DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 28 September 2000

The Grosser Kurfurst sank so quickly that 287 German sailors were drowned. Many were later buried in the Cheriton Road cemetery.

Survivors snatched from the sea numbered around 250.

This major disaster, which led to vital changes in seamanship in the German Navy, was commemorated by an attractive memorial which has for years been maintained by
Germany. In fact, until war broke out between our two nations, the anniversary of the tragedy was marked by an annual service in Folkestone.

Alan was reminded of the incident by news in my Dover Memories page of a video documentary being made at St Margaret’s Bay, recently by the German national TV network Spiegel. The documentary is about
the wreck of the world’s largest sailing ship Preussen, off Dover 90 years ago, and a local maritime historian and I were asked to help with the making of the feature.

Alan Oram says he wonders if Spiegel know that there was another Preussen. She was one of the German warships which were holding an exercise off Folkestone when the other two ships collided - fortunately, in fine weather.

Local folklore has it that there was a valuable gold eagle which went down with the Grosser Kurfurst.

Said to have been presented by the Kaiser, because the warship is thought to have been the first of the dreadnought class of battleships, it had pride of place in the wardroom of the vessel.

And, in 1987, Alan told me, there was a gruesome sequel to the 1878 tragedy. A diver lost his life in a bid to recover the golden eagle. It is feared he became
trapped by an underwater obstruction. And Alan wonders if this has anything to do with the dumping of boiler ash from cross-Channel ferries over the two halves of the wreck of the Grosser Kurfurst, effectively creating a tomb for the remainder of the German seaman trapped below.

Alan says he understands the ash was dumped there following complaints by local people about the frequency with which corpses floated to the surface all round the coast as far afield as Dungeness Bay and which then had to be recovered for a decent burial.

Alan Taylor, Chairman of Folkestone & District Local History
Society, is due to feature “Folkestone’s Disappearing Churches” at the AGM of the Society in the Holy Trinity Church hall, Sandgate Road, on October 4. The meeting is at 7.30pm.

Mike Wilson writes from Bridlington about his water colour picture of Copt Point, Folkestone, dating from 1911 by P.W. Knowles which is of some quality. A black and white, computer-scanned copy he sent would not reproduce in the paper. He wonders if the artist was well known in the town.

The painting is in an autograph album which was owned by Marguerite Irene Roberts, who once lived at 35 Radnor Park
Road, Folkestone. There are also drawings and paintings by Valerina Coulter, Richard Francis, Ada Lukey, Sissie Francis, Phyllis Crofts and E.M. Stringer.

One page, dated Thursday, February 13, 1913, he says, has the name of the Osborne Hotel, Folkestone, on it. This was a “high class temperance hotel” at 10 Bouverie Road West.

“Any information readers can give me on the above names would be appreciated," writes Mr Wilson, who will bring the album with him when he visits the town in October with National Holidays, staying at the hotel Burstin. His phone/fax number is 01262 609228.
Sea drama

A READER of Memories in our sister paper, the Dover Express, Alan Oram, of Temple Ewell, was telling me the other day of the sea drama off Folkestone, back in 1878, when two German warships, the Grosser Kurfurst and Kaiser Wilhelm, collided in changing course to evade a passing sailing ship.
ABOVE and left are two more pictures shown to me by Gerald Taylor, a retired electrical fitter, now living in Hythe, who described his fireman father's lucky wartime escape in last week's Memories. The photo above, from the 1920s shows Park Farm Cottage near Downs Road and was taken by his grandfather. Pictured left is the "Galloping Road" -now Churchill Avenue - and a farm cart from Snape St Leslie's Farm in Canterbury Rd.
 

 

 

1900

Felix slams court ban on street‘entertainers'.

*1 Q/\/\SCANDALOUS decision - A century _Ls\JV/ago there were stories or readers' letters about flics and rats, the disgraceful and "unhealthy" state of the old pond at the Bayle and Felix was writing about what he called a scandalous decision by the local court. Referring to the town worthies as the “Great Unpaid" he said they had gone 'over the top' in deciding to outlaw local street entertainers. 'A more scandalous order (he called it the 'Russian edict') never proceeded from a magisterial bunch." he declared. Local entertainment and colour was augmented by these sometimes very talented residents, he said, but there was a faction in the town who wanted to "keep Folkestone select." They wanted to maintain its 'tone' and to keep away 'verminous Italians' and 'their street organs, monkeys and such ilk.' ''Whether these gentlemen on the bcnch are qualified to act as public censors of music is a question very much open to doubt," he said. Still, the comment about the Baylc pond by Felix, seems to have had results for council workmen soon afterwards came along and gave it a spring clean - not that Felix was claiming the credit for it.

 

1925

Feast of first class cricket tor fans with loadsa'runs.

| ftoc FOLKESTONE Cricket Festival marked the JLS7&9 town's launch into first class cricket with matches on the new ground at Cheriton Road including a big scoring game between The Honorable H.L. Tennyson's XI and A.E.R. Gilligan's XI in which two Gilligan players each scored 120 towards the teams score of 415 runs for six wickets declared. Their opponents mustered 384. In the other two-innings match the Gentlemen's XI lost to a Players' XI by nine wickets. This was all part of the build up to the 1926 cricket week when an England XI was due to play the Australian tourist side. Legendary Kent and England cricketer A.P.F. Chapman, captain of Hythe Brewery XI was the master of an extraordinary match with the Elham Division of the County Constabulary, scoring 183 runs in 70 minutes, out of his side's total of 201. after surviving a dropped catch at 115! The police managed to score 151. Mr S.E. Winbolt detailed his successful excavation of the Roman Villa at East Cliff in 1924, now. sadly buried again under the turf for want of a protective building over it. in a new book. Roman Folkestone, published by Methuen at 8s 6d (18.5p.) Sir Philip Sassoon, Secretary of State for Air and MP for the district, flew to Hawkingc from Manston for the RAF station's sports meeting. Row over Leas Cliff plans to host hockey fest event.

 

1950

1 aCnNATI0NAL Serviceman Peter Catt, 18,

Xi/9Ua driver on the Romney. Hythe and Dymchurch Railway before his call-up. obtained special leave of absence to take part in a special BBC radio broadcast from one of the trains. A Dymchurch resident, he left school at 15 to begin an apprenticeship as a driver and engineer with the railway company and planned to return to the line at the end of his Army service. A decision to grant the use of the Leas Cliff Hall for the Easter Saturday Hockey Festival dinner and dance in 1951 caused a row in Folkestone, many local people expecting to be able to attend their usual Easter dance at the Leas. The problem was that the only hotel large enough for the Festival event wouldn't be available in 1951. At Hythe the Old People's Welfare Committee was planning to extend its service by opening a residential home. And, looking back at its introduction of a meals-on-wheels service with some pride, it revealed that in 18 months or so over 12.000 meals had been delivered by WVS van and private cars. Neither England nor Kent could beat Australia at cricket 50 years ago. but both England and Kent, the latter playing at Folkestone, beat an Australian touring team at bowls. Kent were ahead after the first five rounds and staved there.


 

1975

Topless woman swimmer in Channel swimming race.

t Q"7C KENT County councillors were questioning Jmij I Othc justification for a third nuclear power station at Dungeness 25 years ago. They called on county planning officer Henry Deakin to take up the matter with the Central Electricity Generating Board which had sought approval of its plans for new Station ‘C in January 1974. The intention was to start work in 1977. It would mean new power lines could dominate some areas of great landscape beauty in the high weald area. No fewer than 66 swimmers entered the Capt Matthew Webb Centenary Relay Swim Race in 1975 and tvw< Rov.il Navy minesweepers manned by an auxiliary reserve, had to be drafted in to ‘police1 the swim. One woman claimed the headlines by swimming topless in the big event which attracted much media attention! First home, at Shakespeare beach, in 9 hrs 17inins. less a second, was a mixed Egyptian team, escorted by Folkestone fisherman Val Noakes. The event was expected to boost the Muscular Dystrophy Group by 15,000. The same day two solo swim bids were also successful. A report of a kite flying around 700ft near Lydd airport led to a warning from police that people could be breaking the law. It followed complaints from pilots to air traffic controllers. Mike de Woolfson, Lydd Airport manager, said it was illegal to fly a kite at a height of more than 60 metres (about 200 ft) or within about three miles of an airport.

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:-

LAST PAGE Valid CSS MENU PAGE Valid XTHML NEXT PAGE