As difficult as it is to imagine now but there was once a railway that ran along the White Cliffs at Dover. The construction of a large harbour at Dover was recommended in 1883. The final specifications for the project were published in 1897 and in 1898 a tender from S. Pearson & Son was accepted for it's construction using concrete blocks for the breakwaters. To make these blocks Pearson built two blockyards at either end of the harbour site. The eastern yard site is where the Eastern Docks now stand. The sand and gravel for the concrete had to come from Sandwich. At first these came by sea but soon by train. To this end Pearson built a railway from Martin Mill, on the Deal to Dover passenger line, to a terminating at a site just above the Eastern Docks. This single-track. standard gauge line was in use by mid 1899.
From Martin Mill the line ran parallell to the mainline for almost a mile and then turned south towards the cliff edge and then ran around the curve of the cliff above Langdon Hole on a ledge which is now the footpath towards St Margarets. It continued on an embankment running outside the walls of Langdon Prison (now demolished) to it's terminus where sidings andan unloding shed were built.
Initially the sand and gravel were simply tipped over the side of the cliff and down the cliff face to the blockyard below! It was then decided that a safer option would be to build a form of funicular railway called a balanced lift installation to lower the material in narrow gauge, side-tipping wagons down the cliff. The weight of the full wagons served to lift the empty ones back up.
In May 1909 Pearson obtained another contract to reclaim land for the new Marine Station at the Western Docks using chalk quarried from the cliffs above the Eastern Docks. From ground level he cut a wide ledge at a gentle gradient and laid a railtrack on this to transport the chalk down the cliffs to the water and there to be loaded onto barges and taken across to the Western Docks site. Fencing was erected (the remains of which can still be seen) to prevent chalk falling into the harbour below. As these works cut through the route of the funicular railway, Pearson then constructed another track climbing backwards from his new line to connect with his original mineral railway. This link thus connected the cliff top to the ground level so allowing the possibility of running trains from the mainline at Martin Mill direct to the Eastern Docks.
In 1917 the section of track from the cliff top terminus to Langdon Battery was lifted to supply track for the new seafront railway (also built by Pearsons). The rest of the mineral railway was lifted in 1937 and used for scrap by the Army. Part of the route was re-laid in 1940 and named the Martin Mill Military Railway to serve batteries and gun emaplacements along the cliffs.
Some traces of the railway can still be seen along the foothpaths that used to serve as the trackbeds including the remains of wooden sleepers and cut-off pieces of track that were used as sign posts (as seen in my last photo below).
In John's thread on the building of Admiralty Harbour the railway can be seen in his photos of the construction of the Eastern Docks:http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=535.0