DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 23 May 2002

 

MEMBERS of Folkestone & District Local History Society are looking forward to Wednesday, June 5 when Hilary Tolputt will be giving a talk called "A Tate of Two Churches" - Christ Church and Holy Trinity, at their monthly meeting. The Society meets at the Holy Trinity Church Kell, 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.
T THE outbreak of the First World War Fred Taylor, father of local historian and author Alan Taylor, of St Michael's Street, was six years old and recalled that his father could not fight because doctors found he had a bad heart.

Fred had a host of memories of the war published in a booklet produced some years ago by Folkestone & District Local History Society.

They were included in the first of a series of illustrated booklets called “Talking History," a copy of which was lent to me by Alan Taylor and I thought the stories would interest Memories readers.

The family lived at the Belle Vue Hotel, a public house in St John's Street, and Fred tells how numerous properties were taken over by the services for war purposes.

One of these, he said, was the West Cliff Hotel (once the Majestic), which stood just above Christ Church. It was used as a hospital for Army officers.

Houses commandeered
"The whole of the Marine Parade houses were also taken over, boarded, with barbed-wire all round and used as a transit camp. A lot of the troops came here via the Road of Remembrance before going overseas.

"At one time," he said, "there were hundreds of Cavalry at Shorncliffe Camp,

"A lot of French Canadians were also housed here," and, he recalled, when "out on the town mostly drunk" they did a lot of damage.

"Once they rioted in Rendezvous Street and the military police got the fire hoses out to them.

"On another occasion a drunken Canadian soldier came to our public house. My father refused to serve him. He went to the other side of the counter
to get him out, but he knocked my father down.

"My mother then took over and smashed a heavy oak chair over the soldier's head. She then shouted for the doors to be opened and dragged him out to the gutter by his feet!"

At the time when things were not so good in France and Belgium a lot of people came to the UK in fishing boats.

"Most of them went to Ramsgate, but the authorities billeted them all round. My mother had to house a certain number. I think ours were Belgians. She was paid by the temporary Embassy in Sandgate Road," said Fred.

"Mother later regretted having made them cook for themselves because the whole place reeked of oil and garlic!"

"Us children slept in the two attic rooms at the Belle Vue. Anti-aircraft guns were often in action over Folkestone, mainly at night, and we often heard shrapnel falling on our roof. Some times we stayed all night in the basement."

Early in the war they would be sent to queue for potatoes at a Cheriton High Street greengrocers, sometimes without success, before school.

The Germans attempted to bomb the Viaduct, which carried a lot of troops and equipment by train to Folkestone harbour, but not successfully.

However, there were some very near misses, said Fred, which included two unexploded bombs dropped in a field between the railway and Peter Street.

"Some time before the turn of the century a German naval ship, the 'Grosser Kurfurst" collided with another German warship in the Channel.

"There was heavy loss of life. Local fishermen brought the bodies ashore and they were buried in the Cheriton Road cemetery."

A large memorial was erected there by the German government in their memory and has been
regularly maintained over the years.

Fred said "I often heard it said Folkestone would not be bombed due to this, but that was not to be. On May 25, 1917, about 4pm, some German Gotha planes flew over Folkestone very low.

"Tontine Street was badly damaged, 71 people were killed and 96 injured. After school I went down to see the devastated area.

"Len Brooks, a friend of mine, was blown through one of Gosnold's, the drapers, windows.

"The casualties were so many, he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, given an injection and left with a probe to remove pieces of glass from his body himself!

Guest house plan

"During the latter part of the war, when hostilities were easing, my father was offered, at a reasonable price, a house on the outskirts of Ramsgate with about 10 or 12 rooms, standing within a walled garden with about two acres of fruit trees.

"My father and I went there for one week. We helped a man and his wife, who were looking after the property, pick fruit, which was sent to Covent Garden."

Some of the time, he said, they dug sand eels for bait, and fished.

"My mother and sister Doris went there the following week.

"My parents had it in mind to do summer letting, my father to attend to the fruit and vegetable garden and sell the produce."

Apparently, he added, his father only bought the standing fruit for that year and, having sold it, nothing more was done about buying the 3roperty._
THE BELLE Vue Hotel public house, in St John’s Street, Folkestone, where Fred Taylor, father of local historian Alan Taylor, lived with his parents during the First World War, when he was six.
Tough landlady!
 

Herald tells of punctual trains-and a war hero

1QHOA CENTURY ago Felix was writing with ^*71/A enthusiasm about the punctuality of trains on the South Eastern and Chatham Railway and also in glowing terms about the distinguished service with British forces in China during the Boxer Rebellion of an “unsung local hero,” named Howard. The son of a poor Folkestone cripple, the Royal Marine was decorated by the King for his bravery but sought no publicity, which is probably why Felix could not give his Christian name. In action the young solJier, promoted to Corporal, lost three of his five comrades and was lucky to survive the rebellion. His story of the horrors of the siege would make a thrilling narrative, said the Herald writer, but Howard insisted “I have only done my duty.1’ He was educated at Folkestone's Wesleyan Day School, as were a younger brother and sister. As to the railways, Felix wrote that both on upward and downward journeys, “trains ran in to the second,” despite major track work. They had become so punctual some would-be passengers, who had been used to repeatedly: suffering late trains, were being caught out by not getting to local stations in time to catch their trains!

 
End of an era as old coaching inn gives way to new store

f QO"7 HERALD writer Felix told of demolition of i the Rose Hotel which was for generations in Rendezvous Street. Once the point from which the old stage coaches set out daily for London, it marked the western boundary of the old village of Folkestone. Felix said it was known all over the country as being one of the finest commercial hotels in the country, a real “home from home." Its licence was being “transferred to the magnificent Cliff Hall,” - the Leas Cliff Hall. Departing landlord of the Rose was Mr James Kent. The Rose is featured, with a picture of 1910 from Alan Taylor, in “Tales from the Tap Room,” the softback book by Martin Easdown and Eamonn Rooney, published in a limited edition in the year 2000. The property was demolished to build a new store for Burtons the tailors, but in 1989 came a strange twist in the tale, the site acquired a new licence when Musweil's Cafe Bar was opened. Six years later this became an Irish theme pub called "Scruffy Murphys,” but this closed in late 1999. A big celebration marked the opening by the mayor in 1927, of Hythe’s new “picture theatre,” The Grove Cinema, with seating for 650. The cinema was built to blend in with its surroundings and the mayor. Aid FW Butler JP, commended the owners for this.
 
Claims of corruption in the council seat of power

|QCOTHERE were rumblings in Folkestone about the role of party politics In local government and among allegations was one that the "old pals act” was being used to keep some aldermen in office; over the heads of others with long and faithful service. It was felt the old, and tested practice adopted by most councils was best, of appointing new aldermen based on seniority. Now of course, with modern changes, we don't have aldermen at all. A London firm was expected to be engaged to put up decorations in the town for the visit in July of Princess Margaret, when it was anticipated she would be entertained at a luncheon to be held at, it was believed* the Grand Hotel. Barons of the Cinque Ports were to attend and it was estimated their traditional mode of dress, black velvet hats, black cloaks, elaborately worked waistcoats and silk knee breeches, was likely to set back each one about 200^ But not so the mayor of Lydd; he had the robes worn at the Coronation of King George VI, in 1937. Folkestone Council's offices in West Terrace had squatters, a family of starlings! A broody pair entered a small hole in a wall and brought up their four fledglings right under the feet of workers in the offices who could peep at them bv lifting a loose floorbc ard
 
Silver Jubilee 'Proms’ plan strapped for 1,000 cash

4 Q“7 “7 “PROMS Night" the town’s musical “grand JL7 I I slam” climax to 10-day long Silver Jubilee celebrations, in June, was in jeopardy - for want of cash. Folkestone’s big night was scheduled to be held in the Leas Cliff Hall, but 1,000 was needed to pay for the orchestra and soloists. The mayor, Cllr George Thomas, chairman of the organisers of the celebrations, made an appeal to everyone in Shepway to back the venture. An orchestra had been promised for an Albert Hall style “Proms Night,” in conjunction with Folkestone Choral Society. That promise was stated to have been given by Peter Street, chairman of Festival Creative Arts Ltd. But, said the mayor,; nothing had materialised. It was feared the organisers would have to come up with the cash themselves. The Salvation Army in Hythe was celebrating 81 years of the army’s work in the town. Brigadier Alice Harris, who used to lead the army’s work in Kent, conducted a special service, there was a concert by the songsters and, among other events was a film night, which featured the life of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, while another Salvationist officer told of the work of the army among alcoholics, drug addicts and others in need.: Consent was given to turn the former police training centre at Sandgate into offices and a sports and social club. The promoters were the Folkestone-based firm of Inter City Tours Ltd.

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