Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

From the Folkestone Herald Published 20 April 2000


REMEMBER the Astoria Cinema picture in Memories recently and the story of Monty's secret talks during the War?

The cinema opening holds special memories for one reader - see story below.


Man from Pru.

SURVIVOR of the sinking by the Japanese of the British warship HMS Prince of Wales in the Far East, in December 1941, Don Clarke sent in the fine school picture, right of the Chadwick Cup winning team of St Mary’s School for which he played in 1933.

St Marys School football team 1933

DON CLARKE, of Cheriton Road, Folkestone thought Memories readers might be interested to see this fine picture taken some 67 years ago of St Mary’s School, Folkestone, football team which won the Chadwick Cup in 1933. In the picture are sportsmaster Mr Williams, headmaster Mr Whewell and the team Is, left to right, back: H Wimbush, R Clark, J Bull, G Whitehead, P Walters, H Hall; front, R Ovenden, W Hewson, W Paine, J Hook and D Clarke.


Don, who lives in Cheriton Road, and will be 80 in June is known to many local residents as ‘the man from the Pru' having worked as an agent for 30 years before he retired.

He left school at 14 in 1934 and served seven years in the Royal Navy.

His ship, the Prince of Wales was returning to Singapore after an abortive bid to engage the Japanese navy the day after Pearl Harbour when she was attacked by a huge force of enemy planes and was hit by no fewer than 15 torpedoes, he told me.

But he was picked up and sent to Ceylon and next joined HMS Capetown, serving in the Persian Gulf for 15 months.

“And boy, was it hot - 130 degrees in the shade,” he commented. Next he served on the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, until demob in 1946.

“And what a contrast that was. We were on the Russian run and involved in attacks on German warships such as the Tirpitz which was sunk.

Don and his wife Barbara, who celebrate their Golden Wedding in July, have one son, Martin, who is 40 and works in Ashford.



I also heard recently from Harry Storey, of Lyminge, who tells me his father, Bert, 92, worked for Otto Marx and later his son, for many years and remembered the building of the old Astoria Cinema.

Bert lived for years in Greenfield Road but has recently been in a nursing home and recovering after a fall in which he broke a hip.

The family has good reason to remember the Astoria opening - Harry’s sister Renee now Mrs Barrass, of Hollands Avenue, was born that year. Not that it stopped Bert using his two free tickets which were given to all Otto Marx staff on the big project.

During the last war he was a retained worker who was engaged on repairs and building work in connection with gun sites.

And he had a narrow escape.

He had been in a pillbox in the Leas area Just before it suffered a direct hit in a bombing or shelling attack and a number of people who were inside were killed.


Next I have an appeal by transport enthusiast Mr P Hotchin who is hoping a Memories reader may be able to identify where the Pullman charabanc picture on this page was taken.

It is a picture I featured in our Wheels motoring section back in 1994. It probably dates from between the wars and I believe Eric Wills himself, Is the driver, while the smartly dressed young man behind him may have been his son Bert.

The only clues to location are the building to the right and the decorated glass in the windows with the initial ‘G’ in them. Could that stand for Grand, as in Grand Hotel, I wonder?


THIS old Folkestone charabanc picture was one of a fleet of cars run by ‘Father’ or ‘Pop’ Wills, of Cheriton before he sold out to the East Kent bus company, but where was it photographed?



Easter race meeting-cancellation bombshell.

PROPOSED Easter race meeting at Folkestone race course had been abandoned and It was stated there would be no racing until August, The largest number of wounded ever to come back to England from the Boer War in South Africa In one group, has arrived at Woolwich. There were 337 sick and wounded, 84 with gunshot wounds and others with various forms of Illness. Personal experiences of the fighting came from Bandsman A. Smith, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, who told his Dover parents in a letter how his unit ambushed a force of 600 Boers as they left their position to get water, claiming 100 dead and 20 prisoners. The Folkestone Express delivered an outspoken attack on the Town Council, it said the council had made a hash of building artisans' dwellings, there were costly public baths, and every month the extravagance of the sanatorium prompted hostile comment; three subjects on which councillors had not displayed “conspicuous ability.” And now that 100,000 had been spent on sewerage It appeared necessary to completely reorganise it! The latest mistake was to reject the private tramway scheme.



Bond of friendship forged with cash aid for France.

SOUTHERN Railway issued a statement about postwar re-construction of the railway system and announced that in 1925 more than 10 million was due to be spent on rolling stock, engines and station improvements and the greatest ever scheme of electrification was to be attempted. Another bond of friendship with France was forged when Folkestone gave about 860 towards the cost of new waterworks at Morlan-court, about 20 miles from Amiens. This suffered greatly In the First World War, nearly every building being destroyed along with farms. Suitable plaques were unveiled at two reservoirs and a deputation from Folkestone attended the opening ceremony. At Sandgate where Miss Waddell, the first woman councillor, attended her first meeting, receiving a warm welcome, the council was told of the latest meeting with bus owners over regular services. The firms had been formed into two groups to run a two minutes’ service. One councillor said Ideally there ought be Inspectors to monitor the service. Major Newman said Folkestone Council would not approve specified stops which meant buses could pick up where they liked which was not ideal, it was reported that a joint meeting was to be held with Hythe over a plan for a water supply from Peraker Wood.



Channel swim group’s split over heavy costs.

FIRST fish auctions for nine years were held at Folkestone fish market but prices failed to reach as high as those at bigger ports. Plaice was fetching a shade under 1 a stone compared with a controlled price of Just under 15 shillings (75p) while soles made at little under 2, an increase of 12 shillings (60p.) But fish was reported to be coming In from Huli and Grimsby at below control prices for some fish. A spokesman said markets were back to pre-war conditions. A split among members of the new Folkestone Channel Swimming Committee, most of whom clashed with secretary Mr W Floyd over the question of control ol swims through the Channel Swimming Association, led to a decision to hold a public meeting at the Town Hall. There appeared to be some doubt whether It would be possible, after all, to re-form the Channel Swimming Association, as decided at a public meeting In October because of the cost of ratifying all swims, it was proposed to organise an annual relay Channel Swim, open to all by raising of 500 by public appeal to cover the cost of a trophy and mementoes. The future of St Michael's Church closed since 1940, was being discussed by diocesan officials and several members of the old congregation had met with the Bishop of Dover to give their views. Problems included war damage and vandalism.



Earl’s family guided the development of the town.

THE HERALD published a profile of the eighth Earl of Radnor, Jacob Pleydell Bouverie, whose family links with Folkestone went back nearly 300 years. The Earl, descended from a Huguenot family, owned a great deal of local property and farmed In Wiltshire. Hit by polio as a child, which left him with a limp, he had six children. He told the Herald how his Huguenot ancestor came to the town in 1697 to invest money in land made in trading with Turkey. At the time Folkestone was a fishing port of under 5,000 people. The family estate ranged as far as Hawkinge to the north, the Warren in the east and Sandgate to the west. By the mid-1800s the Pleydell Bouverles were virtually running the town as if they were a modern-day council and In 1901 the fifth Earl was elected mayor. He stressed his great concern for Folkestone and Its future, saying he felt a great deal responsibility for the town, the charm of which he hoped to preserve, in development he tried to strike a balance between tourism, light Industry and housing. By 1975 the Radnor estate had been concentrated In an area from the Bayle to the railway line and In the west to Sandgate. Plans for 30 council homes on the former Hythe School of Infantry site were described as ugly and depressing by a Shepway council committee. Hythe Civic Society also opposed the plans but the housing committee wanted the scheme to go ahead because of the pressing need.


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:-