DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 25 July 2002

 

 

Motor man
PIONEERING days of motoring in East Kent are featured in a fascinating new book which has been compiled by a veteran local motorist who used to be in business in Shepway. The privately produced, spiral-bound book is about his motoring experiences during a lifetime in the motor trade.

Some of the material has been published in the Folkestone Herald over the years.

The writer is 89-year-old retired motor trader Marcel Baut, living in retirement in Deal, who began his apprenticeship in the motor trade in 1927, with Maltby's the motor engineers and coachbuilders, who at one time had showrooms and coachbuilding workshops in Folkestone, Sandgate, Hythe and Canterbury.

Maltbys, of course, were once among the best coachbuilders in the business, with an international reputation for excellence.

They built their own MMS cars and many of the bodies for local charabancs and buses, as well as commercial vehicles, and they gained many accolades in the motor trade for their sometimes ground-breaking, custom-built bodies for various makes of car.

The once flourishing enterprise was subsequently taken over by Caffyns.

Skilled Marcel went on to join partner Leslie Hawes, a fellow engineer with Maitbys, in opening the Rampart Garage, in Hythe, in 1933. They ran the business for over 40 years until both
decided to retire, in January 1974.

I remember interviewing Marcel about his life and featuring it in the Folkestone Herald a few years ago in a motoring section called "Wheels."

We both share an interest in the history of Maltby's, about which I have built up quite a file of press and magazine cuttings, photographs and personal accounts of former staff. Some inspired Memories style articles about the firm.

Marcel has woven some of this material with his own narrative to produce a well illustrated book - something I had hoped to do in retirement, but have never got round to it!

Railway enthusiast and author Brian Hart, of Uckfield, the son of a Herald reader, has come up with a photo of a Shorncliffe station (Folkestone West) signal box. This should interest Roger Lewis, owner of an original nameboard from the station, who has been looking for a picture.

Brian, who has a new book, "Folkestone's Railways," coming out soon, tells me he used to collect signs and added "I would imagine the enamelled-steei sign Roger Lewis bought at auction is the same one which I rescued from a huge tangle of scrap metal over 40 years ago.

"That was on the weekend of February 17/18, 1962. The box was abolished once colour-light signalling was introduced.

"I eventually disposed of most of my collection of signs some years later. Had I hung on to them I would probably not have been short of a penny or two today!"

Brian goes on to tell of a disappointing visit to the Folkestone Harbour station "or what's left of it," recently, when visiting his home town to see his parents in Chart Road, Folkestone.

"I could hardly believe my eyes," he writes.
NEXT WEEK I hope to tell the story of an unfortunate young lady who was crowned "Miss Hythe" 50 years ago, but 'reigned' for barely a day, the title being taken away from her. But, as I will explain, the problem was no fault of hers. Mrs Dorothy Gillam (nee Wood) of Derrington, Stafford, who told me about it, wrote to tell me the line-up of girls in a photo sent in by Mrs Avril Crosby-Emery, 88, of Hythe, and used in Memories on July 4, was for the "Miss Hythe" competition at the Hotel Imperial, in 1951. Muriel Wire, she says, was No.114, Valerie Goddard No.103, Joan Apps 112 and Dorothy herself was 113!
MALTBY's former coach-works and garage, above, in Sandgate High Street, shown to me by Peter Hooper and, right, the old Maltby showrooms in Sandgate Road, Folkestone - now showrooms for an entirely different blockbusting leisure product.
 

Private enterprise key to progress, says editor

| Qty REFLECTING on improvements to the resort, such as the Pleasure Gardens Theatro and the Leas Pavilion, the editor suggested the town should look more to the “spirit of private enterprise'1 in future when pressing for further advances. It certainly could not duprnd on a Council which seemed to "vote away thousands without a murmur" and then hnj;j;k‘d over the bill of “a poor, unsophisticated tradesman." involving perhaps, a few shillings. As we ponder the latest cutback In our high-cost postal service it is interesting to reflect what it was like in years gone by. The Herald a century ago was looking back more than 100 years, to 1777 when, apparently, one could expect letters to arrive in Folkestone from Dover on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, about 8am and from Hythe between midday and lpm on the same days. If you were considering a trip to London the local, one-deck sailing 'hoy.’ rigged like a sloop, made the trip in about three weeks! If you were In a hurry and could pay, a good post-chaise service, using horses was operated from the White Hart Inn by James Bateman. How long that journey took the writer doesn't say.

 
Yes and No to Sunday film shows sparks a protest

| QQ7 FOLKESTONE was slated in the publication f "The Cinema" for discriminating against the Electric and Playhouse cinemas, which had both been refused consent to open on Sundjys while the Victoria Pier was permitted to give Sunday cinema shows. Observing the Council was about to engage in an enterprise involving Sunday concerts “The Cinema" pressed the council to practise fair play. Modest William Elgar, son of Samuel Elgar, a Hythe bootmaker, who often contributed historical articles to the Herald using only the initials W.H.E., told of an interesting description of Sandgate, back in August 1790. The piece told of a three-week visit by the "divine Sarah Siddons." as the piece was headlined, who said Sandgate consisted of but a "little collection of houses at the foot of the cliff.'’ Sarah, who <>t.iiL'd in "neat lodgings," wrote of “wholesome provisions." Here for her health and averse to noisy seaside towns, she wrote: “I have bathed four times (presumably in the sea) and I believe I shall persevere, for Sir Lucas Pepys says my disease is entirely nervous." Sandgate, she found, was so small 'the pl.ice cannot contain above 20 or 30 strangers (visitors.)" Impressed, nevertheless, by Sandgate she feared it would grow and then be spoilt.
Municipal airport scheme fortheLympne airfield

 
•f QCOCONTROVERSIAL topic of debate in Folkestone was the question of a municipal airport and the future of the wartime airfield of Lympne. A deputation from the Council, headed by the mayor, was meeting with officials in London to discuss future plans, including the financial implications of taking over the airfield. One of the sticking points was the question of whether it could be a financial success. Some felt it was not elose enough to town to be of benefit and there was the problem of winter mists and fog. The popular Pleasure Gardens Theatre was offering a riot of laughter and humour - the nature of which was somewhat saucy, as "The Roamer," the Herald columnist put It, because the guest artist was the none other than Frankie Howerd. appearing on the bill with Madame Blanche Moore. The Herald also looked back 64 years to the formation of Folkestone Golf Club on land leased from Lord of the Manor, the Earl of Radnor, a major land owner in the district. Unique, for its day. was the fact the course was virtually in the centre of the town. There was a theory a monastery once stood on the golf club site, complete with a fish farm, or 'pond' as it was often referred to in old documents, where the monks raised their own fish for food.
 
Industrial jobs boom claims as firms plan expansion

A Q77 EIGHT “massive'’ industrial developments _L7 I I were set to create a bonanza of 500 new jobs for Shepway and slash dolo figures at a stroke. At least, that's what a Herald reporter wrote 25 years ago. Developments creating almost 300 new jobs in Folkestone and New Romney had already been given the green light, he said. Now five more firms in Folkestone and Hythe planned to expand in the next few months, creating another 250 jobs, both skilled and semi-skilled. Folkestone Yacht Club member Mike Southen unexpectedly fell foul of American law when he took a cruise from Nassau, off the United States. 25 years ago. Taking time off from crewing duties he went water-skiing off South Carolina but was pulled up by Sergeant Gene Pluto, of Georgetown, who noted only one person was in the towing craft and it had no rear view mirror to check how the skiier fared. US law required the tow craft to have such a mirror - or a crew of two. Mike was fined 10 dollars on the spot. Salvage expert Jimmy Rowland was due to buy Folkestone's dilapidated Martello Tower No. 1, near the Warren, from Shepway Council. The council decided to sell after being told it would cost 30.000 to restore it. Its condition was so bad it was fenced off for safety. Rowland planned a holiday home for friends and relatives. Local estate agents who handled the advertising, reported receiving 120 enquiries about the tower.

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