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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

English Channel

In 1802 the French engineer Albert Mathieu proposed a tunnel under the English Channel for horse-drawn carriages with an artificial island midway.

Swimming the English Channel was first achieved on August 24 and 25, 1875 by Captain Matthew Webb (1848-83). Having smeared himself with porpoise oil, as Webb swam his daughter gave him brandy, roast beef sandwiches and Bovril from a boat. He covered the 21 miles from Dover to Calais Sands in 21 hours 45 minutes using the breast stroke. The feat caused a world-wide sensation.

Captain Matthew Webb (1883)

American Gertrude Ederle was just 20-years-old when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel on August 6, 1926. Not only did she swim the channel, but by swimming from Cap Gris Nez, France to Kingsdown, England in 14 hours 31 minutes she broke the existing men's record by nearly two hours.. Her record was not broken until 1950.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President of France François Mitterrand met on February 12, 1986 at Canterbury Cathedral to sign an agreement that would begin the building of the Channel Tunnel — a plan first mooted by Napoleon. The Treaty of Canterbury that was agreed is significant and unusual because it is a modern and recent modification to the national borders of the UK and France.

Entrance to the tunnel near Coquelles, France. By Billy69150  Wikipedia

On December 1, 1990 the two tunnels being dug from each side of the English Channel met in the middle. The first man through was a British construction worker called Graham Fagg from Dover. The British and French workers then shook hands, linking their nations with the Channel Tunnel. when they met in the middle they were just 4mm off target.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and French President François Mitterrand opened the Channel Tunnel on May 6, 1994 in a ceremony held first in Calais and then in Folkestone.

The spoil from the Channel Tunnel was left near Dover, adding some 90 acres to the area of the UK.

In 2003 an extreme sports fanatic became the first man to cross the English Channel in an unpowered flight. Felix Baumgartner jumped from a plane 30,000 feet above Dover and glided 22 miles at speeds up to 220 miles an hour in a 10-minute flight. He landed by parachute near Calais, France.

The oldest man to swim the English Channel is South African Otto Thaning. He crossed from Shakespeare beach in Dover to Wissant Bay near Calais in 12 hours and 52 minutes at the age of 73 years and 177 days.

THE oldest woman to swim the English Channel is grandmother Sue Oldham, from Perth, Australia, who was aged 64 and 257 days when she crossed from Dover to France in 17 hours and 11 minutes in 2010.

The record for the fastest cross-Channel swim stands at six hours, 55 minutes, set by Australian Trent Grimsey on September 8, 2012.

The channel between England and France grows 300mm each year.

Source Daily Express

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