Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 26 October 2000

We told you!
RECENT scares over the dangerous pipe bombs unearthed at Hawkinge airfield on what is now a housing estate - how do they get consent to develop such historic and greenfield sites in the countryside? - prompted local history enthusiast Derrick Lawson, of Lynwood, Folkestone, to write to me.
death,” says Derrick.

“We visited him on one occasion during the Second World War, in 1941, and he told us of the bombs that the Germans dropped “that never exploded” - this was common knowledge at the time and the Air Ministry was informed about
Fred Karno's Army? Nicknamed The Knuts, half these men of the 99th Field Regt RE who served on the Somme in the First War came from Folkestone.
the ‘dud’ bombs that had fallen there,” he said.

“But they didn’t seem to want to know.

“These reports were just ignored.

“My uncle told me he saw several ‘sticks’ of bombs dropped into the soft ground and those bombs just disappeared!

“He said there was a constant fear among the villagers of these bombs going off at that time.”

Well, hopefully these were found when bomb disposal squads carried out sweeps of the area on more than one occasion.

But now the defensive pipe bombs have been unearthed and dealt with in such a dramatic fashion, with homes evacuated and so on, one can’t help wonder if that really is the end of the matter.

Incidentally among some interesting family pictures Derrick brought into the office was one of Fred (?) Karno’s army, nicknamed The Knuts, of the 99th Field Company, Royal Engineers, who fought on the
He recalls how his late father took him to visit his uncle Percy Scowen who had worked at the aerodrome since he was 16 until he retired.

“My Uncle was a chargehand fitter and an electrician and also lived in an Air Ministry house near the aerodrome until his
JANET Adamson at Folkestone Library Heritage Room tells me that if any readers wish to taste the sensation of a ride in one of the cars on the old Switchback, featured in Memories recently, there is a film of Folkestone that can be seen in the Museum at Grace Hill library, on the first floor, which includes a unique, early film of a ride on the rollercoaster in 1904! And admission is free between 9.30 and 5pm, Monday to Saturday! The film shows many other scenes in old Folkestone, the Leas, a congregation in their

Sunday best at the parish church.....not to

mention local street scenes, including some taken in Sandgate Road and Guildhall Street.
A DIFFICULT quest is being undertaken by family history researcher Mrs Pam Dray, of Archer Road, Folkestone (01303 252901.) She read about a Corporal Dray of the East Kent Regiment serving in the Boer War in South Africa. He was acting as a cook at Chievley Camp and wrote home about his personal experience of a fierce battle known as the Battle of Colenso in 1899. He said losses in killed, wounded and prisoners
were 1,147, very heavy indeed.

Mrs Dray is wondering if he was John Dray, her husband’s 5th great-grandfather’s son, and whether he ever returned from the South African war.

Great-grandfather James Dray, of Albert Lane, Hythe, had seven sons who served in the First World War. Six returned home safely. Mr Dray received a special letter from the King, in 1915, saying what a fine example the family was to the nation. He used to run a fish and chip shop in Hythe and also a greengrocers.

Mrs Dray has been trying to find out something about her 4th great-grandfather too: Benjamin Harris who married Ann Coldtop at St James Church, Dover, in
1789. She can’t find any birth or death dates, but she does know they had a son Benjamin Richard Harris, born in 1810. Good luck Mrs Gray!

Pam is a member of an old fishing family which can trace its links with the sea back to the 1600s. And she was very interested to see Peter Hooper’s postcard picture recently of the old inner harbour with a jetty called locally ‘The Auk.’

Years ago, she said, a distant cousin, William Harris, got a bravery medal for recovering a mine from the timbered structure.

His son John, of Downs Road, now in his 70s, still has a small fishing boat, she told me.
THIS fine thr^-masted sailing ship alongside a steamer inside the harbour swingbridge has attracted a fair old crowd but the photo is not dated. That old car, right, suggests possibly the 1930s. The postcard was shown to me by history enthusiast Peter Hooper.

Somme in 1916. And his information is that half of the men pictured, came from the Folkestone area, he told me.

‘Tree’ search




Scorchers risk life and limb and pedestrians too.

Q/\/VSCORCHING' is a word we never seem to JLwvvhear today but a century ago when cycling was far more popular (and necessary) than today one often read in the local press about the dangers of 'scorching young people speeding town hills on their bikes for sheer excitement, apparently oblivious to the serious risk to themselves and others. One troublespot then was Sandgate Hill, especially when busy with crowded charabancs full to bursting with trippers and other traffic. The dangers were often highlighted by the Herald editor. A century ago local people depended almost entirely on public transport to travel any distance, private cars were a rarity, and television and videos were unheard of. So the simple pleasures of a visit to local villages, the hills and valley meadows out of town, probably had far greater appeal, especially as many worked six days a week. Folkestone Herald writer Felix was writing enthusiastically about train rides to Lyminge on the Elham Valley railway, or walks or cycle rides to spots such as Sibton Park, with nearby attractions such as The Gate public house, “magnificent"views from 500ft up on the Downs at a viewpoint known as ‘The Farthing1 and then a fine run back via Monks Horton Park, Stanford, Newington and Cheriton.



They day they blew cliff away - to build a railway.

A QQP THE HERALD was looking back to the arrival of the railway in the district and the remarkable method used to cut the cost of extending the line along the coast to Dover. The biggest obstacle was the cliffs and. rather then tunnel through all of them it was resolved to use gunpowder to blast away the front of the one of the biggest headlands - the Round Down Cliff. 375 ft high, which rivalled in size the famous Shakespeare Cliff on the outskirts of Dover. To have tunnelled through it with equipment available then would take 200 men two years they estimated! In 1843 newspapers told how they cut three tunnels 60-70ft into the mass with chambers at the end which were packed with a total of 18.500 lbs of explosive and crowds were invited to take grandstand views or boarded steamers and smaller craft to view the spectacle from the sea. as the engineers blew up the cliff by remote control. On the given day at 2.26pm spectators heard a “low, faint, indistinct, indescribable, moaning subterranean rumbie" and immediately afterwards “the bottom of the cliff began to belly out and. almost simultaneously, about 500 ft in breadth of the summit began gradually, but rapidly, to sink, the earth upon which a marquee stood trembling... no roaring explosion, no flames and splitting of rocks”... the rock became fluid and "glided like a stream into the sea." It was all over in about five minutes!



How Martin Walter went into the war business.

QCAFIVE years after the Second World War X9wvthe UK was stili struggling to recover and the biggest problem was shortage of materials, and not only to build with. People were restricted as to what newspapers they could buy because supplies of newsprint was so short. The Herald editor devoted his editorial to explaining the shortage. It was feared local affairs would not be adequately reported. At Sandgatc local people formed an association following more coastal damage through bad weather and canvassed other towns to work together to get help. believing unity would give their case more weight. They engaged a solicitor to campaign for "a more human application" of the Coast Protection Act of 1949 and called for a conference to form a Union of seaside communities. Folkestone mourned skilled craftsman John Sandford Butler, of Cheriton. who organised conversion of Martin Walter motor works into a munitions factory at the beginning of the Second World War and then had to organise dismantling of the whole plant and its transport to a new site at Thames Ditton, where they were ordered to move by the Ministry of Supply. During most of the war period he was foreman in charge of making over 1,250,000 Venturi tubes for rocket projectiles and carried working as a foreman when the Cheriton motor works re-opened after the war.



£ZU million new road nn with Dover sparks fears.

1 Q7R PLANS for a £20million pound new road link ^*7 I w between the twin Channel ports of Folkestone and Dover were greeted with mixed reactions in the town. Scheduled for the early 1980s it had long been fought for by Shepway Council. But there were fears on environmental grounds because of the path it would probably slash through the hitherto unspoilt Downs between the towns. It was also felt it would make a better slip road down to the harbour even more vital. Six salvaged, stained glass windows from the demolished Tontine Street Congregational Church were installed and re-dedicated at the Radnor Park United Reformed Church. Appropriately two of the windows are in memory of the Revd A.J. Palmer, once in charge of both churches. Hythe Football Club had a bargain buy at £125. They bought a disused Army hut on the banks of the Royal Military Canai - the Hardinge Hall • and learned afterwards the steel work alone was worth at least £2,500. And they even recovered the cost of their outlay by selling the galvanised cladding of the building! It was a landmark in their plans for a new ground and clubhouse at Reachfields. But first they had to dismantle the hall and store it until they were ready. It was hoped their initiative would persuade the Council to give some aid. An embarrassed Town Sergeant at Lydd appealed to the Town Council for a ‘proper* uniform costing about £300. He doubled as Town Crier and approached the Council saying it gave a bad impression of the area when compared to other towns.

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:-