Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 9 January 2003



A LOCAL clergyman friend of mine, whose wife went to St Margaret's School in Folkestone in the fifties, is wondering if any Memories reader can tell him what happened to the photographic negatives of the former Folkestone firm of photographers, Lambert & Weston Ltd. Alternatively perhaps there are readers who have photographs taken at stage productions, particularly pantomimes performed in the early 1950s by girls of St Margaret's School - such as "Cinderella" and "Dick Whittington and his Cat." If anyone can help please contact the Rev Ted Allright, on 01304 813040.
ONE OF the famous Cinque Ports, even though it is now but an inland town, Hythe can look back on a long and illustrious history and we are fortunate that a host of photographs, picture postcards and engravings, as well as books and manuscripts, record its fascinating past.

Hundreds of these pictures must have been studied by two local enthusiasts, Martin Easdown and Linda Sage before making a final selection for inclusion in the excellent hardback pocket book they have compiled during the past year for publication by Dutch publishers.

European Library's "Hythe in oid Picture Postcards," now on sale, is the latest in their "Back in Time" series of books highlighting the past seen through the eyes of photographers and publishers who have produced postcards over the past century.

Thomas a Becket killers
Martin and Linda, who have co-operated in producing a number of paperback books on local subjects, had the task of whittling down the number of illustrations to 76 and writing informative captions and I think readers will agree the result is a most interesting and worthwhile addition to books already in print on our local history.

The writers have incorporated such a varied selection of pictures of Seabrook that the title of the book might well have reflected this.

The writers tell briefly how the four knights who murdered Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral landed at Hythe in 1170 and met at Saltwood Castle before the brutal killing.

They relate how the town became something of a quiet backwater after its harbour silted up, but then began to grow in importance again as invasion was threatened by Napoleon and both the Hythe Royal Military Canal - now listed as an ancient monument
— and a unique chain of Martello Towers, were built.

Hythe became a military base with a school of musketry boosting employment and prosperity and then the coming of the railway to the district saw the town boom with development and become a select seaside resort, boasting such attractions as a horse-drawn tramway service, golf course and later, the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway.

Seabrook harbour plan

The eastern end of the Royal Military Canal is at Seabrook where hopes were raised at one time by a big housing and resort scheme, including a pleasure pier and, the authors reveal, by a plan to build a great harbour at this sheltered spot.

The Seabrook development scheme was frustrated, however, by the railway company's eventual decision not to extend the old Hythe branch line from Seabrook to Folkestone harbour.

The pier was never built and neither was the new harbour. Sadly Sandgate station closed in 1931 and then Hythe lost its main line station, in 1951, leaving Sandling as the nearest for rail travellers.

One interesting old postcard illustrated in the book reflects the town's one-time links with smuggling gangs of the 19th Century - a picture of the "Smugglers' Retreat" in the centre of Hythe High Street, dating from 1905.

A tower at the top of the building was reputed to have housed a lantern to signal to smugglers at sea.

Sadly, as happens all too often, the interesting building, divided into shops, was allowed to fall into disrepair and was demolished in 1908.

Another interesting property pictured with a story to tell, is the old Lifeboat House, built of Kentish ragstone, which stood near the former Seabrook Police Station. Latterly the Boathouse Cafe, it was pulled down in 1956.

The Lifeboat House, nicknamed the "Goose
A 90 year old scene in Hythe High Street with the old Picture Palace on the left and the shop of Davis & Davis on the corner of Theatre Street, on the right. The heyday of the Picture Palace was during the First World War when many Canadian soldiers were based in the area. BELOW: A rural scene in Horn Street, Seabrook about 80 years ago with the Britannia Inn on

the right which faced the old Horn Street Mill which was behind the sale sign on the left.

Cathedral," was immortalised in a book of the same name by local-born author Jocelyn Brooke.

It had been built in 1875 to house the Hythe (Seabrook) station lifeboat "Meyer de Rothschild' but was replaced in 1893 by two stations, one nearer Hythe and the other Folkestone, after difficulty experienced in launching the lifeboat when the sailing ship Benvenue was wrecked about two years earlier.

Hythe in old Picture Postcards is priced at £9.95.
Good read

Hotel at centre of row over Leas'palisade’eyesore

«• qaqA CHRISTMAS - New Year sensation X9vwwas a monstrous wooden paling fence, five or six feet high on the Leas. This was erected on the inside edge of the Leas, from a fence which was the western boundary of a football ground, down to a fence in front of the Manor House, This cut off access to the Leas from the newly built Hotel Metropole and adjoining streets. In addition strands of barbed wire had been used to strengthen fencing at the east end of the recreation ground to hinder access in that direction. This was all to do with a dispute between Gordon Hotels Ltd and the trustees of Lord Radnor's estate company. Apart from denying guests of their palatial hotel easy access to the famous Leas promenade it cut off the hotel from the bandstand it had generously presented to the town. Herald had a report and a picture of a "Dolter Surface Contact System' tramcar some hoped would be used in Folkestone to operate a public tramway service. It picked up the electric current from the tram track itself instead of from a system of overhead wires which seemed such an objectionable idea to one vociferous faction of the local community.

Shakespeare - and motor rally plans for Coronation

a QCQFOLKESTONE and Hythe Operatic and -LJ/OODramatic Society volunteered to organise an open air Shakespearian production as part of the district's Coronation celebrations and the Folkestone Motor Cycle Club was organising a motorcycle gymkhana, while the Folkestone Motor Trade Committee was to hold a Treasure Hunt as well as offering to present a Concours d'Elegance motor show with eight main classes, including one for vintage cars. Many other local events were planned including an inter-club sports meeting organised by Folkestone Athletic Club and an inter-club swimming gala was to be held by Folkestone Swimming Club in collaboration with Folkestone Bathing Co Ltd, at the Bathing Pool. In Hythe road safety was a talking point among councillors, one of whom told of the danger of lorries overhanging narrow pavements, with the risk of hitting pedestrians, where there was a steep camber in High Street. And yet, he said, although the subject had been raised a number of times nothing was ever done about it. It was being suggested pedestrians should always walk along a pavement facing oncoming traffic in narrow sections of the street.
Herald'm action demand to revive ferry trade at port

qaqHERALD writer Felix was calling for JL5/<£©the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce to unite in a push to persuade the railway authorities to start another cargo ferry service between Folkestone and Boulogne to help make up for the unemployment and Toss of trade to local shops ana other businesses caused by the switching of the Flushing service from the port to Harwich. Felix, who said he was reflecting the wishes of a significant number of townspeople, also suggested attention be given to repairing iron fencing along the cliff edge opposite Priory Gardens, where there was a risk of children toppling over to their deaths. Looking back half a century Felix told how the New Year seemed to herald the arrival of a spell of "wild weather." In 1877 serious damage was caused by a storm which dislodged massive blocks of concrete and stone and nearly destroyed a newly-built pier. The Marine Parade and Marine Crescent were invaded by the sea and a thanksgiving service was held at St Peter's Church after three narrow escapes by local fishing boats which were driven round the pierhead.
Local fears over meetings planned by National Front

•I ALLEGATIONS that a religious orgatv

■L%7 / Oisation was being used as a cover-up for National Front meetings in Folkestone were strongly: denied. Denials came after a hotelier cancelled 10 meetings due to be held of the local branch of the British Israel World Federation.: It was he who feared a cover-up, although his inquiries had revealed that the Federation itself was genuine enough. Eric Segal, 28, owner of the Springfield Hotel, in Westbourne Gardens, said the person who approached him was said to be on the books of the National Front and one of the speakers was Kenneth McKilliam, prospective National Front candidate for Ashford. Labour Party organiser for Dover and Deal Mr Ian McCartney - later a Labour MP - told the Herald he had no doubt the National Front was trying to book local hotels and warned hoteliers to be vigilant. Shepway District Council decided not to grant a full time appointment to promotional consultant Leonard Piper completing a one-year assignment to help sell industry ana commerce in the district. He was good at the job but it was feared by some his full time appointment at Folkestone would have meant the shedding of other staff.

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:-