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From the Folkestone Herald Published 30 December 1999

‘I knew Scouts’.

PUBLICATION of an old Hythe picture postcard picture in Memories, in the Folkestone Herald, some months ago brought memories flooding back for a 90 year old former resident living in Holland.

Herald reader wrote to me with the names of three boy scouts sat in the front of the picture.

Beating the Bounds

‘BEATING the Bounds,’ a symbolic checking of the parish boundaries, at Hythe, in 1910, with the boy Scouts named by Jack Martin.


Mrs Joan Cobbett, of Park Road, Hythe told me she sends snippets from the local paper to an old friend now living in Holland. He likes to keep in touch with what is going on in his old haunts.

Her correspondent, Jack Martin 90, who was born in Hythe, wrote back to say he recognised the boys as Ginger Robinson, Bert Dunkin and Cecil Capon.

Edwin Lilley, of Seabrook, lent me the postcard and I queried in the Memories article whether anyone could name the only woman in the Beating the Bounds group, and another Memories reader did. Miss Pamela Ellis, of Sene Valley Golf Course, told me it was Miss Enid Snowden and the first scout she remembered was called Robinson, who later worked at Maltby Motors’ garage.

Well Jack Martin says he doesn’t remember Miss Snowden or her father but he recalled that Ginger Robinson later worked for Maltby’s and also at the Swan Garage.

Mrs Cobbett tells me the garage was later the site of Somerfields. Ginger worked there under Mr Dunkin until he went away to fight in the 1939 war.

His father, she says, was killed by enemy action whilst painting the Nelson's Head public house for the brewery. A bomb fell near the garage demolishing several little shops on the corner of Bank Street. The garage was also affected, several people being injured, and one man, Mr Wiles, lost a leg, while local GP Dr Mandy was also hurt.

Mr Martin recalls that Robinson’s father ran the Gate Inn, in Dymchurch Road and writes: “Robinson and Dunkin played cricket with us for Hythe Green. Regarding the Gate Inn I recall a verse on the sign which began with the words ‘This gate hangs high and hinders none .....’

On a seasonal note the Herald files tell us that 90 years ago you I featured the picture of Beating the Bounds at Hythe in 1910 in which some members of the local Boy Scouts company took part and a few weeks ago a could go out and buy your wife a fur coat for about 3.50 and she could buy her husband a bottle of the best whisky for just under 20p - or even cheaper if buying one to six dozen bottles!

In those days Christmas entertainment would have included roller skating at The Palace, at Grace Hill and an occasional dance, there was a show at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, a concert at the Fernley Hall, Victoria Grove, and a special attraction at the Town Hall was Jury's Picture Show.

Always a remarkable sight on the food front at Christmas were the massive displays of every imaginable meat at the local butchers who vied with each other for sales with their animal carcases hung outside their shops. And 90% was British! - Today the outside displays wouldn't be permitted on health grounds.

A recent edition of the popular local history monthly Bygone Kent features a most interesting illustrated account of the curious concrete Sound Mirrors built around the coast to provide some warning of hostile aircraft approaching our shores - the first being used In the First World War.

Sound Mirror

SOUND mirrors: The wartime 20ft, 30ft and 200ft aircraft detection mirrors at Dungeness, as they appeared in 1994 when Richard Scarth wrote a booklet, Mirrors by the Sea published by Hythe Civic Society to mark its 50th Anniversary five years ago. Now another writer has written about them.


Mirror Man

MIRROR man: A 'listener' in the control room below the 30ft bowl mirror at Lade, or Denge, at Dungeness.


Dover author David Burridge writes in particular about the mirrors at Lade, or Greatstone, and reveals they may have been briefly reactivated during the Second World War when it was feared means of jamming our radar might have been developed by the enemy.


Dolls hospital?

On an entirely different topic, Rhodes Minnis reader of Memories, Mr L. Gibbons, who is compiling a family tree, contacted me because he is wondering if any reader remembers a ‘dolls hospital' in the town.

He tells me his wife recalls it was behind the Pleasure Gardens theatre as late as 1949 or so.

Meanwhile, says Mr Gibbons, who lives at Woodford Lodge, Rhodes Minnis, a new-found relative in Brighton has told him of a family of Lewis “operating around the old Pleasure Gardens Theatre area in the 1900-20 era.”


Racquet hospital.

And, as it happens, Mr Gibbons’ great-grandfather John James Lewis ran the Turkish Baths in Ingles Road, while Thomas Lewis - who, he believes, was his son - ran the ‘Racquet Hospital’ for the tennis courts behind the pleasure gardens. This is confirmed by Kelly's street directories of the time.”

(A hospital in this sense, I believe, means a repair shop.)

Mr Gibbons goes on to say his Brighton contact tells him a daughter of one of these Lewis men married a Folkestone builder of that time named Jenner.

Can any Memories reader help?



Boer War setbacks take ‘gloss’out of Christmas.

SETBACKS suffered by our troops In the Boer War in the Transvaal meant that there was scarcely a home In the country not affected, said the editor of one local newspaper and, commenting on the lack of festive decorations about Folkestone, coupled with a great deal of sickness, he said people In years to come would look back on it as a Black Christmas. But looking on the bright side, steps were taken to try and brighten up the festive season for the local families of men fighting in Africa, Including holding of a New Year party. Local fishermen would have been interested to hear of an experiment being tried by their French rivals who were fitting their fishing boats with small Ice machines, capable of freezing 50 barrels of fish a day, as well as cold storage rooms. Leaders of Folkestone Working Boys' Club, formed 20 years, were appealing for help in re-opening the club, the premises of which required repair and some fresh equipment such as a billiard table and gymnastic equipment The club also heard from an ‘old boy’ in Canada called ‘General’ Ernest J Gordon who told how Canadian soldiers were coming over to Europe to help in the war, in South Africa where he wrote some old boys of the club were already serving.



Town gives highest honour to veteran Cllr Spurgen.

THE 40 years public service of veteran Councillor George Spurgen was recognised by making him a Freeman of the Borough at a special meeting of the council. In a long speech his colleague during those 40 years, the deputy mayor Sir Stephen Penfold (83) paid tribute to his service, particularly In education and health, and spoke of his financial contributions to help local poor families, whilst he was proprietor of the Royal Pavilion Hotel, and also to the local hospital and the arts. lt was feared that so little levelling of land would be needed for the A20 widening scheme at Capel there would be little work for the unskilled unemployed to do. However, the improvement of the Folkestone to Maidstone Road, was also due to begin and steps were being taken to give some of the work to the local unemployed, particularly on that section of work from Newingreen. Dwelling on one of his favourite topics Herald writer Felix There was recalling, with some nostalgia, the mouth-watering ‘incense’ (smell) that came from the local fishermen's herring-hangs. He said they could even be ‘sampled’ around Sandgate Road and the Town Hall area, where some of the fish were smoked. Not everyone would agree, I suspect Anyway he preferred it to the exhaust fumes of the ‘new fangled’ cars!



War hit hotels suffer as hockey test goes to Hythe.

ONE OF the most sought after fashion items at Christmas time 50 years ago were nylons which, four years after the war ended, were still in short supply. The East Kent Hunt held a pre-Christmas Hunt from the Grand Hotel, Folkestone. The town was beginning to feel the effect of the run down of hotels and guest houses due to the recent war and It was on the cards that the annual hockey festival would have to be switched to Hythe because there was no hotel able to accommodate 400 guests. At the Harvey Grammar School there were hopes the school would soon be able to build its own swimming pool. Backed by Lydd Town Council, fishermen were protesting at Army plans which would mean a large area of one of their best fishing grounds, five miles out and six miles long, would be out of bounds for weeks in the summer, affecting Folkestone, Hythe, Dungeness, Rye and Hastings. The 1949 Hythe Venetian fete attracted a crowd put at 25,000 and at the annual meeting of the organising committee It was stressed that it was vital to ensure that the event was never dropped, even if it meant the local council had to guarantee against loss, so great was the publicity value. Townsman adopted the use of a century old Dover Express feature, a short column of comment paragraphs headed “They Say." Later this changed to “They tell me----”



Pedestrianisation scheme for town enters first stage.

SEEBOARO moved out of ‘crumbling’ premises in Sandgate Road, and also from a temporary mobile showroom, into the former Boots store in Rendezvous Street. Guildhall Street was closed to traffic at Christmas time as part of the plans to pedestrianise part of the main shopping street of Folkestone. At the same time part of Sandgate Road was closed for the demolition of the former Seeboard showrooms, a move It was planned to make a permanent one as part of the shoppers’ precinct scheme. Outline planning consent was granted for the new 242-bedroom hotel proposed for the Continental Wampach Hotel site. A stalwart of the Scouting movement for 52 years Major Reg Duell, of St Mary's Bay, was due to retire at the end of 1974 and received a surprise presentation at the Marsh district Scouts’ annual meeting at Lydd. The Rose & Crown, Stelling Minnis was celebrating a pub extension Into what had once been an adjoining dairy to create a new lounge bar. And mine hosts Mr 8i Mrs Jack Cocks and regulars for the party was local actress Jessie Evans -“Grannie Hopkins" In Coronation Street. The District Council turned down plans for a 5-storey block of 20 flats with car parking space on land adjoining the Grand Hotel In Metropole Road East on the grounds of ‘over-development.’ Plans for 66 flats adjoining the East Kent bus company garage off Seabrook Road, Hythe were approved.


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