For many Dover residents Langdon Cliffs are a sometimes cold and windswept, other times hot and sunny, but always beautiful place to walk or just relax, alone, with loved ones or the pet dog. Thousands of tourists every year find their way to the tiered car park to spend hours gazing out over the channel and admiring the extraordinary speed and efficiency achieved by the cross channel ferry operators in manoeuvring large ships in a confined and busy turning area to dock against a bridge structure as narrow as a single lane road then unload and reload several hundred trucks and cars to depart for the return journey and all within one hour. But the fascination doesn’t end there, for the viewer is compelled to watch hundreds of vehicles disgorging from several ships simulteneously onto a myriad of traffic lanes, bridges and flyovers as the port controllers clever choreography separates inbound and outbound traffic in a continuous non-stop flow of engineered humanity.
The cliff top walks are well known to the author of Deadliest Deal so its no wonder they feature in the book, though not for the beauty of the surroundings but for the mortal danger that 200 foot high cliffs present and for an author to use that inherent danger as a narrative pathway to suicide, accident or murder.
“Before he could phone operations centre Dave Barlow was on the phone to him asking that he get Chief Inspector Ops authority for urgent helicopter support to lift Ian Sherred’s car from the base of Langdon Cliffs, where some walkers had found it. The index plates were missing but Dave had got to it and found a service log in the glove box, it had Ian’s name on it. There wasn’t a body in the car but three doors were open, an occupant could have been thrown out in the 200ft fall down the cliff;”
Why did Ian’s car end up at the bottom of the cliff, was it an accident, crime or suicide? For the answers read the book “Deadliest Deal”.
At the highest point of the Langdon Cliff area is the Dover Coastguard building. Neither the building nor its staff were strangers to the author of Deadliest Deal on the night of 6th March 1987 when the Herald of Free Enterprise, a ferry sailing from Zeebrugge to Dover sank a mile outside Zeebrugge port, with the loss of 193 lives; he was the Police Inspector liaison between the Coastguard and Kent Police Headquarters. A more depressing night it could not have been as the body count rose ever higher.