Although Dover is probably better known for its extensive ferry terminal, it is also a major port for freight. Dover can boast the title of being the busiest ferry terminal in the world, and is also the busiest cruise line terminal in the UK, but in 2010, Dover also handled 24 million tonnes of cargo traffic.
Located on the South coast in Kent, Dover is well positioned for the transportation of shipping containers by road and rail. Positioned between two motorways gives Dover an advantage over many shipping ports. To the West side of Dover is the M20, and to the East is the M2. Both motorways travel up the country, joining the M25 motorway to the South of London. This point is only 60 minutes away and very convenient for the transit of containers to London and further afield. The first major destination for container transportation via the M20 would be Ashford (22 miles). Taking the M2 motorway route from Dover, the first major destination would be Canterbury (18 miles).
With Dover having the shortest distance (21 miles) to France than any other UK port, it is the perfect point for container shipping to continental Europe. The port is well equipped to accommodate high volumes of freight, with quick turnaround times, and short channel crossing times, Dover is the best port for timed dependent cargo such as perishable goods.
The port of Dover has been owned and operated throughout its history by the same body, The Dover Harbour Board, which was formed in 1606 by James I, but the ports origins can be traced back to Roman times.
Roll-on, roll-off freight came to Dover in 1965, replacing the previous tedious and often expensive procedure of loading a vehicle at the factory, off-loading into the hold of a ship and repeating the process at the foreign port of call. In the first year the Port of Dover handled a few hundred lorries. This quickly became thousands per year and Dover currently handles over 1.8 million lorries a year.