DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 22 November 2001

 

Memories reader Mrs Eileen Rees (nee Irven), of Hythe, who was particularly interested in the recent "tidal wave" story, wrote asking me to see what I could find out about war damage to her old home. Saffron's Place, in Dover Street, Folkestone, which was all but destroyed in a shelling attack in 1942.

Well, I looked in “Frontline Folkestone - The story in pictures of Folkestone's Ordeal during five years of War," published by the Folkestone Herald immediately after the Second World War and lent to me by Bob Cork, father of our sports editor Mick Cork.

I also consulted Roy Humphreys' book, "Target Folkestone," published by Meresborough Books, in 1990.

But I did not find a specific mention of Saffron's Place, possibly because it was all part of Dover Street. But it certainly warranted a mention, because Mrs Rees tells me the house next door to her family's was completely destroyed, and their's cut in half.

Happily there were no fatalities, which might explain, she says, why Saffron's Place does not appear to have been mentioned by name. I have to admit that my normally keen eye might have missed a reference.

Both families were out at the time.

Her neighbour was a fisherman by the name of Harris. (According to the Kelly's street directory for 1938 this could have been Frederick, at No. 2 or Henry James, at No. 4.) He lived there with his daughters but on the night of the raid they were all dancing at the Leas Cliff Hall.

"The crater in front of the home of Mr Harris
and our home was as wide as the road and as deep as a house," said Mrs Rees, who went on to tell me her poor father fell into it when he came home on compassionate leave in the early hours and had great difficulty getting out.

And so, she said, it was more than blast damage which caused all the destruction. Saffron's Place must have been struck by one of the barrage of shells which also hit Dover Street.

She recalls one of the neighbours returning to his wrecked home after visiting the Leas Cliff Hall and searching among the debris for his life savings, which he kept in a tin box. "Luckily, he did find it!"

Mrs Rees said that her family stayed the night with a Mr & Mrs Marshall. They had a son who was a policeman and, during the night, he called to see they were all right and was amazed at the damage to the houses.

‘Sally Army’ steps in

He said he would have to contact the police station right away because, as far as he knew at that time, they didn't know about it.

The next morning, said Mrs Rees, press men arrived, wanting to talk to her mother.

"We were homeless and had only the clothes we were wearing, but the Salvation Army helped us. And we stayed with Granny until the Council re-housed us.

"Because Saffron's Place was in a terrible state after the shells, the council demolished the lot. Now it's a council estate. We were offered a new house there but mother couldn't face it after what happened."

Mrs Rees says she still looks back with nostalgia at pre-war days - to "good old Folkestone, with its Bennetts Yard, Great Fenchurch Street, where my grandparents lived, etc" and she
Bombed out!
remembers particularly Dick Fagg, a fisherman.

According to a feature about the town's wartime ordeal published in the Herald in September 1969, a full account of the shelling was published in retrospect in late 1944 when the town celebrated the capture of the German guns on the French coast by Canadian troops as the Allied Forces advanced after D-Day.

But I was disappointed to find this did not go into as much detail as I had hoped. Perhaps there are other Memories readers who recall the damage to Saffrons Place or know of an unpublished record of war damage - or even a photograph.

As to that 'Tidal Wave,' call it what you will, I note that One-time Herald writer Felix (real name
William George Glanfield) referred to it in a long out of print book, “Rambles Around Folkestone."

He quoted the following account, reported in the Kentish Gazette, of August 28, 1812:

"On the 19th a most remarkable circumstance took place at Folkestone, after the tide had ebbed in the usual way for three hours, and left the "Hope" sloop aground in the harbour (the crew of which were preparing to unload her.) It suddenly rose three feet perpendicular, and as suddenly ebbed, which was repeated three times in less than a quarter of an hour."

Lynne Ewart, who was born in Folkestone, but now lives with her family near Ash, sent me an e-mail note about the same Gazette report.
SANDGATE: Devonshire Terrace of the 1920s or thirties - This interesting old picture was shown to me by keen local collector Edwin Little, of Seabrook, who has lent me another series of old photographs. Others have been featured in Memories on numerous occasions. The latest photographs include several fascinating postcards of Hythe and Sandgate, dating from 1903-5, which I hope to feature in future Memories pages.
 

Fisherman’s death leaves family of five destitute

*1 Q/\*| A VIOLENT storm hit the coast early •1.%/V/J. in November 1901, windy conditions developing suddenly into what the Herald described as a cyclonic gale. Three miles out the five man crew of the Folkestone fishing boat Shamrock deemed it prudent lo turn about and return to port. Bjt they ware too late - as they veered round and began to take in sail, the miz?en mast suddenly snapped and skipper William Pegden, 37, of East Street, a father of four with a fifth on the way, was thrown into the raging sea and never seen again. The Herald immediately launched a distress fund. Sir Edward Sassoon MP heading the list of early subscribers, while staFf of financier Leopold Rothschild in London quickly collected and sent 29 for the fund. Another fund was launched by the Mayor, Lord Radnor. Rothschild took a special interest in Widow Pegden's plight because Skipper Pegden's brother was a porter working for him in London. Rothschild sent Pegden to Folkestone with money for the immediate use of the widow, and an assurance he would help with the education of the children, aqed two to 12.

 
Hythe miller saves girl, 8 and boy from drowning

a QE'f A WOMAN councillor, alleging -LjJDJ. queue jumping on the council homes waiting list, said she could not continue a member of the sub-committeo responsi ble for allocating homes to those o i the wait ing list, which topped the 2,000 mark. Brigadier H.R. Mackeson, Conservative, held on to the local constituency seat with an increased vote, 25,792, over his Labour opponent, Ivor Rhys Jones. His majority of over 11.960 was nearly 2,000 up. He celebrated in Hytho by sounding the 500 year old moot horn from a window at the town hall. At nearby Dovor the Tory John Arbuthnot polled 28,511 recording a majority of 3,516 over his Labour opponent W.J. Owen. There were 94 entries for the open mixed foursome m the Regatta Cup competition at Folkestone golf course - a club record. Club veteran of 30 years Mr H George, of Folkestone Artisans' GC won the trophy with fellow clubman Mr H Finn runner-up. Mr Coleman. 70, of Fairlight Road, Hythe. a miller a I Ww dived fully clothod into the River Stour to save a girl of eight and a young student who tried to rescue her, but got into difficulties close to the mill.
Children playing with a fire seriously damage dentists
 
tt THE Town Council agreed to take steps

try and ensure that fishing skippers Thomas Marshall and Jamas Fagg were compensated for the loss of fishing gear their boats liwicta and Jessica had to cut away to 9et to the rcscue of the ten passengers, pilot and mechanic of an airliner that ditched in the Channel. They got there in the nick of time. Children playing with fire caused a serious blaze at the premises of Morehail dentist Mr N.S. Campbell. They set fire to wood shavings in a top front room store room. The top floor was gutted but a quick thinking nurse who rushed the children to safety, stopped fire spreading to the rest of the building. She had closed the door of the blaming room, and contained the fire. Once again the Brotherhood of Cheerful Sparrows was able to report thousands of pounds raised for the Royal Victoria Hospital and other charitable causes in the town. At one time out in the country Broadmead, once a farm, was boing demolished and the old manor, home of John Jeffery's family for many years, sold for housing. Tobacconist and confectioner RH Walker, of Pavilion Rd, was claim-inn a record for arowina a hollyhock 15ft hiah.
 
Local man to rescue as Big Ben goes bang - and stops

AUGUST 5, 1976 the unthinkable I O happened. The nation's famous timepiece, Big Ben stopped. And it fell to a Folkestone man, pattern shop manager Tom Crombie, to be dispatched to London to assess the trouble, by an Ashford firm. Former First Division side Blackpool FC player and Folkestone golfer Mr Crombie discovered several cog and ratchet wheels, side castings and end supports damaged. "Damage was so bad it looked as if a bomb had exploded." he told the Herald, but it was caused by a failure of the governor checking the rate of descent of the clock weight, weighing 1.25 tons. A memorial cross to 2,000 men of the Post Office Rifles who lost their lives in the First World War was dedicated at the Field of Remembrance on the Christ Church site in Sandgate Road. Folkestone. The regiment was represented by the head postmaster, Norman Scutt and Bert Miall, of Hythe, survivor of the battalion that marched down the Road of Remembrance in the Kaiser War headed for France. Capcl residents were at the centre of a gipsy scare, after five Irish families in caravans pulled off the A20 to camp on rough ground at Capel battery site. The nomads, with 10 children, were on holiday - "getting away from the guns and conflict in Northern Ireland."

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:-

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