Folkestone - Marine Gardens 1911

Folkestone:  Always Cinderella to Dover but the port has been a significant contributor to the military & maritime history of East Kent. The postcard shows Marine Gardens in perhaps better times, 1911.  I don’t believe the swing bridge below has operated in living memory.  It would have been operated when colliers (sail) would have been unloaded in the inner basin.


2009 and the final steam train hauled by the Locomotive 70013 Oliver Cromwell crosses the harbour over the swing-bridge, which is part of the Memorial Line, so called in memory of all the troops that departed via Folkestone through two World Wars, most of which would have arrived by rail.  It has the steepest gradient (1-in-30) of the country’s mainline rail network and it closed on the 31 May 2014.  What a shame it is that this facility has been neglected and virtually lost.  Preservation should have been the order of the day and a lasting memorial to the fallen.  It is another piece of classic British engineering which has, most probably been lost to developers. People of a certain age will remember the tank engines two at the front, one at the rear taking the “Golden Arrow” coaches back up to the mainline to be reunited with the prime locomotive.  The line is iconic for two reasons, the soldiers going to war would have had a very different experience of Continental Europe compared to the rich and famous who travelled on the Golden Arrow/Orient Express.


The view from the the Harbour Station looking towards the town across the swing bridge.


Britannia Class Locomotive Oliver Cromwell at Harbour Station waiting signal to ascend that heritage climb.  How lovely does she look?  Notice the facade in the background another sign of a grand age.


Unfortunately Folkestone, for so long seemed intent on destroying it’s rich heritage.   Fortunately the harbour arm and station are under-going some regeneration, which is to be applauded. IMG_7916 The station facade icon still remains (February 2015) and what has been restored is lovely, there is a long way to go but at least a start has been made. Recorded here are some redundant elements of the vintage periods when travellers arrived by train to board the Steam Packets Ships others leaving by Ro Ro ferry.  The basic Link-Span structure still remains. Notice the iconic viaduct in the distance.


The curved platform and pedestrian bridge are in serious need of some T.L.C. However, they show interesting elements of times past.  Originally there were two Stothert & Pitt dockside cranes on gantries spanning the station to unload the Steam Packet vessels.


There are plans to run a rail/tram system onto the harbour arm. Full details of the proposal can be found on The Remembrance Line website.

IMG_9322The Harbour is a marvellous asset to the town and slowly develops, an example is the Rocksalt Restaurant, which occupies the old ships chandlers building in the fish market.IMG_2472

The inner harbour would have been filled with colliers in the past, now it’s refuge for smaller craft, which help keep the place alive and have no requirement for the swing-bridge operation. IMG_9332

The outer harbour is still the home of the fishing fleet and an excellent place (or should I say plaice?) to buy fish or even a good old fashioned plate of fish & chips.  The sunset view is taken from the Rocksalt Restaurant an added bonus to a lovely meal.IMG_9046

Sculptures have sprung-up across Folkestone, Paloma Varga Weisz’s Five-Headed sculpture “Rug People” IMG_7914 and Cornela Parker’s version of the Copenhagen ‘Little Mermaid’ being two examples.  All positive examples of progress.IMG_6522

Folkestone motto; which appeared to be pull it down, walk away and leave a void? Perhaps now there is a glimmer of hope as ever-so slowly green shoots of regeneration sprout.

2013.07.25-2Fortunately the funicular (lifts) are still operational (currently, 2016 the carriages are away for refurbishment) by individuals coming together to save them.

DSCF0042The gardens under the Leas are wonderful, subtropical plants and an amazing children’s play area.  Proving what investment can achieve.

IMG_2467The Leas Cliff Hall remains the most important icon of the area, hanging on to the cliff as if by magic.

IMG_2760Who remembers the Rotunda and the Boating Pool? All demolished over a decade ago to make way for redevelopment, hopefully now new life will emerge from this derelict site.
IMG_2759IMG_2758The only attraction over the last years on the Rotunda site is “Out of Tune Bell Artwork”

IMG_2468The East Cliff with it’s Martello Tower and Pitch & Putt Golf coarse remain year on year and provide a constant treasured view.

Folkestone we are watching with anticipation and hopefully something special will emerge.

If anyone has old Folkestone photos and would like to share them on this site or indeed comments all would be appreciated, subject to approval.

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