DOVER KENT ARCHIVES

Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 3 October 2002

 

THE DAYS of my youth spent in Folkestone before the war, between the years 1930 and 1940 seem to me now to have been bathed in perpetual sunshine, although I am sure that I must have had as many ups and downs as any other child ..."

This is how veteran Memories reader Margaret Hogben, of Dudley Road, Folkestone, begins a summary of her memoirs she hopes will be of interest to other Herald readers.

Margaret typed up her memories on a computer for a proposed book on Folkestone memories that book chain Ottakars had hoped to publish in conjunction with Stroud book firm Tempus Publishing Co. But, as already reported in Memories, the scheme had to be dropped through lack of response from the public.

My feeling is that if the same idea is tried again there should be much more time for people to think about the idea and they would then have a better chance to write their recollections or stories.

Between the wars, says Margaret, "Folkestone was a proud holiday resort, with many smart hotels,

( the largest of which. The Grand and The Metropole, dominated the west end of the Leas, which was our pride and joy," she writes.

"Courtesy coaches from these hotels would meet each train from London and a flurry of porters would deal with all the visitors' luggage.

"The Leas, its many floral displays, the Zig-Zag path and the Lower Road were all immaculately kept. I remember that if you walked on the Leas it was expected that you would wear respectable clothes and not walk on the grass — and certainly not picnic there!

"At various points along the Leas were stands of bath chairs with large wheels and hoods that could be raised against the sun. wind or shower of rain.

"Attendants would push or pull their clients, most-
ly elderly folk dressed in black in the custom of the day, to enjoy the sea air for a charge of approximately one shilling and sixpence (7.5p) an hour.

"In those days, long before hip and knee replacements had been thought of, elderly people were chair-bound or bedridden when their joints wore out, so this service was much appreciated by the few who could afford it.

"Folkestone had a spectacular theatre called The Pleasure Gardens, situated where the Police Station now stands, and at least three cinemas, the largest of which. The Odeon, with its cinema organ, occupied what is now Boots the chemist.

"There was also a large outdoor bathing pool on the seafront," continues Margaret, " and a fine pier nearby with a long promenade which still exists between the pebble beach and the Lower Road, which stretched almost to Sandgate and was thronged with visitors, especially at the weekend.
Regatta rivalry
"Photographers were numerous, as not too many people owned cameras, and promenaders would be 'snapped' as they walked by in the sunshine. The next day the photographs would be displayed on a board near the end of the pier and, if approved of, could be ordered at the kiosk.

"Each year the Folkestone Regatta would take place with fierce rivalry between the other Kentish seaside towns in the rowing, sailing and swimming events. Crowds of people would spend the day lining the beach and cheering on the competitors.

"At the end of the pier, the slippery pole would attract much attention as lads young and old would attempt to stay on the pole and win a prize. To finalise the proceedings the Grand Firework Display on the end of the pier would send Folkestonians home tired, but happy.

"Folkestone harbour was alive with activity. The fishing industry was thriving. I remember the fisher-
Happy days!
MRS DORIS Saunders, daughter of an ex-Mayor of Folkestone, Alderman Hollands and Mrs Hollands, lent me this interesting photograph, below, of a street party in Rossendale Road to celebrate the Coronation, in 1953. Lack of space prevents me including the whole of the picture. The photo, by Halksworth Wheeler, features Councillor Moncrief, who was then mayor, in the centre, while Doris is fifth from the left in the back row and her three daughters, Jean. Babs and Pauline, are seated in front of the mayor next to the boy in a black jacket in the foreground.

Among the children in the picture were quite a few from the local Bruce Porter Children's Home, said Mrs Saunders.
men in their coarse brown smocks and waders loading great piles of squirming dogfish and enormous eels on the edge of the quayside awaiting their turn to be sold by auction in the market.

"There were also barrows of fish being sold to the general public - and they were really fresh - still alive and flipping. Once, I remember, an enormous ugly looking fish, resembling a Manta Ray, landed on the quayside. It was such a curiosity that it was displayed on a barrow beside a collecting box and later, hauled and pushed around the town until it became decidedly high!'

"One particularly well known character, Mrs Waller, always wore a straw boater hat and a large apron and advertised her wares by calling out fresh plaice a tanner a lump.'

"The little fishing boats that thronged the harbour came and went with the tide, returning with huge catches which were sculled ashore by a fisherman standing in the back of the dinghy and swinging his oar from side to side. The boats themselves had only brown canvas sails."

(More of Margaret's memories will follow soon.)
One-day conference

"SWING Riots" in Kent involved disgruntled farm workers who rose up and turned violent as jobs were threatened by increasing mechanisation on farms in the 1800s. This led to serious arson attacks and even murder.

The East Kent riots are among subjects to be covered by speakers at a one-day conference being held in Folkestone on October 19, by Folkestone & District Family History Society.

Called "Turbulent Times" the series of talks is being given at St Martin's Community Hall, in Queen's Avenue, Horn Street, Cheriton. Family history researcher Duncan Harrington, of Lyminge, is one of the speakers.

For catering purposes, bookings closed on September 30 but interested readers can contact Mrs H Belcher, of Saxonia, 7 Park Road, Littlestone, New Romney, Kent TN28 8NJ, in case there are any last minute cancellations.

There is a conference fee of 10.
 

Tramway service mooted to Warren beauty spot

Q/\*>AN ELECTRIC powered or horse-pow-X/UZered tramway was being suggested as a means of opening up the Warren to far more people, capitalising on an outstanding asset. Sadly, said our man Felix, the railway company was reluctant to provide a station at "Little Switzerland" in the popular beauty spot, which might achieve the same aim. Thousands of visitors came to the town who never found their way to it, he wrote. An anonymous reader sounded a warning about the "monstrous” decision to go ahead with the Cheriton Road widening against a background of a vory poor summer season in terms of the number of visitors to the resort. People were allowing themselves to be hypnotised by "fancy schemes and pictures," the writer claimed, while several costly but more pressing improvements needed to be made and many people were struggling to make ends meet. Meanwhile the editor was predicting a great change ahead in the character of Folkestone, both as a health resort and as a residential area, but warned of heavy expense in borrowing money for these vital improvements.

 
'Buy British’ trade mission to Canada headed by MP

ft QPrtTHE MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Brigadier H.R. Mackeson, of the local brewing family, was spearheading a "Buy British Goods' campaign to boost trado between the two countries during a three-week visit to Canada in his role as the Government's Secretary for Overseas Trade. Future Prime Minister Mr Harold Macmillan, the Minister of Housing and Local Government back in 1952, was in Folkestone to speak at the annual conference of the Association of Municipal Corporations, in the Leas Cliff Hall. The main theme of his speech was that local authorities had to get down to the job of dealing with the serious postwar problem of slum clearance. And as far as possible, he said, people should be rehoused in new properties built on the sites of the old streets which were demolished, not away from the town centre leaving "rotted and blighted centres." He stressed housing should not be a political football, but a personal and national question. He pledged more homes, both council and private, would be built year on year, in peace time. Fifteen teams were expected to take part in a women's world hockey tournament beina planned in Folkestone in 1953.
 
Unfair competition claim -by Cambrian bus company

QAn NEARLY five columns of the Herald I were taken up with a report of a Ministry of Transport inquiry in Folkestone into an appeal by Cambrian Coaches against refusal by Folkestone Council to grant them licences to run between the town and Dover. Town Clerk A.F. Kidson appeared for the Council and said the application was refused because it was held there was already an efficient service on that route. For Cambrian coaches it was held that this was not a valid reason for refusal. Proprietor A.M. Kemp-Gee began running buses in the district in 1921 and during the past year ran 15 vehicles compared with the East Kent Car Co's 146. During the case it was alleged the 'East Kent' only ran 67 of its buses and tended to use the others from time to time in such a way as to try and blot out competition. The other main bus company, the Co-op, held 18 full licences and three trip licences. “W. Richardson," of Wellington Terrace, Sandgate, was writing of the decline in local fishing due to the efficiency of various kinds of trawl fishing, which probably killed a once substantial fishing fleet at Dover.
 
Millions of shellfish perish as sewage pollutes the sea

ELEVEN days of "hard easterly JL7 I I winds" were being blamed for widespread pollution of the sea, with sewage from Hythe, Seabrook, Sandgate, Folkestone and Dover resulting in the death of a million or two molluscs off the Channel coast. A swimmer who had used himself as a guinea pig to test conditions off Folkestone by swimming from Seabrook and Sandgate, said there was a real health hazard on at least three days a week. He warned of "apathy" by local authorities. On the Marshes there was also an urgent call for action - to deal with a potential health hazard - of dead and dying fish in at least one dyke. This was said to be due to an excessive growth of wood. Southern Water claimed tests of water samples showed pollution wasn't to blame. I was interested to read my long-standing colleague Jane Sulsh's report in the Herald 25 years ago on the unveiling of the RAF memorial on the Leas, commemorating airmen and women who served in two world wars. The block of green basalt from Wales incorporated a fine plaque featuring Shakespeare Cliff and the first radar mast (presumably at Swingate) with bi-planes. Spitfires, Blenheims and Hurricanes flyinq above the sea.

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