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The Varne Bank is a five and three quarter mile long sand bank in the Dover Straitsmarker, lying nine miles southwest of Dovermarker in Kentmarker, Englandmarker.

Lying almost in the middle of the south/west international traffic English-side channel of the English Channelmarker, the Varne Bank is a constant concern for both Her Majesty's Coastguard and shipping. Due to its heightened risk, there is still a Trinity Housemarker automatic Lightvessel placed on the Varne Bank.

Less well known than its close northerly neighbour the Goodwin Sandsmarker, ships that founder on the Varne Bank are often stated as being lost on the Goodwin Sands in error. Due to the volume increase in shipping through the world's busiest channel, several proposals have been made to eliminate the Varne Bank through dredging. However, also due to its shallow depth, the Varne Bank is a productive location for fishing, especially for cod and scallops.

In 1802, mining engineer Albert Mathieu made proposals to Napoleon in line with the aims of the 1751 Treaty of Amiens, for turning the Varne Bank into an island staging point for the Channel Tunnelmarker. The proposal would have seen railway tunnels reaching north to various parts of England, and south into France and Belgium. In the twentieth century, a proposal was made for a Channel bridge, which would have used the Varne Bank as a staging post for a support structure.

Several naval battles have been fought nearby, including the Battle of Goodwin Sandsmarker in 1652 and the Battle of Dover Strait in 1917.

Varne Marine, now dissolved, was a UK Yacht Builder named with reference to the Varne Bank. The company produced the Varne 27 and other models, for which an Owners' Club exists. The club Magazine is called 'LightShip' after the Varne Lightship which marks the hazard to shipping.


  1. Cargo ship rescued by high tide BBC News - 27 April 2006
  2. MV Lowlands Maine Maritime - 26 April, 2006
  3. Container Vessel "LT Cortesia" aground in Dover Strait Maritime & Coastguard Agency - January 02, 2008
  4. Varne Light ship - 5th June, 2007
  5. Commodore David Squire - The Hazards of Navigating The Dover Strait (Pas-de-Calais) Traffic Separation Scheme - Cambridge Journal, 2003
  6. Folkestone Harbour
  7. The age of the train The Spectator - 7 November 2007
  8. AR Flint - Paper: The Proposed Bridge over the English Channel Structural Engineer magazine
  9. History of Folkestone Harbour and Cross Channel Links
  10. Varne Yachts Owners' Club

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