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Folkestone Harbour Station under threat of demolition


Charles Fair
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Charles

Did the Cavell / Unknown soldier train start there? I'm not sure whether it's a runner but imagine if the last train to steam out of the station was pulling the carriage.

Mick

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Article in this weeks Kent Messenger (at least the editions covering Shepway): Kent Online article

The paper version has a number of photos, also a related article on page 11.

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Did the Cavell / Unknown soldier train start there? ...
Good idea Mick, but unfortunately they didn't go this route. The Unknown Warrior went Calais Dover on HMS Verdun. I have just checked Rowland Ryder's bio of Cavell which says that her coffin was taken from Ostend to Dover. It went to London by train, stopping at Folkestone (i.e. Folkestone Central Station) and Ashford on the way.
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Charles

I am not a great one for preserving old buildings for preserving old buildings sake, but I think that the harbour station at folkstone is definately an exception, and more power to your elbow in your quest to save it.

I am a direct kind of man and am wondering whether going to the dragons den and pitching personally to Mr de Haan would pay dividends, or has he made his position perfectly clear on this matter?

Good luck

Andy

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Max, thanks for your support on this. Yes, I think you are right, but we just need to build the business case first. I have been collecting stats on the growth in family history, visitors to the W Front etc. in order to show that there could be financial benefits for the town....

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The station appears to have acquired an entry on Facebook. Hopefully a few members of the forum are already on and would like to become a friend. Apparently it is in fact a 'she'.

Some photos can be seen here: photo album

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Hi Charles and Co.

Is there a list of all the battalions that left from Folkstone? Also which port was used for the returned kit of dead soldiers, I know that officers kit ended up at Holborn Viaduct, not sure if there is any link between Holborn Viaduct and Folkestone Harbour,

cheers, Jon

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There is a film of a shot-down Me 109 hitting the sea upside down during the Battle of Britain. I was told by an old man and I've always believed that the harbor seen in the shot was Folkestone.

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Excellent article in this week's Spectator by Simon Thurley, CEO of English Heritage. see Wake up: Britain is being demolished He writes:

In far too many towns local authorities frightened of losing ‘investment opportunities’ and ‘regeneration’ are agreeing to poorly designed wholesale development cooked up by developers with short-term interests."

"The expertise and experience is simply not available in many local authorities to ensure a successful outcome. Commercial developers are playing them for quick profits, building cheaply and selling on, leaving badly built and designed schemes in the centre of historic towns. Some of these are as bad as what they replace and will be as little loved and as little mourned when they, in turn, are demolished.

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This article entitled 'Memories of the Harbour' by a Mr(s?) Hickingbotham recently came to light in the local studies archive. We are trying to establishe when and where published.

When the first world war opened in August, 1914, the Harbour assumed great strategic importance. From a national point of view it possibly had its finest period of existence during the four following years. Dover became a great naval base and the ordinary services connecting that port with Calais and Ostend were transferred to Folkestone. Before the actual declaration of war for several days stirring scenes were witnessed when people fleeing from countries threatened by invasion arrived at the Harbour. ......

In November 1914, that great British soldier, Lord Roberts, affectionately called Lord "Bobs", who had been to the front to see the recently arrived Indian troops, died at St. Omer, in France and his remains were brought to Folkestone where they were placed for one night in a room, on the Harbour, converted into a Chapelle Ardente. Troops mounted guard throughout the night and actedas an escort on the journey to London.

Towards the end of March 1915 Folkestone became the principal port for the transporting of troops to and from France, an average of six ships being convoyed over the Channel by vessels of the famous Dover patrol. By the time hostilities ceased in 1918 just upon 11 million men of the allied nations' Forces had been carried across the Straits of Dover by the ships using Folkestone Harbour without the loss of a single soldier's life........

It concludes:

'FOLKESTONE HAS A BIG INHERITANCE IN ITS HARBOUR AND THE TOWN AS A WHOLE SHOULD DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO ENSURE RESTORATION EQUAL TO ITS FORMER POSITION.'
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There are some photos of the last ever visit of the Orient Express last week here: Orient Express Visit.

Some postcards pre and post the Great War are here: postcards

Lastly, some pictures of an art installation on 11/11/07 by local artist Ruth Parkinson are here:

Chalk On Wood

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been away for a couple of weeks on hols and with work, a lot more to update you on in due course...

Meanwhile, please see this thread (List of 42,000 + names of men and women passing through) for a closely related and exciting discovery.

Charles

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If we can get some kind of listing that would help.

Charles

I have some contact names at English Heritage:

Chris Smith who advised on Listing Matters

chris.smith@culture.gsi.gov.uk

Jeremy Lake

Jeremy.Lake@english-heritage.org.uk

You might persuade them to do some kind of emergency Listing, if you can convince them that it is worthy enough.

Guy

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Like others have said above war diaries would propbably be the best evidence. Maybe everyone who has a war diary reference could list them to you and you could collate the list. What about an appeal to the regiments that still exist for support?? Also centres like the Somme Heritage Centre in NI. There are some MLAs (MPs) here who might jump on the bandwagon, too.

My war diary entry is for 15th Batt Royal Irish Rifles:-

3/10/1915 Bramshott Left for Folkstone

4/10/1915 Folkstone Embarked transport 1.00am

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jon,

Thanks very much for the link, it was interesting to see the photo's of Folkestone at the time. My Great Grandfather was Robert Stokes, whose family owned the Greengrocers shop in Tontine St that was bombed in 1917. On my last trip to Folkestone, around 13 years ago, we went for a walk along The Leas with my Great Aunt Mary. She recalled watching the troops marching down to the docks when she was a young girl (b.1904), and how she would talk to the wounded soldiers sitting outside the hotels on The Leas.

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I have added some more photos to this thread (visitors books thread).

There should be an article appearing in the next WFA bulletin, though I am having trouble editing my 3,000 words down to 1,500.

Tom - yes, the 'raised footpath' shown on the postcards is still there (it is in fact the top of the harbour wall) and the public is still allowed access. You can walk right out to the end of the pier almost to the end of the lighthouse.

Guy, thanks for contact details at EH.

Ollydot - thanks for that info. Would you by any chance know if the whole of 36 Div went through Folkestone?

Dennis, that is fascinating - that story is covered well in the local papers, and has been covered in almost every book published about the town since then. You should find some good material in the local studies archive if you make it down here again.

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I'm not sure whether this should be in this thread or the other.

Charles, has your MP (or if s/he can't, another local MP) been asked to put down an EDM? [Early Day Motion, for non-UK readers.]

Further, has any MP asked a Written Question or even requested one of the coveted slots for an Oral Question? I had success in persuading my own MP to ask a question on the Floor; a question may be reported in local or even national newspapers and raise awareness of your cause.

Gwyn

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hello pals. i am in the middle of reading "the last fighting tommy " by harry patch and van emden in it he recalls leaving folkestone harbour and being escorted by two destroyers and being forbidden to smoke the light may be seen by submarines .so harry did go to france from folkestone .tom

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Gwyn - thanks for that. Not yet in both cases. However, I am about to approach my MP (Michael Howard) now that we have gathered info and will hopefully soon be getting press coverage. His likely successor as local MP is also on my target list. (I may need to come and pick your brains off line for advice on this... I'm not too well up on the terminology.)

Tom - that is great, thanks for finding that. Would you by any chance have a page reference and also an approximate date when he crossed?

There should be an article in the Feb edition of BBC History, also some of the railway magazines are showing an interest.

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hello charles .on page 69 of "the last fighting tommy" harry patch states "in the second week in june (1917) our small group walked up a narrow gangway and was packed together on an old paddle steamer ". i wonder if any of our naval pals would know what old paddle steamers were working from folkestone in 1917 ? tom

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Charles - I've searched the EDM database back to 2000 and Michael Howard does not appear to have been the primary sponsor of any EDMs in that period, so I suspect it's likely that he won't change. He signs some, but not as many as some MPs. He has also asked fewer Written Questions than most MPs this year (I haven't traced that back any further).

Obviously you should consider approaching him, but you'll need to be very persuasive and prepared for possible failure. You might find MPs in adjoining consituencies more willing if you decide to go down this line.

It's sometimes worth contacting an MP's PA for a discussion beforehand if you want to engage the MP's active support on a live issue. They can often advise you how to lobby and whom, and they'll often tell you if an MP is unlikely to want to take parliamentary action such as applying to table an Adjournment Debate. Slots for Oral Questions and ADs are by ballot and if an MP has another cause for which s/he wishes to use the opportunity, the PA will know.

Have you considered approaching relevant APPGs? These come to mind: Architecture and Planning (contact Christine Russell MP), Arts and Heritage (Lord Crathorne), Built Environment (Bill Olner MP), History (Mark Fisher MP), or Rail (Lord Berkeley),

Gwyn

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hello all, a quick update:

There is apparently a short piece on the harbour station in this month's (Feb 08) BBC History magazine. (I haven't yet seen it but would be hugely grateful for a scan if someone has it.)

There will be two articles in the forthcoming WFA Bulletin - due later this month. Tom Morgan has kindly agreed to host the unedited articles (including additional material that came in after the print deadline) on Hellfire Corner.

There is a reasonably well balanced article on the redevelopment of Folkestone in this weekend's Financial Times which gives some of the background. (Click here)

The less good news is that the Department of Culture has made its ruling based on the recommendations made by English Heritage. Listing has apparently been approved for 1) the lighthouse at the end of the pier and 2) the Harbour Master's House, so those two parts of the site appear to be safe. The station, however, is not included, but I do not believe that the door is fully closed.

I am trying to find out more details so that we can make our next steps. If the above is correct, the House will prove interesting, as that is right in the middle of the proposed development, so some rework will be needed on the Masterplan.

The may, for example, be scope for a spot listing on the site of the canteen where the visitors books were held. I believe that this is the most important part of the site as far as the Great War is concerned. The original listing request was made by railway enthusiasts and was submitted before the information about the canteen and the visitors books was discovered.

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Thanks for this, Charles; I had been wondering how this was progressing.

I don't understand English Heritage, I really don't. I photographed an at-risk drill hall (Oldham) yesterday for which EH had refused listing. Its demolition will be a shameful loss of a fine and proud building. Sometimes I think they don't apply their own guidelines or they're too busy to give proper attention to these decisions.

Have you considered contacting Private Eye? (Nooks and Corners)

Gwyn

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  • 2 weeks later...

Charles,

I very much support what you are trying to achieve here with Folkestone Harbour Station. I have already stated that I would be very happy to design a new page on kentfallen to showcase your photos and any write up you might wish to attach? The site is now getting about 200 unique visitors each day (73,000 a year).

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