Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 15 August 2002


MEMORIES of a Very Special Folkestone hotel. That is the title of a story Mrs Margaret Ferris, of Hythe, had hoped to see published in a new book featuring bygone Folkestone which the shops chain Ottakar's had hoped to produce in conjunction with Herald readers and the firm Tempus Publishing Ltd.

Unfortunately the book venture nas had to be abandoned, at least for the time being, as there was insufficient response from the public in the time permitted for submitting stories and pictures.

But, said Linda Fry, local Ottakar's spokeswoman, "we have not ruled out the idea of repeating the invitation to readers another year."

Mrs Ferris, who lives in Hillside Street, in Hythe, thought Memories readers would be interested and sent me her memories of local kennels established 50 years ago. "I was manager of the Dog Hotel from 1963 to 1967 and I still occasionally meet some of my 'girls'." Years ago, she said, all young girls seemed to want to work in stables or kennels. "How times change - girl pop stars had hardly been invented," comments Margaret. This is her story.

AT THE very spot where the Eurostar trains vanish through the cliffs and head for France, there once stood a hotel. Legal and illegal immigrants were housed in comfort but in top security conditions behind high walls.

"Folkestone Dog Hotel, in Danton Lane, housed up to 250 cats and dogs which came from countries all round the world to serve the mandatory six months quarantine which was then Britain's only protection against rabies.

"Founded in the fifties by a local veterinary sur-
geon and his wife, the kennels were built on what had been Danton Farm.

The farmhouse had been modernised and housed the kennel managers and their family. A separate boarding section in the ancient barn provided kennels for up to 100 dogs which, as 'citizens' of Britain were free to go at any time.

"Kennel maids came from all round Folkestone and Cheriton and for a very modest wage worked fairly long hours and had to cope with animals which were in strange surroundings and had often been traumatised by a long journey by air or sea.

"Each girl had her own allocation of dogs or cats and usually stayed with the same animal throughout the six months. Even the most timid or difficult animal responded to the love and care given to them by the kennel maids.

"Very strong bonds were forged and tears were often shed when owners came to collect their animal at the end of quarantine.

‘Baby’ was a dog!

"Many animals came into the Eastern dock at Dover and even in the early hours of the morning had to be collected immediately by an authorised member of the kennel staff. The travelling kennel was not allowed to touch the ground and had to be loaded directly onto the hotel van at the docks.

"Some countries were not fully aware of our quarantine regulations and, all too often, an illegal entrant would arrive without the necessary papers from the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries & Food (as it was then.)

Smuggling was often attempted and I can clearly remember a small Pekinese dog rather badly disguised as a small baby - complete with shawl and bonnet - and also a pair of Siamese cats which had come all the way from Africa in a back-pack.
"There were many tragic cases as, unless the owners could supply evidence that they had sufficient money to pay for the quarantine the animal had to be turned back to its country of origin, or, in the last resort, to be humanely destroyed.

'Thankfully, we never had to carry out this ultimate threat, as appeals to rescue societies and well wishers usually managed to provide enough resources to allow us to land the animal and take it to the hotel until other arrangements were made.

"The hotel beauty parlour was always busy and a separate salon inside the restricted part of the buildings was used for the quarantined dogs.
"The cattery was probably one of the most up-to-date in the country at that time, as each cat had a run to itself, an under-bed heater, plenty of toys and a dedicated cat-loving attendant.

"Great advances in inoculations and blood-testing have superseded the six-month quarantine period.

"I still have happy memories of Folkestone Dog Hotel in the early sixties and will never forget the happy band of young girls who handled even the most difficult and dirty jobs with a smile and made their very special guest welcome in a very special hotel.”
I WONDERED what really happened to the glass-domed roof of the former Natwest bank in Sandgate Road, which the late Jimmy Rowland planned to incorporate into a rotating glass top for the Martello Tower No.1 he proposed to renovate at East Cliff - as I wrote in Memories last week. On Thursday morning Michael Stainer, owner of the Grand, on the Leas, rang me. He invited me to go and see it - in the renovated Grand. The Herald included a glimpse of it in a feature on the Grand when it was being renovated 20 years ago.
THE FORMER Danton Farm Dog Hotel and Beauty Salon, pictured in 1964.

'Hum - bug' of objections to Leas Sunday concerts

Q/\0 SIGNING off as "Anti-Humbug," an anony-X9v£inous reader questioned why local religious sects, while “hating each other with a holy hatred," had united, it seemed, to oppose sacred concerts on the Leas on Sundays. At the same time it was apparently thought right and proper for the band of the Amusements Association to give Sunday afternoon concerts in Radnor Park, the 'sects' accepting a Hospital Sunday Concert in the park. If It was wrong, then why tolerate the Salvation Army? Staff writer Felix was singing the praises of army food at the local military camp site. But he was demanding a vast improvement to the fresh water supply to the site, saying the local water reserves were overflowing and yet there was a meagre supply to the camps where hundreds of soldiers were engaged in important training exercises, following lessons learned in the Boer War. A reader called for public shelters on the Leas, pointing out the damage a lady's dress could suffer in a sudden storm if there was no such refuge. This was to become a plea repeated throughout the century ahead. He also criticised long-winded councillors, many of them businessmen, who spent far too much time debating very little.

Passengers step in to stop mn-away Dymchurch train

«( Q CO STOPPING a runaway railway engine did not prevent Leslie James Ashman, 43, a Maidstone nursery foreman, from enjoying a day's Fishing .it Dungrness while staying in a caravan at Apps Field, St Mary's Bay! The drama began when the 21-year-old engine driver, Geoffrey Redecliffe, struck his head a glancing blow on the 6ft high Leonard Road Bridge as he adjusted a tarpaulin cover to keep off the rain. This knocked him unconscious, just after steaming out of Greatstone. His plight was seen by young passengers in the first coach as the train gathered speed. Two girls jumped off and raised the alarm at a nearby house. They were spotted by Ashman, another passenger, who clambered out of a carriage and made his way along the swaying roof-tops of two coaches to reach the engine where he grabbed the nearest lever - happily the right one. and the train came to a halt with a jolt, two wheels jumping the rails. But for his prompt action the train would almost certainly have jumped the rails at a dangerous bend leading into Dungeness Station. Slipping quietly away after all the congratulations, he got on with his spot of beach fishingl A firework spectacle was to be a new feature at what was expected to be the best ever Venetian Fete on Hythe Royal Military Canal. Special fireworks were to be set off from a boat.
Off-duty chef raises alarm as fire hits Queens Hotel

■4 QO7 FIVE bedrooms were burnt out in a fire at f the Queen's Hotel, Folkestone which originated in staff quarters at the back of the building, on the fourth floor where several workers lost all their possessions. The alarm was given by off-duty chef Mr F Springer, who spotted the smoke as he was passing by. Great crowds gathered in Sandgate Road, Guildhall and Rendezvous Streets, and saw firemen using a 60ft fire escape fix up one line of hoses, while three more were taken through Heron's the grocers, across Woolworths' fiat roof and along the side of Queen's Vaults. The only people hurt were firemen who touched damaged electrical wiring during their work, but 24 out of 83 bedrooms were put out of action. Organiser Mr C. Older was being complimented on a successful, trouble-free excursion by an East Kent Road Car Co charabanc to the Lake District, a run of 760-miles. Such a trip was still a bit of an adventure 75 years ago. At Windi-rmere the party enjoyed a steamer trip on the lake, and visited Ambleside, Grasmere. Derwent and Ullswater. About to be married, railway fireman James Fleming of Folkestone who was assisting In the turning of a locomotive at Deal station was killed by a passing train.
Fire crew’s pinta nearly landed them in the soup

4 Q-yyTHERE were red faces for Blue Watch at I I Folkc-htont: fire station, after a tea break emergency left firemen with an embarrassing situation. Out of milk for their early morning cuppa they hit on the idea of "borrowing" a pinta from a colleague's doorstep. But things didn't go according to plan. They went to the wrong house and the 'owner' spotted the 'theft' and cjilud the 'police.' Greatly embarrassed they c.illnd the police station and talked their way out of the situation. The twist in the tale is that it wasn't the police who called the fire station about the supposed 'theft' but a colleague playing a practical joke! The story caused a laugh in “Kentish Fire," the staff magazine and also taught local firemen to be more careful in stocking up with their early morning pintas! Maverick army helicopter pilots were causing danger at Lydd it was claimed. Estate agent Albion Watkinson said the airmen were flying too low, and there was the risk of a disaster if they suffered engine failure. “If an engine cuts out over the town, the machines could drop like a stone," he warned. There were official flight paths but some, he said, took short cuts, inspite of promises they would not fly over the town. An army spokesman admitted that helicopters did sometimes fly over the town because of certain atmospheric conditions.

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