A bit about Folkestone

Folkestone is a port town on the English Channel, known for its easy travel links to France via the Channel Tunnel, as well as for its artistic heritage. You can find everything you need in Folkestone, from beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions such as nearby Port Lympne Reserve or the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

Situated at the foot of the North Downs, Folkestone has easy access to some of Kent’s greatest long-distance walking routes, including the North Downs Way, the Saxon Shore Way and the England Coast Path. A walk along the promenade guarantees great views across to France, or you can visit the Lower Leas Coastal Park to take in the gardens and the sea breeze. History lovers will find plenty to occupy them in Folkestone and nearby Hythe, from the Battle of Britain Memorial and Kent Battle of Britain Museum, to a walk alongside the Royal Military Canal, built between 1804 and 1809 as a military defence against Napoleon. The Folkestone Harbour Arm o ers a fantastic mix of food, drink and entertainment, and the nearby Creative Quarter is home to unique and cutting-edge art, housing over a hundred artistic enterprises along its cobbled streets.

Folkestone

You can find everything you need in Folkestone, from beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions.

Shopping in Folkestone
Shopping in Folkestone

The old part of the town is now home to the Creative Quarter, and there’s nothing better than a stroll through the narrow streets, discovering the sheer range of independent businesses based there.

Eating in Folkestone
Dining in Folkestone

Eating out is a pleasure here, with dozens of exciting places to try out. When you're heading out for dinner in Folkestone you are spoilt for choice, from tapas to Turkish there's something for every taste.

Folkestone Sports
Folkestone Sports Centre

The Folkestone Sports Centre is a fun-filled activities, sports, and leisure centre the whole family can enjoy. Everyone in the community, whether local resident or visitor.

Folkestone Getting Around
Folkestone - Walking and Cycling

Lower Leas Coastal Park Folkestone, fabulous views over the Kent coastline. - East Cliff and Warren Country Park, spectacular East Cliffs of Folkestone, the sandy beaches of East Wear Bay and the Warren.

Folkestone Plan your Visit
Folkestone - Plan your visit

Getting here is easier than you think - you can reach Folkestone in just 55 minutes from the M25 via the M20, and we're less than two hours from central London.

Folkestone Art and Entertainment
Folkestone - Art and Entertainment

Folkestone Art Society (FAS) was formed in 1928 by a number of local artists who were meeting in one anothers homes.

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Folkestone

Folkestone Harbour and Packet Steamer

Folkestone

Beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions.

Folkestone Tennis
Folkestone Tennis Club

Folkestone Tennis Club is here for the people of the Kent seaside town and surrounding village. This club is located in the Folkestone Sports Centre, who support and encourage the local population to participate in sports.

Folkestone Swimming
Folkestone Swimming

Folkestone Sports Centre Swimming Club is competitive in all sections of the club consisting of, Swimming, Lifesaving, Water Polo and Masters Swimming.

Folkestone Cricket
Folkestone Cricket

Folkestone Cricket Club run teams every week for players of all ages and abilities. In 2013 the club moved to it's stunning new Clubhouse and Sports Hall.

Folkestone Golf
Folkestone Golf

Whether you're visiting Folkestone for business or recreation, make a round of golf one of your top priorities. Folkestone has many outstanding options for the avid golfer, including a wide variety courses and plenty of tee times to fit your schedule.

Sunny Sands Folkestone
Folkestone - Sunny Sands

Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone proves to tick all the boxes, a small bay than beach, but its blessed with a number of brick alcove constructions to allow you refuge should any rain suddenly appear,

Folkestone Warren
Folkestone Warren

The Warren, one Britain’s most important nature reserves, is part of the Dover-Folkestone Heritage Coast and the Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Folkestone

Foord Village and Cubitts Viaduct

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The Leas

The Leas is Folkestone's unique clifftop promenade. Designed in the mid 1800's, it includes magnificent buildings, squares and gardens.

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Folkestone

The Leas is Folkestone's unique clifftop promenade

Folkestone

The Leas is Folkestone's unique clifftop promenade

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Leas Cliff Hall

Leas Cliff Hall is an Entertainment and Function venue situated on the Leas Folkestone. The Grand Hall seats 900 and it has a standing capacity of 1500.

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William Harvey Statue

This bronze statue to the memory of William Harvey, can be seen on the seafront promenade on the corner of The Leas and Clifton Gardens

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The Leas Lift

Originally installed in 1885, in Folkestone, Kent, the Grade II* Listed, Leas Lift is a funicular railway which carries passengers between the seafront and the promenade. It is one of the oldest water lifts in the UK

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Leas Bandstand

in the summer months, whatever your taste, you can listen to music at the open-air concerts held at several popular venues around the town. Pull up a free deck chair to enjoy a traditional brass band at the Leas bandstand.

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Zig Zag Path

The Zig Zag Path was built in 1921 as a new attraction and to provide work for the unemployed. As natural as it looks, the cliff-face and grottoes are entirely artificial.

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Leas Pavilion

The Leas Pavilion is a rare example of a Grade II listed purpose-built Edwardian Tea Rooms, and made it the perfect venue for a repertory theatre.

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The Metropole & The Grand

The coastal park is a wonderful Place to walk and explore the playground is brilliant, well maintained, safe and lots of fun! Good places to picnic and the Mermaid cafe is great for meals, snacks & ice cream!

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Memorial Arch

This rather beautiful arch stands on the Leas on the cliffs to the west of Folkestone harbour. On the Folkestone side a steep road leads down to the harbour, which in WW1 was a major port of embarkation for France.

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Lower Leas Coastal Park

The coastal park is a wonderful Place to walk and explore the playground is brilliant, well maintained, safe and lots of fun! Good places to picnic and the Mermaid cafe is great for meals, snacks & ice cream!

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Folkestone

The Leas - West view to Sandgate

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Folkestone Harbour

Folkestone’s Harbour Arm has rapidly become a food, drink and entertainment destination for the town and its visitors.

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Folkestone

Folkestone Harbour - Now with a newly restored Harbour Arm

Folkestone

Beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions.

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Cubitts Viaduct Bridge

Folkestone Viaduct, was built in 1843 by Sir William Cubitt and carries the South Eastern Railway across the Foord Valley between Folkestone Central and Folkestone Junction. Nearly 100 feet high in the centre. Its litheness comes from the fact that the piers taper front and back as well as at the sides.

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Victoria Pier

Local estate agent G.B. Trent formed the Folkestone Pier & Lift Co. in the early 1880s, originally proposing an 800 foot pier. The remains were demolished in 1954.

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The Pleasure Gardens Theatre

The Pleasure Gardens Theatre was situated within the Folkestone Pleasure Gardens on Bouverie Road West and first opened as a Theatre in 1886, although the building was first constructed in 1851 as an exhibition Hall.

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Kingsnorth Gardens

Kingsnorth Gardens is a peaceful oasis. With a rose garden, goldfish pond with fountain and water-lilies, shrubs and meandering paths laid out in Italianate, Oriental and English styles, it is a popular refuge right in the middle of town.

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Radnor Park

Radnor Park is split into two distinct areas with easy access to the whole park. The upper Radnor Park play area now offers an exciting range of play equipment for youngsters of all ages,

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Harbour Arm

The newly restored Harbour Arm will be open to the public every weekend with a programme of live music, delicious food, bars, events and activities.

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Folkestone

Folkestone West Cliff and Harbour

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Folkestone Creative Corner

Folkestone's Creative Quarter comprises of The Old High Street, a winding cobbled lane lined with independent shops and Tontine Street, linking Folkestone Harbour with the centre of the town.

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Folkestone's Creative Quarter

Inhabited by hundreds of creative people ranging from designers to makers, from artists to musicians

Folkestone

Quarterhouse - Artworks - Triennial

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Quarterhouse

Based moments from the harbour, on Tontine Street, Quarterhouse is a beacon for arts programming in East Kent that supports the regeneration of Folkestone.

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Folkestone Artworks

Folkestone Artworks is a permanent public art collection of 27 outstanding works which are now on permanent display in public spaces around the town.

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Folkestone Triennial

The Folkestone Triennial is one of the most ambitious public art projects presented in the UK.

Folkestone Artworks

A permanent public art collection of 27 outstanding works which are now on permanent display in public spaces around the town

Folkestone Artworks
Folkestone Artworks
Folkestone Artworks
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Folkestone Artworks
Folkestone Artworks
Folkestone Artworks
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Folkestone

Folkestone's Three Hills - Cubitt's Viaduct

Folkestone

Beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions.

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Folkestone Urban Sports Park

The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust and Shepway Sports Trust have commissioned Guy Hollaway Architects to design an Urban Sports Park in Folkestone; the project is due to be completed in 2018.

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The Bayle

The history of The Bayle is bound up with periods of great significance in British History: from the prehistoric hippo in Folkestone Museum – whose pelvis was found where the top of Bail Steps is now!

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Battle of Britain Museum

The most important collection of Battle of Britain artifacts on show in the country. The Museum was lucky to acquire one of the sites of Britain's epic struggle for survival in 1940, in what was the greatest air battle of all time.

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Sandgate Castle

Sandgate Castle was built in 1539 by Henry VIII to defend the lower shore of Sandgate, as part of the second major coastal defence scheme to be implemented in Southern England.

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Lympne Castle

The first castle was built in the 1080's for the Archdeacons of Canterbury on the edge of a cliff looking over the Romney Marshes.

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Westenhanger Castle

Westenhanger Castle is a Scheduled Ancient Monument with a Grade 1 listed house; this reflects both its national and historic importance.

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Folkestone

Folkestone's Radnor Park

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Folkestone Museum

Folkestone Museum in Kent takes you on a journey through the history of Folkestone, from its origins as a humble coastal community, through to its heyday as a fashionable seaside resort and beyond.

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Folkestone

Folkestone's Roman Villa

Folkestone

Beautiful beaches and unspoiled countryside to award-winning attractions.

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Martello Towers

Tower 1 stands 200 feet up on the cliffs above East Wear Bay, within sight of Towers 2 and 3 below. When viewed as one of a series of six clifftop towers, Tower No. 4 illustrates the strategically planned integration of the martello tower system.

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The Parish Church

St Mary and St Eanswythe’s Church is a Grade II* listed Anglican church in Folkestone, Kent, situated not far from cliffs overlooking the English Channel.

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The Durlocks

Planned Garden City - Built for Sir Philip Sassoon, MP, as low cost housing for rent, the ‘Durlocks’ was planned on garden city principles.

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Royal Victoria Hospital

The Royal Victoria Hospital, Folkestone, was a community hospital located on the edge of Radnor Park in Folkestone.

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Roman Villa

There is a Roman villa buried on the cliff top and even older remains as well. It is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its wildlife and geology.

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Channel Tunnel

At nearby Cheriton, the Channel Tunnel takes passengers and freight to the continent by rail. The tunnel consists of three parallel tunnels running between the respective portals.


  • Getting Around
  • Use the map below or Kent Visitor Information Centres to help plan your visit – you’ll find them in all major towns and cities as well as some larger villages. The Staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and can get all the help you need from local town maps and transport routes to finding the best accommodation for your trip. Many centres stocking a wide range of merchandise from local books, gifts, traditional postcards and souvenirs.

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Folkestone Directory

A comprehensive searchable directory of businesses, services and skills in the Folkestone, Hythe and Shepway district.


Folkestone
Folkestone Chronology

THE HISTORY OF FOLKESTONE

  • B.C.
  • There are indications of the presence of Neolithic man, Bronze Age man and Iron Age man, especially at the foot of the hills to the north of the town. There is evidence also of Belgic occupation, particularly in the British villa found on East Cliff.
  • A.D.
  • 80-350 Roman settlement. Several villas on East Cliff.
  • 100 First century cemetery at Cheriton.
  • 600 Saxon burial ground on Dover Hill.
  • 630 King Eadbald built a church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul for his daughter Eanswythe, where she became the founder Abbess of the first nunnery in England. Eadbald also built a castle or fort on the Bayle.
  • 640 Nunnery and church attacked by the Danes. Death of St. Eanswythe.
  • 927 Church and nunnery restored by King Athelstan.
  • 1052 Godwyn, Earl of Kent pillaged the town and destroyed the church.
  • 1086 Domesday Book. Folkestone valued at £100.
  • 1095 New Priory founded on the site of the old Nunnery by Nigel de Muneville.
  • 1138 The cliff on which the Priory was built considered unsafe. New Priory and church built, outside the castle, by Wm. D*’Averanches and dedicated to St. Mary and St.Eanswythe. This was the foundation of the present church. Destroyed in 1216. Rebuilt about 1220, the date of the present chancel.
  • 1138 Relics of St. Eanswythe carried in solemn procession from the old Priory to the new church.
  • 1205 Jeffrey Fitz-Peter procures a market to be held weekly on Thursday. Since this date Folkestone has been a market town and it had two fairs a year. A cattle fair in Cow Street (‘Sandgate Road), and a Toy Fair on the Bayle.
  • 1215 Wm. d’Albrinces obtains confirmation of 1205 market.
  • 1216 King John and his court at Folkestone.
  • 1236 Extension of Parish Church.
  • 1263 Lords of the Manor had a capital messuage, with a garden, courtyard, dovecote, three mills, 400 acres of well-stocked park, 50 acres of wood and three fish ponds. They also owned a profitable quarry here.
  • 1299 Folkestone (Simon Adam, Master) provides one ‘coga’ or cock-boat and 24 companions, for Royal Service.
  • 1313 Charter of Incorporation constituting the ‘Mayor, Jurats, and Gommonalty’. Confirmed and enlarged in 1326.
  • 1349 Sir John de Segrave secures renewal of 1215 market with the addition of another weekly market on Tuesdays.
  • 1378 Combined forces of French and Scots despoiled the town.
  • 1390 Sir John de Clinton obtains a grant for a market to be held on Wednesdays and a yearly fair on the Vigil and Day of St. Giles.
  • 1467 Masters of The Boat of Folkestone seized a Spanish vessel with wine and contents worth £533.
  • 1472 Vineyards noted in the town.
  • 1522 French attack local fishermen.
  • 1535 Priory surrendered. When pulled down, the stone was used for Sandgate Castle.
  • 1539 Sandgate Castle built by Henry VIII.
  • 1542 Earl of Hertford’s Minstrels performed at Master Baker’s.
  • 1543 Henry VIII visits the town to consider the harbour.
  • 1545 Enlargement of Corporation; 24 common Councillors added.
  • 1555 Mayor’s salary £2/13/4. Town Clerk’s £4. Town Drummer’s 33/4.
  • 1564 The Queen’s ‘bereward’ visits the town.
  • 1565 Folkestone contains 120 inhabited houses; twenty-five fishing boats.
  • The Queen’s Players visit the town.
  • Mr. Rolf comes ‘to see the place of an harbour here’.
  • 1573 Queen Elizabeth visited Folkestone.
  • 1578 Wm. Harvey born in Folkestone.
  • 1580 One-hundred men at work in Folkestone quarries for Dover Haven.
  • 1584 Sir Richard Greynvile proposes construction of a haven (not carried out).
  • 1588 Spanish Armada. Preparations to resist invasion.
  • 1600 Queen’s Players in Folkestone.
  • 1605 Joan Harvey buried in Parish Church. Poorhouse noted on corner of Grace Hill.
  • 1624 Plague in town.
  • 627 Folkestone received two pieces of ordnance for defence against the French.
  • 1628 Dr. Harvey published De Motu Cordis.
  • 1636 Dr. Wm. Harvey secured from the Crown lease of part of Prior’s Leas for town use.
  • 1639 A cess granted to raise £10 to fit out a ship of war.
  • 1651 Publication of Harvey’s De Generatione Animalium.
  • 1657 Death of Dr. Harvey.
  • 1665 Outbreak of plague.
  • 1674 Harvey Grammar School founded by Sir Eliab Harvey, from bequest left by Dr. Wm. Harvey; school sited in Rendezvous Street; transferred to new buildings in Foord Road in 1882; removed again to Cheriton Road in 1913.
  • 1697 Manor of Folkestone alienated to Jacob Desbouverie.
  • 1698 Baptists established in Folkestone by Thomas Carr. In 1729 they built a meeting house in Mill Bay, where they continued until 1845 when they erected Salem Chapel in Rendezvous Street. Rebuilt 1874.
  • 1699 Inhabitants called upon to restore harbour.
  • 1705 Collapse of part of nave of Parish Church in a storm.
  • 1720 Small-pox epidemic—145 victims.
  • 1752 Act for widening road from Dover to Barham Downs. Enlarged through Folkestone and Hythe.
  • 1765 Small-pox epidemic—158 victims.
  • 1766 Act for support and preservation of Parish Church and lower part of town from ravages of the sea.
  • 1773 Mr. Wilson, ship-builder, established boat-building in Sandgate.
  • 1774 Bayle Theatre opened.
  • 1784 Extensive landslide of West Cliff. Debris used later to form Lower Sandgate Road walks and gardens.
  • 1787 ‘Two elegant bathing machines for the recreation of gentlemen and ladies.’
  • 1790 Society of Friends’ new Meeting House built in Dover Street.
  • 1794 Land for Shorncliffe Camp acquired for War Office.
  • 1795 Advertisement in Kentish Gazette, 24th June, ‘sea bathing at Folkestone . . . bathing machines will be regularly attended every day during the season’.
  • 1796 Act for paving, repairing and cleansing the town.
  • 1802 Wreck of Dutch East Indiaman, the ‘Vryheid’, at Dymchurch.
  • 1805-6 Martello Towers erected for defence of the coast.
  • 1807 Act of Parliament for constructing a Pier and Harbour. Folkestone Harbour Company formed.
  • 1808 Foundation stone of Harbour Pier laid.
  • 1811 Silver tokens issued by John Boxer.
  • 1814 Folkestone Union Charity School—British and F oreign Schools’ Society—founded in the ‘Appollo Room’. In 1835 the school moved to the former Folkestone Workhouse, then on the site of Dover Road School. The present Dover Road School on the same site was opened in 1887. Re-named ‘Hillside’ in 1951. New Hillside Secondary School for Boys opened at Park Farm in 1958.
  • 1824 Wesleyans meet at Elgar’s Yard.
  • 1825 Act of Parliament enabling Lord Radnor to grant leases for building on Folkestone estate.
  • 1828 Lord Radnor constructs Lower Sandgate Road.
  • 1829 Police Force appointed. First two constables Matthew Pearson and William Downing.
  • 1830 Cistern House adopted as Town Hall. Built by Lord Radnor and hired to Corporation. Demolished 1858.
  • 1835 British School opened in the former workhouse in Dover Road. The Board School opened on same site in 1887. Municipal Reform Act. Town has a new constitution.
  • 1840 Original Guildhall, at corner of Church Street and Rendezvous Street demolished. It had occupied the site since the mid-sixteenth century at least.
  • 1842 First Gas Works established on the beach, west of the future Pavilion Hotel. First supply to inhabitants 29th December. Private consumers 60; street lamps 30.
  • 1843 South Eastern Railway Co. bought up Harbour for £18,000. Railway line from London opened: the first temporary station being somewhere in the fields between Guildhall Street and Cheriton Road, just west of the viaduct. The viaduct was completed in December, and the first permanent station (the Junction), opened 18th December, 1843. Meanwhile, the Harbour had been cleared of shingle and mud, and the first cross-channel Packet operated from 1st August. First boat was the ‘William Wallace’. Harbour House with Clock Tower built, and Pavilion Hotel started. (Hotel enlarged in 1845 and 1850.)
  • 1846 ‘The Dispensary’ founded in Rendezvous Street. Transferred to Dover Road (Pickford’s Site) in 1863 with 3 beds.In 1864 named the ‘Folkestone Dispensary and Infirmary’, (Royal Victoria Hospital opened in 1890.) Lower Sandgate Road re-constructed.
  • 1848 Building of Guildhall Street begun. (Originally Shellons Lane.) Plans for building ‘Tontine Street. Act for supplying the Parish and Township with water, Whale taken off Folkestone.
  • 1849 Branch line to Harbour, swing bridge and ‘Terminal Station built.
  • 1850 Christ Church built.
  • 1851 Rev. Matthew Woodward became Vicar of Folkestone.
  • 1852 Opening of the ‘New National School’ in Cheriton Road (Gun School). Christ Church School. New Christ Church Primary School opened in Brockman Road in 1955. Wesleyan Chapel built in Sandgate Road.
  • 1854 St. Mary’s National School built; opened 1855. 1855 An Act to extend the limits of the Borough of Folkestone, to enable the Corporation to construct a Market House, make new streets and improvements, and to pave, light, drain and otherwise improve the said Borough. Queen Victoria visited Shorncliffe Camp. Charles Dickens stayed for 3 months at 3 Albion Villas.
  • 1856 Congregational Church built in Tontine Street.
  • 1857 Cheriton Road Cemetery opened.
  • 1858 First Post Office Pillar Box erected
  • 1859 Restoration of Parish Church begun.
  • 1860 Marine ‘Terrace commenced building.
  • 1861 Present Town Hall opened. ‘Promenade’ Pier begun.
  • 1862 Bouverie Square commenced. St. Peter’s Church built. (Later enlarged, 1870.)
  • 1863 Holmesdale Terrace commenced. New houses built on the Leas (Royal Terrace).
  • 1864 Extensive landslips in the Warren. Grant of sites of St. Michael’s and Holy Trinity Churches.
  • 1865 Clifton Gardens, East, built. St. Michael’s Church opened; first building of wood. Wesleyan Chapel, Grace Hill erected.
  • 1866 Old Gas Works on beach demolished. Works removed to Foord Road.
  • 1867 Promenade Bands organised.- 1868 Natural History Society founded. Holy Trinity Church opened.
  • 1869 Bathing Establishment (Marina) opened. Restoration of chancel of Parish Church.
  • 1870 Natural History Society opened Museum in the old Sessions House in High Street (formerly Wesleyan Methodist Church).
  • 1871 Wesleyan School opened under Chapel (closed 1926)
  • 1872 St. Peter’s School opened.
  • 1874 Opening of Hythe and Sandgate Railway. Radnor Club opened.
  • 1877 Clifton Gardens, West built. Sandgate Toll Gate abolished.
  • 1878 Bradstone Hall built. Wreck of “Grosser Kurfurst’ off Sandgate.
  • 1879 Public Library opened on the Bayle. 1880 First shaft of proposed Channel Tunnel driven.
  • 1881 Shorncliffe Station opened. Harvey Statue unveiled.
  • 1884 Central Station built. First named ‘Cheriton Arch’; renamed ‘Radnor Park’ in 1886, and finally he banied ‘Central Station’ in 1895. St. Andrew’s Convalescent Home opened.
  • 1885 Leas Lift opened, 16th September. Mundella School opened—originally the North Board School and later the North Council School. Queen’s Hotel built.
  • 1886 Art Treasures Exhibition opened. Radnor Park opened.
  • 1888 Victoria Pier opened July. Switchback Railway built. Pleasure Gardens Theatre opened, with Pleasure Gardens. New Library and Museum on Grace Hill ore by Sir E. Watkin.
  • 1889 Elham Valley Line to Canterbury opened. St. John the Baptist’s Church opened at Foord.
  • 1891 Hythe and Sandgate Horse Trams began. Operated until 1921. Wreck of ‘Benvenue’ off Sandgate,
  • 1893 Folkestone Amusements Association formed. Lower Sandgate Road Gardens laid out. Marine Gardens Bandstand built. Sandgate Hill lift opened. Closed 1918.
  • 1894 Leas Shelter opened.
  • 1895 Lower Leas Bandstand erected.
  • 1896 Technical School opened.
  • 1897 Sydney Street School opened. Radnor Park Congregational Church opened.
  • 1898 Electricity Works started. Folkestone Race Course opened.
  • 1901 First Motor Omnibus Service started between Folkestoneand Hythe.
  • 1902 Leas Pavilion opened as a ‘superior’ ‘Tea Room with music. West Leas Bandstand rebuilt; transferred from MetropoleHotel Gardens. Hill Road constructed below Downs by Lord Radnor.
  • 1904 West Leas Lift (Metropole) opened 31st March. Closed 1939. Grand Hotel built. Opened 1905.
  • 1905 Cricket Ground opened (Cheriton Road). Folkestone County School for Girls founded. Eight pupils met in Masonic Hall, Grace Hill. Moved to Pelham House, 1906, then to Penfold House, Coolinge Lane, 1921.
  • 1909 Morehall School opened.
  • 1910 Electric Theatre (Savoy) opened. Building was first planned as a theatre, and partly built in 1902. Later it was a garage, then a skating rink, next a cinema, finally a Bingo Hall. First part of Marine Promenade built.
  • 1912 Queen’s Cinema, Tontine Street opened. Playhouse Cinema opened. Central Cinema opened.
  • 1913 Leas and West Cliff Walks leased to Folkestone Corporation.
  • 1914 First World War. Voluntary organisations entertain troops.
  • 1915 Belgian refugees crowd into the town. Harbour became chief port for despatch of troops and goods to France.
  • 1917 Air Raid on town on 25th May, caused heavy casualties. 71 killed and 96 injured.
  • 1922 Zigzag Path constructed on Leas.
  • 1924 Roman Villas excavated on East Cliff.
  • 1925 Hawkinge Cemetery opened.
  • 1926 Marine Gardens Pavilion completed.
  • 1927 Leas Cliff Hall opened by Prince Henry.
  • 1928 Kingsnorth Gardens opened on site of clay pit.
  • 1929 Arthur Brough’s first season at Leas Pavilion. After being used as a Tea Room, with Billiards and ‘Drawing-Room Entertainments’, a stage was built, and Concert Party Seasons were started. The first Repertory Company under the direction of Grant Anderson came in 1928, followed by the Brough Players in October, 1920.
  • 1931 Bobby’s Store transferred from Rendezvous Street to new premises on site of old Albion Terrace.
  • 1934 Cheriton and Sandgate incorporated in Borough of Folkestone. East Cliff Pavilion opened.
  • 1935 Astoria Cinema built on site of Maestrani’s Restaurant. Later renamed ‘Odeon’ Cinema. Following a landslip, houses in Fishmarket demolished and rebuilt.
  • 1936 Open-air Swimming Pool on beach opened.
  • 1937 New Labour Exchange opened in Ingles Lane (formerly in Tontine Street). Transferred to old GPO in Sandgate Road in 1957.
  • 1938 Cheriton Branch Library and Clinic opened.
  • 1939 Harcourt School opened. World War II evacuees from London arrived 1940; Folkestone schoolchildren evacuated to Wales. Resident population reduced to 12,000.
  • 1940 Isolation Hospital destroyed by bomb (b. 1897).
  • 1942 Civic Restaurant opened at Woodward Hall. Closed May, 1946.
  • 1945 Victoria Pier destroyed by fire on Whit Monday.
  • 1953 New sea wall completed at Sandgate.
  • 1955 New Bus Station opened in Bouverie Square.
  • 1956 Hawkinge Crematorium opened.
  • 1958 Marina (Folkestone Bathing Establishment) closed. Visit of Queen and Prince Philip.
  • 1959 Metropole Hotel closed; New Metropole Arts Centre and Restaurant opened 1961.
  • 1960 Sunny Sands Restaurant opened. East Cliff Sands developed. Wood Avenue Branch Library opened. Pleasure Gardens Theatre closed.
  • 1961 Hawkinge Aerodrome closed.
  • 1962 Central Station rebuilt and line electrified. Majestic Hotel (West Cliff) closed. Queen’s Hotel closed.
  • 1967 New Civic Centre opened.
  • 1970 Trinity Pilot Station erected.
  • 1972 Car Ferry Terminal opened at Harbour.
The Origins of Folkestone Harbour

THE ORIGINS OF FOLKESTONE HARBOUR

  • T‌he modern story of Folkestone Harbour goes back some 200 years, with its origins in the fishing industry. Much of its development took place in the 19th and 20th centuries to enable its use as a ferry port.

  • Before this, since at least Roman times, trading ships had been landing on the shore at East Wear Bay in Folkestone, and from about ad 1100 fishermen are known to have pulled up their boats close to the mouth of the Pent Stream, which still flows into what is now the inner harbour. However, the constant movement of the shingle beach by winds and tides made it a dangerous place to land, and boats were often damaged by storms.

  • In 1804 Lord Radnor petitioned Parliament for permission to build a stone harbour, and an Act of Parliament was granted in 1807, partly to provide potential anchorages for warships during the Napoleonic Wars.

  • Plans drawn up at this time were considered too expensive to implement in full, but civil engineer William Jessop and a team that included Thomas Telford designed and built a western pier that was completed in 1810, followed by another, running north-east at right angles, completed in 1820. Together these drystone walls, which can still be seen today, provided some shelter from the prevailing winds.

  • The original Folkestone Harbour Company had insufficient funds to deliver the full scheme and was declared bankrupt in 1842. The harbour was by then somewhat derelict, but the South Eastern Railway Company purchased it with the intention of developing Folkestone as a ­rival to Dover for steam packets to France. Their new railway line reached Folkestone in 1843 and the harbour branch line was constructed soon after­wards.

  • The arrival of the railway meant that over the next 50 years the new resort of Folkestone grew rapidly and by Edwardian times it had ­established itself as one of England’s most fashionable coastal towns. ** THE HARBOUR IN THE 19TH CENTURY**

  • T‌he first ferry boat service between Folkestone and Boulogne began in 1843, with local transport being offered between the mainline station and the harbour. Channel steamers operated to a number of continental destin­ations, including Boulogne and Calais, although by the mid-1890s the route from Dover to Calais was more popular.

  • The branch line from the mainline down to the harbour was one of the steepest railway lines in the country, descending 111 feet in less than a mile. By 1847 a viaduct and swing bridge were constructed to provide access to a level area of land that had been recovered from the sea, and these also divided the inner and ­outer harbour areas. A large warehouse was built, together with the first section of the harbour station and the foundations of a new south-east-facing pier.

  • This new pier — the Harbour Arm — was built in stages over several decades, and was completed in 1904. It was mainly constructed from poured concrete, then faced with granite.

  • On 1 January 1849 an integrated rail / sea /rail service commenced between London – Paris via Folkestone – Boulogne, and later that month the first telegraphed conversation took place, between Charles Walker, on board a boat in the Channel, and the Chairman of the South Eastern Railway at their headquarters in London.

  • On 15 May 1855 the Great Gold Robbery took place on the London – Folkestone boat train. It was discovered only when the bullion ­boxes were weighed in Paris and found to ­contain lead shot.

THE HARBOUR DURING WW1

  • I‌n 1918 the mayor of folkestone reported that over 8.6 million passengers had passed through the port between 1914 – 18, this figure including troops en route to France or returning on leave and Red Cross workers. According to John Charles Carlyle in his book, Folkestone During The War 1914 – 1919, the number of British and Allied troops had risen to over 9.7 million by 1919, as well as nearly 850,000 Red Cross and other workers.
  • Folkestone played a key role throughout the war. For example, approximately 120,000 refugees landed from Europe. Folkestone Harbour was the preferred route through which post was sent to and from the Western Front. About 10,500 ship and 7,000 train movements took place for the military, in addition to which the South Eastern Railway handled movements by about 8,000 commercial ships and 8,500 trains.
  • In December 1915 the spy Margaretha Geertruida Zelle ( ‘Mata Hari’ ) was stopped from boarding a ship from Folkestone Harbour to France by Captain S. Dillon of the Secret Intelligence Service.
  • In April 1918 the ss Onward, which was berthed in the harbour, caught fire ( as a result of an incendiary bomb hidden among the lifeboats ) and was then scuttled to prevent the fire spreading to the station area. Five railway locomotives were used to pull the vessel upright prior to refloating.
  • In summer 1915 a free buffet ( the ‘Mole Café’ ) was set up on Folkestone Harbour Arm, which provided tea and refreshments to ­soldiers and sailors, together with members of the Red Cross. This canteen was staffed by local volunteers, and among the most devoted were the Misses Margaret Ann and Florence Augusta Jeffery. The Jeffery sisters were awarded the Order of the British Empire, the Queen Elisabeth Medal ( Belgium ) and the Medal of Gratitude ( France ). Visitors books were signed by over 43,500 people between 1915 and 1919, and were subsequently bound into eight volumes with a total of 3,518 pages. Two of these volumes can be viewed in Folkestone Library, with the remainder kept in archive in Maidstone. All of the content of the Harbour Canteen Visitors Books can be accessed in digital form on the website of the charity Step Short: www.stepshort.co.uk.

THE HARBOUR AFTER 1918

  • I‌n may 1930 the former wood and metal swing bridge was demolished and the present replacement was rolled into place, in order to ­allow heavier trains to use the station.
  • In 1931 Mohandas Gandhi was invited to attend a Round Table Conference in London as the sole representative of the Indian National Congress. He arrived in Folkestone on the ss Biarritz on 12 September. His visit to Britain, during the fight for India’s independence, marked the signing of the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, in which the British Government agreed to free all political prisoners in return for the suspension of the civil dis­obedience campaign.
  • During the Dunkerque evacuation, in May–June 1940, every boat in Folkestone took part, bringing troops back to trains that were waiting at the harbour station. Over a nine-day ­period an estimated 35,000 troops and 9,000 refugees were landed, and 64 trains left the ­station.
  • During the course of wwii over 2,000 long-range shells fell on Folkestone. The Admiralty used part of the harbour for loading landing ships and as a result, part of the structure was demolished and the materials used to form a landing stage. It was repaired with concrete after the war ended.
  • Cross-channel passenger traffic resumed in 1946, with services to Boulogne and Calais, but traffic gradually declined over the next 50 years. The introduction of larger vessels on the cross-channel routes over the years exposed the limitations imposed by the restricted water depth at Folkestone, and there was little investment by the owners. With developments elsewhere in roll-on roll-off ferries, Folkestone Harbour did not acquire its own link-span bridge until 1972: the remains of the concrete ‘Dolphins’ that carried the ramp are still visible, the ramp and mechanism having long been dismantled.
  • Folkestone Harbour was sold in the 1980s, together with the ferry company Sealink, as part of the Government’s privatisation programme. Sea Containers purchased the port together with the ferry operation. The ferries were subsequently sold to Stena Line, which then concentrated its operations at Dover. Although catamarans ( SeaCats ) were introduced on the Folkestone–Boulogne route, these were ­finally withdrawn in 2000, following the abolition of duty free shopping and a consequent drop in passenger numbers, and heavy compe­tition from other ferry routes and the Channel Tunnel.

THE PRESENT AND THE FUTURE

  • Since 2014 Folkestone Harbour Arm has been re-imagined and repurposed as a place where people come to promenade, enjoying magnificent views, a wide choice of good food and drink, live music, arts events and other entertainment.
  • Prior to the closure of ferry services in 2000, the harbour, its buildings and structures had been poorly maintained, and much of the infrastructure had deteriorated to the point where it was unsafe. Similarly, the railway station and branch line fell into disuse and were officially closed by the Department for Transport in 2014.
  • Under new ownership, plans were considered to bring new purpose and vision for the harbour and seafront, which had been neglected for years and had become derelict. Following extensive public consultation and years of planning, permission was secured in early 2015 by Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company (FH&SDC) for mixed-use residential and commercial development.
  • Over a dozen small retail and food and drink outlets have been introduced as part of the imaginative renovation of the Harbour Arm, carried out under the stewardship of FHSDC. The objective has been to respect and reflect the port’s heritage by commissioning painstaking restoration of stone, iron and woodwork, much of it dating back over a century. The work has been carried out using an approach that puts right the damage caused by many dec­ades of neglect and persistent battering from storms whilst using materials that respect and interpret the history of Folkestone Harbour.
  • Further new outlets are planned as the wider development of the seafront gets under way. Work began in early 2020 to construct the first new homes at the western end of the site, close to the Leas Coastal Park, and where more new public spaces are planned to adjoin the Boardwalk.
Folkestone Listed Buildings
Listed Buildings in Folkestone

1 and 2, Albion Villas


1 and 3, Clifton Crescent


1-14, Marine Crescent


10, Clifton Crescent


10-15, Marine Parade Photos


106, Dover Road


11 and 12b, Clifton Crescent


12 and 14, Clifton Crescent


12, Cheriton Place


12, the Bayle Photos


12-16, Church Street


14 and 16, the Bayle


149, Sandgate Road


15 and 17, Clifton Crescent


151, Sandgate Road


16 and 18, Clifton Crescent


18 and 19, the Leas


II* 18 and 20, Church Street


18, the Bayle


19 and 21, Clifton Crescent


2, Clifton Crescent


20 and 22, Clifton Crescent


20 and 22, the Old High Street


22 and 24, Church Street


23 and 25, Clifton Crescent


23 and 25, the Old High Street


24, the Old High Street


26 and 28, Church Street


26 and 28, the Bayle


26-30, the Old High Street


27 and 29, Clifton Crescent


3 and 4, Albion Villas


3 Bollards to South of Parish Church


30 and 32, the Bayle


31, Clifton Crescent


34-40, the Bayle


4 and 6, the Bayle


4, Clifton Crescent


4, the Old High Street


4-7, Marine Parade


5 and 6, Albion Villas


5 and 7, Clifton Crescent


5-13, the Bayle


53, the Old High Street


55, the Old High Street


57, the Old High Street


59, the Old High Street


6 and 8, Clifton Crescent


6 Bollards to North East of Parish Church


7 Bollards to North of Parish Church


8 and 9, Marine Parade


82, the Bayle


84 and 86, the Bayle


88, Sandgate Road


9, Clifton Crescent


Bandstand


Baptist Church


Barn to North of Broadmead Manor


Barn to South of Ingles Manor


Broadmead


Broadmead Manor


Burlington Hotel


Church of All Souls


I Church of St Martin


Church of St Peter


Church of St Saviour


II* Church of the Holy Trinity


Cobblestones in Front of Nos 22 and 24


Coolinge Farmhouse Including Wall


Coolinge House


East Pier, Folkstone Harbour


Electricity Junction Box Outside Nos. 12-14


Enbrook


Enbrook Manor enbrook Manor House


Folkestone Harbour Viaduct and Swing Bridge


Folkestone Memorial Cairn


II* Folkestone War Memorial Photos


Former Gas Showroom


Former Municipal Offices


Gate piers and gates to the Army Ordnance Depot, Risborough Barracks, Shorncliffe Camp Photos


Grace Chapel (Former Technical Institute)


Hotel Ambassador southcliff


Ingles Manor


K6 Telephone Kiosk


Lamp Bracket and Bollard to North West of Parish Church


Leas Cliff Hall


Library and Museum


Lighthouse at End of Folkestone Harbour Outer Pier Photos


Lloyds Bank


Malvina House


Martello Tower No 2


Martello Tower No. 1


Masonic Hall


Memorial to the Crew of the German Warship SMS Grosser Kurfürst


Old Harvey Grammar School


Paving to Churchyard


Pillar Box


Priory House


Pulhamite Caves


Railway Viaduct Photos


Range of Stone Barns at the Firs


Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady Help of Christians, Including the Presbytery to the South East


Ruins of Christ Church


Sidney Cooper Weston drinking fountain


St Andrews Hotel and Chapel


Statue in the Grounds of the Battery


Statue of William Harvey on Plinth Photos


Stone Cross in Churchyard of the Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe


Sundial in Churchyard of the Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe


The Battery


The British Lion Inn


The Firs Photos


The Globe Inn Photos


The Grand Hotel Including Surrounding Wall Photos


The Guildhall


The Leas Club Photos


II* The Leas Lift, including waiting rooms, pump room, lower station tanks, track, cars, wheel houses, t Photos


The Life Boat Inn


The Manor House Photos


The Martello Public House


The New Metropole Including the Fountain in the Garden to the North and Surrounding Wall Photos


II* The Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe


United Reformed Church


Wall and Gatepiers to the Manor House


War Memorial to the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry)


Williams and Glyns Bank

More about Folkestone
  • Folkestone, like most settlements on the south coast, became involved in smuggling during the eighteenth century. At the beginning of the 1800s a harbour was developed, but it was the coming of the railways in 1843 that would have the bigger impact. With it came the tourist trade, and the two industries contributed to its prosperity until changes in tourist opportunities in the mid twentieth century hollowed out its economy.
  • Until the 19th century Folkestone remained a small fishing community with a seafront that was continually battered by storms and encroaching shingle that made it hard to land boats. In 1807 an Act of Parliament was passed to build a pier and harbour which was built by Thomas Telford in 1809. By 1820 a harbour area of 14 acres (5.7 hectares) had been enclosed. Folkstone's trade and population grew slightly but development was still hampered by sand and silt from the Pent Stream. The Folkestone Harbour Company invested heavily in removing the silt but with little success. In 1842 the company became bankrupt and the Government put the derelict harbour up for sale. It was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company (SER), which was then building the London to Dover railway line. George Turnbull was responsible in 1844 for building the Horn pier. Dredging the harbour, and the construction of a rail route down to it, began almost immediately, and the town soon became the SER’s principal packet station for the Continental traffic to Boulogne.
  • Folkestone Harbour Company commissioned Foster Associates to produce a masterplan for Folkestone which was published in April 2006. The plans describe the rebuilding of 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 take in the land that was previously the Rotunda Amusement Park. Progress in developing the area has been inhibited by the recession and by new guidelines governing flood protection. A new approach to the seafront is being developed by Terry Farrell and Partners, and the former fairground site is being considered for temporary recreational use whilst planning takes place. However, there is an alternative plan being developed by the Remembrance Line Association which is based on retaining the harbour railway and its station as a major heritage/tourist operation and 'Leaving for War' museum. The harbour railway station, now unused, is gradually succumbing to nature.
  • Although Kent was the first part of the British mainland to be conquered and settled by the invading Angles, Saxons and Jutes from the middle of the 5th century AD onwards, after the departure of the Romans, it was not until the late 7th century that the spelling Folcanstan appears. One suggestion is that this refers to Folca's stone; another suggestion is that it came from an Old English personal name, with the addition of stone, possibly meaning, in this context, "meeting place". It was not until the mid 19th century that the spelling of "Folkestone" was fixed as such, with the Earl of Radnor requesting that the town's name be standardised (although this tendency towards standardisation in the 19th century is true of English place names generally). Folkestone is often misspelt, variants including Folkston, Folkstone & Folkeston.