The Gallo Roman period
The first signs of development of the harbour
- Boulogne will become one of the leading ports of departure from Gaule across the Channel.
The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages, the life of the harbour was highly eventful
- Invasion of the Saxons, followed by the Vikings, piracy, wars…
- Further developments are made, to service the growing trade with England.
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
A number of works undertaken under Henry VIII (1544-1550), then under Henry II (1647)…
Nineteenth century : the first major harbour developments
- Napoleon’s invasion plan : a quay is built, a semi-circular basin is excavated to accommodate the French fleet, several forts are built, an inner harbour is developed to hold the rest of the fleet. Following the abandonment of the invasion plan, the port will be completely neglected.
- 1822 : The first steam ship from Dover docks in the port
- The 1830s : Gradual resumption of work.
- 1829 – 1839 : Construction of new jetties, the harbour is dredged, the Marguet bridge appears.
- 1843 : The Boulogne/Folkestone passenger transport route becomes operational.
- From 1850 : Development is accelerated, with constant growth in traffic.
- 1858 – 1868 : Construction of a wet dock: the bassin Napoléon (Napoleon Basin)
- During the 1860s and 1870s, two projects are under way: firstly, to make the port at Boulogne accessible in all weather conditions, requiring the construction in 1879 of a shelter in the form of the digue Carnot (Carnot dike); secondly, to make the port sufficiently deep to accommodate large vessels despite silting.
- 1889 : Arrival of the first Transatlantic ship to sail from the United States
The ensuing years saw cruise ships sailing into the port from all over the world.
Twentieth century : Expansion and War
The turn of the twentieth century : Strong commercial expansion
- 1904-1911 : Construction of the Bassin Loubet (Loubet Basin) for trade and fishing, a graving dock is excavated to increase the depth of the port for ocean-going transatlantic ships, the digue Carnot (Carnot dike) is extended and the Digue Nord (the North dike) is constructed.
- 1914 : The Port of Boulogne is France’s leading fishing port (over 50,000 tonnes of fish), 6th largest commercial port (with 800,000 tonnes of freight) and leading cross-Channel passenger transport port (over 400,000 passengers)
- The railway benefits the Port of Boulogne by providing a link between Paris and England via Boulogne.
During the Second World War : The port is occupied by the Germans at an early stage.
- May 1940 : The port became a prohibited zone
- 1942 : Ferdinand Sarraz Bournet launches the Capécure project: at the end of the war, to build a real industrial district principally given over to fishing, where all fishing industry activities will be concentrated.
- 1944 : 98% of the port is destroyed.
After the war
- 1945-1956 : Reconstruction will take about 10 years: the Capécure project is put into action.
- The port picks up rapidly, both in terms of fishing and trade.
- The early 1950s : Resumption of cross-Channel operations with the construction of the gateway for the cross-Channel boats and the new maritime station.
- 1956 : Completion of reconstruction with the inauguration of the new Chamber of Commerce building, the new fish auction and refrigerated storage facility…
- 1967 : Construction of the Darse Sarraz Bournet dock allowing a rapid increase in traffic.
- 1971 : Extension of the marina in the inner harbour, installation of the large lock, a 3rd slipway, creation of a second gateway for the cross-Channel links…: a port of truly European scale.
- 1980 : Boulogne moves into car ferry operations and modernises the dock station and the Hoverport.
- The 1980s : Depression in the fishing industry
- The late 1980s : Boulogne regains its position as leading fishing port in France and as Europe's leading centre for the processing and commercialisation of seafood products: Development of the training centre, creation of a temperature-controlled warehouse, extension of the Jean Voisin auction hall, inauguration of the new Marée Dock (haulage station)...
- 1990 : Boulogne is 1st for fishing, 2nd for passenger carriage, 9th for trade