18,500 pounds of gun powder were used to blow a large section of the cliff in order to create a platform that the Dover to Folkestone railway line could be constructed on. The sea no longer directly eroded the cliffs.
The railway line was completed and opened. The new piece of land created at the base of the cliff which was known as the "Great Fall" has played a significant part in Kent's history.
Sir Edward Watkin of the South Eastern Railway Company discussed with Francis Brady and Colonel Beaumont the possibility of trial borings for a Channel Tunnel: a proposed Channel Tunnel was decided to start at Abbot's Cliff (between Dover and Folkestone)
Tunnelling began, sinking a 74ft deep shaft and the excavation of a level handing which was eventually driven 897 yards parallel to the cliffs.
Colonel Beaumont started digging from Shakespeare cliff using his compressed air boring machine but the enterprise came to a halt, some say due to a lack of money, others from concern by the Department of War that the French would invade through the tunnel.
The first coal mine in Kent was located where Samphire Hoe is today. In 1896, the Kent Coal Fields Syndicate was formed and took over the running of the workings. Shakespeare Colliery began with the sinking of the first pit in 1896. It was called the Brady Pit. Coal measures were struck at a depth of 1,157 feet but due to problems of flooding and explosions in the pit, the mine was never profitable. By 1909 when it closed only 120 tonnes of coal had been dug.
On the old Colliery site, there was a bungalow next to the railway cottages from 1919 which was rebuilt as a boathouse slightly higher up against the sea wall and enlarged by adding two side sections as shown on this view of Shakespeare Cliff painted by Cecil Green.
Another attempt was made. A tunnel was cut through the cliff to reach the old colliery site and the boring machine put in place.
The Government had withdrawn support for the scheme. There was just money for an experimental drive which was successfully completed on 300m.
The dream finally began to take shape in 1986 with the construction of the Channel Tunnel which turned once again the old colliery site into a hive of industry: completion of the first of the new sea walls at Samphire Hoe.
Removal of the contractors’ buildings, landscaping of the platform whIch will be followed by the first seeding of the new piece of land.
Official opening of the Channel Tunnel by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and French President François Mitterrand.
The name of Samphire Hoe originated from a competion organised by Eurotunnel, the Channel Tunnel operator. From the hundreds of entries received, the judges chose Mrs Gillian Janaway's suggestion of 'Samphire Hoe". This was a reference to the rock samphire that grows here and was mentioned by William Shakespeare in King Lear when referring to those climbing on the cliffs gathering this plant in the vicinity.
Opening to the public of Samphire Hoe
First recording of early spider orchids at Samphire Hoe: 67 plants are counted. Early spider orchids are of Great Britain's rarest orchids only found along the South coast from Kent to Dorset. They are the first flowers to blossom in the year and are commonly said to ressemble plump spiders.
Samphire Hoe's rangers welcomed their new circular hut on the site.
Samphire Hoe's vegetation developing progressively through natural colonisation since the 31 original species were sown after the completion of the construction site.
Second recording of the early spider orchids: 249 plants are counted which represents almost four times the previous year recording.
The Samphire Tower sponsored by Eurotunnel, Sustrans and Art and Business South East, opened to the public and became one of the emblematic image of the Hoe.
Sheep grazing was introduced to Samphire Hoe for the first and it was the first and only time they have had lambs.
The early spider orchids have had a great season this year with almost 12,4OO plants recorded which represents a massive increase compared to the 67 plants in 1998. And with the cool spring weather this year, early spider orchids were still blooming by the end of May.
The Olympic Torch relay arrived at Samphire Hoe after travelling underground through the 9km section of the Channel Tunnel service tunnel from Folkestone, on Wednesday 18 July to the delight of local people and sport fans who gathered to get a glimpse of the famous torch.
The big "big year" challenge: Local birdwatchers leaded by Ian Roberts were repeating the challenge made in 2008 with 160 different species with the aim of seeing even more species. New species are already added such some Egyptian geese and a very elusive Jack Snipe down by the pond. So far he has recorded 153 species on the Hoe or seen from it!
The 2013 year list has set a new ever record with 161 species of birds recorded including 8 species new to Samphire Hoe's site: Bewick's swan, White-fronted goose, Egyptian geese, Long-tailed tit, Jack snipe, Bluethroat, Slavonian grebe andd Mistle Thrush.
Construction started on an Education Shelter at Samphire Hoe right next to the tea kiosk and the rangers office. The first scoop of chalk marl was dug. The shelter will be a space for visitors and school groups to increase their understanding of the landscape and heritage of the Hoe.
The Samphire Hoe Shelter will provide a multi functional space for school groups, visitors, training courses, local community groups with exhibitions and displays. Works are progressing well. It will comprise 42m2 for the visitors area, 63m2 classroom and some storage cupboard and cloak room for school groups.
Railway sleepers from the Eurotunnel French terminal were brought by rail across to Samphire Hoe to clad the new Education shelter.
Samphire is on the run! 180 runners from all around Kent came to the nature reserve to take part in the Samphire Hoe leg of the Kent summer relays.
Eurotunnel inaugurated the new Samphire Hoe Education Shelter, an eco-friendly education centre built in partnership with the Up On The Downs Landscape Partnership Scheme and the White Cliffs Countryside Partnership, who manage the Samphire Hoe nature reserve on a daily basis. The shelter provides a comfortable, year-round location for schools and other groups in a 60m² classroom and a 40m² exhibition space. Co-financed by Eurotunnel and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Education Shelter was built using environmentally friendly construction criteria: its wood framed and the exterior for the back is clad using recycled railway sleepers from the Eurotunnel terminal in France and larch for the front and it is heated by wood-fired stoves.
Samphire Hoe hosted a special event to see wildlife migration in action. 25 observers around the local area recorded their sighting of birds on a giant map. Guided walks were organised to record birds sighting with more than 57 swallows passing along the cliffs in a minute! The observers recorded 31,567 birds and 36 different species in total.
Samphire Hoe hosted a 2nd wildlife migration day. 76 different species were reported by the observers. 4,120 birds were arriving into or departing from the country on migration, including swallows, linnets, goldfinches.
The storm Imogen struck Samphire Hoe as well as the south coast of England with great force and peak wind speed was 96mph. Some impressives waves crashed onto the sea wall during the afternoon. A number of people came to the Hoe to see the dramatic seascapes and the rangers made sure they all watched from a safe distance.
The Big Summer Bash which celebrated the end of the fortnight of Up On The Downs Big Summer festival. It was held at Samphire Hoe and provided ways for the 400 local people and visitors who attended to enjoy the local landscape and wildlife.
Samphire Hoe Education shelter was shortlisted for the Kent Design and Development Awards and was a regional finalist in the Civic Trust Awards.
Samphire Hoe received a Special Award for Innovation from the Green Flag Award Scheme which recognised the benefit that the Education Shelter has brought to the Hoe and the local community. Many exhibitions and displays have taken place there and it is an ideal place for school children to visit and learn about their local environment and wildlife.
Samphire Hoe celebrated its 20th anniversary with a first ever Sunday Fun Day which met great success with over 1,300 people attending the event. There was a wide range of activities such as a bug roadshow, face painting, an orchid challenge. Since its opening in 1997, Samphire welcomed around 2 million visitors.
Eurotunnel Fixed Link infrastructure as well as Samphire Hoe featured in various episodes of the third and final season of the series The Tunnel broadcast in December 2017 on Sky Atlantic, in which the characters Commander Elise Wassermann from the Calais judicial police bureau and Detective Chief Inspector Karl Roebuck from Kent Police faced to dangerous criminals.
Samphire Hoe had a few flurries of snow whilst other parts of Kent and England were experiencing lots of snow that week. However the arrival of the Beast from the East made temperatures plummeted on the reserve.
The Samphire Hoe Education Shelter has been chosen as one of the nine featured structures along the CHALKUP21 architectural coastal trail. CHALKUP21 is a 21st century architectural coastal trail that links together contemporary coastal art and architecture along the Strait of Dover. The building’s form is reminiscent of the historic defensive structures dotted along the Kent coast. The Education shelter is a simple, curving structure that continues the theme by being clad in salvaged railway sleepers. It provides space for exhibitions and events and has a satisfying relationship with the sweet, circular timber kiosk opposite. Both are unpretentious, rugged objects that sit well within the quiet serenity of the place.
The new pond dipping pool was used by a school group for the first time. It took all together 22 months from the first turves cut in July 2017 to the construction of the pond and then leaving time to allow nature to colonise it enough. The pond dipping has revealed the presence of dragonfly larvae both emperor and darters along with back swimmers and water boatmen. The pool is maturing in a sustainable way and becomes richer in wildlife.
Samphire was closed to the public due to Covid-19 pandemic in the interests of the protection and comfort of both the public and staff. However as cattle and sheep were still grazing at Samphire Hoe, the rangers continued to check the animals on a daily basis and maintain the nature reserve.
Samphire Hoe re-opened that day for normal hours, i.e. from 7 a.m. until dusk. In the interests of the protection and comfort of both the public and staff, we recommend you to respect social distancing and hygiene measures and please take your rubbish home with you. Samphire Hoe’s rangers thank you for your patience.