Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 24 April 2003


BELOW: GROVE Cinema, Hythe, which once stood on the corner of Mount Street. On the opposite comer was the Institute, famed for its spacious dance floor, which has also been demolished. The Grove building ceased to be a cinema some time before it was demolished for road improvement, in September 1961. The photo was shown to me by postcard collector Peter Hooper, of Folkestone, after Memories reader Mrs Allen told me of her hunt for a photo for a new book on Hythe. She is still looking for a picture of the old Ritz Cinema and the former Bailey bridge which linked Rampart Road with Stage Street.
THE NOSTALGIC photograph in Memories recently of a train steaming up the Tram Road track at the back of the Durlocks, brought memories flooding back for Mrs Sheila Elsey.

She contacted me by email to tell me how she used to live in one of the flats, at No 32 The Durlocks.

“I lived there from when I was born, in 1946, until 1960, when we swapped with a lady who lived on her own in a house opposite the flats. I continued to live there until I left home in 1967.”

But, as Mrs Elsey writes, some people living' near the track were not so pleased when several steam locomotives were used to haul carriages up the steep incline.

“I remember all of the washing on the washing lines getting covered in black coal dust!” she writes, going on to add that the family used to go indoors quickly if they were out on the verandah at the back, when they heard a train coming!

“But we used to get very excited when the Golden Arrow train was coming past.

“When my mother was a young girl she was pushing her sister along Tram Road one day, when a train came along and showered them with cinders - and my mother had a bad burn on her chin which left her with a bad scar for the rest of her life.

“I could go on and on with my childhood
memories, but I thought you might like a little bit of history about the steam trains,” she says.

I was also interested to hear last week of an old Folkestone newspaper I had never heard of, the Folkestone Gazette, of 1841.

This was a different newspaper from the Folkestone Herald’s former midweek, The Folkestone & Hythe Gazette, which was not launched until after the Second World War. This later became a free paper.

I heard of the existence of the old paper from a descendant of William Henry Willis, the Folkestone Gazette editor of 1841, a well known local personality.

William Willis had a great deal of property around the harbour and, for many years, owned a coal merchant’s business in Beach Street. This was subsequently taken over by a Mr Scrivener. The premises were demolished by enemy action in the 1940s.

His descendant, Richard Willis, of Blenheim Gardens, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, contacted the Folkestone Herald for a photocopy of the Folkestone & Hythe Herald which carried a feature about the old newspaper, by our one-time columnist The Roamer, back in 1958.

He told how the first Folkestone Gazette, only 6.5 inches (14cm) x 4.5 inches (11.5cm) and with only six pages, was published on September 5, 1841. An unusual feature about it is that it was all laboriously handwritten, with attractive hand-drawn
sketches and other illustrations.

It was quite possible, he wrote, the newspaper was never publicly circulated but passed around among friends.

Although small it was meticulously produced, he wrote, and curiously, the title Folkestone Gazette seems to have appeared in different lettering in each issue.

The only local news in the first issue concerned the sudden death of a waggoner, Mr Daniels, of Farlingash, who was leading a horse-drawn wagon of corn when he had a fit and died. And success in a local regatta for a four-oared craft, La Lucia, of Sandgate, belonging to T Hodges Esq, crewed by Folkestone men, was also noted.

Issue No 2 was more exciting, telling how ‘a gentleman lately in Folkestone’ had a lucky escape during a visit to Russia. He

outwitted and shot dead an innkeeper who was apparently ‘in the habit of murdering all travellers who stopped at his house!’

On arrival at St Petersburg our anonymous Folkestone hero had with him ‘a maid from the inn and her mistress.’

The maid was apparently engaged as maid of honour to Queen Catherine but for reasons Roamer did not explain the ‘mistress’ was given a beating and banished for life to Siberia!

The Gazette’s issue No 4 told of a ‘dreadful accident’ when a boy of three called Lanes, living at the Folly, was ‘knocked down and gored in a shocking manner about the face’ by a young ram at a stile.

Happily, the ram was driven away, otherwise the boy would have been killed.

At the Folly, near Warren Road, there were several small cottages.

Town’s image is tarnished by Leas fence squabble

>« Q/"kO THERE were fears that a Leas fence JL«7UOdispute over use of a road leading to the Leas, which passed between property owned by Gordon Hotels on one side and Lora Radnor on the other, would hamper moves to improve the rail service to and from: Folkestone. The Folkestone Rowing Club could look back on a successful racing season in 1902 but was in need of new galleys, the Herald reporting that the club lagged behind other resorts in its equipment, although it had worked wonders thanks to the enthusiasm of a few keen members. The group of councillors, an official and a Chamber of Commerce representative, studying the long drawn-out and controversial question of a Folkestone tramway service were off on another 'junket,' as some people called it to inspect another tramway, this time at Ilford. The party of seven were this time to see a demonstration of the experimental 'GB surfaco contact system,' said to use magnets to transmit power to the cars. Due at Shomcliffe Camp from service in India were the 2nd Battalion South Lancs Regt who were to be joined by other members of the regiment already quartered in Dover.

Cheerful Sparrows fund raisers wind up society

QCQTHE YEAR 1953 marked a turning Ji«IOOpoint for local charities with the winding up of the highly successful band of volunteers known as the Folkestone Brotherhood of Cheerful Sparrows, whose hardworking members raised thousands of pounds for the needy in Folkestone for 19 years leading up to the Second World War. Their work was revived after the war but with many of the Sparrows'having passed on and others getting on in years, there wasn't the same enthusiasm after another eight years and the brethren decided to disband. A unanimous vote of thanks went to Mr L Daughters for looking after the affairs of the Brothers. Shepwav was mourning the passing of Queen Mary, who lived to see the suffering across the world caused by two world wars but endeared herself to the people, and during the reign of King George V made more than one memorable visit to the district. She went to see Folkestone's MP for 25 years. Sir Philip Sassoon, at his home at Port Lympne, in 1936. In July 1939 she was at Shomcliffe Camp to see the 13th/18th Hussars and the first young men called up for the militia, or national service; having arrived by royal train at Shorncliffe Station.
Radio station bid to improve safety in the busy Channel

<f qaqPLANS were revealed to build an ■L«/&Oimportant radio station at Dungeness in a bid to improve maritime safety in the busy Strait of Dover. Trinity House planned to upgrade its 'beacon' system and switch to radio equipment at the new station: on a loop system. It was to be the first of its kind and was seen as an experiment. It was to be built on the Point and it was hoped work would begin before the end of 1928. Those fearing interferenco with their home radio reception were told there should be little if any problem; due to the use of a wavelength of 1,000 metres. Sir Montagu de P Webb, CBE, President of the Air League of India and vice-president of the Cinque Ports Flying Club based at Lympne, told how, while in India, he experimented with aircraft models after watching the flying of hawks and went on to build a glider. That was back in 1894, a few years before Wilbur Wright made the world's first powered flight. He built a 30ft aircraft, using bamboo cane, with cloth laced over the wings of the glider and flew this craft from the sandhills of Karachi.
Dustcart ploughs into home and wrecks new parked car

j <V7QTHERE was drama in Dudley Road, i ©Folkestone, when: a council dustcart crashed into three parked vehicles and then ploughed into the home of Alf Sneath, next door to a corner shop. The property had only just been repaired after storm damage. Added to that Mr Sneath's Morris Traveller car, which he needed for his work, was left a write-off. A neighbour, meanwhile, had a brand new Citroen car badly damaged. Prospective Liberal parliamentary candidate Ken Vaus hit out at the poor housing record of Shepway at the annual meeting of a local Shelter group which was campaigning to help the homeless; "Shepway has a very bad record on housing and house building," he declared. He went on to suggest that it would greatly help the situation if property was renovated, instead of being destroyed, while a hostel for the temporarily homeless could save ratepayers' money, he said. A Dudley Road resident was recalling the aftermath of an attack on the town in 1942 by four German planes. "I was amazed at what I imagined was hundreds of birds in the sky. I suddenly realised that the 'birds' were prayer and hymn books, and I knew then that Christ church had been hit," she said.

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