Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 19 December 2002



The Dover Street newsagent used to be quite a landmark in Folkestone with its amazing variety of postcards, spilling over apparently into an adjoining shop.
WHEN local history enthusiast and postcard collector Peter Hooper picked up his monthly copy of "Picture Postcard Monthly" he was struck by a familiar scene on the inside cover - a fine photograph of Parsons' the newsagent's shop.

Picture postcards galore were on display inside and outside the shop and the magazine was asking if any readers could identify the picture.

Peter, a member of Folkestone Local History Society, promptly rang the magazine to tell them he knew the shop, having recognised it as the one that used to be at 42 Dover Street, Folkestone.

But the magazine staff took some convincing. Another caller had "positively" identified the street as being in Blackheath! But Peter told them he would 'bet his life on it' being the shop he knew.

"I went to school with Robert Bliss, the son or grandson of the shopkeeper who had the newsagent's shop, and I knew it well!" He told me, just as he told the magazine.
Determined to back up his personal knowledge with solid evidence, Peter got in touch with Alan Taylor, Chairman of Folkestone Local History Society to see if he could lend him copies of his photographs of Dover Street in which the old shop appeared.

Alan was only too pleased to see a copy of the photo, which was new to him, and he was able to produce several old pictures of the street.

One of these clearly showed some of the same collection of advertising signs and placards outside the shop, proving it was the same!


One photo, of 1927, showed a particularly narrow footpath outside Parsons' shop, while another, taken just before the war, pictured a procession of girl guides and Roman Catholic children going down the street when the shop was run by Mr Bliss.

A third showed the same shop after the war, while a fourth was of the old Central Picture Theatre in Folkestone which was advertising the film, "The Eagles Claw," the same as that being promoted by a poster
DOVER Street, once a narrow cobbled road running down towards the harbour. This photo, from the collection of local historian Alan Taylor, shows part of the former newsagents shop on the right, with enamelled advertising signs identical to those in Peter's postcard view. Dover Street, re-developed, is now called Harbour Way.
outside Parsons' shop in the photo printed by the magazine.

All this finally convinced the editor of the postcard magazine and he published the fact that Peter had positively identified the newsagents — but then the magazine printed the location as Dover Road, instead of Dover Street (now, of course, completely changed following rebuilding after the war, and renamed Harbour Way) and had to publish a correction!

The shop appears to have been owned by Parsons until 1927, when it was taken over by A.J. Bliss, proprietor until the early 1940s.

In 1944 that part of the street was hit by a German shell and stood derelict until the buildings were demolished in 1956 and the street redeveloped.
Amazingly, 12 years after the air raid some of the enamel signs in the rare postcard view were still there!

That fine Edwardian postcard, reproduced on this page, published by a Stockwell, London, firm, is now in Peter Hooper's collection.

What I should be interested to know, is whether the shop had anything to do with Messrs F.J. Parsons Ltd, formerly of Hastings, who were the original owners of the Folkestone Herald and other newspapers.

•A Herald reader particularly interested in Les Page's Dover Road School football team picture featured recently in Memories was Billy Doyle

- one of the boys in the picture.

Billy was one of the wartime evacuees to South Wales who stayed on after the war and still lives in Wales.
Game set and match to Pete!

Fishermen to rescue as the lifeboat hits rock in blizzard

A QAO LOCAL fishermen about to put to sea long-lining for whiting rushod for a 16ft open sprat boat to go to tliu rescue of the crew of the sailing schooner "Eustace," of Wust Hartlepool, stranded in a blinding snow storm east of the harbour. It was fortunate that they did, for the lifeboat McConnell Hussey (cox Stephen Cook) hit a rock, stoving in her timbers and was forced to return to shore. Heroes of the day were George Milton - son and grandson of local fishermen — and his crewmen Wooderson and Potts who, inspite of a nasty sea, fought their way to the schooner after a nard pull and rescued all four of the crew. The Eustace, with sails gone, rudder unshipped and leaking badly, was ultimately towed into port. The Herald commented on the absurd place in which the lifeboat was kept and said all seafaring men agreed it was time to do something about it. A disaster had long been predicted. Sandgate welcomed news that the strength of the military camp at Shorncliffe was shortly to be augmented with the arrival of troops of the Royal West Kent Regiment and the Royal Sussex, returning from overseas to join the 1st Royal Dragoons.

Three lifeboats in Channel drama as jet disappears

f Qr-/%DUNGENESS lifeboat was involved in >L7O^a fruitless 13-hour search by three lifeboats, other vessels and RAF rescue aircraft in the Channel for the pilot of a Vampire jet which was feared lost in the sea. Centenarian Mrs Adolphus Finn (nee Chittenden), of New Romney, eldest of 11 children, looked back over 100 years spent on the Marsh, apart from the Second World War. She went to Miss Harrison's Rockhill School in Folkestone, remembered seeing Queen Victoria driving in Hyde Park and the opening of the railway line to Appledore and New Romney. Mrs Finn had 46 descendants, one surviving sister of 83 in Canada and brother, Ernest, an estate agent like his late father. A Sandgate 'character Tom Maltby, of "The Bricks," - the Alhambra music hall in Sandgate - who often dressed as Buffalo Bill, was recalled by a Herald reader. He recalled a "travelling sandwich board" touring the town announcing "probably the first professional cinematograph exhibition" in the district at "The Bricks." Queer things happen at Christmas, but nothing stranger, surely, than the sight of a fox swimming in the harbour, until it was rescued - this was reported to have happened back in 1868,
Put Leas Cliff Hall losses in perspective - says editor

nf Q07™0 PAGES of the Herald were I devoted to a council debate on losses by the Leas Cliff Hall in lean winter months. The editor said the Council had to bite the bullet and decide whether the resort was to have a "winter season" of entertainment, remaining competitive with other coastal resorts, or not. Seventy-five years ago the local fishermen were collecting funds towards an extension to the port's Fishermen's Institute, the fund standing at nearly 2/000,: leaving only 300 left to raise. This was thanks largely to donations and cash-raising events by, among others, the for ever active Cheerful Sparrows and the Fishermen's Hostel Working Party; Folkestone's phone exchange, due to go automatic in 1932, was clocking up nearly two million calls a year and the Folkestone Herald published a long feature with photos of telephonists. The Christmas Fat Stock Show at Lyminge attracted a large entry from a wide area, the champion beast being an Aberdeen Angus entered by Mr H.F. Finn-Kelcey. Rotting fish dumped on fields in the district as fertiliser was attracting thousands of seagulls.
Kick lor traders after town’s Carnival made loss of 400

ml Q^*yTOWN traders were being criticised I I 25 years ago for not supporting the Folkestone Carnival, after it made a 400 loss inspite of "fantastic" support from the public, the street collection having been doubled. Organiser John Rendle said support from business was declining. Christmas is as good a time as any to recall a strange ballad Folkestone "Fiery Serpent" which caused amusement in an age when there was no television or radio. The Herald recalled the tale was of a serpent with scales of blue and gold - and breathing fire of course - that caused pandemonium in the town when it alighted in a field near Jacob's Mount, just a mile and a half east of town. The Mayor is said to have enlisted the help of the people of Dover, who appear to have been as equally stupid as those of Folkstone (the old spelling) were reputed to be. The ballad was incorporated in a once popular book "Old Folkestone Smugglers" published by John English, proprietor of the now defunct Folkestone Express newspaper, which ran to three editions. It also featured in a book published 25 years ago by the John Nevill Gallery, in Canterbury, run by Ann and John Nevill, of Radnor Cliff, Folkestone.

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:-