Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 9 October 2003


BELOW: TONTINE Street, in 1917, showing Gosnold Brothers' store which caught the blast when property opposite was destroyed in a devastating First World War attack on the town from the air which killed dozens of people, over 60 of them in Tontine street itself - many of them shoppers.
LOCAL author Martin Easdown has carried out extensive research for a new book, one he hopes will help fill what he sees as a gap in the market, most modern local history works seeming to concentrate on recording what happened in the Second World War.

The new book, to be published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, will look back at the First World War when Britain faced attack from the air for the first time.

Martin’s latest book, not expected until late next year, will focus on attacks on Kent by German Zeppelin airships and conventional aircraft, including1 bombers and seaplanes. There were raids on Dover, Deal, Folkestone, Ramsgate and Margate in the south, and Sheerness to the north.

The publishers say the new book will include a compelling account of one of the worst attacks from the air in the 1914-18 war, which killed nearly 80 people in the Folkestone area.

The 160 page paperback will also offer an all-round view of the air campaign waged by the Kaiser against Britain, they say.

“Martin’s original and thought-provoking book will be a valuable contribution to Kent’s 20th Century history,” and, at the same time it will form a memorial record of all those who died in the attacks on virtually defenceless towns, say Pen & Sword.

In one attack alone, on Tontine Street,
Folkestone, 61 people died - the greatest single tragedy to hit the town in its history, says Martin.

Fewer died in other towns as the enemy exploited this new and terrifying method of warfare, but the raids on East Kent towns and ports were devastating.

The attacks came with little, if any warning, leaving hundreds in a state of shock.

The author has gathered together vivid recollections of eye-witnesses, the testimony of a number of German airmen involved in the war and collected at least a hundred illustrations for what promises to be a popular book.

Martin, of Seabrook, Hythe, already has several other interesting books to his credit, some in association with other writers, and various publishers.

Two of the most interesting, to me were Tales from the Tap Room, about local public houses and breweries, written in cooperation with fellow writer Eamonn Rooney, and Rain Wreck & Ruin, about disasters and ‘misfortunes’ in Folkestone, Sandgate, Seabrook and Cheriton, written by Martin in association with Linda Sage, who contributed a section on local murders.

Novel feature of the latter book, was the inclusion in the price of eight postcards reproducing pictures in the book, covering the main subjects, such as shipwrecks, storms and gales, landslips, war, fires, murders and snow and blizzards.

The story of Folkestone during the War,
1914-1919 was told by J.C. Carlisle D.D., in co-operation with military and naval officers, over 80 years ago, in a hardback book published soon after the Kaiser War by F. J. Parsons, Ltd, original owners and publishers of the Folkestone Herald, at their former printing works in The Bayle.

•David Willis, of Ingoldsby Road, Folkestone, was very interested in recent references to Sir Eustace Missenden, the former BR chief. “When I was in the first year of Dover Road School, in the late 1940s, Sir Eustace was the guest of honour at the annual Speech and Prizeday at the old Town Hall.

“He announced that a new British Rail vessel - Maid of Orleans - was due and that
four boys from the school could join her at Southampton for the run to Folkestone.

“Each class put one boy’s name forward, from which the lucky four were selected.

“When the “Maid” arrived at Folkestone harbour the unsuccessful ones, of whom I was one, were given a guided tour of the vessel before she entered service - what a treat for an eleven-year-old!

“The ‘Maid’ was always special after that. I can still see her in my mind coming-straight in from Boulogne and turning a bit like a destroyer to Copt Point and ‘reversing’ in with the ‘new style’ one-piece hatch/hold cover being raised as she entered the harbour, a very sleek ship!”

Michaelmas 'harvest’ of mackerel for fisher folk

*1 CATCHES f Michaelmas mackerel

presented a remarkable spectacle at Folkestone Fishmarket a century ago, reported the Herald. A large number of fishing boats, mostly belonging to Brighton, Hastings and Shorenam, arrived with immense cargoes of mackerel. The "Smiling Morn" had nearly two lasts - almost 20,000 - aboard and other boats averaged between 8,000 to 10,000 fish each. Sold by William Spearpoint, the price averaged about six shillings (30p) a hundred. So great was the catch in some cases, it was stated, that 30 to 40 nets had to be cut and abandoned, as the boats could not bring them in, most of the craft being loaded down to their gunwales. At the time a stiff wind, almost half a gale, was blowing in the Channel, but no boat got into difficulties. Our man Felix was reflecting on the days not long gone when Folkestone and Sandgate were famous for boat building. Sandgate, it was said, owed its existence to a Mr Wilson who established a flourishing trade building fishing boats and Government sloops. In 1903 a man named Phillips was still building whalers at the Stade, also for the Government.

Loophole in law lets off lavender hawker in City

"IQOQMARTIN Walter Ltd opened new JL/^0 motor works in Cheriton Road and six large photographs showing the work of coach-building in the firm's workshops, were included in a full page advertisement in the Herald. Also pictured were finished Bentley, Rolls-Royce and other marque cars, due to go on show at the national motor show at Olympia, a garage with capacity for 120 cars and a picture of the old garage at the rear of the Sandgate Road showrooms. The new garage complex was officially opened by MP Sir Philip Sassoon. There were some red faces and smiles too at Lambeth Police Court when a hawker, Herbert Roberts, 36, giving an address in Folkestone was brought before the magistrates for selling lavender in Camberwell without a pedlar's licence. The smiles came when his Lordship J.B. Sandbach KC, presiding, was forced to dismiss the case after being informed, on a point of law, that lavender was in legal circles considered a vegetable and was therefore exempt! Mr Roberts was said to be a clerk. A photo showed a large team of men making extensive repairs to outer walls of long-suffering Sandgate Castle, hit in winter storms. The cost of the work was being met by an anonymous Sandgate resident.
Dangerous sea mine halts traffic along esplanade

A Q CO TRAFFIC along Sandgate esplanade .L79^came to a halt for six hours after a German sea mine was spotted off Sea Point. It was tethered to a groyne and was eventually made safe by a Royal Naval party from Chatham, who removed the detonator. Afterwards local Sea Cadets who helped haul it up the beach, were hoping to be able to keep it for training purposes. Concern was being expressed in farming circles in New Romney and district at a possibility that a volunteer holiday workers' camp at the Warren, operated throughout the Second World War, would be closed in the coming year because it was uneconomical. The camp accommodated up to one hundred people of various nationalities. The man who organised the movement of 120,000 Romney Marsh sheep inland to safer areas during the War, Mr Percy Cox, awarded the OBE, was given the job of Westerham farm manager for Sir Winston Churchill. Appointed to head Hythe Home Guard Company Lieut-Col W.D. Joyce was appealing for more recruits, saying recruiting in the area was much below that of comparable towns.
Crossbow vandal attacks village publican’s geese

f Q7Q AN IRATE local landlord was demand-.L/f Oing action to catch a vandal who used a deadly crossbow to shoot one of his geese. The crossbow prowler shot the bird in the gardens of the Gate Inn public house Rhodes Minnis where there was a lake. Miraculously the bird survived after the bolt had been removed from one of its legs. The vandal was branded a poacher - or a fool who could have seriously injured someone. The International Store, in Sandgate Road was due to close to make way for a new Pricerite store, described as one of the chain's growing number of 'discount' stores, but employing the same staff as before. Lyminge was planning a new community centre or village hall for Jubilee Field, with a shell measuring 24 metres by eight metres wide, costing 10,200 and needing heating, plumbing and other amenities. A councillor claimed half the people in Lydd were prisoners in their own homes and couldn't afford to go out, backing a move for an East Kent Road Car Company "Freedom Ticket" scheme. A "throw-away" culture was blamed by Lydd's Bob Clarke, for an escalating volume of refuse which needed to be disposed of, and suggested incineration.

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