Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 28 March 2002



Steam lore
THE SOUTH Eastern Railway's premier main line from London to Folkestone opened in 1843 and was acclaimed an engineering triumph of its day. Humble Folkestone then rose to become a bustling Channel port, as well as the most gracious and favoured seaside resort of titled and wealthy Victorians.

The great struggle to build the line through the treacherous Warren, as well as the railway's terrifying destruction by nature in 1915, are soon to be vividly portrayed in Folkestone's Railways, a new book by former Harvey Grammar School boy Brian Hart.

I am told by Brian's father, Eric Hart, of Chart Road. Folkestone, that the book, to be published by Wild Swan Publications, is due out soon.

A pre-publication "blurb" says the development of the harbour, which went hand in hand with the growth of the railway, and many fascinating local events spanning more than a century, will be highlighted in a thoughtfully interwoven and enjoyable account.

As a steam railway buff, I am looking forward to this book which, says Brian, will be copiously illustrated with rare and original photographs, of which most are being presented in book form for the first time.

Previous books by Brian Hart include The Hythe & Sandgate Railway Incorporating Hythe & Sandgate Tramway. This large format hardback book is from Wild Swan Publications, the same publishers who are producing the Folkestone railway book.

I also understand from Eric Hart that another local railway book on the cards is a second edition of his son's The Elham Valley Line first published by
Wild Swan back in 1984, for which a host of fresh photographs and new information have been gathered.

Equally interesting, I am sure, will be a century old picture Eric has promised to show me of a class of Sidney Street (now George Spurgen School) children and their teacher, dating from around 1902, when his mother was about ten years old. It is always interesting, I think, to see the clothes the boys and girls used to wear in those early days.

•Looking ahead to Wednesday, April 3. I notice among forthcoming events a talk by Geoff Hutchinson, called Mr Pitt and the Martello Towers which is to be given to members of the Folkestone & District Local History Society, who meet at the Holy Trinity Church hall, in Sandgate Road, at 7.30pm.

New members and visitors are welcome. More details about the Society's meetings this year can be obtained from the secretary, Peter Bamford, of 7 Shorncliffe Crescent, Folkestone, whose phone number is 01303 223337.

Capel Airship Station

Also worth noting for aviation enthusiasts, is the talk planned for the meeting on May 1, when the speaker is David Collyer, of Deal, who will be talking about "Capel’s Airship Station".

Freelance writer Stephen Nash, of Hook Close, Folkestone, who told me recently about an early arrival at the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, says the "Sutton Flyer" locomotive that he mentioned, now in Cleethorpes, has indeed been invited back the RHDR.

It is hoped that it will star at this year's gala on May 12. He told me he had just seen the announcement in the latest Heritage Railway magazine. It seems that even the special buffer beam that was
MRS VIV Thompson, writing from Northumberland, is appealing for help in tracing any members of the Weir family who lived at 2 Sunnyside Road, Sandgate, in the twenties. Her father Samuel, born on June 2, 1920, had an older sister now believed to be living in Cambridge. The grandparents were Samuel and Margaret (nee O'Rourke) Weir.

Mrs V.R. Thompson's address is 529 Cowpen Road, Blyth, Northumberland, NE24 4 JE, or you can email her on
required to enable the engine to run on the RHDR way back in 1959, had been found in former owner Bill Hunt's warehouse in Oldbury.

Old photographs of Burmarsh are not easy to find so it was interesting to see the publication fairly recently of a handy size hardback book featuring Romney Marsh villages, Dymchurch and Burmarsh in old Picture Postcards, by Paul Marsh.

Part of the "Back in Time" series of European Library, it is a companion volume to Dymchurch in Old Picture Postcards, by the same author, published in 1998. The 76 pictures in the latest book include quite a number which came to light after the first volume was written.
THIS is the old Harbour Hotel restaurant of J. Mason, which was near the old Royal Pavilion Hotel, Folkestone, possibly in 1909. On the right of the doorway is Sidney Bryson, grandfather of Ray Bryson, of Clarendon Street, Dover, while his wife Matilda, is next to him. Matilda was the daughter of bootmaker William Peters and Nelly Peters, of Dover Street, Canterbury, and survived two husbands to reach the age of 85. Sidney, bom in 1897, joined the Buffs at Shomcliffe, in November 1915 and went on to serve in the London Irish Regiment. In the restaurant window is a colourful poster for Bamum & Bailey’s “Greatest Show on Earth” circus in Folkestone, on land off Sandgate Hill. Another framed notice in the window offered “Good English dinner, beef or mutton, with two vegetables, One Shilling!” One shilling in today’s money would equate to a mere 5p, but a shilling, or twelve old pennies, was worth a lot more in 1909! Next door to J. Mason’s premises appears to have been a gunsmith’s and cycle shop.


Felix pleads for relaxing of Sunday mush; bylaws

QrtO HERALD writer Felix was questioning why people should not be allowed to listen to sacred music on the Leas on Sundays after church services and he recalled the “back stairs” methods used in the past by Sabbatarians to stop Sir Edward Watkins’ efforts to provide music either on the lawns of the Pavilion or at the Seabrook Hotel. He pointed to the precedent set by the Royal Family at Windsor Castle with a band concert for an audience of thousands of people, without a hint of any trouble. A public meeting at Hythe called on the public to be asked whether they would pay a 6d rate to maintain the Hythe National and Seabrook Schools to keep them on a sound financial basis, only one person voting against the resolution. This was before the country had State schools. Hythe Council was criticised in the local coroner's court for Ignoring pleas for a less discreditable form of transport for conveying the dead to a mortuary before burial, the Coroner stating that the council could surely afford “a five pound note or so” towards the purchase of a proper ambulance. Swiss restaurateur for years, Carlo Maestrani, 59, of South Street, died.

Plans for Folkestone to host county agricultural show

<f QQ7 BERNARD Miles, of Sandgate Road,

* Folkestone, promoted a company with a proposed capital of £12,000, to build a cinema seating 900 and offering some stage shows as well as films, in Cherlton, on the north side of Cheriton Road, close to the former site of a property known as the Grange. An all-round sportsman tipped as being of great promise was Les Ames, of Elham, who had already shown promise In his first appearance for the county side in first class cricket as well as on the football field, first for Folkestone FC and then Clapton Orient. It was agreed to send an official Invitation to the Postal Workers Union which proposed to bring about 800 delegates to Folkestone for its annual conference. A public meeting was held in Folkestone to discuss plans for a Kent Agricultural Show in Shepway in 1928, which, if was approved would be the first of its kind for 20 years, although the previous one was organised by the East Kent Society. Mr A. Bruce Ward, chairman of the Kent Agricultural Society, who attended, said it would be particularly fitting to have the county’s sheep classes in Folkestone since they had In their midst Mr Quested, a farmer who was known Internationally as the best breeder of Romney sheep in the world.
Hythe School of Infantry prepares for centenary

* Q r/j WHEN new houses were built In part of Rossendale Road, Folkestone, a war-damaged site, no one In authority seemed to realise that some 80 to 100 years before there had been a pond on the site. But when builders began work on the property they found the ground had been filled in at one time and they had to lay protective concrete rafts about 3ft below the floors, which were also of concrete. Folkestone Council denied liability when tenants sought compensation for rising dampness causing condensation and damage to their homes. About to celebrate its centenary was the old Hythe School of Infantry, once a major part of the life and prosperity of the town. The school paid out in salaries, wages and other ways, around £180,000 a year, of which about £60,000 went to local civilian staff. And a considerable proportion of that money was spent in the local community. The Importance of this anniversary was pointed out to well over 200 people who attended the annual dinner and ball of Hythe Chamber of Commerce. The Hythe and Elham Education Executive decided to ban meetings of the British Soviet Friendship Society In school halls until British films were permitted to be shown behind the Iron Curtain.
Arts Festival blow as Royal Ballet hijacked by London

*1 077HOPES of the Royal Ballet, with a full cast of JL«7 t / dancers and a full orchestra, coming to the town during the summer season were dashed by a rival resort which snapped up the booking. The Greater London Council was said to have hijacked the Ballet, which, it was planned, would be the highlight of an arts festival being organised in Folkestone by FOCAL. Residents at Saltwood were taking a stand against motorists who regularly damaged the village war memorial and churned up the green. The Parish Council formed a sub-committee to decide what action it could take and It was proposed that the memorial’s base be reduced in size, lessening the chance of accidents and giving more turning space for vehicles. More than 50 years of music making In Folkestone was brought to an end with the death of well known local organist Cyril Smith, of Millfield, organist and choirmaster of Tontine Street Congregational Church, who also entertained the elderly. The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Light Railway’s most recently acquired steam locomotive was christened Black Prince by David Shepherd, artist and steam enthusiast, at a celebration marking the golden jubilee of the line. Greetings were flooding in for Shepway's grand old lady, Mrs Emma Simms, of Albert Road, Hythe, who was celebrating her 103rd birthday. She once ran seafront tea rooms where Stade Court Hotel was built.

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:-