Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 23 January 2003



VETERAN Memories reader

Margaret Hogben revels in fond recollections of Folkestone of the old days, between the wars, with a busy harbour and a large fishing fleet and wrote about them for a book which was never published.

Here she shares some of those memories with Herald readers.

Margaret vividly recalls how, at low tide, people with large shrimp nets would roll up their trouser legs and trawl in the shallow water along the sands for shrimps and prawns all of which were plentiful - but not now alas, she writes.

Out on the Harbour arm the cranes were busy with the cross-Channel ferries - it only cost ten shillings and sixpence (52.5p) to cross to France.

“Along the fishmarket were tall, black, weatherboard buildings with few windows which were used for drying nets, smoking herrings and kippers etc.

On a warm sunny day, down on the sands, she says, youngsters and their parents would sunbathe, swim and dig sandcastles to their hearts content.

Her father often wore a white handkerchief - knotted at each corner - on his head as protection from hot sun and the fair sex, young and old, tucked dresses into knickers to paddle in the sea!

“There would be donkey rides and a
Punch & Judy Show, a man with a big wicker basket would walk up and down on the sand calling ‘Ripe pears, they’re lovely’ -but he was always followed by half a dozen wasps!

“Another vendor would tramp along the sand with a tray slung around his neck to leave his hands free, selling Woodbine cigarettes and sweets. The Stop Me and Buy One ice-cream man was in evidence too along the sands promenade which was lined with deck chairs hired for sixpence.

Sandcastle contests
“Occasionally there would be sandcastle competitions and treasure hunts. Metal tokens, later to be exchanged for prizes, were tossed into the sea at night or early in the morning and the ebb and flow of the tide would hopefully cover them with sand ready for the hunt the next day.

“Another activity usually run by a National newspaper, such as the Daily Express, to boost sales, was held in the summer. A picture of a man with the Daily Express under his arm would be published with the caption “I am Lobby Ludd” and holiday makers would buy the newspaper which would tell them where the mysterious man might be seen at various times of the day.

“If spotted he had to be challenged with the words ‘You are Lobby Ludd - here is my
AN EARLY postcard view of a summer scene at Marine Gardens in Folkestone in a bygone age when the pace of life seemed slower. Below a popular spot for a siesta in a deckchair before the war was the balcony at the Leas Cliff Hall.

copy of the Daily Express and I claim the prize.’ As you can imagine it caused great hilarity if the wrong person was challenged!

“One of the events most firmly fixed in my mind was Empire Day, May 24. For weeks beforehand all the schools in the Folkestone district would be drilled in marching and saluting. It was very seriously undertaken, we were all very smartly turned out and on the day all the schools presented themselves in Radnor Park, which was full of spectators, especially the proud parents.

“After the Parade we would retrieve our Panama hats, guarded by a policeman with his hand on top of the pile, at the edge of the parade ground.

“Empire Day was celebrated in this way all over the British Isles and I remember feeling very proud of our Empire - and of being British!”
FOLKESTONE & District Local History Society's next diary date promises a rare old smuggling tale from researcher Peter Ewart, formerly of Folkestone and now of Ash, who talks on Smuggling in Kent, on February 5, 2003. The Society meets at the Holy Trinity Church hall, in Sandgate Road, at 7.30pm. New members and visitors are welcome. More details about the Society's meetings this year can be obtained from the secretary, Peter Bamford, of 7 Shorncliffe Crescent, Folkestone, whose phone number is 01303 223337.

Arctic comftions test drivers -and the welfare services

*1 QAO SNOW was causing more hardship for ■LUUOthe labouring classes in the district and a soup kitchen in a hall in Canterbury Road was set up to help the children of the unemployed and needy, particularly in the north ward of Folkestone, where there were many 'working class' homes. There were more needy cases in the east ward and at the Tontine Street schools 'half-penny dinners' were being provided, but funds were not plentiful so great care had to be taken to make sure only those genuinely in need received assistance in this way. Social workers and volunteers also had the task of seeking out those who were too proud to claim help and would starve themselves first before coming forward, such was the stigma of the hardship poor. Meanwhile further efforts were being made to boost the Mayor's Relief Fund, which was a vital source of help in the winter months. The Herald announced that there was 'safe' ice on which to skate on the Hythe Royal Military Canal, particularly at West Hythe ana many people from Folkestone were reported to have made their way there. The ponds at Radnor Park would soon bo suitable also, it was stated.
Town and country plan to celebrate the coronation

•f qj-qFORTHCOMING Coronation celebra--L%/OOtions were in the thoughts of many people in the Shepway area, as was the case everywhere and, at Hythe, a public meeting was held to form a Bonfire Society to take charge of the town’s Coronation Bonfire arrangements. A junior section for those under 16 was to be called the Squib Section. There was to be a local Coronation Appeal to fund celebrations and one idea was that schoolchildren should be taken to see a full length colour film of the Coronation, probably a fortnight after the big event. The Herald published an engraving of an arched memorial in the parish church containing a mystery effigy wearing a soldier's armour, explaining how modern research pointed to the fact it was probably of Sir John de Seagrave. Lord of the Manor of Folkestone, who died in 1343. Mr J Wilson-Haffenden presented the church with a copy of a picture of the tomb, together with an album of information about it, to hang in the church near the memorial. In Hythe it was being suggested shoppers should always walk along a pavement in the narrow High Street so that they were facing oncoming traffic, bocause of the danger of being hit by wider vehicles.

Landlord steps down after over 50 years behind bar

>* QOQMORE concerts at the Leas Cliff Hall ^7&Othat would appeal to all tastes were being called for by many people, said Herald writer Felix. At Dymchurch it was unanimously decided at a public meeting to engage a district nurse to serve a district that would include Burmarsh, Dymchurch, Eastchurch and Jesson, after the results of a house-to-house canvas were reported. This revealed that no less than 162 already had agreed to subscribe two old pennies a week to a fund to pay the nurse. The lease of the ancient and recently renovated Victoria Inn;: Dymchurch, was transferred from Mrs J Swift lessee for over 51 years, to her daughter Mrs Daisy Langford, The inn was said to have been restored to something like its original Tudor appearance. Felix, in his weekly diary column, told how lobsters formed a staple part of the menu for Queen Elizabeth I when she visited Sandgate Castle in 1573. The cost - an unbelievable one shilling and six pence (7.5p in today’s currency!) This was among many interesting facts he read in the 1840 Purday's guide to Sandgute.
Blizzards and ice-covered roads cause mayhem

f Q*7Q BLIZZARDS, ice covering roads like a * Osheet of ice and fog caused chaos on the district's roads and elsewhere 25 years ago. The winds whipped up the snow into 4ft drifts in some places in the rural district and fog was a particularly dangerous hazard on Romney Marsh. There was four inches of snow at Capel but in Folkestone it was a case of freezing sleet as temperatures plummeted. Folkestone and Hythe MR Albert Costain declared that the Lord Chancellor was right not to sack Judge Neil McKinnon, who was at the centre of a “niggers, wogs and coons" row following his summing up in a trial of former National Front chairman John Kingsley Read. It wasn't a question of whether the Judge was right or wrong, he said, you couldn't have politicians sacking judges. Nearly 6,000 of ratepayers' money was earmarked for entertaining dignitaries from Boulogne in a reciprocal visit to one by a party of about 50 from Shepway to the French port in 1976. A move by a councillor to cut the cost by hal‘ failed. Up to 100 visitors were to have trip to London, a banquet and dance for 200 at the Leas Cliff Hall, a reception at Lympne Castle and a trip on the ~ , Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway.

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:-