Military Heritage Pub Launch


On 10th May 2007, the public house, "The Finest Hour", was launched.  Front Line Dover was a Garrison town, and  landlady Sarah Webb will fill the pub with war-time memorabilia, to remember and respect our military history.

Roger Walkden, organiser of the Dover Loyalty Card scheme, gave the opening speech. "The 10th of May is the anniversary of the invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland, which led to Churchill's famous "Finest Hour" speech ... It is also the date he became Prime Minister." There has been a pub on the site since the 1860s, when two cottages were converted into an hostelry. The pub is famed for its rare tiled frontage, said to be the finest example in England.  Landlady Sarah comes from a military family, and welcomed everyone to her new venture. The pub will be used by veterans and other groups, and will be a home for the Dover War Memorial Project
Alan Taylor, Forget Me Not War Graves, presenting Sarah with RAMC and RAF plaques. Sarah was promised many more items on the night, including a (defused!) bomb!
Veterans Arthur Tolputt, RA, Dr Peter Burville, RAF, joined councillors and other guests to celebrate the opening 
Re-enactors Lee and Jacqueline Prescott and Colin Smith, organisers of the 1940s weekends in Dover,
with Sarah and Roger
Collette Boland, Dover Forum, with
Mike Webb, Town Clerk
Our undercover agent (Brian Dixon, from Forget Me Not) Brian Walker, Town Sergeant, with Councillor David Hannent
With many other guests and friends to enjoy the evening, including the scrumptious food laid out in the upstairs meeting room. The pub is well used to catering, as it used to supply the nearby police station and gaol with food. There are tunnels between the buildings, although they are now blocked off.  A ghost is reputed to haunt the cellar, and has been seen by the landlady herself.

The pub was named by Maggie S-K,  after the speech by Winston Churchill on 18 June 1940. "..the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin ... Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour".".

But there were other reasons too. Maggie said, "We are here today to launch “The Finest Hour”. In June 1940, Winston Churchill said that our little island had to stand firm, as the enemy swept across Europe. This pub celebrates and commemorates Dover, as THE frontline town - because we Dovorians, from Hellfire Corner itself, know what it is to stand firm! We carried on, we did our duty, and we Dovorians had our Finest Hour!  

army, navy, air force, around a table, quaffing pints, the white cliffs in the background through the window
The pub sign was designed by the artist Bruce (left, above). Martin O'Hare (right), one of the bar staff,
painted the sign for the launch

"But - The Finest Hour is more. It is all we hold dear, whether that's a victory in battle, a baby's smile, or a pint in the pub after a hard day’s work. Some will say that The Finest Hour was when we had Peace. The Armistice was one such - the  eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It has been commemorated every year since.  

"I wish Sarah success. I wish all of you The Finest Hours. But most of all I wish us to remember – that we can enjoy our Finest Hours thanks to those many brave people who fought and those who died  ... and still do so today. They gave and give their Finest Hours - for us. May we never, EVER, forget.”

pictures by Simon John Chambers

Post Script: We enjoyed a few good drinks in "The Finest Hour" - but we hear it has now closed. We've heard that it developed structural problems - not because of the opening party, we hasten to add! We hope these can be repaired soon.

Copyright 2007/8 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved