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Dover did not have a pier when this text was printed so passengers were rowed from ship to shore by local boatmen. This picture of Dover Harbour c1830 shows exposed beach either side of the two harbour walls so presumably the channel between the walls was too shallow (at  least at low tide) for steamers of the sort shown in the top right quarter of this image

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https://doverhistorian.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/th-dover-harbour-c-1830.jpg

 

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