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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Speed

The Blériot Memorial

Be where history happened! Not without its accessibility challenges, The Blériot Memorial in Dover marks the spot where Louis Blériot landed after making the first channel crossing by aeroplane in 1909.




Don't need accessibility info? Jump to The Visit to find out more about this historic site.

Location


14 Upper Road

Guston

Dover

CT16 1HW


Access


Parking is available on-site and is open all hours. There are no designated bays and the road surface is in poor condition in parts but it is free to use.



The Grounds are a challenge. As you can see in the image above, there is a ramp from the raised area of the car park to the main path, but the path from the car park to the memorial is rough earth and loose gravel, the kind you find in woodlands. There are also occasional cement blocks, wooden ridges, and other elements that make the terrain challenging. Be aware of trip hazards, uneven surfaces, and ground that is challenging for any mobility aids other than those designed for off-road terrain.




Once you reach the memorial at the landing site, accessibility is again an issue. To view the memorial from above, visitors must either ascend a set of uneven steps or go up a steep path. Once up there, seating is provided and the small size of the plane can be appreciated.




Facilities are not available on-site, but the Blériot Memorial is not far from Dover town centre and Dover Castle.


The nearest changing places toilet is located 1.1 miles away at Dover Gateway.



The Visit


The history of aviation is a fascinating one, and something not to be forgotten given what it has led us to. From the first manned flight in an aeroplane made by the Wright brothers in 1903 (not forgetting all other forms of flight before the invention of the plane), through advances in design, world record attempts, ground-breaking female aviators, and wars, to passenger planes and commercial flights that have become the norm. Aviation has given us famous names including Wilbur and Orville Wright, Amelia Earheart, and Howard Hughes and his Spruce Goose. Yet among those names should be that of Louis Blériot.


On 25 July 1909, two men were camped on the coast of Northern France, waiting to attempt to cross the Channel without stopping. With added motivation in the form of a cash prize for the successful aviator (offered by Lord Northcliffe, owner of the Daily Mail), Blériot was to be the man to rise and make his attempt at dawn.


A bank of clouds caused Blériot to veer off-course, but he was able to get back on track and navigate his way to the landing site at Northfall Meadow, a little northeast of the iconic Dover Castle.


It's hard for us, who are used to modern commercial planes, to imagine making that flight, which is why I was particularly keen to go to the memorial. The granite memorial, laid in 1910, provides an insight into the small size of the Blériot XI plane. When seeing it, one can better understand the magnitude of the feat achieved by this remarkable person.





Admittedly, it is not the easiest place to access if you have mobility needs, but it can be done with caution and suitable aids. It's free and it's the spot where a world's first occurred, so it's worth a visit if you can manage the terrain.



Top Tips


  • Ensure you have appropriate mobility aids, footwear, and support as required (see photos of the terrain in the 'Access' section)

  • If you're interested in aviation or war history, drive along Upper Road towards St Margaret's at Cliffe and visit the war memorials on the left-hand side of the road (pictured below)




For More on the History


The RAF Museum has a good article about Blériot, his flight, and details of the aircraft.


The Dover Historian not only has an article about Blériot's Channel crossing and the part it plays in the history of Dover, but it also has an interesting article about the first female aviator to succeed in this mission. Read about Harriet Quimby here.



Final Note


Dover is unsurprisingly full of history and I go there as often as possible. I will soon be writing about visiting the iconic cliffs and completing the Bluebird Heritage Trail.


Until then, happy travels!



*Disclaimer: This blog is written as a travel blog with a disability focus and history theme. It is intended to entertain and inform but is in no way a comprehensive guide and I do not attempt to provide a full accessibility guide for any site. Readers planning to visit any sites should check site websites or contact sites directly for up-to-date information on opening times, facilities, accessibility and other required information.

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2 Comments


k.heads
Apr 08, 2022

Great piece of history.

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Melissa Speed
Melissa Speed
Apr 08, 2022
Replying to

Thank you, I’m so glad you found it interesting.

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