Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 19 July 2001


But as far as one particular photograph was concerned I was stumped. It was a picture of a Vauxhall Velox shooting brake identified by a rubber backstamp as having belonged to the Martin Walters Ltd Utilecon Works, now, sadly, long closed, at Cheriton.

Dennis, who worked in the Dormobile factory at Cheriton before he retired told me of the great camaraderie among the lads at the works, and of the very clever craftsmen who used to work in the coachbuilding and repair shops. He also told of the sadness when the Dormobile works, where so much coach conversion work was done, closed

_ down. Later, of course

Martin Walters closed too.

He said a Dormobile owners' club still flourished, but he could not tell me much about the Velox shooting brakes, an occasional example of which one still sees on the road.

I have discovered that back in 1956 when the Bedford Dormobile was earning Martin Walters international fame - during a period when the motor trade generally was having a difficult time - work was under way on an offshoot of this, the Vauxhall Velox "Dormobile," an estate car.

The Martin Walters Ltd
I SOLVED a little bit of a motoring mystery for myself quite by accident recently while researching a completely different subject in back numbers of the Folkestone Herald.

Three years ago now motoring enthusiast Dennis Pullen, of Broadmead Village, Cheriton, who used to work for Martin Walters, lent me a fine collection of photographs of cars with coachwork built by the firm and I wrote a series of Memories articles based on these and the information he gave me about the company.
AND NOW for something completely different! Back in the 1920s and early 1930s Llama carts were a great attraction to children in Folkestone at holiday time.
AVIATION enthusiast Roy Humphreys, of Hawkinge, confirms that a Lancaster bomber of 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF, badly damaged by flak, crashed into a local hillside, on Sept 18, 1944 as it tried to get to Hawkinge airfield. It was returning from Boulogne after helping Canadian forces capture the German gun sites which shelled Dover and Folkestone in the war. It confirms the recollection of the late husband of Mrs V Harris, of Hastings, who contacted me about it. He recalled the bomber crashing at Peene, close to the landmark property called "The Dolls House."
THE Martin Walters' photograph of one of their latest pieces of quality coachwork in the 1970s, a Cheriton Dormobile factory conversion of a Vauxhall Velox saloon car.
company was so busy with orders it had doubled the capacity of its latest factory.

The new six-seater estate was to sell at 17shillings over £1,112, which included purchase tax.

The Folkestone Herald of August 24, 1956 said the new model met an enormous demand for a Dormobile type vehicle on a car chassis, the roomy Vauxhall Velox, which was particularly popular with taxi firms.

I also discovered that an updated version of this 'shooting brake' was still going strong in 1973. Folkestone Herald writer Ron Green, writing in January that year, said that the "unique" new model was the outcome of 1,700 hours work by the Martin Walters design team.

"They have taken a standard Vauxhall Viva saloon and, with imagination and craftsmanship of the old school, have created what might be the only small car estate with four doors (and of course the tailgate) to be manufactured in Britain." And, he added:

"The elegant outcome of this expertise has been nicknamed the Viva "Bermuda."

"Alas," he added, it was only available in that country! It was designed for the market there.
Design work had started the previous May, requirements including governors on both speed and exhaust fumes to meet regulations in Bermuda.

Ron Green revealed that a Martin Walters works team, led by branch manager Brian Baker and foreman Fred Round were supplied with a brand new Viva to "play around" with. Their first step was to rip off half the roof and the boot lid.

By August the design work was as good as done. The second prototype was so good it was promptly bought by the head of the company set to market the shooting brake in Bermuda.

Soon the factory was turning out six cars every three weeks.

Prophetic Ron Green thought there might well be a British market for the estates — if the price was rightl

Sure enough, towards the end of October -Motor Show time — the Herald was reporting the "Bermuda," Dormobile's new type of "Bedroom on Wheels," was a real success story.

It had proved so popular, models were built for the home and overseas market and Martin Walters reported record export orders. And a Standard Vanguard Dormobile estate also made its debut.


Local tramways would boost trade says editor

“1 Oft*! THE Herald editor, writing about Jmij 1/ -L squabbles over the syllabus of the town's Technical School, called for more commercial subjects, "which are the crying need of the times" as opposed to wood carving and botany. And he did not have a good word for dress-making or nursing either, in view of the "miserable pay" people rcccived in this line of work. He thought money was wasted on things which were “only fads." He said he hoped the Town Council would not take a “back sat" in the management of the school which seemed to be "on the high road to becoming a drag on the rates." Turning to the subject of local tramways, which was the subject of debate in Parliament, the editor said a tramway service between Hythe and Folkestone was a necessity and would create a welcome growth in the movement of people between Folkestone. Cheriton, Sandgate and Hythe and so on. leading to more trade. He said there would also be the major plus factor that it would open up more sites for tuildiiiK development in the district.
Flower power - or the 'Show of the Century’

A QC'I EARI-Y in July Folkestone's "Show of JL«73J. the Century’’ - a Floral Festival and Flower Show, the biggest four-day event in the town's history, took place at the Cheriton Road sports ground part of which was turned into a tented city with over 30 marquees and tents. It was the most ambitious event every held by the townspeople. Apart from the flower show there was a Britain Can Make it Exhibition. Veteran Car Rally, Fur & Feather and Dog Shows, an Aquaria display, a procession of dccoratcd cars, 100 Years of Fashion and an East Kent Hunt parade. The programme kicking off with the crowning of a Floral Queen - Miss Folkestone. Lack of interest was blamed for the dropping of a scheme to cuim-rt Eastbridge House, Hythe into a residential home for 30 elderly people of the town, with a matron and three staff. The plan had been proposed by the Old People's Welfare Committee, but members heard at the annual meeting that it had been dropped because an appeal fund, to raise £3,000 had netted only a little over £100. A success in the town however, had been the WVS Meals on Wheels service which, in two and half years cooked and delivered 17,000 dinners.

Royal Navy cruisers prove major attraction for town

■f QA/j THREE cruisers of the Royal Navy, HMS JL«/4bO Caledon, Cleopatra and Curacoa called at Folkestone and, dressed overall, were visited at their anchorage, about a mile offshore, by a series of parties of local people, including servicemen convalescing at St Andrew's Nursing Home at East Cliff. Ashore Royal Naval officers were guests at a luncheon at the Hotel Metropole. warrant officers had a dinner at the Royal Pavilion Hotel (now the Burstin) and were afterwards entertained at the Folkestone Rowing Club, while other events included a cricket match between a King -Turner's XI and team from HMS Cleopatra and Caledon. Felix was writing of the unfounded criticism - East Street, which some branded as slums. Old they might be. he said, but he could vouch for some cottages which were the "acme of comfort and cleanliness.” And he said he would like to see a cleaner or better kept home than that of fisherman Mr G.L. Fagg. of 16 East Street, who had just died. He and his wife had brought up eight healthy sons and four daughters there. Who in the west end of the town could match that family record? It might be sentiment, but he would be ‘'sorry to see the picturesque old Stade wiped out of existence" - a view echoed by many.
Dungeness life-savers toast 150 years of heroic service

rf THE LONG and heroic history of the lifeboat

I O station at Dungeness reached another high water mark with a celebration to mark its 150th years of service at the Lifeboat House. The life-savers also remcm-iL-rcd l> n of their forebears who lost their lives in the service in the 19th Century. During the week's events there was an exhibition of oil paintings at The Britannia pub, some of lifeboat coxswains since the 1890s. and si m Is were on view listing crews since 1915 as well as photographs giving a pictorial history of rescues carried out by the famous lifeboat station. From the Herald editor came strong words about local politics. "The day when political beliefs destroy reason Is the day when fair local government dies. And that day must surely have been reached in Shepway," he warned. “One of three groups of district council members has been barred from proportional representation on the main, policy-making committee. That group, of 12 Independent and liberal councillors, represents more than 13.000 voters,” he pointed out. And he blamed a group of "influential diehard Tories" who had cajoled colleagues to back them. It was putting political beliefs before district interests, he said. After the biggest cash crisis in its history Folkestone FC announced a £20.000 rescue bid with a variety of cost cutting plans and Sidney de Haan became a director.

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:-