Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 6 December 2001

Note from Bob Derrick died late 2003


KEEN reader of Memories, Derrick Lawson, of Lynwood, Folkestone, now retired, who used to work at Ashford railway works, has been telling me how his uncle. Bill Scowen, of Folkestone, a First World War gas victim, was forced to take a filthy job in the old Electricity Works boiler house, at Cheriton.

Competent in electrical work by the age of 12, having studied it under his father's supervision since a youngster - starting from the time he used to carry his tools - he had applied for a job there after being invalided out of the army.

He told the manager he had been gassed during the war, but all they could offer him was work feeding the boilers — with all the fumes that went with it!

The manager had no other openings and simply said "Do you want the job or not?" And Bill Scowen took it, rather than go on the dole.

Bill's father George William Scowen had come to Kent from Camberwell to take a job at the now defunct 'Electric Works,' at Morehall, as the family called them, in 1911.

Fed up with the City he came to Folkestone in a quest for better pay, and must have thought his luck was changing when he not only got an interview, but a cheque to pay his railway fare down to Kent!

Derrick's grandfather decided it would be good experience for his son Bill - Derrick's uncle - to travel down with him on the railway.

Bill had never travelled on a train in his life and must have been full of excitement as, after kissing his mother goodbye, they caught a tram car to Charing Cross Station to catch that train.

They were early and this gave Bill the opportu-
nity to experience railway refreshments for the first time. As his father downed half a pint of beer, he had lemonade and a peek at the sandwiches his mother had packed up for their journey.

Once aboard the train they found a 'Second Class' carriage seat but, says Derrick, his uncle hardly left the window as a new world opened up to him.

As he looked out of the window he was entranced by things he had never seen before -such as sheep and cows in the fields and beautiful greenery everywhere. What a change from Camberwell, he thought.

On arrival at Shorncliffe Station - now Folkestone West - his father asked a porter the way to the Electric Light Works and gave him a tip.
Company house
As they approached the works Bill Scowen pointed, puzzled, at what seemed to him giant wooden towers. His father explained they housed the water supply for the works.

After being asked a few questions George Scowen got a job and the family eventually moved into a company house in December 1911.

Derrick says his uncle Bill had planned to follow his father into a job at the same works but the First World War intervened and he was called up for army service training at Chatham.

In late 1916 he was drafted to Ypres, in Belgium, serving with the Royal Engineers but within days he had been gassed and was sent back to England.

With other wounded soldiers he was sent to a military hospital in Liverpool and there he met his future wife, Frances Nubley, of Liverpool.

After six months he was sent home and dis-
Gas ordeal
GET that hat! A proud Bill Scowen with his bride Frances Nubley, from Liverpool, who were married in 1920.

charged from the army, but he maintained a regular correspondence with Frances and after the war she said she was coming down to Kent.

It was then that Bill took that job in the boiler house.

The family lived at No. 4 Electric Cottages - still there - which were Electric Light Company houses for employees and their families.

Bill and Frances married in 1920 and were later given a house at No. 8 Station Road, Morehall.

Their daughter Joyce went on to carry out secret de-coding work during the Second World
FLOODING: Jenny Pope’s Alley, connecting boozy Beach Street with Harbour Street in the flash flood which hit Folkestone on October 8, 1913. On the left is J. Mills’ fish restaurant. The photograph is one of the illustrations in a Folkestone booklet by Martin Easdown and Linda Sage, “Folkestone Under Water” which describes the devastation caused by five main floods to hit town during the 20th Century. Published under the banner of Folkestone & District Local History Society it costs 1.50 from the Public Library, Tourist Information service or direct from Society secretary Peter Bamford on 01303 223337.

War, at the legendary Bletchley Park intelligence centre, in Surrey, recently featured on television.

Afterwards Joyce bought a house in Horn Street for her father, as her mother had died.

Bill, who had eventually been able to take a different job at the electricity works, in the stores — away from the coke oven fumes — lived at the Horn Street house for a short time, but developed lung trouble and was taken to Lenham Hospital where he later died.

Derrick's cousin Joyce died in the 1980s and the house was left to the local church.
Stables infemowokeaun AA calls fnrsaffermetl

Stables inferno woke gun party - but horses saved
‘I Oftl A SHOOTING party who were guests at Beechborough the conn try house of Mr F.D. Brockman were roused from their sleep by an inferno which destroyed the stables at tho roar. Fortunately the stable boy was also woken by the fire and gave the alarm in timo to save the four horses stabled there. Mr Brockman rode to Folkestone at speed by bicycle to alort the fire brigade while men on norse-back were sent tc Sandgate and Hythe to alert firemen there bul it was two hours after the stable boy gave the alarm before firemen could begin fighting the blaze. In late October the Herald told of a new bus service being run by John Cann, with almost silent, neated buses, with interior lighting, from Cheriton to Hytho, operating from a garage in Cheriton Rond. Manager o1 the Herald printing works Mr F.J. Greatwooc received a thank-you gift from his colleague: following the success of a three-day outing b\ the firm s staff to Ostend. New sea defence; costing an estimated 15,000 were demanded for New Romney and Littlestone.

AA calls for safer method of loading cars on steamers

f QA/jTHE Automobile Association was press-J.2/4&0 ing for a better method of craning cars aboard cross Channel ferries, referring to the fears of damage with existing methods, which involved passing the loops of slings through the car wheels. As the number of private cars multiplied the problem of where shoppers could park also grew and Town Council was being asked to restrict the number of cars and the period they parked, in West Cliff Gardens, then a principally residential area. Folkestone's latest nightspot. La Clique, in Dover Road, was set to offer not only live music for the over 21 s but a separate room for revellers enjoying their music at a quieter level over bistro type meals and drinks. Most people relish a nice piece of flat fish and Dabs are just one kind caught locally. Buck in 1926 one or two albi no specimens were landed here. Years earlier one caught at Sandgatc was considered of sufficient rarity for tho British Museum to preserve it in its Natural History section at South Kensington and present a plaster facsimile to the donor. Lvdd Council accepted an offer by Friends of Lydcl to restore the town's ancient, manual fire engine.
183,000 sea defences given Ministry go-ahead

iiQFii THE Ministry of Housing and Local •L99 J. Government approved a 183,250 plan for coast protection work after axing part of the scheme to save 25,000. The plan had been to extend steel piling in front of Radnor Cliff, which would have had the effect of completing a continuous 'promenade' from the Marino Gardens through to Sandgate. The Ministry did not think this necessary but advised that the situation should be watched after groynes at that spot were repaired or rebuilt. Should these not prove effective the Council could put forward steel piling again. Interesting feature of the midweek paper, the Folkestone & Hythe Gazette in 1951 was a regular series of cartoons of leading 'lights' of local societies and, as Christmas neared, there was a fine set of caricatures of the cast of the "Gondoliers," staged by the Folkestone -Hythe Operatic and Dramatic Society at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre (now, sadly, demolished.) The cartoonist, signing himself simply Mac, was Capt G.D. Machin D.F.C. evidently a talented artist. The Folkestone Fur & Feather Society was another hobby group to be similarly featured.
Shepway Council calls for a better 'slice of the cake’

ft Ckm7d. LOCAL shoppers are taking far too big a J.//Oslice of the commercial cake to Canterbury - and leaving Shcpway with the crumbs. That was the message from Shepway District Council 25 years ago when it called for a check in the building of new shops in the cathedral City and more growth at Folkestone town centre to balance things up a little. The Shepway Council set out plans to give Folkestone the "kiss of life" and sent them to the County Council, which had asked for its comments on the Kent Structure Plan. Folkestone's strategy called for more industry, with a bid to attract more firms to the area which had links to the Continent, small light industry on Romney Marsh, improved transport links, including a better A20 link from Folkestone harbour and an improved bus service for rural areas. It also called for more new land allocated for housing estates to attract younger working people to the area. Top traders, hoteliers, tourist operators, councillors and trade unionists met at the Civic Centre and called for a series of public meetings throughout Shepway to discuss the overall situation in the area, after estate agents warned that the town was dying on its feet.

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