DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 28 December 2000

Quite a woman
DOVER had its Fatman - Thomas Longiey, a publican said to be the heaviest British subject at 42 stone -while Folkestone had its Fat Lady, Edie Scowen. But Edie, an aunt of Derrick Lawson, of Lynwood, Folkestone, topped Tom’s weight by at least two stone!

Both were well known personalities in their day. Edie, who lived in Geraldine Road Cheriton, came from a big Folkestone family. Sadly she was just 50 at her death about 40 years ago. Tom, 56, died in 1904.
Derrick, like a good many people in the district today, have good reason to have fond memories of ‘Aunt Edie.’

The daughter of Joseph Scowen and his wife Beatrice (nee Cockerton) she was born in the old Electricity Houses in More-hall. Today those houses are in what is known as Lawrence Way.

Edie, Derrick tells me, had a glandular problem when very young and this finally caught up with her when she was in her teens and, at 16, she was nearly 18 stone.

“Today, something could have been done for her, but in those far off days no one seemed to bother about overweight people,” he said.

“Edie always called me her favourite nephew - but each time she saw me I was nearly crushed to death,” he quipped.

Fed big family

“My grandfather, Joseph Scowen, always grumbled about Edie when she spilled his beer on the way back from the pub, but she turned a deaf ear. When my grandmother Beatrice died in 1934 Edie became a great helper to the family, along with her sister Lil, and prepared food for the hungry family - all ten of them!

“Edie was always helping people less fortunate than herself and the neighbours loved her. She would run errands for a few coppers to pay for her cigarettes and her always present bottle of “Bing” mineral water she kept in a large apron pocket.

“She was always first in the queue at
French’s chip shop in Cheriton Road - and you could hear her laugh all over Cheriton.

“Despite her great weight she would walk down the Road of Remembrance to wave goodbye to our troops as they went off to war.”

When she was dying Derrick was living in Surrey and had an urgent message from his Aunt Ivy that Aunt Edie wanted to see her favourite nephew before she passed on. “I got the next train, arriving to find Edie propped up in a great mahogany bed. She was pleased to see me, but died soon afterwards.

“Next day I had to see the undertaker about the funeral. When I told him, he looked at his partner and said “It will have
to be cremation. She will be too heavy for a block and tackle job!

“She tipped their scales at forty-four and a half stone and a special coffin had to be made. Neighbours rallied round and, altogether 13 men helped to get the coffin out into the street and on to the hearse.

“And my Uncle Percy commented:

‘I bet Edie is up above saying to herself: ‘Look at all those fools lifting me into the hearse!’

At the funeral nearly 150 people attended to pay their last respects, said Derrick, adding that “Quite a few older people in Cheriton still remember the ‘Jolly Fat Lady’ who would do anyone a good turn.”
READER Mr R Hatcher, of Coniston Road, writing of flooding in Folkestone tells me how the Arsenal FC sent a team to the area in November 1910 to play Shorncliffe Garrison & District in aid of Foord Road flood relief fund. Blackbull Road and Foord Rd have had more than their fair share of flooding over the years. "My mind went back to schooldays when the local secondary schools contested the Chadwick Cup, which was to local schools what the FA Cup is to thousands of soccer fans," he says. "In 1959 I was on the substitutes' bench when Hillside, Morehall, Southlands and Dover Grammar competed. But what happened to that cup," he asks. If you know ring him on 01303 242813.
MEMORIES reader Derrick Lawson lent me this memento of the First World War Capel airship station days, The Royal Naval Air Service operated scouting airships, reminiscent of Second World War barrage balloons, and patrolled theChannel in the hunt for enemy submarines and prevent them attacking our troop ships carrying soldiers to and fro across the Strait. There were at least two massive hangars. Derrick's uncle Harold Scowen served with the unit - more of that later.
 

 

 

1900

Switchback attraction offends 'upper crust’.

>| QA CENTURY ago the conduct of some J.7\Svlof the visitors - or was it the working class nature of the visitors that upset the ‘superior’ classes - prompted some councillors to back calls for ending the lease of the Switchback Railway on the beach near the old Victoria Pier. The objectors, apparently, were some of those who lived in some of the most valuable homes on the Leas. One councillor said during excursion visits the noise and screaming of holidaymakers was very annoying. They didn’t want the Switchback where it was, on land owned by Lord Radnor, and wanted to be rid of It, he declared. Alderman Banks said it was of no use except to those who owned it. In some towns it would be all right but in Folkestone it was an annoyance to ‘respectable people.’ The lease of the site was up for renewal and there was a move to persuade the Earl to refuse this. At the annual meeting of the local Lifeboat Committee members heard that it was hoped to have the very latest and most powerful motor lifeboat on station at Folkestone some time in 1901 but talks were still going on about a possible station for it somewhere within the harbour.

 

1925

'Health’ chalet on the Leas sparks a storm of protest.

Q(f WITH, apparently little thought to the fact they were setting a precedent, the Council approved temporary siting of a chalet on the famous Leas promenade for a well-to-do woman, Lady Sybil Middleton, sister of Earl Grey. Her doctor had advised she would benefit from a winter spent in the bracing air of Folkestone, The result was a storm of protests, partly because it obstructed a public right of way along the cliff-top and because of the “unfair privilege" she was gaining. The chalet was soon daubed with the words: “A violation of public rights; put it over the cliffs men!" And someone actually tried to move the chalet while Lady Middleton was inside. Quickly responding to protests, her husband, Lambert Middleton, promptly had the shelter removed, Folkestone was gratified to hear that at least two other local authorities were interested in building similar Zig-Zag path attractions to its own. Blackpool was about to embark on the construction of a Zig-Zag, with artificial white cliffs made of Portland sand and cement, northwards from the old Glynn inn, famous for its smuggling associations. And Southend Council had recently sent a deputation to Folkestone to inspect the famous Zig-Zag path and caves, which were also created out of simulated stone. Our writer Felix reported that they had been very impressed.

 

1950

Harbour dredger brings up bomb & machine gun.

QCrt INTEREST was created at the port by Winston Churchill’s colt Gibraltar, brother of Double Rose owned by film star Rita Hayworth, which arrived from Boulogne. It was due to race as a two-year-old in 1951. With an awful racket at times, an estimated 150,000 tons of mud and the odd rock of some size was dredged from Folkestone harbour, along with a phosphorus bomb and a barnacle encrusted machine gun. An unusual catch glowing in the dark caught the eye aboard well known fisherman ‘Knockout’ Spicer’s boat, the FE15. The tiny creature, which had taken a hook in the North Sea, turned out to be a Sea Horse, thought to be unusual in these waters. Crewman Tommy Noble put it In a matchbox to show It around the Fishmarket it was the first time many had seen one. But a poor specimen was once seen at East Cliff after a gale. Milford Court Hotel was bought by the Kent Old People's Housing Society for use as a residential home for the elderly. Memories of the day Field Marshal, later Lord Montgomery, was serving as a 2nd Lieutenant at Shomcliffe Camp just before the First World War were revived by a photograph of his old regiment, the Warwickshires on parade with the mascot, an antelope, which was published by our old midweek paper the Gazette.

 

1975

New plans to improve the busy coast road to West.

A p THERE was a new oil slick scare, with fears 1 9 for the coastline from Folkestone to the East Goodwin lightship, but then freshening winds swept it out to sea again. A new route was being investigated for the A259 main coastal road, with the aim of bypassing the built-up areas of Folkestone and Hythe and, perhaps, linking up with the M20. It was all part of a review of the route from Dover to Brighton. Strange lights, low over the Straits, were said to be due to unusual ‘shooting star' activity. The Herald told of a hospital transport service, manned by volunteers, which was to be introduced because the East Kent Road Car Co was suspending services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and it was hoped, subject to volunteer drivers coming forward, to continue the service aimed primarily for the elderly and physically handicapped wishing to visit patients. Twenty-five years ago a commemorative there-and-back flight took place from Lydd Airport by a historic DC3 aircraft, Yankee Zulu, a survivor of the Arnhem operation in the Second World War. Owned by Skyways Cargo Airline, at Lydd, it flew to Antwerp with a special cargo of valuable books about the Douglas Dakota, which were afterwards auctioned on behalf of funds of the RAF Museum at Hendon. In 1975 it was estimated 2,700 of these aircraft were still operational. Skyways operated seven of them.

 

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