Hythe (Kent) in old picture postcards

Hythe (Kent) in old picture postcards

:   Martin Easdown and Linda Sage
:   Kent
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3717-1
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Hythe (Kent) in old picture postcards'

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Hythe is a picturesque old town on the Kent coast, overlooking the English Channel from the head of a wide bay that gracefully curves away to distant Dungeness Point. The older part of the town above the High Street in particular oozes great charm, as a jumble of narrow alleyways and lanes climb up the hillside to meet the majestic medieval church of St. Leonard.

The origin of the name 'Hythe' is Saxon, signifying a haven, and as one of the famous Cinque Ports it boasts a long and illustrious history. The Cinque Ports confederation of Hastings, Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich was formed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor (1042-66) to provide and maintain ships for the King and to defend the south-east coast against enemy attacks. In return the ports were granted a small measure of self government and certain privileges as regards taxation and trade.

The confederation was expanded in 1 190 with the addition of the two 'Ancicnt Towns' of R ye and Winchelsea, and each head port also had their associate ports known as limbs. Unfortunately the status of the ports had seriously declined by the 15th century as changing coastlines silted up their harbours (including Hyrhe's), and today only Dover can still boast a fully functioning port. However, the Cinque Ports still retain some of their old rights, and distinguished persons such as the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother have held the honorary title of Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports.

In 1575 Hythe was granted a charter of incorporation as a borough by Queen Elizabeth 1 and was therefore able to elect its

own mayor; previously the town was under the jurisdiction of the Manor of Saltwood, held by Christ Church, Canterbury. The four knights who murdered Becket in Canterbury CathedraIon 29th December 1170 landed at Hythe and met at Saltwood Castle before riding on to Canterbury.

Following the loss of the harbour, along with much of the town following a serious fire in 1400, H ythe became a fishing settlement that also dabbled in smuggling. It remained something of a quiet backwater until the early years of the 19th century, when a threatened invasion by Napoleon put the town in the front line of the defence of the realm. To counteract the French threat, the Royal Military Canal and Martello Towers were put in place. The canal commenced at the eastern end of Hythe, at Seabrook, and was extended for 28 miles to Pett Level, near Hastings. At the same time 74 of the distinctive round Martello Towers were positioned between Folkestone and Seaford, twelve of them in Hythe. In the event, both the canal (now a very popular leis ure facility) and the towers (some of whom survive) were never used, but from this time Hythe became a military base with the siting of the Royal Staff Corps in the town. The School of Musketry succeeded them in 1853 and in spite of their transfer to Wiltshire in 1968 the men of the nearby Shorncliffe Camp are still using the Hythe Firing Ranges.

Hythe also harboured ambitions during the Victorian era of joining the fast growing ranks of ├čriraln's seaside resorts as the craze for sea bathing continued to grow. The sea front stood about a mile away from the old town across reclaimed land, and in 1854 gained a very grand bathing establishment and reading

room. However, development of the resort failed to take off until after the South Eastern Railway opened a branch to Hythe off the main London-Folkestone line on 9th October 1874. Marine Parade was laid out in the latter half of the 187 Os, upon which elegant seafront terraces such as Saltwood Gardens and Beaconsfield Terrace were erected. The SER also attempted to stimulate development by opening the Seabrook (later Imperial) Hotel in 1880 and extending the promenade eastwards to the Sandgate boundary by laying out Princes Parade in 1881. There were further proposals by the company to develop the Seabrook Estate in the east of the town by laying out grand terraces and crescents of opulent houses, along with a pleasure pier. These plans, however, were largely dependant on whether the Hythe branch line would be extended from Seabrook to Falkestone, and when that failed to happen, the development scheme foundered. Hythe therefore was destined to remain a small scale, largely middle class, seaside resort, though the SER did provide a quaint and popular tourist attraction in the Hythe and Sandgate horse tramway that operated between 1891 and 1921. Fortunately, the sad Ioss of the tramway was more than made up for later in the 1920s with the opening of Hythe's most famous tourist attraction, the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

In spite of the failure of the Seabrook Estate, the eastern part of Hythe was developed on a less grand scale after the arrival of the railway. Seabrook itself was originally just a cluster of houses around the 'Sea Brook' stream that ran down the Horn Street valley into the sea under the western terminus of the Royal Military Canal. Plans for a great harbour at Seabrook in 1866 came to

nothing, and it was left to develop as Hythe's eastern suburb with the erection of bath artisan and professional dwellings along the main road from Falkestone to Hythe.

1. Welcome to Hythe and this photograph from Easter 1893 gives a good idea ofthe charm ofthis attractive old town. The picture is dominated by the towering parish church of St. Leonard high on the hill, from which a jumble of narrow streets wind down to the High Street meandering along the centre of the picture. In the distance across reelairried land can be seen the sparsely developed seafront with, left to right, the Seabrook (later Imperial) Hotel, Beaconsfield Terrace, Saltwood Gardens, a row oflodging houses and Moyle Tower.

2. To many people, the mention ofthe word 'Hythe' brings to mind the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, the 'Srnallest Public Railway in the World' and certainly one of the most famous and popular of all miniature railways. Captain JE.P. Howey and Count Zborowski conceived the 15 inch gauge line in 1924, but following the latter's death in a motor car race at Monza Howey financed the line alone. He engaged noted miniature railway engineer Henry Greenly to design all aspects of the railway, including the locomotives (largely one third Great Northern Pacific replicas), stations, bridges, signalling and track layout. Work began at New Romney (the administrative and engineering hub ofthe railway) in 1925 and the line was opened to Hythe on 16thJuly 1927. In the following year the line was extended south from New Romney to Dungeness. This superb picture postcard, published by G.F. Grantham, shows Hythe RHDR Station shortly after the opening.


3 .You could also once reach Hythe by horse-drawn tram and this Edwardian view shows the Hythe and Sandgate Tramway in Red Lion Square, with the tram shed and offices seen in the background. The 'Four Mile Ride by the Sea' was opened by the Folkestone, Sandgate and Hythe Tramway Company to standard gauge in two sections: Sandgate to Seabrook Hotel, via Sandgate Esplanade and Princes Parade, on 18th May 1891, with an extension to Red Lion Square, Hythe, via South Street and Stade Street, on 1 st June 1892. The South Eastern Railway operated the line from the start and officially took it over from 29th June 1893. Attempts to electrify the tramway and extend it into Folkestone met with failure, and with its busy summer patronage it principally became a tourist attraction for holidaymakers. The service was suspended in the First World War, and though it was reinstated in May 1919, the tram was now seen as a Victorian anachronism and the final run took place on 30th September 1921 ; the line being officially closed from [anuary 1922.

4. To arrive in Hythe on the standard gauge railway, it was necessary to catch a London-to-Folkestone train and change onto the branch train at Sandling Junction. This rare postcard by an unknown publisher shows the Hythe train arriving at the up branch platform at Sandling in the early 1920s. The branch to Hythe and Sandgate had been opened by the South Eastern Railway on 9th October 1874, but until the opening ofSandling Junction on New Year's Day 1888 the branch trains had commenced from Westenhanger. With the closure of the Hythe-Sandgate section on 31 st March 1931 the remainder of the line from Hythe to Sandling was singled and the up branch platform taken out of use. The line was completely closed from 1 st December 1951, though Sandling (now shorn of the '[unction") remains open and is considered the station for Hythe, though the town is a good two mil es away! The old down branch platform survives at the station.

5. Hythe's situation close to the continent of Europe has led it to be in the front line of any potential enemy invasion. The barracks seen here in this photograph from 1873 were built in Military Raad in 1805-1810 during the threatened Napoleonic invasion, when the defence of the town was being strengthened with the construction of Martello Towers and the Royal Military Canal. The Royal Staff Corps were transferred from Chatham to occupy them and remained until 1838 when they were disbanded. In 1853 the barracks were taken over by the School of M usketry, specifically to train saldi ers to use the new Enfield rif1e. In 1919, the development of new rifles led to a change of name to the Small Arms Wing, but in 1968 the school was transferred to Warminster, in Wiltshire. Save for the commandant's house, the buildings were demolished for residential and industrial development, despite an effort to save them by the Hythe Civic Society.


6. An H.Bs F&L postcard from about 1910 showing the ranges on the beach for the School of Musketry. 'A' Target was erected adjoining Martello Tower No. 14, which can be seen with a big A painted on the side. The ranges were vividly described in an 'Illustrated London News' article of 18th February 1860: The musketry ground is long deep shingle, fenrfuHy trying to walkers who are not quite up to the mark, and about half a mile broad. It is sadly windy, and as they are obliged to shoot towards the sen, there is no suitable background for the eye; but still,many first dass shots are trained there.The eighteen foot target of General Hay, the commandant, is a very prominent object, and on eoch si de of it are ranged the targets for the men, with little cast iron huts, from which the effects of the shots is telegraphed by means of different flags, held in different positions. The Hythe Ranges continue to provide firearms training for the army today.

7. Along with the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, the most famous other name associated with Hythe is Mackesou's Brewery, who first produced the world-famous milk stout there in 1907. Records of a brewery at Hythe date back to 1669, when [amcs Pashley mortgaged his brewhouse to Francis Wright for ;(50. In 1801 it passed into the hands of Henry and William Mackeson, who soon expanded the operation to cater for the demand from thirsty soldiers and labourers digging the Royal Military Canal. The Mackesons soon became the first family ofHythe; Henry Bean Mackeson was nine times mayor ofthe town between 1872 and 1880.The brewery passed to H. & G. Symons in 1920 and then to Whitbread subsidiary [ude Hanbury in 1929. Whitbread ceased brewing at the site in 1968 and the distribution centre was closed five years later. Sheltered housing was erected on part of the site in 1983, but the old brewery office at 1-3 High Street and the malthouse (nowan antiques centre) both remain.

8. This circa 1907 postcard by the French publisher 1.1. shows Church Hill climbing up the hillside to the parish church from close to the High Street, and is typical of the narrow thoroughfares in the old part of the town. The building on the left was once St. Bartholomew's Hospital and was erected in 1336 by Harno, Bishop of Rochester, for the benefit of the poorer people of the parish. As a condition of residence, they were required to attend mass and other services at the parish church, chant 300 Pater Nosters ('Our Farhers") each day and to pray for the founders of the hospital, though at other times of the day they should go about useful and honest occupations. The hospital was closed in 1949 and converted into dwellings, but St. John's Hospital in the High Street, in existence by 1574, continues to provide homes for elderly Hythe residents, provided they meet the criteria set by the trustees.

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