Above - a channel swimmer called
'Jenny' at Dover.
My great-great granddad John Thomas Burwill known as 'Pop' and 'Jack' a channel pilot who helped many channel swimmers cross the Dover Straits. He is seen in the centre (holding up the sailor's cap).
The caption on the back of the picture reads:
"MICKMAN FAILS - BUT ONLY JUST
Philip Mickman, plucky, 19-year-old English schoolboy, came within an ace to-day Aug 24 of swimming the English Channel the hard way from England to France. For three hours he battled mountainous seas five hundred yards off the French coast in a vain attempt to reach land. He was then hauled into the accompanying rowboat. Mickman, who swam from France to England a year ago, was so close to success that ..... (word faded) a first announcement said that he had successfully completed the swim.
Photo shows, Philip Mickman (Centre foreground) on his arrival back at Dover. At right, father William Mickman has a congratulatory pat for a son who tried hard - very hard.
Crew members wave to the crowd.
DOV/WWW 378879 24850ERG UK for Associated Press Photo from London"
Photo from family archives
Being the Great-Great Grandson of John Jack/Pop Burwill I have decided to dedicate this part of the web site to him and do a Special piece on Channel Swimming. There will be more about Pop and other members of my family in the Family History section.
Here are some important dates in the history of Channel Swimming and Channel Crossing:
1785 Blanchard and Jefferies were the first to cross the channel by balloon.
1821 The very first cross channel steamer operated from Dover
1875 Captain Matthew Webb was the first person to swim the channel
1909 First cross channel aeroplane flight by Louis Bleriot
1928 Artificer was the first car ferry to operate from Dover
1940 Evacuation of Dunkirk (More later in the Family History Section) 200,000 men bought back to Dover in nine days.
1965 The First Hovercraft began from Dover
Approx. 1998 Cross Channel Ferry Operators P&O and Stena Line merge to become P&O Stena Line.
1997/1998 Australian built Sea Cat comes to Dover to serve the Hoverspeed Dover-Calais route. More come later for the route to Ostende.
1999-Early 2000s Freight Ferry from Dover to Dunkirk starts operating by Norfolk Line after the route from Ramsgate was scraped. This later becomes a passenger/vehicle ferry route by Norfolk Line as well!
2000/2001 News that Dover may need a new Western Port created beyond the Western Docks for more cross channel services due to increased usage of the Port.
2001 The Hovercrafts last flight from Dover
2003 Plans to start a Sea Cat service to Boulogne after Hoverspeed from Folkestone axed the service. This is due to start in Dover soon by Speedferries from the Eastern Docks.
2003 - Felix Baumgartner was the first man to "fly" the channel unaided. He jumped out of a areoplane above Dover early one July morning and plumeted (gliding) across the channel landing himself in Cap Gris Nez near Calais ten minutes later and so gaining him a place in the record books.
Was he the first though?
There are some reports of someone a rather long time ago doing a similar thing out of a hot air balloon. You Decide!! The Future Who Knows??
So they we go some key events in channel crossing history and recent events of the port.
Modern Super ferries have cut the crossing time to just over 1 hour. But this has not always been plain sailing and this small stretch of water has led to some crazy and remarkable crossings
In 1862 William Hoskins floated on a bundle of straw from Dover to Calais.
In 1936 someone crossed the channel on an air mattress. It took them six hours!
One man even wrapped himself in an inflatable coat and strapped a sail to his footany guesses whether he got across?
In 1926 Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to cross the channel. Many more followed including Florence Chadwick and Marilyn Bell who was 17 when she crossed in 1955.
There was even a crossing by Motorcycle!
Above, picture of my great-great Grandad John Thomas Burwill also known as 'Jack' and 'Pop'. He was a channel pilot who helped many channel swimmers cross the hazardous English Channel.
Below, another photograph of Channel Swimmers coming to shore in Dover. According to Christine Coffrey from Dover Museum the below are Bill Pickering, with Ray Scott ( Observer ) Lewis Latham ( Trainer ) and two crew men!