Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 3 January 2002


Warren Inn circa 1880



ORGAN music enthusiast Ricky Hart, of Chart Road, who was brought up in Folkestone, has been putting his memoirs down on paper at the request of his grandson, and was telling me recently how interested he was in the Memories story about a drifting sea mine scare in the harbour.

' I was immediately reminded of another wartime mine which I witnessed at close quarters, somewhere around the end of 1941. At the time I was employed by the civil branch of the Royal Engineers (D.C.R.E.s) at Shorncliffe Camp.

"Myself and several others were transported to the former St Andrews Home on the East Cliff where the Royal Artillery were encamped alongside their four coastal defence guns.

"These powerful 6inch guns had just been fired on a practice shoot, with the result that most of the buildings' sea-facing windows had shattered! A prior warning that they should all have been opened, had fallen on 'deaf ears.'

"Our task was to replace the broken windows with a somewhat opaque forerunner to the plastic we know today, and we worked unceasingly to insulate the military quarters.

"Just before completion we were conscious of a commotion outside, where everyone was looking seawards at a giant mine which was drifting in on the tide.

"It was only a few feet from the hull of the ss "Umvoti" a tramp steamer which had been scuttled at the outer harbour entrance just after the Dunkirk evacuation (to deter enemy submarines from entering the harbour.)

"Its rapid progress in the strong current was quite alarming, but then I noticed a young subaltern (soldier) on the cliff edge with a bren gun.

"He hurriedly fired several short bursts -
RETIRED Folkestone boatman Fred Featherbe, of Hythe, remembers Mrs May, referred to in Memories recently, who had a sweet shop near the chalkpit quarry entrance, on the Canterbury Road out of Folkestone.

He particularly recalls the huge 'gob-stoppers' that she made - "so big you had to break them up." They cost an old farthing each - a quarter of an old penny, he told me.

"I believe there was also someone called May who made their own sweets and had a shop in Radnor Street, where there was a short cut to the fishmarket. This was in the front room of a house, reached up a flight of steps," he said.

Fred has childhood memories too of a little cottage he believes was called Bank Cottage, at the Warren, near a Martello Tower. This, he thought, was turned into a teashop or a public house, the owners drawing water from a well.

According to "Tales from the Tap Room" the paperback book about Folkestone public houses and hotels by Martin Easdown and Eamonn
THE OLD Warren Inn, Ray Clare's photo in “Tales from the Tap Room" and below, right a postcard shot of around 1905, of a shrubbery-clad tea room and a public well on the lawns below, very handy for people walking to the Warren! This card was shown to me by Fred Featherbe of Hythe. Top is another Warren tea room. A Happy New Year to you Fred and all Memories readers!

Rooney, the Warren Inn began with a six-day licence. It was not allowed to open on a Sunday. The licence was later upgraded to a beer, cider and wine licence.

A Sunday licence was rigorously opposed and it was hard to make a living there. Once or twice the licence was withdrawn after a Sabbath drinks ban was flouted. People were caught drinking there on Sundays and during other prohibited hours and, in the 1890s, it was closed on magistrates' orders.

Licensee Henry Mutton was evicted.
Guns and beer
whereupon the mine detonated with a blinding flash and a shock wave which took my breath away and rendered me deaf for a moment.

"Then came realisation that all our hard work had been in vain - most of the window coverings were in shreds! And we started all over again!"

Now Ricky knows, he said, how the painters of the famous Forth Bridge must feel, their work being never-ending!

Thanks for your memories, Ricky.

Incidentally one of my earliest “Memories" articles was about musician Ricky Hart's remarkable achievement in altering his modest home to accommodate a mighty Folkestone cinema organ he rescued from the scrapheap — and still plays. Seeing is believing, as they say!

Sweets and beer

Herald urges enterprise -and help for charities

| QOOTHE: HERALD began the new year urg-JL*/vl&ing support for local charities helping needy families of servicemen injured or killed in the Boer War, in South Africa and also those working to raise funds for the Victoria vt hich, a century ago depended on voluntary funds, since there was no national health scrvice at that time. Our popular writer Felix, backing the appeal, told of his astonishment at the number of well-to-do local people who did not appear to support the hospital, according to a list drawn-up of "non-subscribers" to the hospital fund. Felix was also pressing the Town Council to emulate Harrogate in building a Kursaal for visitors to Folkestone. "We have fiddled and see-sawed with this great kursaal question in Folkestone for years, but it has been drowned in occans of small talk,'' he commented. And yet, he wrote, they had spent thousands on useless law suits. A kursaal would be a great boon in bad weather or in the autumn and winter, for the town presented a "deadly dullness for nearly three parts of the year." he wrote. Even a few glass shelters for visitors was frowned on. What was needed was less axe-grinding and a spirit of enterprise!

Stormy start to year, as seaside homes collapse

< Q EO^HE NEW Year got off to a bad start as ■L99&weekend gales hit the coast and widespread damage was caused to property .ind sea defences between the town and Dymchurch. Huge waves battered sea walls and property crashing down from heights of up to 40ft. Never before, in living memory, had the angry seas swept right up to the foot of Radnor Cliff at the eastern end of the Riviera, undermining a sea wall and damaging a sewer. This was the area where the Government had refused to sanction sheet-steel piling to beef up the defences. Now damage left the Town Council with the prospect of having to promote a new coast protection plan to protect houses. At Sandgate there was much damage, the worst being to the vd w.ill p'otect-ing houses in Granville Road East. The wall was breached and the sea undermined the fronts of Seawall and Sea Thrift Cottages, eventually bringing down the fronts of two homes which collapsed Into a crater 20ft deep and 60ft wide. A woman of 76. her grand-daughter of 12 and a cousin, abandoned a house shortly before it was almost completely wrecked. Other property was damaged at The Parade, along with Coastguard Cottages and seawater flooded basements.
Herald backs campaign for radio for the Varne lightship

f QO7THE HERALD launched an appeal fund to # pay for a radio for the Varne lightship between Folkestone and Boulogne, part of a scheme promoted by a daily newspaper to equip .ill lighthouses and lightship* around the coast of England so that the men who manned them could keep in touch with world events through radio broadcasts. January was a sad month for the port, when the last service run of the Flushing steamer Mecklenberg from Folkestone to Flushing took place. The M-mci\ which brought welcome tourists to East Kent, was due to be switched to Harwich, ending a long link with the port. The switch was also due to cost the jobs of at least 140 men in Folkestone, while another 40 would become 'casuals.' To mark the event a presentation was made to the Zeeland Steamship Company's local agent and his wife, Mr and Mrs J Noest who were moving to Harwich, by dock staff. Our long-term writer Felix was singing the praises of the local countryside and its invigorating walks in his column, writing of a meeting with two champions of the environment, Sam Pilcher and Richard Cooper, of the nightingales on slopes overlooking the town, and of the fine sight of the town s lights sparkling like jewels at night.
Surprise report lists 3,000 homes without'amenities’

>f Q77HEAVY rain soaking into the ground caused _L%7 I I more earth slip problems around Folkestone and several amenity areas near the seafront were hit only a week after earth ‘tremors’ caused a Sandgate couple to flee from their home. The new danger area was the cliff-side below the New Metropole forcing three foutp.itlis to be sealed off. Nearly 3.000 homes in Shepway were without basic amL'nitics - toilets and wash basins - it was revealed in a shock report by a top council officer. Rocketing bus fares were said to be forcing angry parents to send their children to school by taxi - because it was cheaper than using the East Kent bus company's services. Fuming parents hit out <it the firm's “Freedom" ticket prices after they almost doubled overnight. Children queueing to buy tickets wi.-ru turned away because they only had half the cost. 1977 marked the Jubilee 3f the Leas Cliff Hall bu: councillors compl.iinud the amenity was dirty and a poor “shop window' for the town, pressing for improvements and approved a 7,000 scheme to replace “disgraceful" seating. Peace-loving residents of Lydd were reeling at a Government decision giving the go-ahead for a massive new gravel-extraction site following a two-week long planning inquiry. Halls Aggregates were to open a new pit behind Coast Drive, Lvdd and another pit at Greatstone.

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