Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

From the Folkestone Herald Published 3 February 2000

Super Cinema.

FORMER Folkestone building contractors Otto Marx employed a great number of workers so it is hardly surprising that a lot of Herald readers were interested in the outing picture published recently in Memories.

Mr R. G. Hammond, of Ernwell Road, Folkestone told me it certainly brought back happy memories for him as he knew quite a few of them being in the trade himself. He was then aged 22 or 23.

“Bill Houghton was in charge of the construction of the town’s newest cinema, the Astoria which opened in 1935.”

Maestraiis Restaurant

MAESTRANI’s popular Sandgate Restaurant - pulled down to build the super cinema Astoria opened in 1935, an event recalled this week by a Herald ‘Memories’ reader.


Sad loss.

Sadly, from this writer’s standpoint as an amateur historian, the building of the ‘super cinema’ Astoria meant the end of a very attractive Folkestone Restaurant - not that I am old enough to have ever dined there!

It was simply a lot more attractive as part of the street scene, than a to me, ugly cinema - as most of them were.

But there, I have probably offended some cinema fans now!

The restaurant was Maestrani’s Central Restaurant, and I note that the proprietor, Mr G. F. Bronco was given a seat on the board of Astoria (Folkestone) Ltd.

A far as ‘super cinemas’ go Folkestone was four years behind Dover, where the Granada (later ABC) was opened by Sidney Bernstein in 1930.

Mr Hammond went on to tell me:

“In the days before World War One my father, George William Hammond was employed as a driver by Mr Otto Marx. That was in the years 1908-9.

“He first learned to drive while employed by Marshalls, the fruiterers, in Bouverie Road West, when they bought a van for deliveries.

“The vehicle that he drove for Otto was a cut down Bentley, forming an open-back van. It was used to transport men and materials in and around the town, and often as far as Ashford,” said Mr Hammond.

“Mr Marx, a naturalised English subject of German origin, was well known in those early days as a hard task-master, and priced his work very fine, so building up a thriving business.

“Among his cut-price tactics was one that penalised my father’s pay packet.


Puncture fines!

“That was a fine of sixpence (2.5p) every time the vehicle suffered a puncture, which often occurred, as at that time roads were in a poor state.

“So, after two years, my father obtained a job with South Coast Motors, and drove buses, taxis and lorries until he retired from the East Kent Road Car Co in 1954.”

Thanks for the memory, as they say, Mr Hammond!

Another reader who was interested in the picture was Mrs A. Usherwood (nee Reed) who turned up a copy of another picture, of Otto Marx apprentices, I hope to use next week. My copy of it came through local historian Alan Taylor who copied it. It shows Otto Marx builders apprentices on the East Cliff Sands promenade, around 1935.

As to the League of Lasting Kindness Mrs Doreen Tindale, of Hythe, who wrote to tell me her father, Arthur Robinson was in the Otto Marx staff picture, says she was a young League member:

“We used to collect silver paper and perhaps postage stamps (I am not sure now) which we took to the Herald office and the proceeds went towards maintenance of a cot in the children's ward of the Royal Victoria Hospital.

“I believe there was a badge, of plain metal, with just the League’s initials LLK.” Thank you Doreen for that information which I am sure will be of interest to Mrs J. Ratcliffe, of Wye, who contacted the Herald about it some weeks ago. She is on 01233 812925 if you have any memories of the League’s useful work to pass on to her.


Monte Carlo 1929

IN ‘FROM our Files’ this week for 1925 there is a Monte Carlo entry reference to a British AC car on that 1,222 mile rally. Above is a picture of a similar AC outside Martin Walters’ showroom in Sandgate Road, that was shown to me in August 1998 by Dennis Pullen, of Cheriton. But it almost certainly dates from 1929.



More volunteers training to light in South Africa.

\MORE local men were about to head for he battlefield In Africa where our forces were fighting the Boers. At Folkestone Corporal Fanning and privates Francis, Buttress, Fox, Bailey, Reed, Jenner, Chatterton, Setterfield, Wenman, Coles, Pemble, Hamden, Austin, Wilson, Ovenden, Halsell, Paine, Osborne, Chapman, Phllpott and Berry were named as volunteers sworn in to start a two week “course of musketry” at Hythe, to which they marched from Shorncilffe after forming up with other volunteers, before joining British forces fighting in South Africa. At Dover the council decided to give the Freedom of the Borough to 15 local volunteers of the East Kent and Imperial Yeomanry and Dover Rifle Volunteers who began training at Hythe ready to leave for service with our troops fighting the Boers in South Africa. Three new field batteries were formed at the Shorncliffe Barracks. British Boer War casualties from January 22-27 were given as 271 killed, 1,066 wounded and 293 missing. A Dover council committee rejected plans for a Cinque Ports Railway from Ramsgate via Deal to run over Dover tram tracks, then to Folkestone, Hythe, Romney and Lydd to Hastings.



Miners leader hits out at gap between rich and poor.

NEWLY re-elected MP Sir Philip Sassoon was appointed by the premier as Under Secretary of State for Air. 75 years ago this month It was Monte Carlo Rally time and the Herald featured a picture of a special entrant outside Martin Walters’ Sandgate Road showroom preparing to join the steamer for the crossing to Boulogne to continue the 1,222 mile jaunt to Monte Carlo. It was a tiny looking standard six-cylinder AC car being driven by the Hon Victor Bruce accompanied by Thomas Cillett, Works Manager for the AC company^ In the world of motoring it was still early days and enterprising garage firm Martin Walters gave free film shows to give the public a better understanding of how car engines and electrical systems worked. Organised by Hythe Labour Party a public meeting was held In Folkestone Town Hall when the latest developments in the coal industry were described In a stirring speech by Mr A. J. Cook, General Secretary of the Miners' Federation, who condemned the disparity between the rich, Including leaders of the church on 3,000 a year, and the poor trying to win a wage of 3 a week. The “Woe Waters” or Drellingore stream was In full flood at Alkham valley after a five year absence, at the rate of two million gallons a day, as was the Nailbourne in Elham Valley.



Hopes for Festival year megger flower show.

THE Chamber of Trade was promising full backing to the annual festival of Folkestone Flower Show and hoping for a more ambitious show to coincide with the Festival of Britain In 1951. Hard working townsman Willie Frost, who had directed a local transport business since 1927 transporting local caught fish to Billingsgate Market, was In a dilemma. He only had two lorries but, nevertheless had faced the threat of nationalisation hanging over him for two years! He was also angry with the Labour government for cutting his Ministry of Food regulated fee for carrying “controlled fish” to London by half to just under 2 a ton. He felt it was a : bid to force him off the road. Silver City Airways flying from Lympne airport expected to carry 6000 cars across the Channel to Le Touquet during 1949, more than double the 2,700 In 1948. Writer Townsman looking back featured a 50 year old picture of a historic event, the arrival at the old Sandgate railway station of British army heroes from Ladysmith, which had been besieged by the Boers, The special train arriving on April 22,1900 Included two ambulance coaches built at Woolwich Arsenal for the most badly wounded men, who were headed for the Beach Rocks (later Bevan) Convalescent Home at Sandgate, where they received a tumultuous welcome.



Gloomy news as one in 10 people seek a ‘real’ home.

HERALD headline 25 years ago told of "Misery" of 6,000 with no real home” revealing that one in 10 people living in Folkestone had no permanent home: Many parents with young children lived in bedsits or shared hotel rooms. The figures were backed by Shelter who campaigned to help the homeless. For Folkestone Council Cllr Gwen Jacques said new homes were badly needed, but that meant cutting a lot of red tape. “Give me the tools and we will provide them” she promised, admitting that buying up homes in the private sector was only a stopgap measure. Handicapped children in the UK and in Europe were expected to benefit by the production in Folkestone of an export version of the locally built Dormobile Pacemaker 'social services' minibus created on a Ford Transit chassis. It doubled as a versatile wheelchair ambulance, adaptable to a variety of internal layouts and capable to taking up to six wheelchairs secured by patented fittings. Staff at Westfield old people's home at Etchinghill were hoping their jobs would be safe when about 40 residents were transferred to a 220,000 new building in Stade Street, Hythe during the year, and the old home closed. The employment situation wasn't helped by a KCC survey which revealed job prospects In the area were poor with the general decline of the UK holiday industry. There was a call for new industry to provide Jobs.


If anyone should have any a better picture than any on this page, or think I should add one they have, please email me at the following address:-