Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 12 September 2002


Its full


to Lcs!

MEMORIES reader Leslie Bradfield was quick off the mark to respond to a reader's plea for an old George Spurgen School photograph. He nearly beat me to it in reaching the Herald office, last Thursday morning!

Veteran Les, who went to George Spurgen School himself, from the age of five to 14, had to apologise for not having the exact picture that Mrs Ivy Marsh {nee Marsh) was looking for, but he said, it is the right year, 1929 and he thought Ivy and other readers would be interested to see it.

Les, who lent me another school picture for 1926, lives in Dolphins Road, Folkestone. He says he remembers all the teachers and classrooms of the old school.

The primary school headmistress in 1926 and 1929, he said, was Miss Powell, while the teacher in his 1926 photo, was Miss Goodridge.

A recent Memories photograph from
Folkestonian David Sheppard, working in Saudi Arabia, of a local cub scouts group was of special interest to John Oliver who was a member of the group which, he says, was the 22nd pack attached to the parish church, not the 25th.

John was able to name the adult leaders from right to left, as Mike Johnson, Sheila Marwood, Daphne Kitchen, Percy Port, of Elham, district commissioner, with Colin Johnson, assistant county commissioner, squatting in front.

John believes the photo dates from 1952-53 and may have been taken after the scouts won the Whittingstall Trophy.

Stars at Rhodes Minnis
Do you remember the old days of motorcycle grass track racing in East Kent at hillside circuits like Lydden, Rhodes Minnis and elsewhere? The events became a proving ground for more than a few riders who went on to become world champions.

Many grass track racers went on to ride professionally in road racing and on the world speedway race circuits.

Enthusiasts tended to follow the fortunes of particular riders with a certain style, or because they were fascinated by their home-built specials and the kind of engines and sometimes non-standard fuel that they used.

Local enthusiast Pete Hogben, who used to write race reports for the Folkestone Herald once said that with costly fuels or additives like nitro methane you could say the racing machines ran on liquid dynamite!

I remember that once I became mobile, as a cub reporter with the Dover Express, on my humble 250cc BSA C11 motorcycle, I would visit a variety of circuits all over Kent, but Rhodes Minnis and Lydden were particular favourites.

I followed the ups and downs of local stars like Monty Banks, of Capel, and later his two sons, with their garage at Deal.

Only the other day he reminded me the old oval Rhodes Minnis circuit, on a local farmer's land, used to attract crowds of 8,000 and more who came to watch stars from far and wide. Several of them became world champions.

And now, hopefully once a year. International Grand Slam meetings at Rhodes Minnis are to be held, organised by the Astra Grasstrack Club
which used to promote motor racing at Lydden, spearheaded by the late Bill Chesson.

A number of the old veterans will be guests at the first "revival" Grand Slam meeting, which is on Sunday, September 15, with the promise of a star entry - the event has attracted both national and world champion riders of solo machines and sidecar outfits.

And riders and supporters are making a weekend of it. On the Saturday there is to be an arena trials display followed by a disco.

The Grand Slam meetings of the 1960s were second only to the national championships.

Although it was a grass circuit, on a long straight there was no lack of speed, figures of over 90mph being claimed.

Names of the star riders bring back happy
memories for many; names like Nigel Bocock, Reg Luckhurst, Jackie Sewell, Tony Back, "Spud" Tatum, Alf Hagon, Chris Stewart, Wigan wonder-boy David Baybutt, Derek Andrews, Lew Coffin, Sid Jarvis, young Graham Banks, Stan Luck and many others, as well as up-and-coming youngsters like Peter Chittenden,

And that's without naming the sidecar racers and their somewhat daredevil passengers, who without doubt thrilled the crowds!

Their names included Webster, Wicken, Lofthouse, Papworth, Duke, Dutton, McBeth, "Weedy," Coleman, Nourish and Adams.

Sadly, I believe racing came to end at Rhodes Minnis when the land had to be sold, after the owner died. The sale took place in July 1970, Monty Banks reminded me.
ANGELIC-looking faces at one of Folkestone's schools, in 1929. "George Spurgen School, Class 1! is chalked on the slate standing on the floor in front of some of the old desks. The photo was shown to me by Memories reader Leslie Bradfield, who also has the 1926 classroom picture, top right. He is standing 4th from the right in the back row.


Decorated floats fun at town’s annual Regatta

A Q/\0 FOLKESTONE Rowing Club was due 19U& to stage a procession of decorated boats early in September, with prizes offered to visitors, residents and boatmen, in co-operation with the Regatta Committee. Police Court Missionary at Folkestone Mr Bickers was busy in the Kent hopfields entertaining and lecturing with the aid of a lantern slide projector. The Herald backed an appeal for a harmonium to help with mission sing-songs. Local part-time soldiers of the 1st Volunteer Battalion of the Buffs supplied a particularly large contingent of men for first aid duty at the Coronation of King Edward VII. The ancient craft of hand^loom weaving was undergoing a revival in East Kent. It was reported 23 looms were at work at the Canterbury Weavers, alongside the river in the High Street, which opened free to visitors. The Herald, looking back 100 years, wrote of John Bailey's 'machine,' carrier's cart or 'omnibus' as it was later called, which made a return trip to Deal in a day, on Tuesdays or Thursdays, and likewise a return trip to Canterbury on a Saturday, but made overnight stops in winter.

Heraldharks back to time people were put in stocks

«« q r<J THE SPECTACLE of 55 hoses shoot-ing water high over the inner harbour captivated thousands of visitors 50 years ago, as firemen, in an exercise, dealt with a series of 'incidents.' With the Queen looking forward to her coronation, in 1953, the Herald was harking back to Folkestone in the days of Queen Elizabeth 1 st. It was then but a small fishing village of a few hundred people. The council of the time fixed a penalty of two old pennies for each hog that was allowed to stray onto the Stade unattended and John Corke's wife paid about five shillings for giving lodgings to the town's first schoolmaster. But less than nine shillings was paid as a 'reward' to the Queen’s Players who had visited the port. Painting of the Town Hall cost £1 plus three pennies for kindling for a fire on which the painter heated up his colours. John Holler was sentenced to spend three hours in the stocks for failing to tell anyone he knew Robert Burden's wife had arranged to meet another man, Robert Gottle, at Sugar Loaf Hill and eloped. Margaret Browne, widow of Thomas, was banished from the town for seven years for "unlawful practices" and told she would be ‘ if she came within seven miles.
Children preferred Sidney Street school to holidays!

Hi QO7THE OLD Sidney Street School was JL«7<£ * evidently a popular place 75 years ago for it was often said that the infants there would rather go to school than have a holiday! This was recalled at a parents' evening when headmistress Miss Powell and her dedicated staff were given a pat on the back for their work with the children and the school was presented with a gramophone by the Folkestone Education Committee, in recognition of their efforts. Herald writer Felix sang the praises of the 800ft high Highcliffe Tea Gardens, at the Valiant Sailor,: which had the advantage of a five-minute bus service leaving the old Cooperative Stores in Dover Road for Dover; and was being advertised as one of Folkestone's premier attractions 75 years ago. The Herald published an interesting photograph of six coxswains of Kentish lifeboats, including W.H. Baker, of Folkestone and H Griggs, junior, of Hythe, and other lifeboat-men, aboard the Margate lifeboat Lady Southborough during the trip back to the Kent coast after attending the unveiling of a memorial in Calais to French lifeboatmen.
Tourism vital to future of Shepway says councillor

<| Q'V^SHEPWAY was said to be one of the / I nicest places to stay in and had guest houses with 2.500 beds and yet a meeting in Folkestone was told that it wasn't clear whether the district had decided to be a tourist centre or wanted to be another Manchester or Birmingham. Councillor Philip Carter warned that there were some in high places who did not want tourism, "but without it you are not going to achieve anything - that's where the money comes from," he warned. A visitor wrote to the Herald complaining that bathers were not being given adequate warning of dangerous swimming conditions when thesea was choppy. She said she had several times seen people swimming when there were heavy breakers and considerable under-tow on the steeply shelving beach, but there was no red flag flying. If the council could not afford the wages of a man to put up the flag as he did in her youth, there could at least be better warning notices. A reader was bemoaning the fact people in Folkestone were complacent in concluding that you had to put up with the menace of seagulls in town if you lived by the sea. By contrast Dover people got the council to remove the eaas from the nests.

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:-