About Lorraine



Lorraine Sencicle has lived in Dover for most of her life. Now a grandmother, she is married to Alan and has two grown-up daughters, Lynn Candace and Annelies, both of whom, like their father, attended Dover schools.

Lorraine is a trained nurse and a graduate from the University of Kent where she taught her degree subject, Economics. She became interested in local history in the 1980s, when fighting Dover District Council over the development of local open spaces and historical sites.

Since that time, Lorraine has continued opposing developments she sees as inappropriate at the same time as promoting Dover’s valuable local asset, its history. Besides an academically acclaimed book,Banking on Dover and the commercially successful book, Haunted Dover. Since 2004 Lorraine has been the regular contributor of the All Our Yesterdays page in the Dover Mercury and is now a regular contributor to The Way We Were Pages in the Dover Express.

Doverhistorian.com team: Candy  - technical assistant, Lorraine - editor, Alan - assistant editor

Doverhistorian.com team: Candy – technical assistant, Lorraine – editor, Alan – assistant editor


47 Responses to About Lorraine

  1. Lara Pimblett says:

    Wonderful website with fascinating insight to an area full of history and intrigue.

  2. spiritsense says:

    Hi Lorraine, really looking forward to reading some fascinating things about this historic town! My parents and their ancestors originate in Dover (Willis, Hopper and Greenland are among the surnames).

  3. Traci Dominick says:

    Hello, Lorraine,

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this!

    Many thanks! Keep up the wonderful work!

  4. Hello Lorraine,
    Windmill Books would like to use your photograph of the Southern Railway logo. We will credit you in the magazine which is about Building a model Railway
    Please contact me at smortimer@windmillbooks.co.uk to discuss this.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    best wishes,
    Sophie Mortimer
    Picture Manager
    Windmill Books.

  5. Newbold says:

    Dear Lorraine,
    I had passed to me your article (October 3rd 2013) regarding the Lord Warden House & on reading the a fore said article I immediately wrote to Mr S.J.Chambers C/o Dover Town Council with a brief outline of my investigation into Coastal Forces operating out of Dover during June/July 1942. That was over a month ago and I have not received any communication via email, telephone, or written correspondence?!

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi David

      This website has nothing to do with Dover Town Council, indeed it is totally independent.
      I do appreciate that Dover Town Council are difficult to communicate with – it is problem that many of us have encountered.
      I would be delighted if you would forward your letter and may well incorporate your observations into the story.
      Kindest regards

  6. Virginia says:

    Hi Lorraine, Your article on Edward Randolph was excellent. I also share an interest in Dover history. I am a descendant of Edward Randolph, but my direct line is from his younger brother, Giles Randolph. Giles spent time in Dover as a customs agent and also in Deal. He was married in Dover, Church of England, about 1660 and his four children, William, Thomas, Giles and Elizabeth were baptized there. Giles wife was listed as Elizabeth in church records, but I have yet to find her maiden name! During one of Edward Randolph’s tumultuous times in Boston, he sent for his brother Giles to assist him in Boston harbor Giles arrived in the fall of 1683 and died in the spring in 1684 in Boston. There is no record of his wife Elizabeth coming to Boston with Giles, or his daughter Elizabeth, but it is likely that his sons William, Thomas and Giles, Jr., did arrive in Norfolk, Virginia in the late 1600’s. I found Edward Randolph to be a very interesting character.
    Greetings from the Pacific Coast, USA. Virginia

  7. Good Morning Lorraine,
    Mr. Brian Flood past me onto to you with a requests that you might be able to help me if you read my text, Regards Pat

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Dover Transport Museum
    To: Pat
    Sent: Sun, 26 Jan 2014 16:34
    Subject: Re: WW2 American Locomotives

    I cannot say that I think we have anything on this aspect of Dover’s transport history but may I suggest that you make contact with Lorraine at doverhistorian.com

    She has a vast store of local historical knowledge and might be able to help. Also you might launch an enquiry via doverforum.com where one of the regular contributors may well be able to help.

    Brian Flood

    On January 26, 2014, Pat wrote:
    I wonder if you can help me please I am looking for information or pictures of WW2 American locomotives that were transported onto car ferries across the Channel to Cherbourg in Northern France with the help of the Army and Navy just after D-Day, if by any chance you cannot would you know someone that could, or in your area during those months was there any info of storage locos in and around Kent.
    Kindest Regards Patrick Kelly

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Patrick

      The US locomotives transportation you are referring to were the train ferries on which there is an article on this web site. I do have a couple of pix but they are a bit muzzy. The locomotives were mainly transported to Calais as the lines there were in reasonably good shape.



  8. Alyson Hunt says:

    Hi Lorraine,

    Brian Flood has suggested we contact you regarding a proposed project on Victorian women and their mobility, focusing on East Kent coastal towns.

    The International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) is currently revising an Heritage Lottery Funding bid, in parternship with KHLC and a local naval historian. The overall plan is to run a series of public activities and exhibitions, culminating in the creation of a virtual museum.

    We are interested in women’s lives in seaside towns, including Victorian health / water cures and leisure activities, how they were faciliated and the women who were employed in these industries – we anticipate carrying out research on bathing machines, Punch and Judy shows etc, and reproducing them for a modern audience. Underlying this focus is an awareness of the way the arrival of the railway enabled the experience of London day trippers, between the 1840s and the turn of the 20C.

    If you would be interested in having an input, do please get in touch. If you would like to see the draft application, let me know – a letter of support would be an invaluable boost for the bid!

    Best wishes

    Alyson Hunt
    (Research Assistant for ICVWW)

  9. Pamela Smithen says:

    Thoroughly enjoying reading the history of Dover. Many thanks for all your work.

  10. Peter says:

    Hello Lorraine
    I compose and post blogs at Aasof’s Reflection’s, which include a number involving the Misleading Cases of A. P. Herbert. For an international readership I repost these blogs to a My Telegraph site. My latest effort involved a trip to Dover and my search for a meaningful image lead me to your site. I would like to include it – with an acknowledgement and link to your site.

  11. Eric Georget says:

    Hi Lorraine,
    Thank you for precious info !!
    I actually interested to know a little more about the Chatham Railway’s Queen !
    Would you know how long she needed to reach Boulogne from Dover ?
    Thank you in advance
    Kind regards,
    Eric Georget

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Eric

      I have checked Alec Hasensen’s 1980 book History of Dover Harbour (Aurum Special Publications) and he writes on p 426 that the inaugural trip from Folkestone to Calais took place on 27 June at an average speed of 23 knots. So in fine weather the length of time of the crossing would not be much more than today.


  12. Ken Bergin says:

    Dear Lorraine

    Will you please tell me where you sourced the photograph of the “Queen – cross Channel turbine steamer torpedoed 26 October 1916”?


    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Ken

      The pictures I used came from either Dover Museum – as credited and: Queen – cross Channel turbine steamer torpedoed 26 October 1916, my own collection.


  13. Jane Spall( nee Ashman ) says:

    Hello, Very interesting to read your articles. My father, Alan Ashman, was a great Dover historian, particularly regarding the railways and castle. I look forward to reading more from your website.

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Jane

      Your Dad and I were great friends. I use to go with him and Joe Harman to the Dover History group and the Friends of Dover castle. It was Alan and Joe who awoke my interest in Dover’s history and I am still indebted to them both. With regards to the railways my story on the train ferry dock was tightened up by your Dad not long before he died. I miss the conversations and clarifications that I use to have with your Dad and Joe on Dover’s history.
      Kindest regards

  14. Mr Neil Bennett says:

    Hello Lorraine,
    I am researching and writing on the history of Merryweather and Sons, best known as fire engine makers. I have the following information, and would like to know if you think I have got the following facts right, or can add anything:
    – In 1910 a River-class destroyer, HMS Eden (a turbine torpedo-boat destroyer 220 ft long and of 555 tons displacement), was refloated and salvaged by Merryweather & Sons after breaking away from her moorings, running aground and sinking at the Harbour Jetty, East Cliff, Dover, UK. ”
    In 1900 there had been an article and illustration of a Portable Salvage Plant for the Dover Harbour Board in ‘the Engineer’ journal.
    Best regards and thank you for the web-site.

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Neil

      I don’t have to hand any specific details of the H.M.S Eden problem. However, with regards to the statement ‘Harbour Jetty’, East Cliff, I think that I can help. In 1910 the Admiralty harbour had not long been open – 15 October 1909 – and the Eastern Dockyard was still in the throes of developing. In January 1908, Pearson’s had secured the contract for the creation of a Camber or tidal dock for a submarine station. Work started immediately on the 1,000 feet square (304.8 metres square) Camber. The minimum depth was 15-feet (4.58 metres) at low tide and it was protected from all seas. The western and the southern arms of the Camber, I have reason to believe, were conjointly referred to as the Harbour jetty at that time.
      Thank you for your kind comments.


  15. Katherine Marcella says:

    Hi, Lorraine.

    I’m doing some research on Dover during Armada times. Would you know if there are any local accounts of the Armada ships sailing past Dover before they anchored near Gravelines?

    I’m enjoying your site. It’s contains a wealth of information. Thank you.

    Katherine Marcella

    • Lorraine says:

      Thank you for your kind comments about my website but in answer to your question about the Armada … Not a lot.
      Dover, as a member of the Cinque Ports sent ships, but they were out of date and did not play a significant role. In local records there is very little on the Armada. The main concern was the building of a new harbour.
      Albeit, there was awareness of the Armada in Dover and this is clear from the military records of the time. Indeed in my story on the Mote Bulwark, that is scheduled for uploading on Saturday 8 November, and say ‘The Bulwark was again put on alert during the Spanish Armada of 1588 and a defensive extension was built along the shore to the Three Gun Battery, at the top Snargate Street …’

  16. christine norman says:

    Dover has such an amazing History. Can it be imagine that 3 Roman Forts and Roman remains have actually been buried!!..It is almost a theme that Dover’s History is a disgrace. However, now I have joined Dover Tales, with St. Martyn Tales being told all around, let us hope it will be a revival of interest. A new awakening!!!

    • Lorraine says:

      Thank you Christine

      I agree, that Dover’s History is so rich and it is this that doverhistorian.com is aiming to highlight – and it appears to be working with well over a thousand hits in the last two days alone.



  17. Elliot E. Porter says:

    Enjoyed the references on the GPO cable depot in your work. I am doing research for a book on the operations of the GPO cableships [up to 1914] and was wondering if you knew of a source, if any exists, with either photos or, especially, oral histories of the personnel that worked the ships… it was the Alert that was based at Dover. [there were many cableships named Alert, I think four in total, I am focussed on the early period to 1914] I am hoping that there might be something on the daily routine at the cable depot or on the ship. According to GPO records, there was one family that had three generations on the Alert, the Bourdeaux family. I thought that this might indicate that the cable laying and repair operations were something of importance to the community.
    In any case, thank you for your excellent work.

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Elliot
      Thank you for kind comments regarding my story on the Channel Submarine Telegraph and Telephone Cables. To answer you question on fuller details pre-1914, beyond, what I have written in the article, there is very little information, let alone personal information, available. Most of the information I put together came from local newspapers published at that time. John Bourdeaux was a major promoter of telecommunications in Dover but all the information I have found about him I have reiterated in the article.
      One has to look back at the era in Dover when all of this happened. At the time, but little realised, Dover was on the ascendancy – by the end of the 19th century it was in the top ten wealthiest town in the country. So a lot was going on and the overwhelming concern was the harbour and Dover becoming the Harbour of Refuge , in fact the port became an Admiralty Harbour. At the same time the cross Channel traffic, railways, industry, tourism etc. were all expanding of which the Cable story was only a small part – hence, the lack of much more information than I have put in the article – but hopefully decedents of those involved will read my article and contact me with more information – this has certainly happened with other stories!

      Thank you again


  18. execelsior says:

    I see that the Granada Theatre Dover has been demolished. This is not surprising since it had been ‘knocked around’ over the years and was left to rot until it became an EYE SORE. Sadly, the people of Dover did not get their acts together sooner – had they done this, the place might have been saved.

    By the way, the GRANADA THEATRE WALTHAMSTOW has NOT, as you say, been returned to something of its former glory. Despite all kinds of plans for it to return to a theatre of some description, it is quietly rotting away until it falls down from the lack of decision. I saw the exterior last November and see what an eye sore it has become. Another tragedy.

    I am sure that once the Granada Theatre Tooting ceases to be a Bingo Club, which I am sure is going to happen in the future, it will be left to rot also.

    In order to save these buildings, decisions need to be taken QUICKLY, and this can only be done if the community decides it want it. Obviously most communities do not!

    • Lorraine says:

      Thank you for your comments and I am sorry that the Granada Theatre at Walthamstowe is being allowed to rot away. At the time I wrote the article I was led to believe that there was hope … but from what you say, this is no longer the case.

      As for Dover’s Granada, like much of Dover it was under threat through neglect and those with ‘profitable’ motives play a part. How you interpret ‘profit‘ is up to you but suffice to say that sending threatening legal letters is usually the first stage in stopping protests – see my story on Transparency. The owners of the Granada, J D Weatherspoon, owned the building for ten years before it was demolished and throughout that time made all sorts of promises but did nothing. When threatened with a Section 2.1.5 they sold the site to an outfit that made out they represented the Historians of Dover who wanted to buy the old cinema ‘to refurbish it back to its former glory!’ Weatherspoon’s apparently were taken in by this, so I was told, and virtually gave the site away! Demolition started before the planning permission had been ratified – but it was expected.

      On the Home Page of this blog I have highlighted the case of Castle Hill House, a 2* Listed building with a great historical past. Again there are those interested in seeing the building demolished to build something ‘profitable’ and are using all in their power to drive the owner/occupants out. Luckily, the owners in that case are determined to fight back but for how long can anyone take continued harassment and receive negative coverage in the local media?


  19. John Walder says:

    Hello Lorraine, great web site! Best regards to Alan, John Walder

  20. otis says:

    Hello Lorraine. I really enjoyed your article on the Swingate radar. Much detail on the raids on there ! Are you able to say if all the masts were built at the same time please ? I have seen photos which show varying numbers of masts.

    regards Otis

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Otis

      The original wooden masts were erected at the same time after that more were added, as stated or implied in my story. Further, the original ones were replaced by wood and metal, at different times or demolished altogether. Now just two are left but neither are the original ones.


  21. Vance Smith says:

    Just came across your article on Smiths Folly, Very interesting, and well done.
    Of particular interest to me, as my Fathers family have always claimed to be direct descendants of Sir Sidney Smith.
    Best regards
    Vance Smith
    Prince Edward Island

  22. Hello Lorraine, Thanks for posting these fascinating articles. I am a writer and interested in what happened to ferry travel between UK and France during WW2. I see from the article by George Elson that the last Night Ferry crossing was on 25/6 August 1939. Do you know when the last ferry (of any description) made the crossing before war was declared on Sept 3rd? Were any civilians able to cross the channel after the declaration of war or was all ferry travel suspended once they started mining the Strait of Dover? If you could point me in the right direction I would be very grateful. Best wishes, Rob Wilson

    • Lorraine says:

      Hello Rob
      You are far from the first writer to ask me this question and I can only tell you what I have told others …
      As in World War I Dover became a ‘Fortress’ at the outbreak of World War II and therefore under military rule. At the end of August, as destroyers arrived the ferries were either moved to Folkestone or commandeered for war service – as the war progressed this was the fate of nearly all of them – see my write up on Southern Railway for a brief over view of their fate that one day I will be expanding! The Night Ferry made its last run on the night of 25/26 August and the final passenger sailing was the Canterbury to Calais on 26 August. The port was closed on 5 September from when, for the duration of the War, no vessel was allowed to enter Dover harbour without special permission.
      I do hope that this will be of help.

  23. Simon Costin says:

    Thanks so much for the piece on East Cliff and Athol Terrace. I’ve just bought a house on East Cliff and so it was great to learn more of it’s history. By the sound of it’s history, it’s lucky to still be standing!

  24. Howard Newman says:

    Greetings from Canada,
    My family-history research has, belatedly, led me to your article ‘Womens’ Suffrage in Dover’ as I am endeavouring to ascertain if any members of my family were active in the suffrage movement during the early nineteen hundreds.
    Both my parents were born in Dover. My mother was born in the Robin Hood pub, on Townwall Street, that was owned by her father James Knight. My paternal grand-parents are Victoria Mary Egan (her mother, Frances Egan, operated a small confectionary at 29 Charlton Green) and Charles Gordon Newman (the Newman family operated the Oyster Depot. at 1 Queen Street).
    But my particular interest at this time is to find out if Florrie Cadman was a suffrage supporter. Florrie married Allan Newman on June 2, 1913 – two days before the Derby incident.
    Two other Newman possibilities are Ethel Charlotte Newman (known as Tim) and Florence Amy Newman (who, in later years, ran the fish shop. She is standing in the shop doorway in photograph 101. of Ivan Green’s book ‘Dover A Pictorial History’.).
    Any information that you can provide will be much appreciated.
    Howard Newman

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Howard

      I am not going to be able to help you as, as far as I know, there were no records kept of those who attended the Women’s Suffrage movement in Dover. The only way I found the names referred to in the story was going through articles of their meetings in local newspapers. Needless, to say, they only referred to key players at each meeting. Going through the list that I put together, when I was researching the subject, I cannot find a Florrie Cadman/Newman, Ethel Newman or Florence Amy Newman but that does not mean that they did not take part, far from it, as the movement in Dover was very strong. Those taking part came from all walks of life, which was fairly unique compared to other towns. Therefore, it can be assumed that if family folklore says that they were part of the movement, then it would be reasonable to accept this. Of note, the surnames Cadman and Newman are common in Dover area but I cannot find any mentioned in the articles – which, to my min, confirms this assumption.

  25. Alan Williams says:

    Hi Lorraine (and team),
    What a great and very readable but expert resource, full of really interesting material and brilliantly presented. A model of web-resources for local history! Wondered if by any chance you had come across the 1940 Ministry of Information film ‘The Front Line – Dover’? Happy to email details and a short article about it which was recently published in the ‘1940s Society’ magazine if you wish. Best wishes, Alan Williams

  26. Blitz Detective says:

    Hi there

    I am writing a book about the Seaside at War. Naturally Dover features. I read your piece on the fireman based at the church in Charlton. My friend’s Harold Budgen was the vicar there during the war. One morning he got out of bed to go to the bathroom. A shell fired from Cap Gris Nez exploded a way off but a large piece of shrapnel came the window and landed on the pillow where his head would have been moments earlier. He had it fashioned into a pen holder in his study. My friend has it now and it weighs a ton

    Kind regards
    Neil Bright

  27. Please contact doveryouththeatre@hotmail.com we had no idea you were writing about the theatre and never received any notification that you wanted to share our work . Dyt was founded in Jan 1995. Our website is www. doveryouththeatre.co.uk

  28. fabbe79 says:

    Dear Lorraine

    First of all i would just like to mention how much i appreciate your site which is a great asset to our historic town. My reason for contacting you regards the future of the granville dock. Now if im right, although modified over the years, it constitutes part of the original harbour going back hundreds if not thousands of years (correct me if im wrong)? I personally feel a lot of anger towards DHB as the docks are due to be filled in and am surprised by the lack of opposition from Dovorians to burying another piece of our history. Has there been any opposition? Do people know it will be used to contain lorries? Or is it due to indifference or people feeling powerless? Surely there is still time for that part of the dwdr to be stopped.
    Kind regards

    • Lorraine says:

      Hi Fabrizo
      First, thank you for your kind remarks on my website.
      Granville Dock is part of the original Digges Western Docks that were built towards the end of 16th century and the dock we see today was rebuilt in the 19th century – see my story on Granville Dock. The present development as been on the cards for over a decade and again the story is covered on my website – see Tides Flooding Western Docks and the Esplanade Cut. Why, you ask, have people not jumped up and down about it, I have many ideas but they amount to a basic lack of co-ordination and media disinterest. Further, as you will know as a local, many of our local politicians and their puppet-masters are remote from the town’s grass roots and, indeed, our two local papers are not even based in the town! Thus, public opinion relies on the social media and those who shout loudest and obviously Granville Dock does not weigh heavy in those quarters.
      That is my soapbox reaction! Therefore, I research and write my stories – heavy of facts – on aspects of Dover’s history and this has an amazing (to me) large following. As I am either deliberately snubbed by many of our erstwhile local politicians or receive abuse … I am obviously making an impression.
      Thank you again for your kind remarks

  29. Douglas Parker says:

    Fantastic website. I am descended from Humphrey Gilbee of Dover (ca 1630-1730). His descendants became mariners, shipwrights, boat builders (and probably pirates 🙂 ) Your articles on the Cinque Ports history took me flying back in time with my ancestors to North Sea fishing, raids on France, Scotland and Wales, building the best ships in the world. WOW. Best Wishes. Douglas Parker, Mardan Australia. ps I have raced in 10 Flying Dutchman sailing world championships, it’s in the genes.

  30. Andy says:

    Lorraine, an interesting article on the Dieppe raid. I am also from Dover, and I have worked for Megger instruments (formerly Avo) for 25 years. I am also now company historian and writing details on the companies past.
    Within your Dieppe raid you talk about Jack Nissenthall, who had cut telephones lines on the German radar station. Well, his name comes up in my research…. And during this task he lost his backpack, that contained his most precious item, his Avometer! At this time, the Avo factory was in London, but the Dover site opened in 1965 by Lord Mounbatton…. Whom interestingly was the man commanding the Dieppe raid.


    • Lorraine says:

      I am pleased that Avo’s have an ‘in-house’ historian – I have toyed with writing up the story of the company but my inside knowledge is not sufficient to give the (Dover) company its full credit.

      Also thank you for the added info regarding the Dieppe raid. When I was writing the weekly local history page in the Dover Mercury, an elderly gentleman materialised on my doorstep with a large envelope of photos and a mind full of information and that became the base of my research for the story. To my mind, Dover’s history is forever in his debt, in the same way as it will be in yours when you publish the history of Avo in Dover.

      So thank you again for being able to add a little more to the story and the connection with Avos.

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