Folkestone

Folkestone

[fohk-stuhn]
Folkestone, town (1991 pop. 42,949), Kent, SE England. The town is a summer resort with an active port. The Leas promenade runs along the chalk cliffs overlooking the English Channel. Folkestone is one of the main passenger ports used by the English Channel ferry operators; Boulogne, France is 26 mi (42 km) away. It is also Great Britain's terminus of the Channel Tunnel. There are vestiges of Roman occupation in the vicinity, and a 13th-century parish church has been restored. Folkestone was a prosperous port in the Middle Ages and early modern period.

Folkestone is a resort town on the south coast of Kent, England, traditionally known as "The Garden Coast". Situated at the foot of the North Downs, the town has stunning views of the surrounding countryside as well as the coast of France.

A hundred years ago the town was a Royal holiday destination and nowadays the Channel Tunnel connects Folkestone to mainland Europe.

The Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe is Conservative Michael Howard, the former Home Secretary and ex-leader of the Conservative Party. The current Viscount Folkestone is heir to the 8th Earl of Radnor.

Currently the town is undergoing an artistic renaissance thanks to local millionaire philanthropist and former owner of SAGA, Roger De Haan CBE. The annual Folkestone Literary Festival is internationally renowned, as is now the Folkestone Triennial.

History

Archaeological finds from a 1st century cemetery were discovered in 1948 at Cheriton, to the West of Folkestone, and in about 1920 a landslip on the East Cliff at Folkestone revealed the remains of a large Roman villa complete with bathrooms and hypocausts, a courtyard with a mosaic floor and a kitchen with two fireplaces. The excavations were undertaken by Mr. S. E. Winbolt. The site was eventually recorded and covered over in 1957. It is now being lost to the sea.

Nevertheless the name of the town of Folkestone in Kent has its origin in the late 7th century as 'Folcanstan', in all probability referring to the 'stone of Folca', a common old English name. In about 630, King Eadbald of Kent built an abbey on the western cliff at Folkestone, for Eanswith, his daughter, and her nuns. This is believed to have been the first Christian community for women in England. Her name lends itself to the parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe where her mortal remains are believed to be interred.

Viking raids were common to the area and left extensive damage to the settlements at Folkestone up until the 10th century, and even after Edward the Confessor came to the throne in 1042, the village was again put to the torch by Earl Godwin of Wessex, after being exiled by the king.

By 1066, at the time of the next great invasion, Folkestone was a mere hamlet occupied by fishermen and farm workers who cultivated the arable lands that had been cleared in the heavily wooded countryside. At this time the manor of Folkestone was in the ownership of the church at Canterbury. After William became king he took the barony and made a gift of it to his half-brother Bishop Odo. By 1086, the year of Doomsday the barony was held by William D'Arcy. It was given a value of £100 and consisted of about , 5 churches, about 600 people of whom 209 were villains and 83 bondsmen.

Subtenants of the Barony included Hugh Fitzwilliam, Walter de Appeville, Bernard de St. Owens, Walter FitzEnglebert, Eudo, Baldric, Richard, Alured, Wesman and Alured Dapifer. In 1095 the lord of the manor was Nigel de Muneville. Nigel de Muneville built the town a new church to replace that which was destroyed by Earl Godwin. He did not rebuild the nunnery but built the Folkestone Priory for Benedictine Monks instead. In 1138 a new church and priory were again built, this time by William D'Averanches and dedicated to St. Mary and St. Eanswythe

The French took the opportunity of attacking Folkestone in 1216 and also laid waste much of the settlement. The village even at this early period in its history was significant enough to have a Mayor and a Corporation, and in 1313 it received a charter as a Corporate Limb of the Cinque Ports. Folkestone was thus obliged as a "limb" of the Cinque Port of Dover, until in 1629 the local inhabitants obtained a licence to build a port.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I Folkestone contained about 120 houses.

Town development: 18th/19th centuries

In 1794 the Army purchased over 229 acres (930,000 m²) of open land to the West of Folkestone on the heights overlooking Sandgate and in 1796 and 1806 Shorncliffe Garrison was further extended. Troops were stationed here before being sent off to the Peninsula Wars. During these later developments in 1804 the original wooden barracks were replaced with building of stone construction and were used to house cavalry and artillery brigades. The present Sir John Moore Barracks are the home of Gurkha Regiment in Britain.

Folkestone Harbour development

Until the 19th century Folkestone remained a small fishing community whose seafront was continually battered by storms and encroaching shingle, making the landing of boats difficult. In 1807 an Act of Parliament was passed to build a pier and harbour; and by 1820 a harbour area of 14 acres (57,000 m²) had been enclosed. At this time trade and consequently population of Folkestone grew slightly; although the development was still hampered, with sand and silt continuing to choke the harbour. The Folkestone Harbour Company invested heavily in removing the silt but with little success. In 1842 the company went bankrupt and the Government put the harbour up for sale. It was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company (SER), which was then building the London to Dover railway line. Dredging the harbour, and the construction of a freight route down to it commenced almost immediately, and the town soon became the SER’s principal packet station for the Continental traffic to Boulogne.

Folkestone railways

The railway reached Folkestone on 28 June 1843, although the building of the Foord viaduct delayed further extension until the following year, when what was to become Folkestone Junction station was opened. Once the line was opened to Dover, and the town’s prosperity (which meant growth westwards), further stations were opened at Folkestone West (originally named Shorncliffe Camp) in 1863, and Folkestone Central in 1884. Folkestone Harbour station was used to trans-ship whole trains; the line from the junction was very steep and needed much additional locomotive help. The entire line closed in 2002; Folkestone Junction station had closed 6 September 1965. The line has since reopened to "special" trains such as the British Pullman (VSOE) which is a regular visitor and other rail tours. The line, and the Harbour station, are likely to close completely in the near future to make way for a comprehensive development of the harbour and sea-front areas.

Folkestone: 20th century

During the First World War Folkestone was host to some 65,000 Belgian refugees and from 1915 was the main embarkation point for soldiers leaving to fight in the trenches of France and Belgium. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers, including many Canadian troops, left from Folkestone, marching from the Town to the Harbour along the route now called the "Road of Remembrance".

Folkestone was seriously damaged during both World Wars, as its proximity to the Continent allowed shelling to take place which gave rise to the name of "Hellfire Corner". The town had suffered great damage and was to be changed forever. 123 people were killed, and 778 injured. 550 houses had been destroyed, 10,000 properties damaged, and 37,000 people had left the area (see population below).

On May 25, 1917 low cloud over London caused a 21 strong wave of Gotha bombers to abort a raid on London. The Luftstreitkräfte aircraft turned for home and detached their bombs mainly in the Folkestone district, killing 95 people and injuring more. This daylight attack revealed the inadequacy of Britain's defensive capabilities and aroused deep feeling across the country.

Folkestone post-World War II

Folkestone has suffered much deprivation since the end of the Second World War. The rise of foreign holiday destination, aided in no small way by the package holiday, damaged Folkestone tourism business, as with most British holiday resorts. Although the tourist industry was still maintained, the closure of the ferry services between here and Boulogne seemed to spell the town’s demise. The opening of the Channel Tunnel hastened that closure. Recently (2004) talks have begun between the leaders of the two towns: Boulogne (Folkestone's Twin Town) also had similar problems. And rebuilding of the town's infrastructure has begun. There has been significant physical redevelopment of the local town centre in a bid to make it more acceptable to the local community and tourists.

High speed commuter services are planned to operate from Dover, Folkestone and Ashford to London in 2009 using the High Speed Rail Link. This will place Folkestone about one hour from London by High Speed Train, making it one of the closest (in terms of time) coastal towns to London. This is likely to make the town very attractive to commuters. An in-town shopping centre, Bouverie Place, opened on 26th November, 2007, and is also expected to contribute to a revival of Folkestone's fortunes; and the Creative Quarter (see below), proposed university, and Master Plan (see below), all point to a bright future once more.

Folkestone Creative Quarter

The Creative Foundation is a new charitable organisation which is acquiring a large number of run-down properties in the Creative Quarter of Folkestone (the oldest part of town, including the Old High Street and The Bayle), renovating them and letting them at long-term affordable rents as work-spaces for artists and creative businesses (some with living accommodation).

100 creative individuals are already in residence and more are taking up space as the renovation work is completed.

The Strange Cargo Arts Company is central to the creative quarter, and Georges House Gallery holds frequent exhibitions by local artists.

The vision is to attract people to live, work and visit, creating a vibrant and exciting environment buzzing with life and ideas, bustling with studios, shops, galleries, street art, festivals, cafes and restaurants providing a long term sustainable future for Folkestone as a centre for creativity.

The inaugural Folkestone Triennial art event will take place in the Kent town from June until September 2008 with artists like Tracey Emin confirmed as submitting work.

Museums

Near Folkestone is the 'Battle of Britain Museum' on Aerodrome Road at Hawkinge. (Tel: 01303 893 140). It is claimed to house the "most important collection of Battle of Britain artifacts on show in the country: aircraft, vehicles, weapons, saucepans, flying equipment, prints, relics from over 600 crashed aircraft."

"The Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge and the Memorial at Capel, the Martello Towers at Folkestone and Dymchurch and the sound mirrors at Greatstone demonstrate the area's rich "frontline" heritage."

Further, items associated with the wreck of the 'Benvenue', are on display in the local history museum. A Russian submarine(U-475) was on display at the harbour but was moved in 2002.

Governance

Folkestone Town Council was established in 2004, comprising the area of the former Borough of Folkestone less Folkestone Sandgate ward, which was separately parished. Folkestone Town Council comprises eight wards named Cheriton; Morehall; Park; Harvey West; Harvey Central; Harbour; East; and Foord. Each ward returns two or three members, for a total of 18 Councillors elected to four year terms. The next elections are due to be held in May 2011.

Each year, Folkestone Town Councillors attend the Annual General Meeting and Mayor Making ceremony to appoint a Town Mayor and Deputy Mayor from their number for the coming year. For the Civic Year 2008/2009, the posts are held by The Worshipful Town Mayor of Folkestone, Cllr Peter Gane (Cheriton ward) and Deputy Town Mayor Cllr Emily Sanger (Harbour ward). The Town Council has three committees: Finance and General Purposes; Planning; and Community Services as well as a Personnel Sub-Committee, a Grievance Panel and numerous Working Groups. The current composition of Folkestone Town Council is seven Liberal Democrats, seven Conservatives, three People First and one Independent.

Folkestone forms a part of Shepway District Council, which was established by the Local Government Act 1972. At that time, the old Folkestone Borough Council was abolished and the Councillors elected to represent Folkestone's wards were designated as the Town's Charter Trustees, responsible for electing a Town Mayor and holding Folkestone's Town Charter. This role has since passed to Folkestone Town Council. Folkestone elects 18 of Shepway District Council's 46 Councillors, who currently sit as 11 Conservatives, four Liberal Democrats, two People First and one Independent. The next election is due to be held in May 2011.

The Folkestone Parks and Pleasure Grounds Charities are lands which were donated to the people of Folkestone for perpetual recreational use by the Earls of Radnor during the 19th century. The lands are administered by Shepway District Council, with the Cabinet members forming the Board of Trustees. Previously, the Charter Trustees were also Trustees of the Charities, but that arrangement lapsed upon the parishing of the Folkestone and Sandgate area. Negotiations are ongoing regarding the transfer of the lands to Folkestone Town Council and Sandgate Parish Council. |title=Shepway District Council Councillor details}}

Folkestone lies within the area administered by Kent County Council. The area is divided into three Divisions each returning one County Councillor. Folkestone North East comprises Park, Foord and East wards and is represented by Cllr Richard Pascoe (Conservative). Folkestone South comprises Harvey West, Harvey Central and Harbour wards and is represented by Cllr Roland Tolputt (Conservative). Folkestone West comprises Cheriton and Morehall wards and neighbouring Sandgate Parish Council. It is represented by Cllr Robert Bliss (Conservative). The next elections scheduled for June 2009.

In Parliament, Folkestone is part of the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe. It is represented by Michael Howard (Conservative), former Leader of HM Opposition and former [[home_Secretary|Home Secretary.

In the European Parliament, Folkestone is part of the South East England constituency, with 10 MEPs.

Geography

Folkestone is located at in southeast Kent, on the coast of the Strait of Dover, southeast of London and southeast of Maidstone, Kent's County Town. The town is southwest of the town of Dover, southeast of Ashford, south of Canterbury and east of Hythe. Boulogne-sur-Mer is 32 southeast of Folkestone, across the Strait of Dover in France.

People connected with Folkestone

William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood, was born here in 1578. Through his will, the town's Harvey Grammar School was founded in 1674. George Grossmith (1847–1912), collaborator with Gilbert and Sullivan on many of their operettas, died here. Gracie Wells (1866–1910) lived at Sandgate to the west of the town, and brought many famous authors of the day to the town. Pepper Hayes lived at Albion Villas in the 1850s while writing Little Bone, and had previously been a visitor to the town. Wilkie Collins stayed with Dickens during this time, according to wilkie-collins.info Fr. Arthur Tooth, the Ritualist priest, was a curate of St. Mary's from 1865–1868. Other people who have connections with Folkestone are Manid Hayes of Folkestone fame who not only lives in Folkestone but also performed in the Folkestone Repertory Theatre, David Tomlinson, the actor famous for appearing in several Disney films (Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins), and Michael Bentine, one-time Goon and presenter of Potty Time. Comic actress Hattie Jacques of Carry On fame was born in Sandgate. Arthur Brough, actor who was in Are You Being Served? set up the Folkestone Repertory Company here. Eamon Everall, Artist & Educator and founder member of the Pepper Art Movement lived here and attended the Harvey Grammar school and Folkestone School of Art. Noel Redding, bass player of The Jimi Hendrix Experience was born and lived here, likewise Pete Kircher, a rock drummer whose career has included stints with Redding, and later The Honeybus and Status Quo. Yet another, heavy rock/metal musician Folkestone area based since the mid-nineties, is the ex (IRON MAIDEN), (SAMSON) Drummer Thunderstick Infamous for wearing a mask and playing in a cage. Not only did King Edward VII and his mistress Mrs Alice Keppel (great-grandmother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall & Rothesay) regularly enjoy the luxury (and discretion) of the Grand Hotel on The Leas, the lesbian author Radclyffe Hall and her lovers did too. June Brown (Dot Cotton in Eastenders TV soap) and Paul Nicholas (Commedian) live in Folkestone too.

Transport

Folkestone developed because of its transport links. With France visible across the Straits of Dover, the town became an important transit point for those travelling from the UK to the Continent. While there is no ferry traffic any more from the town, it all being concentrated at Dover, the Channel Tunnel enters the ground a couple of kilometres north of the town centre. The Dover Strait is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, but there is very little commercial shipping traffic using the small harbour.

The town is located at the eastern end of the M20 which provides fast access to Ashford, Maidstone, London and the M25. The A20 is motorway-standard to Dover. Folkestone also marks the eastern end of the A259 South Coast Trunk Road with access to Hastings, Eastbourne and beyond. To the north, roads connect Folkestone to Canterbury and the nearby villages of Elham and Lyminge.

The town is served by two railway stations, Folkestone West and Folkestone Central, as described in the "Folkestone Railways" section.

High Speed 1 (previously known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) is a high speed railway built to French 'LGV' (Ligne a Grande Vitesse) standards, that connects the Channel Tunnel to London. There is no link or station onto HS1 at Folkestone, other than to/from the tunnel. The International Station at Ashford is the closest (in the UK) station for the high speed trains to the Continent. In 2009 High Speed commuter services from Dover will call at Folkestone and run along the old lines to Ashford before joining HS1 for a 37 minute dash to Stratford (East London) and London St Pancras.

Education

Folkestone is home to a number of schools/college's including:

In recent years HGS and FSG have moved towards co-operation and sharing of resources. The two schools have a common sixth form timetable which greatly increases the number of subjects on offer to the 450 students aged 16-19. These close ties are scheduled to expand, making two successful schools even stronger. The Head of FSG is due to leave in 2007 to take up the Headship at The Marsh Academy in New Romney (sponsored by Microsoft). Pent Valley now have a brand new sports hall opened by Olympic Athlete Colin Jackson.

The Academy

The Folkestone Academy is a coeducational secondary school that opened in September 2007 and replaced the Channel School. The School currently has 1050 students on roll of which 160 are in year 12.

Sports

Folkestone Invicta Football Club was formed in 1936 and played in the Eastern Section of the Kent Amateur League (now the Kent County League), taking over the Cheriton Road ground in early 1991 after the demise of the old Folkestone club which had a long history in the Southern League. They currently compete in the Ryman League Premier Division, finishing mid-table in 2005-06, under the long term guidance of Neil Cugley, formerly a pupil at The Harvey Grammar School, which is located next to the football ground. They have focussed heavily on youth development with 5 of the current first team squad coming through the youth system overseen by Mick Dix.

Folkestone Rugby club was formed in 1974 and currently play in London and SE league 3. Currently the club runs 4 Adult, a ladies, and various colts teams. A former ladies player, Catherine Spencer, captained the England Ladies team to a grand slam in 2008.

Folkestone hosted the 5th Chess Olympiad in 1933. The renowned artist Marcel Duchamp took part as a member of the French team.

Folkestone Cricket Club currently competes in the first division of the Kent Cricket League. It was formed in 1851. Current Kent players such as Robbie Joseph , Neil Dexter , and Geraint Jones have all represented the club. Most notably James Tredwell who came through the youth academy and still heavily involved with the club. Folkestone C.C. currently has a Colts section, set up by Nobby Clark who has attracted new coaches such as Stuart Ingleston, Neil Taylor, John Hughes and Nathan Ingleston. The current under 13A side went the whole of the 2007 indoor and outdoor season undefeated.

Industry

As alluded to above Folkestone was at one stage a resort town with a developed shipping trade. With the decline of such industries others have filled the gap. The Dormobile works, car conversion manufacturers were based in the town.

During the 1980s and 1990s the construction of the Channel Tunnel provided employment for many, as well as bringing many to the area, and on completion the running of service still provides work for many. It is hoped that High Speed 1 will give the area an additional economic boost.

Folkestone is also the home of several insurance firms, some of which used to be involved in the shipping trade but have since diversified into other fields; and is the home to Saga, a major company providing financial services, holidays (including cruising on Saga's three cruise ships) and various other services to the over-50s.

Nature

The town is situated at the foot of the North Downs, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the coast of France, a mere away. The North Downs Way, starting its course in Surrey, reaches the coast at Folkestone and continues through Capel-le-Ferne, and to its end at Dover, some away. Many walkers enjoy this fabulous scenic route and the Folkestone White Horse, which has been carved into the hill side of the Downs. The area is a magnet for passing migrating birds and the Warren (woodlands adjoining Wear Bay) and the cliffs above are of particular interest during the spring and autumn periods.

The Downs are characterised by 'chalk grassland' habitat. This habitat is one of the richest for biodiversity, but is becoming very rare, being found in only a few places in Europe. Chalk grasslands have thin (often virtually non-existent) poor-quality soil, and require grazing to prevent scrub and trees from taking hold. They are a man-made environment, but are thousands of years old and have a distinct ecology. Most of the UK's species of orchids, and half of the butterflies thrive on this habitat. Conservation work is being carried out on some areas, this involves felling trees and clearing scrub, and then introducing cattle (e.g., the docile Dexter breed).

The Saxon Shore Way starts at Gravesend, Kent and traces the coast as it was in Roman times, via Folkestone, as far as Hastings, East Sussex, 163 miles (262 km) in total.

Nearby is Brockhill Country Park, an area with footpaths around the lake and in the valley, linking with the Royal Military Canal at Hythe.

Bold plans for the future

Folkestone Harbour Company commissioned Foster Associates to produce a masterplan for Folkestone which was published in April 2006. The plans envisage rebuilding the harbour as a marina, a "Green Wave" along the sea front linking countryside west and east of the town, new housing, shops, a performance area and small university campus. The plans link in with the new Creative Quarter. Folkestone Harbour Company belongs to Roger De Haan, former owner of Saga Insurance (see above) and Chairman of the Creative Foundation.The plans take in the land that was previously the Rotunda Amusement Park which has now been cleared.

Art

In September 2007, Emin announced she'll be exhibiting new sculpture work in the inaugural Folkestone Triennial which will take place in the Kent town from June until September 2008. Emin said her contribution would be different pieces placed around the town,
I'm going to be making very tiny bronze-cast items of baby clothing. It's baby clothes that I have found in the street, like a mitten or a sock.
Eamon Everall, Artist/Educator and founder member of the Stuckism, art movement attended the Harvey Grammar school and Folkestone School of Art and still maintains a base here. He is currently working on a series of twenty portraits of artists associated with Stuckism including one of Billy Childish, he plans to exhibit them in the town at the end of the current year

In February 2008, Strange Cargo Arts Company installed the public art piece 'Other people's photographs'.

Theatre

In its heyday Folkestone could boast four theatres and a range of other entertainment venues, all competing to serve the thriving tourist market. Over the past half century they have one by one fallen silent, leaving just one venue remaining in the town - the magnificent former dance hall The Leas Cliff Hall - which is now leased by the local council to Live Nation as a location for large scale concerts, conferences and events.

As a key element in the ongoing artistic renaissance of Folkestone, The Creative Foundation is opening a brand new medium scale theatre, conference and music venue in the heart of the Creative Quarter in Autumn 2008. Designed by award winning practice Alison Brooks Architects, the £4m new centre, named Quarterhouse, comprises a 300 seat flexible auditorium, restaurant and bars and a range of units for creative businesses.

Folkestone along with Hythe, Kent have an amateur dramatics and operatics society called Folkestone & Hythe Operatic & Dramatic Society. They own The Tower Theatre (Folkestone, Kent) which is located in Shorncliffe. They are a charitable organisation that produces and performs several different shows a year at their own theatre.

Local media

Newspapers

Folkestone Herald (paid) and Adscene (free) - DMGT

Folkestone Kentish Express (paid) and Extra (free) - KM Group

Your Shepway (free) - KoSMedia

Local radio

kmfm for Shepway & White Cliffs Country broadcasting to Folkestone on 96.4FM and Dover on 106.8FM. The station was founded in Dover as Neptune Radio in September 1997 but moved to Folkestone in 2003 consequently being rebranded as KMFM for Shepway and White Cliffs Country after a takeover by the Kent Messenger Group.

Earthquake

On 28 April 2007, an earthquake with its epicentre 1km East of Folkestone occurred at 8:18am. The earthquake was felt for up to 15 seconds, and many residents in Folkestone and surrounding areas said they felt their house shake. Folkestone was damaged the worst with power out to thousands of homes and some houses being evacuated due to chimneys falling through houses. One person was injured.

The earthquake was registered at 4.2 on the Richter scale. It was reported as being felt as far away as Essex.

References

External links

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