


From the Dover Express, Friday 11 March, 1949.


One of six licence applications refused by Dover Magistrates on Monday, during a six hour sitting of the adjourned annual licensing meeting for the Borough and Liberties, was for a full licence for the "White Cliffs Hotel." The five other refusals concerned hotels and other premises in Broadstairs, the Bench giving assent only to an application for a conditional on-licence for the Refreshment Rooms at the Eastern Docks, and to the re-grant of the existing term licence held by the Refreshment Rooms at the Train Ferry Dock.

Mr. W Hollis was Chairman of the Bench, which included Messrs. D. Bradley. C. W. Chitty and W. G. Jeffery.

In making the application on behalf of the "White Cliffs Hotel," Mr. Percy Lamb said that the hotel already held a licence entitling them to serve drinks to residents and those taking meals, and it was felt that now the "Lord Warden," "Burlington" and "Grand Hotels" had disappeared, the "White Cliffs" should be granted a full licence as a first-class hotel. He appreciated what was said at the annual licensing meeting about the number of licences which were still in suspense, and in that respect it was proposed to surrender the licence of the "Esplanade Hotel."

George Ernest Graham-Lyon, proprietor, said that if the licence was granted, he would willingly accept the condition of no “off’ sale, and he did not intend to permit people taking drinks into the garden. He merely wished to provide a high-class first-class hotel for Dovorians.

Colonel Benjamin George Turner spoke in support of the application, and said that the Dover Harbour Board, whom he represented, were wholeheartedly in support of the Licence being granted.

Mr. P. A. G. Aldington, who objected on behalf of the Dover Licensed Victuallers' Protection Association, said that the "Shakespeare Bars" and the "Wine Lodge," were quite close to the "White Cliffs" and were well able to cope with any demands which the hotel couldn’t meet. In his opinion there was not sufficient merit in the case to warrant the licence being granted.

In refusing the application, the Chairman said that the conditions existing when the original licence was granted two years ago had not changed.

Mr. Wilfred Mowll appeared for the Dover Harbour Board, who applied for an on-licence in respect of the Refreshment Rooms, Eastern Docks, with the conditions that liquor only be sold to bona-fide passengers one hour before the departure, and one hour after the arrival on the car-ferry boats. The Harbour Board were prepared to surrender the licence held in respect of the Refreshment Rooms at the Admiralty Pier, said Mr. Mowll, and were of the opinion that it was a most desirable thing for the tourist trade that the licence be granted.

Capt R. W. Cooke, Harbour Master, spoke of the great demand by cross-Channel passengers for “something stronger” than tea or coffee which was at present provided at the refreshment rooms. Once passengers were in the examination sheds they were not allowed to leave, and there was nowhere else where liquor could be obtained within half a mile. It was hoped in the future to go ahead with a big scheme, whereby all cars leaving for the Continent would do so by way of the Eastern Docks, Members of a Working Party, who were examining the facilities for tourist traffic in the country had examined and approved the scheme.

The application was granted on condition that the licence remains under the control of the Dover Harbour Board.

A similar application for a licence by Fredericks Hotels, Ltd., was granted in respect of the Refreshment Rooms, Train Ferry Dock. Mr. Mowll explained that the hours asked far were the normal licensing hours plus an hour before the departure and after the arrival of cross-Channel boats if they arrived or departed out of licensing hours.


From the Dover Express, Friday 3 June, 1949.


White Cliffs Grill 1949


The finest 2/- Lunch in Dover. (Adjoining the sea.)

Famous for Fine Food & Friendliness.

Dainty Teas, Sea Food Suppers.

White Cliffs Hotel 1977 and Sea Cadets

Above photo, showing the marching band of the Sea Cadets in 1977.

White Cliffs Hotel

The building was constructed in 1841.

White Cliffs Hotel from an advert by Milestones. Date unknown that stated:- "This renowned and finely situated hotel offers first-class service and true comfort, its French Restaurant is famous for its cuisine and every bedroom is fitted with a G.P.O. telephone and Radio Diffusion. The hotel is appointed by both the RAC. and the AA and is admirably suited for private parties and receptions. Telephone DOVER 633 (5 lines).


White Cliffs Hotel

The White Cliffs Hotel on Marine Parade, open in 1947.


Dover Express 4th July 1947.


With the opening this week of the White Cliffs Hotel in Waterloo Crescent, Dover’s hotel shortage has been greatly eased. The fact that, on the opening night, Tuesday, all available accommodation was taken shows how much such a place is needed in the town.

The hotel has been formed by adapting the former Brown House and York hotels into one building. Large internal reconstruction work has provided for nearly 50 bedrooms, 7 with private bathrooms and a further 15 bathrooms for general use. Each room has its own telephone and is tastefully furnished and decorated.

On the ground floor there is a large reception hall, a lounge and dining room capable of seating about 100 guests, whilst the drawing room and smoke room are on the first floor. Frescoes executed by Mr. Forbes-Robertson, round the walls of the dining room, depict the white cliffs of Dover, the channel and typical French scenes.

The management will cater for local dinner parties and later it is hoped to be able to attract larger functions to the hotel.

The hotel is owned by Autotels Ltd., of which Mr. Graham Lyon is the managing director. Mr. John Wigdor is the manager and Mr. Jacques Tarlet the restaurant manager.


Dover Express 18th June 1948.

Town, Port & Garrison.

The "Chateau Bellevue Hotel," Totnes, South Devon, has been disposed of for £36,000 by Mr. Graham Lyon of the "White Cliffs," Dover.


Dover Express 22nd August 1947.


At Dover, on Wednesday, before Mr. G. Golding presiding, Edward Taylor, aged 66, described as a chef of no fixed abode, was charged with stealing two metal salt cellars, valued at 14s, the property of Messrs. Autotels Ltd., at the “White Cliffs” Hotel, Dover, between 30th July and 19th August.

DC Dolphin, giving evidence of arrest, said he stopped defendant in Snargate Street at 5.35 the previous evening, told him he was a police officer and said he was making enquiries about two salt cellars which were stolen from the “White Cliffs” Hotel. Defendant replied “I took them because I had some sandwiches.”

Insp Pierce asked that defendant be remanded in police cells until Friday (to-day) to enable further enquiries to be carried out.

Defendant asked for bail and said he had a friend in Dover who would stand as a surety.

The Chairman said the magistrates were prepared to grant defendant bail in the sum of £5 if he could find someone to act as surety for him.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 15 July, 1949.


The Licensing Planning Committee have approved an application by the proprietor of the “White Cliffs Hotel,” for the removal to them of the full licence of the “Esplanade Hotel,” which was closed by enemy action in 1942.

The approval is subject to the consent of the Minister of Town and Country Planning.

The “White Cliffs Hotel,” which at the moment holds a conditional licence permitting the sale of intoxicants to guests and people taking meals, had an application for a full licence refused at the adjourned annual licensing meeting in March when the Chairman, Mr. W. Hollis, stated that the conditions existing when the original licence was granted two years ago previously had not changed.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 26 August, 1949.


Cleaning windows at the "White Cliffs Hotel Annexe on Tuesday afternoon, 17-year-old Donald Carless of Shakespeare Road, slipped and fell twenty feet to the roadway. Had he not had the presence of mind, as he slipped, to push himself away from the wall with his feet, he would probably have fallen on to the railings beneath.

he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital with cuts an the face, abrasions and shock.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 26 August, 1949. ADVERTISING FEATURE

White Cliffs Hotel advert


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 9 December, 1949.


the "White Cliffs Hotel" has now acquired a full licence - formerly refused by Dover Magistrates - as a result of the transfer to the premises, granted by the Justices on Friday, of the licence of the old "Esplanade Hotel."

Making the application, Mr. Wilfred Mowll said that the removal of the Justices' licence from the "Esplanade" to the "White Cliffs Hotel" had been passed by the Dover Licensing Planning Committee and this had been confirmed by the Minister without any conditions.

Mr. Mowll produced plans showing alterations it was proposed to make at the "White Cliffs" if the application was granted and said that Mr. G. E. Graham Lyon, who would be the licensee, was prepared to give an undertaking that these alterations would be made expeditiously.

Chief Inspector Young said that the Police had no objections whatever in the proposals.

The Chairman (Mr. G. Golding) said that the planning removal of the licence would be granted subject to the undertaking, as well as the transfer of the licence to Mr. Graham Lyon.

Applications for extensions of hours on December 24th, 26th, 27th and 31st, as granted recently to members of the Licensed Victuallers' Association were approved for a number of other licensees.


From the Dover Express 9 June 1950.

Veteran Car Procession 1950


The Mayor in the 1894, Daimler car, which formerly belonged to the late Mr. Murray Lawes, leading the procession of over 30 cars belonging to the Veteran Car Club members along the Sea Front on Friday evening to the Eastern Docks to embark for France. [Photo: Lambert Weston]


From the Dover Express 5 July, 1963.


Visitors at the "White Cliffs Hotel" were the victims of a thief who broke into the hotel's private garage in Cambridge Road early on Monday morning.

He selected suitcases from 12 of the 28 cars parked there.

Ripping or cutting them open, he pulled their contents in the centre of the garage floor.

A cine camera valued at £100, two other cameras and three pair of binoculars  - worth in all about £230 - were carried off in a leather hold-all.

Police helped the guests to sort out their belongings and discovered that the articles had been stolen from five of the twelve guests whose cases had been forced open. Investigations are being continued by the police.


From the Kent Messenger 22 September 1967

Mr. Oreste Boiardini, who came out of retirement earlier this year to return as general manager of the famous White Cliffs Hotel reports booming business this summer.

Mr Oreste Boirdini

Mr. Boiardini had only 18 months of retirement before he was recalled to take charge at the White Cliffs, where he was manager from 1949 to 1966.

Mr. Boiardini says that the White Cliffs Hotel is again coming into its own as a hotel where people stay for periods.

The days when it was used by overnight cross-Channel passengers has become a passing phase and the hotel - famous throughout the world - is again asserting itself as a stopping place for visitors of all nations with time to look around.

"In the lounge and restaurant it is nothing to overhear conversations in up to half-a-dozen languages," says Mr. Boiardini.

At the White Cliffs Hotel Mr. Boiardini has looked after many famous people, stars of entertainment and sports, politicians and statesmen, and business tycoons with international interests.

Mr. Boiardini attended upon the late Sir Winston Churchill then he made the White Cliffs his base at the time he received the Freedom of Dover. Italian born Mr. Boiardini is a naturalised Englishman.


From Dover Express, 1 January 1971.

Jackie Kelk

Charity worker and beauty queen, Miss Jackie Kelk of Cliftonville knocks over a pile of pennies at the Queen Elizabeth bar at the "White Cliffs Hotel." Jackie stood in at the last minute for TV star Penny Spencer who was ill. The pile of pennies raised over £12 for the British Empire Cancer Campaign. Jackie is currently trying to raise £7,000 in Thanet for handicapped children.


The tasteful lounge area at The White Cliffs Hotel.

From From the Dover Express 5 April 1991.

White Cliffs Hotel lounge 1991

GRAHAM LYON Ltd, the company that owns the famous White Cliffs Hotel in Dover, was founded by Graham Lyon in 1941, when he purchased a hotel in Devon.

After the war, in 1947, the company took over the White Cliffs Hotel, in Dover, which it still runs today.

During the past 50 years the company has run motels and hotels throughout the country and Graham Lyon was the man credited with the introductions of motels into the country.

The company ran two other hotels in Dover, now both sadly demolished, the Hotel do France and the Dover Stage, although the Dover Stage was taken over by Watney Mann some years ago.

Many famous people have stayed or dined at the White Cliffs Hotel. Sir Robert Manzies and Sir Winston Churchill were both entertained on several occasions during their time as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Now concentrating efforts on winning local lunchtime and evening trade, restructuring of the hotel's lounge bar area allows the White Cliffs to develop the already popular bar snack trade to a greater degree, in pleasant, spacious surroundings.


From Dover Express 23 September 1993

The White Cliffs Hotel.

White Cliffs logo

The Directors of Graham Lyon ltd. announce with regret that The White Cliffs Hotel is to close on 24 December 1993.

The reason for the closure is that the Company's present lease is coming to an end and that an application made by the Company to Dover Harbour Board for the grant of a new lease has been refused.

The statutory reasons given by the Board for the refusal of a new lease are as follows:-

(i) That on termination of the current tenancy the landlord intends to demolish or reconstruct the premises comprised in the holding or a substantial part of those premises or to carry out substantial work of construction on the holding or part thereof and that he could not reasonably do so without obtaining possession of the holding; and

(ii) That on the termination of the current tenancy the landlord intends to occupy the holding for the purposes, or partly for the purposes, of a business to be carried on by him therein, or as his residence.

The Directors would like to take this opportunity of expressing their gratitude to the countless thousands of guests that have used the hotel and its services since the hotel was opened by the late Mr. Graham Lyon in 1947.


From Dover Express 23 September 1993

Special report by TERRY SUTTON


A major blow to tourism as landlords announce Dover's most famous hotel is to shut.

DOVER'S famous seafront White Cliffs Hotel is to close on Christmas Eve (1993) after landlords Dover Harbour Board refused to grant another long lease.

"They have told us they need the premises for their own purposes - I am totally saddened," said the hotel's managing director Pam Gibbons.

Tourism leaders say the closure will be a serious blow to Dover district's prospects of attracting more visitors.

Dover Harbour Board says it is willing to grant a new lease from its expiry date next March - on a 12 month basis.

But this was not acceptable to the hotel management. who have decided on a Christmas closure.

The decision has come as a shock to the full and part time 48 staff who work there. Some have been working at the White Cliffs for more than a quarter of a century.

It was 46 years ago, in the difficult days that followed the last war. that Graham Lyon saw the potential of Dover as a port through which a new generation of holidaymakers would pass.

He negotiated with Dover Harbour Board and his company. Graham Lyon Ltd. obtained the lease for the attractive seafront premises with views across the harbour to France.

The hotel, now with 56 bedrooms, reached its peak of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s when Sir Winston Churchill was one of the guests.

In those days anyone who was anyone, travelling to the Continent, stayed the night at the White Cliffs Hotel.

For nearly 40 years guests have dined at the White Cliffs' restaurant while listening to Kathy Southam, now 84, play the piano there.

The directors of Graham Lyon Ltd are now Mrs Gibbons. Dover's former town clerk lames A Johnson, and Peter Lyon, the son of the founder. Mrs Gibbons has been with the White Cliffs for 17 years.

Solicitors for the hotel have explained they will have to close at the end of this year to dispose of chattels and tenants' fittings so vacant possession can be offered to the harbour board by the end of March.

Paul Pinnock, chairman of the White Cliffs Tourism Association was shocked to hear the news.

He said: "It's a great shame and it is a very serious blow to Dover's attempts to attract more tourists."

At a meeting of the group, in Deal, he had earlier said that the value to Dover district of a hotel with conference facilities in the Wellington Dock regeneration plan would be even more welcome than proposals.

Bill Fawcus, Dover Harbour Board's property general manager, says the White Cliffs premises will soon be required for large scale refurbishment that could not be carried out while the hotel was open.

"Ideally we would have liked to have carried out the refurbishment of the premises in 1995-96." said Mr Fawcus.

"We were willing to extend the lease for 12 months on the same rent and terms."

Mr Fawcus is in charge of the £100 miIlion regeneration project for the Western Docks which is planned to include a new hotel in the seafront area. He says the submission of the outline planning application for the project to Dover council is imminent.

But Mr Fawcus points out proposals for a new hotel had nothing to do with the decision over the White Cliffs Hotel lease. He expects work on the Western Docks project, scheduled to take ten years to complete, to start in 1994 with the hotel in the early stages.

The White Cliffs shock follows controversy over the harbour board's decision to give tenants of Marine Court, also on the seafront, five years to vacate their flats.

Mr Fawcus has emphasised there is no "hidden agenda" for the Marine Court site. The board has no plans to build a hotel, filling station or anything else there.

Winston Churchill at White Cliffs Hotel

From Dover Express 30 September 1993. By Terry Sutton.

The White Cliffs Hotel's most famous guest, Sir Winston Churchill, pictured during a visit to the hotel during the 1950s. The photograph was loaned to the Dover Express by Mr and Mrs CF Johnson, of Channel View, Folkestone.

White Cliffs could re-open in a year.

Three hotel groups have talks with landlords Dover Harbour Board about opening a hotel in the seafront area to fill the gap that will be left with the impending closure of the White Cliffs Hotel.

Bill Fawcus, the port authority's property general manager, said this week he had received a number of inquiries following the decision to close the hotel on Christmas Eve.

"We now aim to start the much needed refurbishment of the building earlier than planned,". said Mr Fawcus.

And he hopes to have the hotel re-opened. within a year with "improved restaurant and conference facilities."

But Paul Pinnock, chairman of the White Cliffs Tourism Association, says that will still leave a gap with the loss of the crucial 56 bedrooms offered by the White Cliffs Hotel.

"The timing is so wrong. What we are trying to do is to gear our tourist' attractions up in time for the enormous influx of tourists I am expecting with the opening of the Channel Tunnel in May.

"I think Eurotunnel's Channel Tunnel will prove to be the most popular fairground ride in the world, at least for a few years. Millions will come through the tunnel in order to get a sticker showing they have travelled that way.

"It is critical that towns in East Kent have their infrastructure in place by May when the first visitors arrive by tunnel.

"If there are not sufficient hotel bedrooms to cope with the rush then the trippers will go elsewhere to spend their money.

"And our economy will be losing out," says Mr Pinnock, who is general manager of the White Cliffs Experience in the Market Square.

The directors of the White Cliffs Hotel, which opened in 1947, sought an extension of their lease of the harbour board-owned seafront property for another 15 years from March 1994.

Dover Harbour Board, who wanted to refurbish the property in 1995-96, instead offered a 12 months extension from March.

The directors of the hotel refused this offer and said they would have to close on Christmas Eve in order to give three months to clear the property by March 1994.

An offer was made to run the hotel as managers on behalf of Dover Harbour Board. But harbour board officials declined.

Closure of the hotel on Christmas Eve will result in the loss of 48 jobs.


Kathy Southam at White Cliffs Hotel

Kathy with hotel manager Peter Gretton and members of staff.

From Dover Express 23 December 1993.

Not as dry eye in the house as pianist Kathy bows out.


IT was a sad day for pianist Kathy Southam as she played her last note at a hotel where she has performed for more than 40 years.

Since the war Kathy, 84, has been entertaining guests at the White Cliffs Hotel on Dover's seafront with her music.

But the hotel closes tomorrow (Friday) and Sunday evening was Kathy' s last performance.

And the tune she chose to end her career? - The White Cliffs of Dover.

Silting at the piano in the restaurant she said: "I feel very sad but also happy at all the memories and the kindness of people here. I've been playing at the hotel for 40 years and nine months. I've hardly missed a day since I started."

Kathy was born near Portsmouth but at two weeks she went to Ascension Island in the south Atlantic where her Royal Marine officer father was stationed.

She said: "I started playing the piano when I was four, on Ascension Island. It's so important to keep practising and I still keep up my scales."

She has a piano in her home in Folkestone Road, Dover, and plays every day. She also confesses to playing the violin "but only when I'm sure no-one's listening."

Kathy never married. Her fiancé, Norman, was killed in India during World War II. Her favourite composer is Mozart. "I have a light touch which helps when playing Mozart. But I can play most things. I'm not allowed to play pop music here but occasionally get away with doing a couple of Scott Joplin numbers."

Hotel manager Peter Gretton said: "Everyone in Dover knows- Kathy and the people who come to the hotel to hear her play will miss her a lot. She is very popular and has a lot of time for everyone. She's great with children and encourages them to play the piano.

"We gave her flowers and presents and if it can fit in her home, we'll offer her the hotel piano."


From the Dover Express 27 January 1994 by Terry Sutton.

Hotel set to re-open with forty new jobs.

DOVER'S closed down White Cliffs Hotel on the seafront is re-opening as The Churchill in March. About 40 jobs will be created.

The new venture is a partnership between the property landlords, Dover Harbour Board, and Henley Lodges, who are also working with the port authority on providing another 60 bedroom hotel off Townwall Street.

Dover Harbour Board this week confirmed an exclusive Dover Express report earlier this month which revealed the former White Cliffs Hotel would re-open.

The 56-bedroom waterfront hotel closed down at Christmas when its owners, Graham Lyon Ltd., failed to reach agreement with their landlords, Dover Harbour Board, on the renewal of the lease.

Sir Winston Churchill, the nation's wartime leader, was a visitor to the White Cliffs Hotel shortly after the end of the war, when there were few other hotels in the town. That's why The Churchill has been selected as the new name.

Les Pennington, a director of Henley Lodges, said they would be refurbishing the hotel in keeping with the style of the Regency water- front building.

'Focal point'

"Initially these changes will be undertaken on the ground floor public areas and will reflect the elegance of the building. It is intended further work on the bedrooms will follow next winter," said, Mr Pennington.

"Our aim is to make The Churchill a focal point for local, national, and international visitors and businessmen alike. The emphasis will be on good food with friendly and attentive service."

Mr Pennington said he expected the new hotel would result in the employment of 20 permanent staff and about the same number of part-time employees. Recruitment had already begun.

He added that he would like to invite local organisations that used to meet at the White Cliffs to return to The Churchill.

Mr Pennington said the aim would be to provide a three-star operation at The Churchill with food up to four star standard.

Bill Fawcus, the board's property business general manager, said the deal with Henley Lodges had been worked out under a management agreement lasting five years in the first instance but renewable.

He explained: "We are committed to the provision of quality and excellence. Further refurbishment will take place on a phased basis with the object of maintaining service during the summer.

"The Churchill will complement the proposed office and retail development in Dover's Western Docks plans for which are being considered by the local authority."

The Henley Lodge, with bar and restaurant, proposed for Townwall Street with access to Camden Crescent, is to be a budget-style hotel.

Mr Pennington said plans for that new-build hotel had been refined following talks with district council planners. He hoped the new hotel would be open within two years.


White Cliffs Hotel matchboxWhite Cliffs Hotel matchbox

Above matchbox, date unknown, kindly sent by John Gladdish.

White Cliffs Hotel Card 1960s

Above card, circa 1960s, kindly sent by Nicky Hampson.

White Cliffs Hotel Card 1960s

Above card, circa 1960s, kindly sent by Nicky Hampson.



WIGDOR John 1947

LYON George Ernest Graham 1947 Next pub licensee had

1948 Pikes 48-49 (13,14, 15 Waterloo Crescent and Cambridge Road)

Last pub licensee had BOIARDINI Orestes 1950-71 end

ADKIN William 1963-6 end and 1974 Next pub licensee had


LYON Peter 1966

BONVIN L 1966-67

ADKIN William 1974 & Next pub licensee had

BOSSAERS Jacques M F J 1971-76 Next pub licensee had Library archives 1974  Owned by Autotels Ltd

GRETTON Peter 1993


Pikes 48-49From Pikes Dover Blue Book 1948-49

Library archives 1974Library archives 1974


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-