DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

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From The Folkestone Herald Published 9 December 1999

That’s my dad!

VERY interested in a Martin Walters staff picture I featured in memories back in July 1998 is Mr M. Morecraft, whose grandfather, Frederick William Morecraft used to work for the garage company.

Martin Walter 1924

MOTORING memento: MARTIN Walter motor body work builders and coachbuilding craftsmen at the old Tontine Street workshops in 1924. The picture was lent to me by local historian Alan Taylor and was used in Memories back in July 1998, when most of the names were printed.

 

Mr Morecraft has been researching his ‘family tree’ and is anxious to find out more about Frederick, who was born in 1874 and. although he died as long age as 1943, aged 69, he is hoping there is still someone around who may be able to remember his grandfather.

Known to some of his friends as ‘Ruffy,’ Frederick lived at 12 Maxton Road, Dover and the funeral was from his brother, Mr C. Morecraft’s home at 69 Clarendon Street, Dover.

Mr Morecraft was well thought of by his employers and included in the floral tributes was one from the Directors and Staff of Martin Walters.

Sadly one important man unable to attend the funeral because of the war, was his son William Morecraft. At the time he was a prisoner of war in Germany.

Mr Morecraft, writing from Heathlands, Leeds Road, Langley, Nr Maidstone, Kent ME17 3JG, says: “My grandfather was the sixth child of Thomas Morecraft, born in Herne Bay, and Harriet Julia Dowle, born in Dover.

“On the 1891 census he was listed with his parents living at 7 St Martin’s Place, Dover, and his occupation was given as coach-blacksmith assistant. He was 16 then. It could be that he was an apprentice but I have yet to find any listings.

 

Munitions?

“I believe he could have gone to work at Shorncliffe Barracks at some time, possibly in a munitions factory, if there was one there. My reasons for thinking this are twofold, firstly, he did not see active service in the First World War as he was regarded as being in a reserved occupation, and secondly, as I have in my possession a dinner gong made from a brass cannon shell and a toasting fork made from cartridge cases, both made by him.

“I feel that the connection with Martin Walters must have come later in his working life.”

Mr Morecraft goes on to say that his grandfather married in 1910, Nora Dorothy O’Sullivan. On their marriage certificate their address is given as 2 Dour Street, Dover. But there is a mystery, he says, because “I always understood my father’s birth was on February 29, 1908, but that his mother died when he was very young.

“Nora Dorothy spent the last 12 years of her life in Chartham Sanitorium. Her medical records state she had no children. So the hunt goes on for my true grandmother -which is made more difficult as my father’s birth is not listed in the Family Records centre in London.”

He is trying to get round the problem, he says, by finding out more about his grandfather.

“His younger brother, Albert Charles Morecraft, always known as Charles, served in Dover Borough Police force from 1902 to 1927. He died in March 1948.”

As to the possibility of being related to the Morecrofts of Dover, Mr Morecraft says he has yet to find a connection. Possibly there is one. His greatgrandfather may have had brothers and sisters, and he knew there were a number listed in the 1881 census living in the Maxton and Hougham areas of Dover.

 

Nothing ventured...

I fear Mr Morecraft has a tough job on his hands, but who knows - nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

You never know your luck! Lets hope Memories readers come up trumps.

One Memories reader particularly pleased to see last week’s picture of the Denham shop staff picture was Mrs Jill Bird (nee Baker) who lives in Sandgate.

That’s because her father Mr Jack Baker, was in the group picture and was fourth from the left.

Summer Outing

MEMENTO of radio and television firm’s summer outing, a copy of which will soon be winging its way ‘down under.’

 

Sadly Mr Baker died about 28 years ago, but his widow, Dorothy still lives in the old family home in Black Bull Road - “the house where I was born,” Mrs Bird told me.

Mrs Bird remembers the early television pictures received by a nine-inch screen television at Denhams and watching the Coronation in 1953.

And now she is keen to send a copy of the photograph, a copy of which was shown to me by local author and historian Alan Taylor, to her eldest brother, David, who lives in Australia.

Her younger brother Brian, she says, also worked for Denhams at one time.

 

1899

Pleasure Gardens theatre to get a drastic facelift.

Pleasure Gardens Theatre, built to 1 house a major exhibition on the lines of the great Crystal Palace Exhibition, was due to be ‘rebuilt to create an enlarged theatre with seating (or 1,500. The ‘great nave’ of the exhibition hall was to be ‘dismantled,’ the Iron columns suitably decorated, balconies built all round the building and comfortable lounges created. A new glass roof was also planned. Other Improvements Included a new floor suitable for dancing and “winter gardens’ forming an entrance to the theatre. The cost of the scheme was estimated at 16,000, to be raised through shares In the company, and the Folkestone Express forecast the venture would become one of the most prosperous In town. Early film shows with ‘dissolving pictures’ of the Transvaal and the Boer War were being given at Sandgate's Papillon Soldiers’ Home and the Gough Lecture Hall In aid of the Soldiers and Sailors Widows’ and Orphans’ Fund. A centuyy ago an exploratory shaft was being sunk In El ham to search for coal. His boring had gone down 842 ft when the drill broke, but the engineers were confident of finding seams, and, they said, they were expected to be at considerably less depth than at the other pit sites In East Kent

 

1924

Felix tells of the good old days of herring smokers.

Felix wrote of the ‘loss’ of the local herring trade which brought boats from Brighton, Shoreham, Hastings, Rye and eastern ports. The business brought spin-offs for the provision trade - grocers, butchers and bakers - as well as shipwrights etc. Now, he wrote, one hardly ever saw a herring net An ‘ancient salt' told him why. No one in their right mind, he said, would Invest in such nets, which In use stretched for vast distances, due to ruthless steamers. “They won’t alter their course and sometimes you are pretty lucky If fishing boats are not run down,’ he said. Other fishermen put smaller shoals of fish down to oil pollution. Autumn, wrote Felix was the time for Folkestone bloaters and the smell of oak logs and sawdust burning in the ‘herringhangs.’ He spoke of a visit to 44 North Street, an old cottage belonging to Mr T. Saunders, son of an old sea dog “Weird in the extreme, in a dim light, it was to see the hundreds of herrings threaded on sticks’ hanging up to be smoked. “Saunders claimed he converted herrings into bloaters of the real old Folkestone sort, such as cannot be beaten in England,” Felix enthused. At Black Bull Road Walter Thompson had a large herring-hang, near the baths. The ‘incense’ of these neutralised ‘perfume’ from the gas works. Another bloater expert rejoiced In the name of Goodenough who turned out some fine “old soldiers” - as they wore known In London

 

1949

Rail boss blames best coal exports for slow trains.

BRITAIN’S export drive, which cut the supply of best coal for home consumption, was being blamed for bad time keeping on local trains. Rail boss Sir Eustace Missenden said timekeeping of business expresses was due to poor quality coal. Columnist Townsman, of the Herald’s sister paper, the midweek Gazette, said the NCB should set aside sufficient reserves for the express trains. At Sandgate over 200 volunteers from Folkestone Teachers’ Training College and the Police Training College at Sandgate stood by after a storm In case there was more bad weather and the town was hit by further flooding, They volunteered to assist a newly formed Sandgate Emergency Volunteer Association. Meanwhile the MP asked the Government what It Intended to do to help Sandgate which was suffering damage and loss of property due to the fact there were no funds during the Second World War to repair previous damage to sea defences. The Archbishop of Canterbury dedicated a new organ at St Mark’s garrison church at Shorncliffe. Temporary repairs were being made to the breached seawall at Sandgate, between the Castle and Martello Terrace. Channel steamer Biarritz passed Folkestone on Its final Journey to be scrapped at Dover shipbreaking yard at the Eastern Docks. She spent many of her 35 years railway service working out of Folkestone.

 

1974

Shock as ceiling collapses at a Sports Centre pool.

THERE was a shock at the 500,000 Folkestone Sports Centre when part of the ceiling over the learners’ swimming pool collapsed, causing both pools to be dosed while the cause was Investigated. Police with tracker dogs made a systematic search of John Aspinall’s Port Lympne estate in the hunt for his close friend, the missing peer Lord Lucan after the Lucan children’s nanny was murdered. The previous week it had been the turn of John Aspinall’s wildlife park at Bekesbourne to be searched. Bad news for tree lovers was a Forestry Commission revelation that 4.5mllllon elms out of a total of 23 million had been wiped out by Dutch elm disease since the late 1360s. The English elm was particularly hit, with the smooth leaved Wych elm also decimated, and the disease was still rampant New shopping attraction at Hythe was the Malt House Arcade, an Indoor market with a wide choice of bygones, crafts, paintings, prints, books, pottery, postage stamps, postcards, militaria, clocks, old gramophone records and clothes. The building was once part of the Mackeson brewery complex. Many record-making flights were made from Lympne and In 1926 a flying ace called Bert Hinkler amazed spectators with his acrobatics flying an Avro Avian before going off to set up a world record flight to Australia. These exploits were recalled by the Herald as Lympne faced the prospect of closure thanks to a shock decision by Dan Air to pull out In favour of Lydd.

 

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