Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 11 April 2002



OLKESTONE is far from the lovely little town it used to be when Eileen Martin, who is in her 80s came here for a holiday in 1925 and fell in love with the place.

Such a pretty town, she says, with its beautiful Leas, posh hotels, fine shops and such a lot of houses all in their own individual style.

"I thought Sandgate Road was fabulous, it had such character, with the big white Town Hall, which served as a police station, the old Queen's Hotel and next door Jacksons, a shop where they ground their own coffee beans - how I loved the aroma.

"At Christmas their big window was decorated and filled with the most beautiful boxes of Christmas crackers. It was a delicatessen shop of such delight!

"Then there was Bewleys, a tobacconist opposite, where they weighed out certain types of tobacco and cut chunks off huge black slab tobacco, which seamen used to chew, while the shop window displayed fascinating pipes of all shapes and sizes.

"Marks and Spencers had not arrived but a huge Sainsbury's was there, with its white and black patterned stone floor. A very long shop, so well stocked, with Woolworths opposite.

"There was Bobby's, its windows so beautifully dressed, a proud elegant shop. And Stricklands, the bakers, where you could pop in for a coffee and pastry, while further along was my favourite. Caves Cafe, with the lovely fresh smell of coffee and plates of real cream pastries.

"They were always busy and sometimes you had to wait until a table became vacant. Sandgate Road had a good quota of individual shops, which made such a difference.

"These days the character has been lost because towns are clones," said Eileen sadly. "Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco etc have greedily gobbled up the small
shop. It is not fun to shop any more. Folkestone is far from the lovely little town it used to be.

"People who did not know it then can't imagine what it was like! Progress can also spoil things. Precincts take away a town's character."

But Eileen, who lives at Hanover House, Folkestone, treasures memories of the little old harbour of the days gone by, with ships coming and going and a railway line which ran right on to the harbour itself - with its wooden swingbridge opening to allow such little vessels as the Hove, a collier, to enter the inner harbour, or there was the Harold, a barge bringing cargoes of timber.

"Strangely, the Hove often seemed to bring a change in the weather with her," says Eileen, and "if she was here at Christmas I remember she always had a little Christmas tree and pudding hanging from her mast!

“Fine fishermen”
"We had a really big fishing fleet in those days and they did not let weather stop them from sailing, those fine seamen. Only the tides ruled them!"

Eileen remembers particularly some of the fishing boats decked with flags for the important annual "Blessing of the Fisheries" ceremony, although many people commented, she recalls, that "God did bless the fish" but, for a week or so afterwards, the boats' catches were not so big!

It was really shameful, she says, that Folkestone lost its ferries and she predicts the Channel Tunnel, opposed by many, will "ruin more things yet."

On October 26, 1926, Eileen's family moved into The True Briton pub in Harbour Street, which was the start of many happy years, she says.

"That pub had such wonderful atmosphere, it was magic, it's hard to explain - such character! Christmases were so enjoyable. Sadly, I was never able to capture that contentment when we left.
BELOW: Local seamen who worked on sailing colliers bringing coal to the port, about 1900. The deck scene photograph was shown to me by Ray Bryson, of Clarendon Road, Dover, who says the seaman, extreme left, was his Uncle Ted Andrews, who married his father’s sister. Ted is thought to have been the first or second mate. Ted later worked on local tugs and as flagman with trains which once steamed along Dover seafront.

The bottom picture is of the True Briton pub.
"A veranda ran across the front of the house (see photo right) and gave us a wonderful view of the sea, shipping, the harbour and Dover and the cliffs.

"Many times we watched the "Golden Arrow" train go up the line, two engines in front and two behind. Horses were sometimes brought over on the ships and it was interesting to see the mares with their foals being brought from the harbour to rest and be fed in the big stables called Pedens, a little way up Tram Road.

"Foals were never tied and trotted along by the mares. Sometimes one ventured too far ahead and was called back by a loud whinney from its Mum!"

Eileen talks too of the pleasure boats which took holidaymakers for trips along the coast - "boats like the Viking. Southern Queen, Josephine 1st and Josephine 2nd. They went to Dunkirk and I am not sure to this day what happened to them," said Eileen.

"I remember when Prince Henry, later Duke of Gloucester, came to open the Leas Cliff Hall. We had a huge Union Jack draped over the veranda at the True Briton and invited a few people to come and watch, as the crowds jostled and cheered the distinguished visitor.'

Folkestone hosts first ever 'ping-pong’ contest

f OAQ DOWN at the harbour proud property 9vowners were angry about a piece of uncared for "no man's land" opposite the Royal Pavilion Hotel, seen by many as an eyesore, and wanted action. Felix said he had often pointed to the harm It caused to the resort's Image, having a "disreputable refuse heap* at the entrance to their wonderful under-cliff area. Hotel Wampach hosted what was stated to be the first ever table tennis or "Ping-Pong" Tournament In East Kent. The event, spread over four days, drew more than a hundred entries, which was way above that expected and it was voted a phenomenal success. The popularity of this “craze of the age," as it was described in contemporary verse, was such Messrs Parsons & Co. of Snndgatc Road increased by three the tables Installed at Its library where a ‘’Ping-Pong" Club met. Hythe news columns looked back to violent assaults on excise men in 1835. An officer at New Romney hud seizod a horse, cart and contraband spirits but, on the way from Appledore to New Romney with the goods he and a constable were attacked by a smuggling gang, locked up and their firearms, hoise. wagon and spirits all carriud off.

More accolades for airfield hero after RAF crash blaze

if QQ7 RESCUE hero Albert Daniels, of Terlingham JL7jm t Farm, received another award to mark his bravery in extricating an RAF pilot from his blazing aircraft when it crashed at Hawkinge, back in December. Residents of the area subscribed to the purchase of a gold Albert chain which was presented to him at a dinner held at the White Horse. Hawkinge, attended as guests by several RAF personnel, who spoke in glowing terms of his gallantry. Mr Daniels had already been thanked officially on behalf of the RAF by Vice-Air Marshal Brooke-Popham at a full dress parade at Hawkinge aerodrome. Election time was in the offing at Sandgate and one writer was warning of the dangers of coastal erosion. After delving Into the history books he said readers should note that “the Channel was once the estuary of the Rhine" and but for that river there would still be “rolling chalk downs from England to France!" It worried him that unscrupulous people were conniving with builders to carry away the shingle to build property and yield good profits at the expense of coast erosion - a frequent complaint in Shepway. Hythe Cricket Club vottlng club finances decided each member should pay a shilling (I) travelling expenses at each away match, the club paying the balance.
Record entry for women's Easter hockey contest

| QCOTHE LEAS Cliff Hall was to be the venue ^7w^for a sports film show in aid of the Mayor of Folkestone's Fund n support of the Dally Mall's Olympic Games Appeal Fund to help with athletes' heavy expenses In taking part. The show was to Include a film of the 1951 Dally Mail Channel Swim Race which drew competitors from around the world. Anothor event, a six-mile wide beach angling competition, was held at the end of March and there was an Olympic dance at the Leas Cliff Hall soon afterwards. Radio star and singer Doreen Harris was due to sing In a BBC broadcast from the town's Pleasure Gardens Theatre. A record number of 24 ladies' teams took part In the annual hockey tournament at the Folkestone sports ground organised by the East Kent Women's Hockey Association. There was considerable interest in a display of trophies won by the former Hythe School of Infantry at the annual dinner and ball of Hythe Chamber of Commerce when tributes were paid to the school. During the past six months the school had “entertained” soldiers from Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Burma, Southern Rhodesia, Iraq, India, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, which was good for relations.
‘Flying saucers’ spotted by local motorists on the A20

■4 Q*y*7 HEADLINE grabbers at the end of March JL7 f I and the beginning of April were two "flying saucers" reported by Tim Luscombe, of Risborough Lane, Folkestone and other motorists, while driving home along the A20 near Charing. He said they looked somewhat like a VC10 but didn't appear to have any wings. Herald editor the late Rob Wallace, a former colleague of mine, retired after 11 years in the editorial chair during which he also had charge of the former midweek paper, the Folkestone & Hythe Gazette which had only recently been renamed South Kent Gazette. He moved to the west country to run an antiques shop. New editor taking over was David Wynne-Jones, 34. from North Wales, father of two and a keen sportsman. One of the last official duties of Rob Wallace, as editor, was to present the new Shepway District Council with a framed picture of the first meeting of the council, which he handed to Council chairman Leslie Harrold. Folkestone's parish church was due to go electronic. Thanks to an anonymous gift, of 12,000 a new Copeman Hart organ was to be installed in place of the 90-year-old Hill pipe organ which would have cost 45,000 to give it another 20 years life. Another reason for change was the need for a re-siting of the organ for modern uses without "sacrificing" the precious Harvey window of the church.

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