Harwich and Dovercourt have a rather urban feel today, and modern housing has almost seamlessly joined the two towns together as one — but it hasn’t always been that way.

Dovercourt, the outwardly modern and perhaps rather characterless little town, is actually older than Harwich. Archeological evidence stretches from prehistory through the Roman occupation and on almost continuously to the modern day. Dovercourt was essentially a small farming community, until new building began to expand the town in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Harwich, on the other hand, seems only to have appeared on the scene around 1150, but it quickly became a thriving port with, evidence suggests, a certain urgency about the place. Harwich’s importance as a port is a result of its location; protruding out as it does into the estuary of the rivers Orwell and Stour, it commands the only safe anchourage between the Thames and the Humber.

Shipbuilding at Harwich, early 19th century
• Shipbuilding at Harwich, early nineteenth century
Essential Reading

This list is not by any means exhaustive or definitive. If you know of a book about (or covering some aspect of) Harwich history that you would like to recommend, please e-mail us with the author, title, publisher and (if possible) ISBN.

Please note that there are Amazon search facilities below and elsewhere on these pages that link to British, U.S. and Canadian Amazon sites. Even if you prefer not to buy books on-line, Amazon represents a fair catalogue of what is available.

The Harwich Packets 1635-1834
Ivan Trinder
ISBN 0950196444
The Harwich Story
Leonard Weaver, 1975
Harwich — Gateway to the Continent
Leonard Weaver
Terence Dalton Ltd., 1990
ISBN 0861380487
Harwich Papers
Leonard Weaver
The Harwich Society, 1994
Harwich and Dovercourt In Old Picture Postcards
Phil Cowley
European Library, 1992
ISBN 9028853472
Harwich and Dovercourt In Old Picture Postcards Vol. 2
Phil Cowley
S.B. Publications, 1992
ISBN 1857702204
Images of England: Harwich and Dovercourt
John Mowle
Tempus, 2001
The Margaret Doubleday File
Ed. Brian Woods
About this Old Town
Brian Woods
The Legendary Pier
Brian Woods
Ochre Books, 1994
Just Thinking About Harwich
Brian Woods and A.R. Carter
Ochre Books, 1997
The Harwich Quiz
Brian Woods and A.R. Carter
Ochre Books, 1999

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The Harwich History pages

We have built a small family of pages that may interest the amateur historian. Use the pull-down menu at the top of each page to navigate between them.

A Brief History of Harwich — A potted history by the former town archivist Dr. William Tyler

The Harwich Brewery — A history of the original Cobbold brewery at Harwich by Richard Oxborrow

From Daniel Dafoe’s A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain — An account of Harwich in 1724

Parson Woodforde’s Diary — What Woodforde said about Harwich (and why)

Harwich Roots — Do you have Harwich roots? Get in touch with other genealogists (and possibly relatives) through the Harwich family history page.

Christopher Jones & the Mayflower — Historian David A. Male traces the Harwich connection of one of history’s most famous sailing vessels

The U-boats — The story of the surrender of the German submarine fleet at Harwich in 1918

Down in the flood — A Harwich man gives his personal account of the terrible floods that hit the east coast of England on the night of 31 January, 1953

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