DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

From the Folkestone Herald Published 1 June 2000

Local ‘special’

CAR ENTHUSIAST David Peters writes to the Herald from Macaulay Drive, Aberdeen, for help in a restoration job he is about to begin on a 1936 Daimler car with ‘Wingham’ coachwork body by Martin Walter, of Folkestone.

“The car is in a sorry state but is ripe for restoration,” he writes.

''Apparently Martin Walter built his Wingham body style on a number of manufacturers' chassis, Including Daimler, Lanchester, Hillman, Talbot and Vauxhall,” he goes on.

“But very little archive information exists from Martin Walter as the company was bought over in 1937 by Abbey Coachbuilders (? Bob's query) and later subsumed Into the Dormobile Company,” he had been informed, he writes.

“My reason for writing to you is to ask if any of your readers can assist with photographs or indeed any Information on the Wingham body details which may assist in the vehicle's restoration. Thanking you in hope, - David Peters, ‘Flinders’ 30 Macaulay Drive, Aberdeen, AB15 8FL”

Mr Peters Tel/fax number is 01224 317770 or he can be contacted on e-mail djpeters@talk21.com

Well, thanks to Memories reader Dennis Pullen, who lives at Broadmead Village, Folkestone, and worked for Martin Walter around 17 years and contacted me over a year ago about Martin Walter cars, I can supply David with some of the information he seeks.

Dennis allowed me to copy some of his collection of photographs and artists’ Impressions of former Martin Walter cars. These include an artist's Impression of a Vauxhall with Wingham coachwork and also a photo of the former airship shed at Capel where Martin Walters set up a mini-production line to build the Wingham bodies on different chassis.

Wingham Cabriolet drawing

SMART Wingham cabriolet body design by craftsmen of Martin Walters of Folkestone who used to be one of the town’s major employers. The artist’s impression was shown to me by Memories reader Dennis Pullen, of Folkestone.

 

My own researches for Memories articles as long ago as 1998 show that Capel airship shed, built at a cost of over 35,000 during the First World War to house blimps, as the airships were sometimes called, was being taken over In March 1935 by Martin Walter who needed more space to cope with demand for its coachwork.

Martin Walter MD Mr Spencer Apps then told the Herald:

“We have negotiated with the East Kent Road Car Company, the owners, to take over the air shed at Capel owing to the fact that we are so extremely busy, especially with our Wingham Cabriolet body, at our Cheriton Road factory that we are unable to deal with the ever-increasing order position.

Capel airchip hanger

SCENE inside the former Capel airship hangar of the First World War which was taken over to build the Martin Walter Wingham cabriolet bodied cars, particularly Vauxhalls.

 

“We are re-organising and this additional building will give us a total floor area of 32,000 sq ft.” Component parts would continue to be made at Cheriton Road, he said, and the assembly and panelling would be done at Capel where there would also be the latest cellulose spray-painting booths. The target would be 150 bodies a month.

Over 300 men were employed at Cheriton Road and the new development at Capel and on the Cheriton Road site would mean even more jobs.

The Herald reported the Wingham Cabriolet being supplied to motorists all over the world was designed by Martin Walters. The model enabled a driver to change from a saloon car to a tourer at a touch of a lever.

Martin Walter, embarking on a big advertising campaign, said it hoped to produce more than 3,000 Wingham cabriolet bodied Vauxhalls alone in the coming year. In addition the same model was included in the catalogues of the Daimler and Lanchester companies.

Orders came from at least 20 countries and sales could bring fame to Wingham, after which it was named, and Martin Walter. But the history of the firm as described to David Peters is not accurate.

 

“Folkestone Past & Present" is the title of another photogiaphic display to be given by Folkestone & District Local History Society over several months from June 5 to August 31. An enterprising group, the society is opening daily from 10am to 1pm.

 

Mustanf Fighter

A Mustang fighter in D-Day markings at Newchurch from Mustang Wing a new book about RAF Brenzett, an advanced landing strip, by Anthony John Moor, I will be writing about shortly in Memories.

 

1900

50 a year Head sought for Harvey Grammar.

HARVEY Grammar School was advertislng for a new headmaster at a fixed salary of 50 a year, with a capitation fee of 2 a year per boy (currently 80 to 90) and rent free house. Boarders at the school were to be limited to six. Folkestone Express reported on the first motor race In the USA. It was over a distance of 50 miles and the winning car, electric powered, finished at an average speed under 25mph! There was talk of the driver coming over to Europe to race but the writer observed that he would have to find a much faster carl Second placed was a steam car, third place going to a petrol engined car. Collections were made in the streets for a comforts fund for the newly returned wounded soldiers from South Africa. A trade exhibition at the Town Hall featured a promenade concert and a mixture of films, latest war photographs and ‘dissolving* pictures. Local newspapers reported that Sipido, a youth of 16 who was arrested after the attempted assassination of the Prince of Wales in Brussels, said he did it because the Prince had caused thousands of men to be slaughtered in the Boer War. A bullet passed within a foot of the Prince’s head.

 

1925

Noisy buses spoil holiday trips to town - complaint.

A DULWICH visitor, after returning home wrote to the paper calling for ‘‘all noisy and clumsy” buses operating a local service be taken off the road and only those with “silent engines and proper tyres" be allowed. The vibration at present, he wrote, made it impossible to sleep in the front bedrooms of guest houses. A Hythe councillor was negotiating a common timetable and agreement of the majority of operators was expected to cover the 1,202 daily runs between Folkestone and Hythe. Our man Felix was having a go about the Leas and reminding the Council that when it took over from the Lord of the Manor, the care of the Leas and Undercliff it was expected one of the first steps would be the removal of the unsightly “sheep pens” or iron railings that enclosed a greater portion of the lawns. A visitor he had been showing around, he said, thought the railings signified a cattle market! He called for action by the following summer. Six interesting old pictures of Tontine Street were splashed on the front page of the Herald in a full page advertisement of Tontine Street traders holding a 84ay shopping festival. Some of the "100 shops offering unbeatable values” also filled page 2 with more advertisements. Sadly none of those pictures are in the Herald's possession today.

 

1950

Caravan site scheme for old Capel airship site.

THERE was considerable controversy over plans to create a caravan site on the old First World War Capel Air Ship Station with its massive hangar in which the old ‘blimps’ were kept when the airman conducted submarine-spotting operations from the base. Parish and Rural Council were against the plan but at a public meeting there was overwhelming public support for the camp. Major council concern was over road safety. 82 voted in favour and 32 against. It seemed to be thought the plans for the site would turn It into a beauty spot. A fine early picture of Sandgate Road, looking towards the Town Hail, with one of the town’s earliest motor coaches parked at the side of the road and dwarfed by a horse-drawn bus, featured in the Herald’s midweek paper the Folkestone and Hythe Gazette. Regrettably it is not a picture currently in the possession of the paper otherwise I would feature It in Memories, such Is the Interest today In early motor vehicles. 10,000 hardy West Street Hunt followers turned out In freak weather to see small fields take part in the first post war point-to-point meeting at Aldington. The Herald's midweek Gazette featured a picture of a replica of an early Bleriot-type aircraft which once gave demonstration flights from Radnor Park.

 

1975

Gunner recalls shooting down a Zeppelin bomber.

A ROW erupted in the council chamber when Labour councillors heard their Tory colleagues had decided in secret who should be chairmen of committees, instead of leaving it to individual committees to decide. A Burmash farmer caused a row when he decided to grub a thick hawthorn hedge to excavate a drainage ditch on a parish boundary. Too many hedges, which provided valuable shelter, were being last, complained villagers who warned It could become a bleak area without them. But another farmer changed his mind about grubbing a similar dyke-side hedge decided to trim it instead. Construction delays meant that Hythe area schools had to cancel summer term swimming plans using the town’s new pool. There were some red faces at Dymchurch over missing signs at the public loos. Easily visible new signs were certainly a question of convenience! Herald writer Stroller featured the story of ex-Gunner Fred Dunn, 84, of Folkestone, who re-visited the Dover heights where he was one of the gun crew who shot down the first Zeppelin bomber airship In Britain In 1915. Six searchlights, he recalled, swept the sky and picked up the German raider. “She looked just like a giant cigar.” His battery's six-pounder Hotchkiss guns fired “shells which had luminous bases and looked just like cricket balls as they soared into the air. We cheered when we saw the Zeppelin's nose turn down,” he said.

 

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:-

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