Page Updated:- Sunday, 07 March, 2021.

Published 30 October 2003


HORSE power still held its own when this early postcard view was captured, possibly in the late 1920s. it is a view of course taken looking up the old High Street, to the left and Tontine Street, on the right, both packed with shoppers and visitors. The picture is not from the Folkestone & District Local History Society’s new video, but from a postcard lent to me by one-time Dover Road School boy Edwin Lilley, of Seabrook, who has fond memories of old Folkestone and Cheriton. He particularly remembers the area around Ash-Eton School and childhood ‘scrumping’ forays in gardens of large properties there in wartime!
FOLKESTONE and District Local History Society has got together with local enthusiasts and professionals to bring the past to life in a new video featuring a feast of photographs and memorabilia of Folkestone since 1914.

Vice-chairman Don Gregory, who has done the commentary, got together with chairman Alan Taylor and fellow researcher Martin Easdown, both authors of successful books on Folkestone and district, and other enthusiasts to compile an hour-long feature on Old Folkestone which should appeal to hundreds of people.

Professionally produced by robin hillier multimedia with musical arrangements by Pete Brown and assistance from a team including Andy Ambler, SKC Graphics, John Morris and the Society, it will give anyone with a love of Bygone Folkestone a chance to own a permanent record of the town, at reasonable cost.

A record that they can sit back and enjoy on a television set in the relaxed atmosphere of their own homes with family and friends, at any time - or send to people wherever they live.

The video promises eye-opening glimpses of a town very different to that of today, when many of the streets were cobbled or paved and rang to the sound of horses hooves as they pulled carts, omnibuses and all manner of transport.
There is a glimpse too, of the old lamp-lighter who made his rounds at dusk.

Motoring was in its infancy. Few could afford a car, everyone relying on the railway, horse-driven bus, boat or cycling or walking to work or school. A four by four meant a piece of timber, not a vehicle.

Telephones were few. There were no mobiles, television or video; even radio broadcasting was still feeling its way, with often crackling reception, especially near the Channel coast.

Food had a better taste; chicken, then a delicacy, was not injected with water or proteins.

But times were changing, as were people and the world. The First World War was about to dawn....

Public launch
So little remains today, in 2003, of this once elegant town, says the Society, that the opportunity should not be missed to see Victoria Pier, the harbour, paddle steamers, the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, Royal Pavilion Hotel, crowded beaches and shops, The Leas, the Cliff lifts and the elegant costumes as they once were.

The video is being officially launched with the first public showing on November 5, at Holy Trinity Church hall, Sandgate Road, Folkestone, at 8pm, when copies can be bought. The show is free to society members but visitors are welcome, the admission charge being 2.
To be sure of your copy of the video contact Alan Taylor, on 01303 252567 or Don Gregory, on 01303 246682. And, if, having seen it you want to get another to send to relatives or friends, it will also be on sale at the Leas Cliff Hall craft fair on Saturday and Sunday, November 15-16.

I hear that Val Scurlock, who hails from Pembrokeshire, is tracing her ‘family tree’ and has found a link with Folkestone.

She found that her mother’s grandfather, Thomas James Thomas, lost his life while diving on the wreck of the German warship Grosser Kurfurst, off Folkestone, on August 28,1878.

The vessel sank with the loss of a great many seamen’s lives after a collision with
a sister warship twixt the port and Dover.

The diver came from Portsmouth but was living in North Street, Folkestone, with his wife and five children, when he died.

The story goes that he probably died of the ‘bends’ and there is a further sad twist in the tale, for it is alleged that his widow abandoned her children and went to live in South America.

The two boys were taken in by Trinity House and trained to be divers, while three sisters were sent to Canada by Barnardo’s.

Grateful for help she received from Folkestone Family History Society Val, who has located numerous ‘lost’ relatives in her family tree searches, can be contacted on 07742 820437.
New video features life in Folkestone since 1914

Pilot feared drowned - as collier and barque collide

>1 qao LOCAL pilot Capt William Ovenden 19vwwas feared lost when the brigantine Ringleader sank after a collision with the iron barque Hawthornbank of Glasgow, already a casualty heading for a repair yard. Ringleader was waiting to enter port with a coal cargo. A century ago famous author H.G. Wells, then 37, was living at Spade House, off Sandgate Hill. Writer Felix observed in his weekly column that H.G.'s father, Joseph was at one time a professional bowler with Kent Cricket Club. The author could proudly boast, said Felix, that his father was then the only bowler ever to take four wickets in four successive balls in first class cricket. Already a successful novelist, H.G. Wells was himself a keen sportsman in his youth and still suffered from a football injury to the chest when he was 21. Recently, he wrote, "H.G." had been lecturing to prominent people in the scientific, literary and artistic worlds at the Royal Institution on "The Discovery of the Future." Hythe Council accepted a gift of a major collection of stuffed birds bought from the estate of William Tournay JP of Brockhill Park, with a view to its becoming the nucleus of a town museum.

‘Felix’ criticises dithering council for jobs hold-up

4 QOQHERALD writer Felix blamed council dithering for a last minute scramble to find work for the seasonal un-employed and yet he said schemes could easily have been passed and funding obtained much earlier had councillors acted earlier on calls to enhance amenities like the East Cliff sands, where rocks needed levelling off from the Fishmarket end to Baker's Gap, and the approaches to the sands improved. Both jobs would make an ideal project to help at least some of the jobless workers in winter time. He wasn't calling for an elaborate promenade under the cliffs, ne wrote, but the removal of what could be a danger to bathers. There was also the scheme for widening part of the Dover to Folkestone road - already in the planning pipeline - which would eliminate a grave danger at Norton's Corner and could provide jobs for unemployed men of both towns. Why the delay in getting financial approval from the Treasury when this could provide work for 100 men, they had been told by the Borough Engineer? It had even been suggested their MP, Sir Philip Sassoon should use his influence with the Treasury, but he was in India. Thankfully, there were people pressing very hard for the go-ahead to be given for the road improvement at least.
Caution leads to growing number of unsold homes

m AM MAYOR of Folkestone Alderman John _L700 Moncrieff suggested building societies being over-cautious may have been the cause of a growing number of properties in the town remaining empty. He was giving an address of welcome to delegates at the autumn conference of the South Eastern Counties' Association of Building Societies, at the Princes Hotel, Folkestone. Women's Institutes in the villages could play a valuable role in helping to preserve history it was suggested by a speaker at a meeting in Hawkinge. Respected Kent historian Miss Anne Roper, MBE, herself a Wl member, said she was encouraged by an increasing interest in local history among members, and stressed the amount of oral history passed down from generation to generation that deserved to be recorded. Nearly 1,000 members attended a meeting in the Leas Cliff Hall of the Kent Federation of Townswomen's Guilds. At least one member from nearly every one of the 32 guilds in the county attended the meeting. Every town in Kent, it was stated, now had at least one guild.
Youth targeted with help plan to find them careers

f Q7QAE3IG shake-up at a Lydd-based air I Ofreight firm heralded an expansion drive by Air Freight Ltd Group, which had its HQ at Lydd airport. The Herald reported that it had been split into two divisions, road and aviation. It also changed its name to AFL Group. MD Terry Beddowes said they wanted to get away from the use of the words Air Freight, since the firm was also heavily involved in road haulage. Leading company in the aviation division was Skyways Aviation and head of that was Peter Coulson. A massive careers convention, aimed at school-leavers was held at the Leas Cliff Hall, with invitations going out to 4,000 local pupils. Backed by the Folkestone Rotary Club it was the first of its kind in the area. Folkestone Sports Centre manager Derek Searle was concerned at the number of school-leavers who seemed to drop sport altogether once they began work even though some of these were quite keen, and he launched an open day to try and entice them into keeping up their interest. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the model used in the famous film, rolled into Folkestone where it was due to become a tourist attraction at new owner Jimmy Godden's Rotunda amusements park.

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:-