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From the Folkestone Herald Published 18 November 1999

Roll the credits

A FORMER member of the once popular Arthur Brough Players at the Leas Pavilion theatre which used to draw large audiences, Julie Deller tells of some of her experiences in this month’s edition of Bygone Kent, which has been a ‘must buy’ for hundreds of local history enthusiasts for 20 years.

Julie joined the Players in 1951 when every summer there would be ‘Full House’ notices up outside the tiny theatre.

But despite pleas from various quarters to get him to persuade directors to enlarge the auditorium to accommodate a bigger audience Arthur, says, Julie, knew from personal experience this would not be justified in the winter months.

Arthur Brough also opened a rep, in the Palace, at Maidstone, in 1953, Coronation year, the idea being to interchange productions with the Leas Pavilion, with an increased number of actors.

Plays, she said, were good, tried and tested, with good casts; Heather Chasen the leading lady and Douglas Rye leading man. Heather went on to play later in The Severed Head in London’s West End and in The Navy Lark with the BBC.

A number of actors launched their careers at the Leas Pavilion. Alistair Sim played there, as did David Tomlinson, a Folkestone boy, and Peter Barkworth who has made the town his home and is active in the Metropole Arts programmes.

But television was beginning to capture audiences, which could result in half-empty ‘houses.’ However, the theatre received a boost in 1952 when the BBC televised the play “Over the Garden Wall” from the Leas Pavilion. It was quite a family affair, as Arthur Brough’s partner Elizabeth Addyman had written the play.

Julie Deller recalls her modest contribution was to roll the credits at the end - using a rather makeshift affair she describes as being like a small mangle!

She also recalls the contribution made to productions by local man Peter Walter, who had been honoured for his bravado in the war in driving a tank into enemy lines. He took leading roles season after season and but for family and loyalty to the Broughs, would surely have gone on to greater things in London.

He was, says Julie, “a brilliant player of comedy and farce.”

It was Peter’s brother who founded the well known Walters shoe shops, with branches in Ashford, Dover, Deal, Folkestone and Maidstone.


Pegden family

Bill Warman, 87, of Garden Road, was quick to respond to my appeal in Memories on behalf of the Pegden family for more information about an old picture of a dinner celebration in the town.

That was in the Herald of October 28.

Mr Warman, a retired seaman who was serving on the hospital ship Maid of Kent when it was bombed and destroyed at Dieppe in the Second World War, was pretty certain it was a dinner of the Fisherman’s Lodge of the Buffaloes’ friendly society, probably at the Sailors’ Bethel, or of the annual dinner of the St Peter’s Club at the Bethel, he told Mrs Muriel Drury, of Elham.

The photograph was shown to me by Mrs Olive Rogers, daughter of the late Wilfred Pegden senior. Born in 1901, the year his young fisherman dad, William, 37, was lost overboard from the fishing boat Shamrock in the Channel, Wilfred was seated second from the left in the dinner group.

Bethel Mystery

SAILORS’ Bethel Mystery: Was the old dinner picture taken at the Bethel, and if not where? That’s what three Herald readers ask!


Mrs Drury, one of two nieces of Wilfred, that I met recently, says that Alan Taylor in a recent talk to Folkestone Local History Society on Old Folkestone showed a similar picture taken in the old Bethel decked with flags in the same way.

A man positively identified in the dinner picture was Bill Grist. He is seated next to the lady in white.



But Alan Taylor told me this week he wasn’t sure whether Bill Warman was right. One group of the Buffaloes, he said used to meet at the Oddfellows’ Club in St Michaels St and another at the Oddfellows Inn at the Stade. And he didn’t think any of those in the picture looked like fishermen.

Mrs Drury who is Mrs Rogers’ cousin, said another Herald reader had a lovely surprise when she saw the Memories feature.

Grandma Featherbe

SURPRISE for Herald reader who spotted her Grandma Featherbe in this picture.


In the bathing cabins group picture Mrs Drury had shown me, a Mrs Conlin had been delighted to recognise the older lady, in a deckchair, as her grandmother, Mrs Violet Featherbe.

And, said Mrs Drury, the man with a white cap, also sat in a deckchair, had been identified as deckchair attendant Mr Tumber.

Alan Taylor identified the three men with flat caps as Pegdens, the two men at the back and the man on the left in the front row. He believed one was called ‘Hussy.’

Incidentally Mrs Drury was telling me that Wilfred Pegden senior, who was her mother’s brother, had the nickname Air Raid’ Pegden - nothing to do with war, but the fact that in his younger days he was always reluctant to have his hair cut!

Finally, if you missed Alan's first book on Folkestone in Old Photographs written in collaboration with Eamonn Rooney and Charles Whitney I see Ottakar’s have a hardback reprint on sale at 7.99.


My Three Angels

My Three Angels, 1954 with Julie Deller as Madame Parole, with Peter Walker, Peter Whitbreas and Bill Waddy, at the old Lease Pavillion Theatre.



Officers paid volunteers’ fares to fight in Boer war.

British Army has always prided itself in being one of the best in the world but their leaders did the UK no favours by their dealings with the clever Boer forces in South Africa most of whom appear to have been farmers with little or no military training but determined and with the advantage of knowing the countryside. So it is amusing to hear how our Volunteer forces contrived to lend their assistance to the regular army suffering heavy casualties in the war. A dozen from East Kent only contrived to get there and to fight through a favour asked of one army officer by a friend in the person of Lord Roberts himself, who was Colonel of the East Kent Yeomanry. With this influence the local men, unfortunately not Identified In press reports, joined a force of the Imperial Light Horse regiment with the promise of five shillings a day pay (25p) as troopers. It is also related that some soldiers, having won concessionary rates from the Castle Line liner company, had their fares paid by officers of their corps! Papers told of plans by a tramways promoter for a service from New Romney to Folkestone passing through Hythe and Sandgate, up the eastern Military Road and over Shorncliffe Camp to Cherlton, along the north side of the railway to the harbour.



The days rival party groups fought during the elections.

HERALD writer Felix commenting on recent public meetings to select new parliamentary candidates told of the big difference between these modern events and those of the past when It could be a major local spectacle with fireworks and high spirited antics. It used to be a red letter day in the calendar with huge processions and the lifeboat or a small lugger was sometimes paraded through the Folkestone and on to Hythe on a trolley as part of the merrymaking. Once at Hythe the prospective candidates would give speeches. If they could make themselves heard, from the windows of the Town Hall. Beer flowed, rival political groups were sometimes locked in battle and would return to their respective communities sporting black eyes. In more recent times it had become a much more sober affair and with outwardly far less public interest. Local boatmen W Walker, F Barton and F Foad were each given a small financial award to mark their rescue from drowning of French airman M. Saycret who came down in the sea off Copt Point at the end of August. Hythe Town Council approved new national proposals to control bus services with a view to Improving the local service and ending the danger of racing on the roads by drivers of rival bus companies.



Smart work by 2 off-duty bobbies as fire hits school.

A FIREWORK, believed to have shot through a partly open window, was believed to have been the freak cause of a fire in a dormitory at St Margaret/'s School. Earl's Avenue, Folkestone leading to the evacuation of the girls. Two off-duty policeman. PCs Alreton and Bibby, spotted the glow from a window and raised the alarm, while headmaster Mr D Hasson smashed a window and threw out blazing bedding and clothes. No one was hurt. Folkestone Labour Party adopted Moss Murray. 29, an assistant news editor of the Dally Mirror, as Its prospective Parliamentary candidate for the forthcoming General Election. During the war he had served in the RAF. Folkestone Sea Angling Association's three-day pier festival drew a record entry, including nearly 30 anglers from France and there were 100 lines out every day. A Continental Cup was up for grabs for the first time and was won by a Boulogne angler. Local commuters were among 800 who signed a petition to rail boss Sir Eustace Missendon calling for a bettor train service. A Government Inspector found that the Sandgate Waterworks were in poor condition, the service reservoir had a serious crack and could not be filled and the mains suffered considerable leakage, leading to low pressure for property on high ground.



Sugar famine sparks handbag ‘hooliganism’ in shops!

A FORMER Herald reporter Dave Routhorn told T25 years ago how a sugar shortage sparked off what a local supermarket called a “frightening outbreak of handbag hooliganism." The manager complained that normally well-behaved shoppers "were acting like pigs." after one Hythe counter assistant had to spend time off work nursing a badly bruised arm after being attacked by an Irate shopper. Told there was no sugar left the woman threw her wire basket of groceries at the assistant. Deborah Luckhurst, saying the store could keep them! And at Cheriton two men threatened to wreck a store after being told there was no sugar! It was a similar story at supermarkets all over the Shepway area as customers were rationed to 21b each, until stocks ran out. The retirement at the end of 1974 of the coxswain of Dungeness lifeboat, Tom Tart, Ben to all his friends, ended all but 100 years service to life-saving by the Tart family. Born within 60 yards of the slipway Ben, 59, was launched on a life-saving career by his father, also a lifeboatman. At 14 he went out in the boat on an exercise. But he was 18 before he was allowed to take part In search or rescues. Becoming a full member of the crew after his, father died In 1943, a ‘highlight' of his service as coxswain earned him a coveted Silver Medal. He brought the lifeboat alongside a Danish cargo ship to take off an Injured man as winds reached nearly 100mph.


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