Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 1 February 2001


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UNDER the heading of “A Versatile Undertaker” recollections by the one-time Folkestone Herald columnist Felix about a Vicar who failed to turn up for a child’s funeral, caused a few raised eyebrows in the Folkestone and Hythe district, a century ago.
Bassetts, Burrs Hill, Marden, Tonbridge KENT. TN12 9BS Phone 01622 831122

10th January 2001 Dear comrade. Seventh Annual Reunion 75th (Cinque Ports) H.A.A. Regt. Royal Artillery (Territorial Army.)

/ hope and trust that you are well enough to attend the above Reunion which will be held at the Assembly Hall, Dover Working Men's Club, London Road. Dover, from 12 noon until 4pm, on
SATURDAY the 28th April. / expect that John Crocker will be sending you an invitation but as an ex-member of the Folkestone and Hythe battery I feel bound to ensure you have an early warning of this date.

If you know of any old comrades whom / have missed please let me know.

/ believe we are fewer in number than our friends in Dover battery because our comrades were more advanced in years.

Yours sincerely,

signed Chris White
tunate and embarrassing misunderstanding.

Felix, after stressing that it didn’t happen during the current Vicar’s service (!) in the Cheriton parish, also recalled a somewhat different incident at Sandgate.

A coastguard’s wife had died and, when the funeral party, including coastguardsmen arrived at St Martin’s Churchyard, they found that no one had dug a grave - neither could the sexton be found!

However, the gallant “Jack Tars” set to, after finding some tools, and dug a grave. And, as the interment took place, one of the coastguard tolled the church bell as well.


Sadly, wrote Felix, he understood something similar had happened not far from Folkestone on another occasion when distressed relatives were forced to wait while a forgetful sexton dug the grave.

Felix said he did not want to stir up trouble or strife, but such things should not be allowed to happen again.

These revelations by Felix began with a mention, some time before, of an undertaker, in “regulation black frock coat” who cycled across Kent with the body of a child in a little coffin, which he strapped to his bicycle!

He rode from Folkestone to Sittingbourne for the funeral, which is some trek.

On another occasion Mr Vant walked with dignity through the streets to a churchyard, carrying a small coffin under his arm. The
Felix wrote about it in his light-hearted column “About the Neighbourhood.”

The funeral was of a child interred at Cheriton churchyard and the undertaker had to step in and take the service, a clergyman having failed to turn up through a very unfor-
WAR veteran Chris White has asked me to print this reminder of a reunion of old comrades of the 7th (Cinque Ports) Heavy Ack-Ack Regiment of the Royal Artillery (T.A.)
Does any Memories reader recall former RAF Flt-Sgt Timothy Hay who was a bomb aimer in the Lancaster bomber ED722 of the RAF’s wartime 61st Squadron?

The inquiry comes from Australia, via Alain Charpentier, in France, who has been in touch with the sister of Tim Hay's fellow crewman, Flight Sergeant Ernest Harold Gunders. Sadly he was killed when the Lancaster was shot down near Chartres, on August 15, 1943. Ernest was described as a mid-upper gunner in the aircraft.

Ernest Gunders’ sister would like to find a survivor of the crash in the hope they can tell her more about the incident. If any reader can help, Julie A. Edwards, of Chestnut Road, Elms Vale, Dover, on 01304 207057, will put them in touch with Alain Charpentier in France.
From Mr R McKenny, of St Leonard’s on Sea, in East Sussex, I received a press cutting of this interesting picture taken in Hythe during celebrations held just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The busy scene shows the narrow High Street festooned with flags and bunting, criss-crossing the road. “I found it in family archives and wondered if it would be of interest to readers,” he says. - Thank you, Mr McKenny.
parents were very poor and Mr Vant dispensed with a funeral carriage, to save costs, and carried out his duties in this unorthodox manner, with full approval of the minister.

Mr Vant also ‘officiated’ at St Martin’s churchyard at another child’s funeral. Unfortunately, through some mistake once again, no clergyman appeared.
It was bitterly cold and the bereaved mother was in delicate health so the undertaker offered to conduct the ceremony.

The shivering family gratefully accepted, Mr Vant reading through the Church of England burial service, with due solemnity.

And, said Felix, on another occasion a nonconformist minister failed to appear ...!

Celebrations as Edward VII accedes to throne

1 QM THE PROCLAMATION of Kine Edward VII, following the death of Queen Victoria, was a major event in Folkestone a century ago. The colourful event was celebrated with a civil and military pageant, supported by soldiers of the military garrison, with fanfares of trumpets, the hoisting of the Royal Standard and the singing of the National Antheni each time the Mayor read the proclamation. These took place on January 26. with elaborate arrangements being made for a party of VIPs to visit eight vantage points in the town where the Mayor, Councillor Daniel Baker read the official proclamation. The public were informed in advance about the arrangements and turned out in force to witness the ceremonies. The proclamations began at the Town Hail, and then the VIPs proceeded to the Harvey Statue, followed in turn by St Paul's Church. Sandgate Hill. Radnor Park entrance lodge, the junction of Blackbull and Canterbury Roads, the junction of Dover Street and Dover Road, at Harbour Street, and then to the ancient cross in the parish churchyard. A similar event had taken place over 60 years before when the teenage Queen Victoria embarked on her remarkable reign
Councillors join the fight to end use of pit ponies

*f QOC CONTRACTORS building two long awaited O bandstands in the town, one at the Leas and the other at Marine Gardens near the present Rotunda, were causing some controversy - by advertising themselves on hoardings around the Leas site, a standard procedure when such development took place. But some councillors were anxious to preserve the "exclusiveness" of the Leas. However, a move to get the advertising removed failed at a committee meeting. Councillors backed a call by the National Equine Defence League urging a Royal Commission on coal mines to adopt mechanical haulage in pits, and spare pit ponios this work. But councillors didn't back Beckenham council who wanted councils to call on the government to meet the cost of anew tunnel under the Thames, from Dartford or Gravesend. They thought the counties fronting the Thames should share the cost. The minister of the Grace Hill Wesleyan Church told the Chamber of Commerce two congregations, totalling nearly a thousand, including the nearby Baptist Church, could worship in peace following a decision to divert buses on Sundays. This followed complaints about the noise of buses climbing the hill past the churches.

Peace - but brewer MP warns of serious threat
>| Q|*<| THE MILLENNIUM dome was seldom .L^/9 J> out of the news in the year 2000. but 50 years ago it was the ‘Dome of Discovery' at the Festival of Britain which made headlines, and Roamer, writer of the Herald’s Talk of the Town column of that time, was quick to observe that Folkestone's own dome, at the Rotunda, was very much the same in shape and conception. It was little more than five years since the Second World War but many people were worried about a new world threat, from Communism and local MP Brigadier H.R. Mackcson was stressing the need for re-armament as he busily toured the constituency. People should be told the facts, he urged, warning of “appalling danger.” He thought re-armament, with more Colonial manpower in the Forces, would enable the British Commonwealth to once again assume moral leadership of the world. Folkestone dancing partners for years Frank Lockeyear and Peggy Clarke, who had tied the knot only weeks before, became one of the first couples to feature on BBC Television's Dancing Club programme in January. Their invitation came from Frank Sylvester as the BBC prepared to launch a national competition, the viewers voting for the winners..3 who were to wear a
Blaze devastates town’s former department store

A MYSTERY surrounded a blaze which devas-

J.^7/Otated the empty Plummer-Roddis shop, once one of the town's leading department stores. The fire broke out on a Saturday night and 18 firemen with four appliances fought the flames which damaged about 40ui of the top floor and roof and 20% of the first and second floors. ‘'Economic factors" saw work on the site halted and the property, with its colonnade "protected by a preservation order'1 was heavily shored up. Shepway Council was duo to consider a new scheme for shops and storage space on the ground floor and offices on the upper floors. An earlier plan approved for shops and offices was said to be not viable. A move by the East Kent to increase bus fares, by as much as 25%. brought immediate protests, as. according to the Herald, passengers were still reeling from an increase of only two months before. The higher fares were said to be needed to offset a 718,000 rise in annual running costs. There was no threat of a "spaghetti junction” at Cheriton where the A20 joined the proposed M20, but a "conventional" two-level junction with lanes running of it, Shcpway Council were told. And pedestrianisation was coming one step nearer in the town centre with creation of the new northern distribution road, councillors heard. The new road was already taking the bulk of traffic away from the town centre, it was stated.

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:-