Folkestone in old picture postcards

Folkestone in old picture postcards

:   Martin Easdown and Linda Sage
:   Kent
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3731-7
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Folkestone in old picture postcards'

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Folkestone - fmies, fish and finery someone once said. Weil for the time being the ferries have gone and the fishermen are not as plentiful as they used to be, but happily Falkestone still exudes same of the elegance that once made it the most fashionable seaside resort in England. The world- famous Leas is a delightful cliff top promenade with views of France on a clear day, while astroll around the tree-lined avenues and crescents ofthe West End will flashback the rowu's refined past. The arrival of the railway in 1843 had prompted the growth ofFalkestone and its emergence as a select watering place, yet of course the history of the town goes back a lot further than the Victorian era.

In Roman Britain Falkestone appears to have been a settlement of same importance as indicated by the discovery of a substantial villa on the East Cliff in 1924. During succeeding invasions by Anglo-Saxon tribes, Kent was mainly settled by the Jutes and one oftheir burial grounds from about the year 600 was uncovered close to Dover Hili on the outskirts of the town in 1907. In 630 King Eadbald of Kent established a priory on the West Cliff for his devout Christian daughter Eanswythe. The building was soon lost to cliff erosion, but a Benedictine Priory founded in 1095 survived until Henry VIII dissolved it in 1535. Out of the priory grew the establishment of the Parish Church of St. Mary and St. Eanswythe in 1 138, which due to the ravages of the French in 1216 had to be rebuilt between the 13th and 15th centuries. Further work had to be carried out during the 19th century after its western end had fallen down in 1705 and in 1885 the relics of St. Eanswythe were rediscovered in the Sanctuary.

During the MiddleAges Falkestone was a fairly prosperous cammunity engaged in fishing, farming and quarrying. The first market had been granted in 1205 and in 1313 the town was granted a Charter of Incorporation by Edward II allowing it to elect a mayor, bailiff and 12 jurats. By this time Falkestone was a Corporate Limb ofthe Cinque Port of Dover and suffered an attack by the French and Scats in 1378. Henry VIII visited the town in 1543 in connection with the laying out of a harbour, yet na work was carried out and it was not until the reign of Charles I (1 625 -1 649) that a primitive seaport was first established. However, successive attempts during the 18th century to improve the harbour were to be wrecked by ferocious storms.

In 1697 [acob des Bouverie became Lord of the Manor, which from 1765 also included the title of Earl of Radnor with the eldest son becoming Viscount Falkestone until ascending to the earldom.

Later Earls were to radically change the face of Falkestone, but for now it was still a small fishing town with a profitable line in smuggling. The 'Pclter' brig was beached at the Warren as a headquarters for preventive officers, yet such measures hardly proved to be a deterrent and on 26th May 1820 a mob from Falkestone broke into Dover Gaal and rescued 1 1 of their campatriots who had been caught smuggling. The Falkestone fishermen also showed they were just as wise to the notorious Press Gangs; they sent their wives over to Holland to give birth, sa any sans threatened in the future could claim Dutch citizenship! Plans for an improved port were conceived in 1804 when Lord Radnor petitioned Parliament for the construction of a stone

harbour, and in 1807 an act was passed authorising the Folkestone Harbour Company to start work. The foundation stone was laid in 1808 and three stone jetties were eventually built; though that was not to be the end of the story.

Seaside resorts began to take off following the publication in 1750 of Dr. Richard Russell's treatise on the benefits of bathing in and drinking seawater; nevertheless, until after the coming of the railway Folkestone was to remain an in significant watering place. 'Two elegant bathing machines for the recreation of gentlemen and ladics' were in place by 1797, yet two of the rowu's earliest attractions, the Chalybeate Spring at Foord and the Cherry Garden, were both well away from the seafront. Laying below the hills a couple of miles north of Folkestone, the Cherry Garden in particular was a popular summer resort from 17 SO where military bands played amongst the cherry trees, a cottage sold refreshments and a naturallake was a feature. In the town itself, the NewTheatre (or Folkestone Theatre) was advertised in 1774 as being situated in a small building on the Bayle, which later became the Harveian Institute. It was described as a tarred weatherboarded structure with a roof like an upturned boat, back-Iess benches in the pit, two boxes near the stage and a gallery. Three other attractions of the early seaside were medicinal baths, assembly rooms and circulating libraries. Indoor baths allowed their patrons to reap the health-giving benefits of sea water in comfort without venturing into a freezing sea and in the early 19th century Messrs. Gill, Elgar and Wills all op erated baths in Folkestone. The Apollo Assembly Rooms could offer balls, card games and billiard tables and the main circulating library was in the High Street where Messrs. Purday (1791-

1806), Roden (1806-1811) andTiffen (1811-??) were successive proprietors. A guidebook of 181 0 neatly sums up the attractions of Folkestone at this time: The amusements of this place are but few when compared to sorne of its neighbours. There is however a small theotre, which is occupied in the winter, and an assembly room called the Apollo. The circulating library, kept by Roden, however may be considered one of the principal amusements. The library is regularly furnished with the London and Provincial newspapers, magazines and other periodical publications, and it is well supplied with new books. And this repository farms a most agreeoble lounge every Tuesday and Friday evening during the season and is well attended.

In 1825 the Earl of Radnor took the first serious step in creating the future resort by making available building plots with long leases. Few were taken up because as yet Folkestone had not the potential to realise a substantial investment. As Pigot's Directory says in 1 840, when the population of the town was around 4,400: As yet there is a lack of lodging houses as compared to the demand, but greot facility is afforded for the erection of new ones.A large extent of land, mostly eligibly situate, has been laid out by the Earl of Radnor for building purposes, and there are few places, it is presumed, that would better repay a well-directed building speculation.

By now there were serious problems with the harbour silting up and in 1842 the Folkestone Harbour Company went bankrupt and the Government put the harbour up for sale. However, in the same year navvies were hard at work in Folkestone on the South Eastern Railway's (SER) line from London to Dover and the town was about to undergo a dramatic transformation.

1. The SER was opened in Folkestone on 28thJune 1843 with a temporary station in the vicinity of the present Folkestone Central Station. SER Chief Engineer William Cubitt designed the splendid 19-arch brick viaduct across the Foord Valley, depicted here shortly after opening looking west along what became Foord Road. This viaduct was completed by the autumn of 1843 allowing a permanent station to be opened on 18th December 1843, which became known as Folkestone Junction. In February 1844 a line was opened from the Junction Station down to the harbour to enable coal to be transported up to the coking ovens at the station. Folkestone Central Station was opened as Cheriton Arch on 1 st September 1884 to forestall a plan by the London, Chatham and Dover Railway to open a branch to Folkestone through the Alkham Valley. The name of the station was altered to Radnor Park in September 1886 and then Folkestone Central on 1 st June 1895. On the outskirts of town ShorncIiffe Station was opened on 1 st November 1863 and was renamed Folkestone West on 10th September 1962. At the same time the old Iunction Station became Folkestone East but it was cIosed on 6th September 1965.The harbour branch, one ofthe steepest on the railway system, currently remains in limbo with no boat trains to serve.

2. Meanwhile the SER, in dispute with Dover Harbour Board over the siting of the railway terminus there, acquired the dilapidated Folkestone Harbour for ;(18,000 and opened a cross-channel service to Boulogne on 1 st August 1843. An extension of the harbour branch, complete with swing bridge, was opened across the harbour in 1849 allowing baat trains to terminate at a new station. Further expansion occurred when the Customs House (seen in the centre ofthis postcard by Shoesmith & Etheridge from the 1920s) was added in 1854 and a new low water pier was built in 1861 to handle the larger steamers that had previously encountered tidal problems at Falkestone. The railway was extended onto it in 1876, and the harbour arm was to be lengthened again in 1883 and between 1897 and 1905. As well as the cross-channel service the harbour boasted a considerable trade in coal, timber and ice up to the 1920s, which was transported in vessels chiefly owned by local businessmen. The first cars were craned on and off the ferries in 191 1, but it was not until 1 st ]uly 1972 that a car link span for roll-on roll-off ferries was introduced at a cast of C 1 m complete with new terminal and cu stoms buildings. However, Sealink ended the link with Boulogne on 31 st December 1991 and though Hoverspeed introduced a seacat service on 11 th April 1992, this toa was discontinued in 2001 leaving Falkestone without a ferry link to the continent.

3. Ta complement its new cross-channel service, the SER asked William Cubitt to design a hotel to be placed by the Inner Harbour. The Pavilion Hotel was opened in 1 844 and this view shows it about 1884 after it had been extended in the 1860s (when it passed into private hands) and just prior to a winter garden being added in 1885. ].B. Edwards taak over the hotel in 1882 and had it entirely refaced in red brick and terracotta in 1889. In 1896 the hotel changed hands again, to Henry, Frederick & Co who extended it in 1898-1889 to accommodate 300 bedrooms (a view ofthe updated hotel can be seen in photograph 56). By this time the hotel had gained a Royal prefix and was to remain fairly successful up to the Second World War, though its huge size was beginning to count against it. At the end of the war the Royal Pavilion never reopened and in 1960 was acquired by M. Burstin for ;(70,000 to provide accommodation for elderly people. The grounds were utilised for the new Hotel Burstin in 1974-1975 and the Royal Pavilion itself was largely demolished in 1979-1980 to make way for an extension to the Burstin, which nevertheless continues to use the west wing of the old hotel.

4. With the arrival of the railway and cross-channel link, the Earl of Radnor conduded the time was now ripe for the development of a select watering place on the lines conceived by James Burton at St. Leonards in Sussex and in 1845 engaged noted London architect Sydney Smirke. He drew up a plan for the stately Wear Bay Estate on the East Cliff complete with interconnecting glass passageways leading to an aquarium and reading rooms, but nothing was built save for the Radnor Bridge that linked the East Cliffto the town. Srnirkc's next project was the creation of Tontine Street as a high-dass development of Regency-style shops. Work began in 1848, but was only half completed when it became obvious Folkestone was not yet ready for such improvement. However, by 1885, when this photograph was taken, the street had become the town's main shopping area. The funding ofthe project was on the tontine principle by which subscribers each receive an annuity during his life that increases as their numbers are diminished by death. The Folkestone Improvement Act of 1 855, building upon the founding of gas (1842) and water (1848) companies, stimulated further development by laying out a system for main drainage.

5. The 1840s also saw the earliest development of the West Cliffwith the erection of Nos. 1 and 2 Priors Lees in 1846 by R.W Boarer, andAlbion Villas, which is pictured here on this postcard from about 1906. Albion Villas consisted ofthree pairs of stuccoed houses and were later joined by the terrace on the right, christened Priory Gardens. BetweenJuly and September 1855 Charles Dickens stayed in No. 3 Albion Villas (behind the lady with the parasol) and wrote part of'Little Dorrit' in the house, which is commemorated by a blue plaque on the wall. Dickens affectionately described Folkestone as 'Pavilionstonc' in the article 'Out ofTown' for 'Household Words', a weekly publication ofwhich he was editor. Despite the hot day, everyone in the photograph is well covered up, for suntans were frowned upon before the 1920s.The horse carriage, bath chair and goat cart stands were situated here and help make this a typical Edwardian scene. The ornamental fountain on the left was unveiled in memory of philanthropist Sydney Cooper Weston in February 1898. It was later removed to the East Cliff in 1921, where it still stands.


6. The greensward on the edge of the West Cliff was known as the Leas (the original spelling was Lees), a Kentish dialect word meaning a comman or open space of pasture. A path had run along the cliff for many years, but from the 18S0s the Leas began to be developed as an exclusive 11/z-mile promenade and select hotels and residences were erected, including the Langhorne as seen on this 1904 postcard. The bandstand was added in 1895, and Lord Radnor s policeman patrolled to ensure all 'undcsirablcs' were kept off in a bid to maintain the area's social exclusivity. By 1900 the Leas was acknowledged as one of the country's finest cliff-top promenades by the wealthy, who strolled along in their ceremonial dress (especially during Church Parade on a Sunday morning) to partake of the air and the stunning views of the English Channel and France; sometimes with their nannies and maids in tow. A contemporary article commented: Folkestone since it became a watering place has always retained a hold on the more moneyed of those who go to the sen in the summer. It does not lay itself out to attract the ephemeral tripper, thus on the Leas one may see the distinguished und weilthy rub shoulders in pleasant contiguity, instinct with the satisfactory knowledge they have achieved their weekly devotions and that a good dinner awaits a good appetite.

7. In conjunction with the expansion of the Leas, the land lying behind it on the West Cliff was to be urbanised throughout the second half of the 19th century with broad avenues, crescents and squares containing elegant stucco and red brick residences. Castle HillAvenue, seen here on a postcard by Upton Series in the 1930s, was one of the showpiece thoroughfares complete with dual carriageway separated by a tree-lined boulevard. On the right of the picture can be seen the Hotel Continental Wampach, opened as a high-dass hostelry by Charles Constant Wampach in 1886. By 1909, the hotel had been extended to hold 80 bedrooms along with six suites of private rooms, state rooms and a large dining room. At the rear of the hotel was the Elite Tea Gardens where Mr. George Cooper and his Parisian Quartette played daily. During the First World War the Wampach was used by the army and upon its reopening in 1920 the name was briefly changed to the Excelsior. By then, however, the golden days of Folkestene's grand hotels were on the wane, though the Wampach struggled on until the early 1970s. In 1974 the empty building was badly damaged by fire and was eventually demolished in 1982-1983 to make way for the Court Place retirement flats.

8. One of the earliest of the select hotels in the West End was the West Cliff, opened in 1 857 by Thomas Masters in what had been four separate houses. In 1860 the hotel was sold to a speculative company "The Folkestone West CliffHotel Company Ltd', who raised ~60,000 in capital by selling ~1 shares. An additional wing was opened in the same year to provide a ballroom, which became particularly admired, while promenade concerts on the rear lawn were another feature. Further refurbishments were carried out in 1 898 and this postcard by Harmer of Sandgate in 191 0 shows the West Cliff at its height of popularity. During the First World War it was used as a Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital and upon its reopening as a hotel was renamed the Majestic.Yet, as was the case with all of Folkestone's big hotels, things were never quite the same again after the Great War and in 1962 the Majestic was closed and quickly demolished to make way for a row of shops and maisonettes known as Majestic Parade.

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