Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 9 August 2001





SOME local firemen had to grab a lift aboard a local bus as they dashed to a major fire at Sandgate 90 years ago -all because the powers that be had failed to provide the local brigade with one of the new fangled motor fire engines.

So its hardly surprising that, despite the assistance provided by fire brigades from Folkestone and Hythe, the destructive blaze completely gutted Harts the furnishers big store and warehouse in the High Street, along with the grocery and wine and spirit stores of Councillor A.E. Walford, the homes above the shops of several local people, and practically destroyed three cottages, No.s 1, 2 & 3 Granville Road West.

The conflagration, on February 13, 1919, also threatened at one stage to engulf not only the
well known adjoining motor garage, coachworks and petroleum stocks of Maltby Motors but a number of other properties nearby, including the old Royal Kent Hotel tap.

Had there been a strong wind at the time the fire would no doubt have been far more serious.

The threat was real enough for people to take steps to remove furniture and valuables to a place of safety, while Maltby Motors staff ran any cars that were mobile out of their extensive premises, the windows of which were cracked by the excessive heat from the blaze next door.

Even property owners on the other side of the street became nervous and removed some of their valuables to safety.

The fire had broken out during the lunch break. It was discovered about 2pm and fire fighting went on into the evening as smouldering wood and other debris flared up again.

Councillor J.H. Maltby, Chairman of Sandgate Council and a Maltbys director, together with local surveyor Mr H Evans and the Vicar, the Revd G.S. Long, gave what help they could and organised emergency accommodation for the displaced families whose homes were hit by the fire.

Traffic was stopped as hoses crossed the street and roofing timbers or the entire shop
TWO POSTCARD views, shown to me by local history enthusiast Peter Hooper, of Folkestone illustrate the extent of the damage to front and rear of the Sandgate properties in February 1919. Inside the door of a small outbuilding on the right a horse is stabled.
aged by over zealous volunteers striving to help.

Hart & Co's furniture store was one of the most modern and imposing in Sandgate.

The alarm had been raised by Mrs Francis who lived with her husband in a flat above the store, and had smelt smoke and heard crackling noises.

About the same time Cllr Walford noticed smoke and he too raised the alarm.

His store caught fire and it was very badly damaged. At one stage it was feared it would be razed to the ground.
Shops blaze
frontage threatened to collapse into the road.

Some firemen had a lucky escape when part of the heavy wooden gable of one building collapsed unexpectedly and they were struck by some of the debris - as the dented brass helmet of one fireman demonstrated.

Damaged furniture from the shop littered the pavements and, at the rear, the beach took on an extraordinary appearance as it was used as a temporary store for rescued furniture and other property. Some cottages were accidentally dam-

Fire restriction on plays absurd councillors told

■>( Q/\<l MORE powerful street lights, said to give 1,000 candle power or more, using vaporised oil. at a cost of one old penny per hour, were to be tried in Folkestone as an experiment. at the junction of Castle Hill Avenue and Shorncliffe Road, at a point uppu^iU- the town's public baths and at the junction of Dover Road and Dover Street. Existing lights were electric arc lights, of only 600 to 800 candle power, at about a quarter of the cost of the new lights. When the Council's watch cummittci' was asked to grant stage play licences for the Victoria Pier. Pleasure Gardens Theatre and Harveian Club, all now features of the past, they proposed a condition the organisers should have a fireman present on each occasion - a proposal described as absurd by Cllr Jones who said they might just as well ask that the same should apply to church services and big dinners at the Metropole Hotel or the Pavilion Hotel. When the majority, on voting, seemed adamant the condition should be imposed, the Town Clerk was asked if the Council had the power to enforce it. There were roars of laughter when he said ‘No!’

No threat to winter ferry traffic Herald reveals

1 QR1 THE Herald dismissed fears that there XvwX would be no Channel ferry service from Folkestone to the Continent in the winter months. Some had feared the new ferry Cote d'Azur (built to replace a vessel of the same name lost during the Second World War) would operate to Dover. Some rare old "coffee pots" turned out for a Veteran Car Rally on the Leas, including an 1898 "Star," Renaults. Panhard-Levassors, De Dions and an early Wolseley, and all completed a run to Canterbury — evvntujllv. some having a trifle difficulty on the long slope at Beachborough. Not so welcome on the Leas that week, apparently. was a veritable swarm of large May Bugs, or cockchafers, which zoomed about, causing some alarm to pedestrians and cyclists. WR Beckett, England and AAA member, of Hythe Athletic Club, won his first national title, lowering the British record for a mile and a half by no less than 5.8 seconds. His time was 6 mins 40.6 secs and he was 18 yards clear of his nearest rival in the Paddington event. I liked the story about an alert black retriever which spotted a fine bass leaping out of the sea at Sandgate and ran into the water to catch it - and then proceeded to eat it. carefully avoiding angler's fishing tackle still attached.
Council urged to drop slum clearance ‘attack’ on Stade

>| QQ> COUNCIL plans to demolish some of the Stade area, condemned by health officers as a slum, were met with a storm of protests, meetings and debate throughout the town. A spokesman for some tenants and owners claimed the plan was nothing short of "highway robbery,” In terms of likely compensation, if any. The Revd WH Pickburn said the scheme was ‘‘utterly inadequate." He went on to criticise plans to build two-floor flats and cottages, some homes having smaller rooms than existing houses and rents nearly double, some said treble. A reader, signing as C.W. Allen, voiced the feelings of many people when he called for the preservation of three ver> old fishermen's houses in the Stade, including one once known a6 the Rovles. "These buildings are now only used for offices and stores, but have been and still are the Joy of countless artists, visitors and photographers. Side by side in your columns last week one reads." he wrote, “of an appeal for funds to advertise Folkestone and proposed measures to destroy priceless relics of old smuggling days. The very purpose of the appeal is frustrated if, with a ruthless hand, the Council decides on vandalism and destroys these picturesque houses. This should not be dismissed as mere sentiment, he warned
Fond memories of a Vicar vilified for ritual services

f MEMBERS of St Peter's Church celebrated

X9(Oan unusual centenary. At Cheriton Road cemetery they remembered their first vicar, the Revd Charles Ridsdale. who suffered four years of persecution in what came to be known as the Folkestone Ritual Case. St Peter's opened in 1862 to servo the fishing community and it flourished. Within eight years it had to be enlarged. But St Peter's was caught up in a block on the revival of some old rituals of Holy Communion in the church which Charles Ridsdale adopted and he became the first victim of a new "Worship Regulation Act" requiring him to remove stations of the cross and a second altar which had been installed. Mr Ridsdale appealed successfully to the Privy Council. St Peter's also succeeded when the Archbishop tried to avoid paying costs of the action. But when Mr Ridsdale returned from his honeymoon after marrying the daughter of the Vicar of Folkestone, Canon Woodward, he faced another action by a publican, baker and a shoemaker. They objected to other practices at St Peter's, like the lighting of candles, processions and other features taken for granted today in many churches. This time his appeal failed and he had to take down a crucifix from a rood screcn and remove the stations of the cross to the singing of penitential psalms. The case made national headlines, but the 'worship' Act was soon dropped.

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