DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 11 October 2001

 

 

VETERAN Memories reader

Eileen Martin, of Hanover House, Folkestone, wonders if any other reader has heard of a mysterious under-the-sea eruption in the Channel off Folkestone which was followed by what she describes as a tidal wave in the harbour and a dramatic waterspout out to sea.

Now 84, she believes this was back in the late

1920s or early thirties. ______

"Early one morning," she told me "there was a rumble like thunder, and the whole place shook.... then nothing more until evening.

"The tide was out then and Mr 'Chummy' Weatherhead was tidying up on the Josephine, a pleasure craft which took people for trips along the coast and was resting on the mud.

"We were ready for bed, in The True Briton, where we lived,

RIGHT: The old True Briton sign as later ‘flown’ proudly outside the No. 1 Squadron RAF’s squadron museum. The picture was taken at the unveiling by Douglas Thompson, a director of Whitbreads, who himself served in the RAF.
but Nanna allowed us to look out of the window, for half an hour.

"Then, suddenly, without warning, the tide rushed in and the inner harbour was under many feet of water.

"The Josephine rocked in 30ft of water. Chummy was trying to keep his balance, but fell down on the deck.

"Then, just as suddenly the water rushed out. This happened - in, and out, several more times.

"But, just as suddenly, things settled back to normality. Out at sea, however, a huge black water spout shot up to the sky, and began to move along the top of the water, gradually getting lower and lower, until it vanished under the sea, before it reached Dover."

This happened, she said, between 6pm and 7.30pm -"We had to go to bed early because of school the next day," she explained.

"Fred Taylor (who, by the way, was our butcher boy) - I haven't met him since we were both 16 - has told me his mother spoke about it."

Do Memories readers recall this, she asks.

"There are a lot of things lying under the Channel, relics from the Second World War, as we know from what fishing boats 'catch' in their nets. Perhaps this could happen again," she said.
Eruption?
THE DAILY Mirror newspaper, in November 1933, told how a major fall of cliff at Larklands Point, South Foreland, St Margaret's Bay, estimated at 150,000 tons and one of the largest for years, "forced back the sea in a seething mass like a tidal wave."

When I read this in a scrapbook of press cuttings shown to me by a Memories reader I couldn't help but wonder if this had any connection with Eileen Martin's recollections of an undersea eruption in the Channel, an incident which is described below.
gsr.
MEMORIES reader Edward 'Ted' Friend, of Church Road, Cheriton, lent me this faded postcard view of a donkey cart outside what he believes was "Granny May's" cottage. It was near the top of Canterbury Road, on a bend by the old chalk pit, which was referred to in Memories recently. Ted, 79, was born in Lyminge and came to live in the town after the war.
Eileen can remember the time, just after the War, when a magnetic mine came gently bobbing along and into the harbour entrance, past the East head - a seagull boldly sitting on it.

The tide was coming in and it was being carried towards the railway pillars, she says.

"I think it was the harbour master and another man who
got into a rowing boat and managed to get a rope around it and secure it as best they could so that it could not knock against anything and explode.

"Later the bomb chaps came and dealt with it. The two men were very brave and were awarded medals.

"By the way," she adds "I was born in East Ham, while my brother was born in Silver
Town. One sister was born in Floral Street, Covent Garden, the other later, in Folkestone's dear old True Briton public house."

She adds the footnote that "Memories have given a lot of pleasure to many people."

I look forward to hearing from other readers of Memories about this most unusual local phenomenon.
 

The visitor who claimed he could fly the Channel

•a 0/\4 FELIX, a Herald writer, told of a XtfUJi plan for a fleet of motor buses, running at 6niph (!) between the Town Hall and Shorncliffe Station which would surely boost development along Shorncliffe Road, and he called for the station to be re-named “West Folkestone & Shorncliffe." Looking back, the Herald told of a man who tried to con tho public in tho Channel ports into believing they could fly with the aid of a pair of wings only he, as "the inventor" could supply. With these wings, he claimed, anyone could fly from the famous white cliffs to Calais - or in exceptional circumstances, alight upon the gates of Paris - "saving trouble resulting 'rom passports and gendarmerie." Perhaps furnished by listeners with too much drink, he got himself arrested for drunkenness and "riotous comportment on the King's Highway.' This was back in 1826, according to the Morning Post newspaper. The judge is said to have commented that if he had his wings with him he could fly from the court, once he paid his fine!

 
Inquiry into 213,000 plan to safeguard the coastline

QP(| A PUBLIC inquiry was held in the ^#0^town into plans by Folkestone Council to spend 213,000 on coast protection work at Sandgate The plans involved compulsory purchaso of two pieces of land. A strong case was made out that the cost should fall 011 the government, and not local ratepayers. Greatstone resident Mr W.H. Thompson, aged 60, was reckoned to have written a best seller when he produced the book "/ Whs Churchill’s Shadow" published this month 50 years ago Churchill's personal police bodyguard from 1921 to the end of 1931. Mr Thompson was recalled to protect him during a lecture trip to Canada and USA, and again at the outbreak of the Second World War during which he accompanied the Premier on journeys to Washington. Quebec, Casablanca, Teheran, Cairo and Moscow, on war work. His service earned him the MBE. Mrs Thompson was also, at one time, Churchill's personal, private secretary. Hythc railway station and the Sandling Junction to Hythe branch line were due to close early in December and it was planned to rename Sandling station "Sandling for Hythe."
 
Hythe man leads England’s team that won back Ashes

*1 ARRIVAL in Folkestone of tho

French Delage racing team for the British Grand Prix created much interest, the two race cars standing for some time outside Martin Walter's Sandgate Road showrooms, where they were pictured by the Herald. Martin Walters organised their transport by lorry to the race cir cuit at Brooklands, where Delage won the race, it was said, due to their "superior acceleration and braking on corners." Hythe businessman and amateur sportsman Mr A.P.F. Chapman captained the English cricket team which won back the ashes from Australia in the final test match at the Oval. And afterwards he captained an English XI playing an Australian side in Folkestone's Cricket Week Festival. The Victoria Pier Pavilion staged the annual moil's beauty show for which there were nearly 40 entries. As might be expected, there were few men among the audience made up most of the fair sex who also acted as judges Winner Jack Dwyer, 24, of Kensington was a member of the "Little Nellie Kolly" company appoaring at the time at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre in Folkestone.
 
Bombs alert- but casings contained only concrete!

a "BOYS in Blue" returned to Hawkinge

I Oairfield to clear 'litter' left behind by the RAF which closed the fighter station in 1945. The ‘litter’ was in the form of 120 bombs, the first of which were unearthed by tractor driver John Booth, ploughing the land for the first time sinco the First World War. They were practice bombs each thought to contain 4lbs of explosive. The area was sealed off by the police, but it was soon discovered that in fact they were filled only with concrete! John was told to carry on ploughing and not to worry - unless he unearthed a different kind of bomb! I wonder if he found any of those pipe bombs that have been discovered in recent times! Four local horse-riders faced Folkestone Court after allegedly galloping up Sandgate Road four abreast and "shouting and whooping' in true Westerns tradition. They were carrying a banner advertising a Debenhams' sals. PC Derek Ashford claimed pedestrians had to "jump back" for fear of being hit as the riders charged along at "20 to 25 mph." But tho four riders, led by riding school owner Mrs Avril Brice, and Robert Asher, former assistant managor at Dcbenhams, who was charged with aiding and abetting the riders, pleaded not guilty and all were acquitted.

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