Folkestone Harbour viewed from the Golf Course
Folkestone shown within Kent
|OS grid reference|
|- London||71.3 mi (114.7 km)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Postcode district||CT18, CT19, CT20, CT50|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Folkestone and Hythe|
- 1 History
- 2 Governance
- 3 Geography
- 4 Industry
- 5 Landmarks
- 6 Transport
- 7 Education
- 8 Leisure
- 9 Culture
- 10 Local media
- 11 Sport
- 12 Notable people from Folkestone
- 13 Twin towns
- 14 References
- 15 Sources
- 16 External links
The area of Folkestone has been occupied since at least the Neolithic, being the shortest crossing point from France. The East Cliff area has recently been excavated and produced finds from the Paleolithic period through to the Roman Era, when settlement moved to the Bayle area of the town. On the East Cliff there was an extensive Iron Age settlement and harbour which, amongst other industry, produced thousands of quernstones over at least 200 years and traded with the near continent for many commodities including pottery, wine and quernstones. A Roman style villa was constructed in approximately AD100 followed by a more extensive one in about AD200, which was subsequently abandoned in c.AD350.
A Norman knight held a Barony of Folkestone, by which time the settlement had become a fishing village. That led to its entry as a part of the Cinque Ports in the thirteenth century and with that the privilege of being a wealthy trading port. At the start of the Tudor period it had become a town in its own right. Wars with France meant that defences had to be built here and soon plans for a Folkestone Harbour began. 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. Folkestone'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 given the significance of the Folkestone Harbour Branch in both World Wars which is important to the Allied and Commonwealth nations. 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.
The governance of Folkestone lies in both national and local government. Insofar as national government is concerned, Folkestone is part of the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, which is currently (2010) represented by Damian Collins (Conservative). In the European Parliament, Folkestone is part of the South East England constituency, with ten MEPs.
Local government consists of three tiers. In the first tier, Kent County Council, Folkestone 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 Tim Prater (Liberal Democrat). The next elections are scheduled for June 2013.
The second tier of local government is the non-metropolitan district. Folkestone forms a part of Shepway District, which was established by the Local Government Act 1972. Folkestone elects 18 of Shepway District Council's 46 Councillors, who currently sit as 16 Conservatives and two People First. The next election is due to be held in May 2015.
The third and lowest tier was established as the civil parish: in Folkestone’s case, because it held a Town Charter, and when the then Folkestone Borough Council was abolished, Councillors elected to represent Folkestone's wards were designated as the Town's Charter Trustees, responsible for electing a Town Mayor. This role has since passed to Folkestone Town Council.
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: Cheriton, Kent; 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 2015.
Each year, Folkestone Town Councillors attend the Annual General Meeting and Mayor-making ceremony to appoint both a Town Mayor and a Deputy Mayor from their number for the coming year. For the Civic Year 2013/2014, the posts are held: as The Worshipful Town Mayor of Folkestone, Councillor Roger West (Cheriton ward); and as Deputy Town Mayor, Cllr Alan North (East 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 14 Conservatives, two People First and two Liberal Democrats.
Apart from the main town area, Sandgate attained civil parish status in its own right in 2004.
Folkestone is located where the southern edge of the North Downs, escarpment meets the sea. In contrast to the white cliffs at Dover further to the east, the cliffs at Folkestone are composed of Greensand and Gault Clay. A small stream, the Pent Stream, cuts through the cliffs at this point, and provided the original haven for fishermen and cross-channel boats. The cliffs are constantly under attack from the sea: the original headlands, which once protected the port, ceased to do so, and artificial protection, in the form of breakwaters and piers have been necessary since the 17th century.
The town is now built on both sides of the original valley: the West Cliff and The Bayle to the West, and the East Cliff on the other side of the stream. The Pent Stream now runs through a culvert from the fire station, at the junction of Radnor Park Road, Park Farm and Pavilion Road, until it reaches the inner harbour. Remains of a quay, dating to the 17th century, were discovered under what is now a public car park, between the Old High Street and the railway viaduct, adjacent to the current harbour. Included in the town is Cheriton, where the Channel Tunnel northern exit is located; Newington; and Peene.
In August 1996 a one in 600 years storm left homes and businesses in Black Bull Road, in the Foord Valley, under two metres of water. Heavy rainfall combined with inadequacies in the Pent Stream and local drainage to cause the flooding. A crowd of 2,332 saw Folkestone Invicta play hosts to West Ham United in a benefit game following the flood.
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. Church and Dwight, the US company famous for such brands as Arm & Hammer, has its UK headquarters in the town. Silver Spring Mineral Water Company Limited, until recently the largest independently owned soft drinks manufacturer in Britain, was based in Park Farm but closed down in 2013.
During the 1980s and 1990s the construction of the Channel Tunnel provided employment, as well as bringing many people to the area, and on completion the running of service still provides work for many.
Several insurance firms are based in Folkestone. Some of them used to be involved in the shipping trade but have since diversified into other fields. Saga has its headquarters in Folkestone.
Folkestone has suffered a decline in industry since the end of the Second World War. As with most British holiday resorts, the rise in popularity of holidays abroad damaged the local tourist industry. In 2004 talks began between the leaders of Folkestone and Boulogne (Folkestone's twin-town), which was also facing similar economic problems.
The major landmark in Folkestone, apart from the Harbour, is the Leas, the cliffs above the beach. A Martello Tower (No 3) stands on the cliff above Copt Point. Built in 1806 as a defence against Napoleon, it has also been a Coast Guard lookout, a family home, a golf clubhouse and a World War II Naval mine control post. It now houses a visitor centre. The Folkestone White Horse is carved on Cheriton Hill above the Channel Tunnel terminal.
The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty includes part of the town area. The nearby Brockhill Country Park, to the west, with footpaths around a lake and in a valley, links with the Royal Military Canal at Hythe.
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. Talks about restoring the ferry traffic to Boulogne since it was terminated in 2000 were held in 2005, but this has not been resolved; and the Channel Tunnel northern entrance is located at Cheriton. The Dover Strait is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, although there is very little commercial shipping traffic using the small harbour.
The railway reached Folkestone on 28 June 1843 and a temporary station was built while the construction of the line to Dover continued. This started with the Foord viaduct, designed by Sir William Cubitt, completed in 1844. Folkestone Junction station was then opened and construction through the cliffs between Dover & Folkestone commenced. Once the line was opened to Dover, the town began to prosper (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 having closed earlier on 6 September 1965. The line subsequently reopened for "special" trains such as the British Pullman (VSOE), which was a regular visitor, and other rail tours, although the line closed again completely in 2008, to make way for a comprehensive development of the harbour and sea-front areas. A local group, The Remembrance Line Association, is actively seeking to retain the harbour branch as a tourist/heritage railway operation. Today the domestic services from Folkestone use the Central and West stations on the South Eastern Main Line. VSOE passengers now change at Folkestone West for road coaches and the onward journey through the Channel Tunnel.
High Speed 1 (HS1) (previously known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link) is a high speed railway built to French 'LGV' (Ligne à Grande Vitesse) standards, connecting the Channel Tunnel to London. Since December 2009, high speed commuter services from Dover have called at Folkestone and then, using the South Eastern Main Line to Ashford International, the services join HS1 for the journey to Ebbsfleet, Stratford and London St Pancras. The journey time to London via this route has been reduced to under 1 hour; some trains from Folkestone West take as little as 52 minutes to reach the capital by High Speed Train.
There were two other lifts on the Leas in Folkestone history: the Metropole Lift and the Sandgate Hill Railway
The town is located at the eastern end of the M20 which provides fast access to Ashford, Maidstone, London and also to the M25. The A20 is motorway-standard to Dover and runs locally towards Ashford and London, following the M20 but runs locally via Sellindge, Ashford, Lenham, Maidstone, Aylesford, Wrotham and Swanley where the A20, M20 and M25 meet and the A20 continues through Sidcup and Lewisham to Central London. Folkestone also marks the eastern end of the A259 South Coast Trunk Road with access to the Romney Marsh, Hastings, Eastbourne and beyond. To the north, roads connect Folkestone to Canterbury and the nearby villages of Elham and Lyminge.
Stagecoach in East Kent operates local buses from the town. It is served by The Link services to Canterbury, The Wave service to Dover, Romney Marsh and Hastings. Other bus routes run to Hythe, Ashford and Maidstone.
All these routes serve Folkestone bus station
Schools and colleges in Folkestone include The Folkestone Academy (formed by the merger of Hillside School for Boys and Holywell School for Girls in the early 1970s, and formerly known as Wyndgate Secondary School in the 1970s, The Channel High School in the 1980s, and The Channel School in the 1990s); and Pent Valley Technology College (formerly Pent Valley Secondary Modern, formed by the merger of Harcourt Secondary School for Girls and Morehall Secondary School for Boys in the 1970s).
There are two selective state secondary schools – The Folkestone School for Girls (formed by the merger of The Folkestone Technical High School for Girls and The Folkestone Grammar School for Girls in the 1980s) and the Harvey Grammar School for boys; the latter was founded in 1674. These two schools have a common sixth form timetable.
Tertiary education is provided at the University Centre Folkestone, which opened in September 2007 and specialises in Performing Arts and subjects relating to the creative industries. University Centre Folkestone is a joint initiative of Canterbury Christ Church University and University of Greenwich. It has been announced that the campus will close on 31 July 2013, with courses and students being transferred to Canterbury.
There are a number of primary schools, both state and independent, in the town.
The town is situated at the foot of the North Downs, with views of the surrounding countryside and the coast of France, a mere 24 miles (39 km) away. 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. These are now part of the East Cliff and Warren Country Park.
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.
There are two major long distance footpaths through the town. 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 8 miles (13 km) away. The Saxon Shore Way starts at Gravesend, Kent and traces the Kent coast as it was in Roman times, via Folkestone, as far as Hastings, East Sussex, 163 miles (262 km) in total.
Folkestone has been home to many galleries over the years. The long-established Metropole Galleries, located in the one-time Metropole Hotel on the Leas, staged year round exhibitions until it closed in 2008. Its place has been largely taken by the Creative Foundation. The Foundation has opened a medium scale theatre, conference and music venue in the heart of the Creative Quarter named Quarterhouse. It offers a year-round programme of live music, comedy, film, talks, theatre and children's entertainment. The Georges House Gallery and Googies Art Cafe hold frequent exhibitions by local artists. The Leas Cliff Hall is the biggest entertainment and function venue in Folkestone with a large choice of concerts, comedy and theatre.
The first Folkestone Triennial art event took place between June and September 2008 with artists such as Christian Boltanski and Tracey Emin making site specific work for a wide variety of locations around the town. Many of the commissioned works remain permanently in the town. The 2011 Triennial 'A Million Miles From Home' was launched on 24 September 2010 and commissioned 19 international artists to develop new works for Folkestone’s streets, squares, beaches and historic buildings to create a cutting-edge contemporary art exhibition in the public domain.
Folkestone has an annual Chamber Music Festival each May curated by the Sacconi Quartet. The Festival is based in the town's 13th century Parish Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe in The Bayle and comprises concerts of chamber and ensemble music with guest performers. Website www.sacconi.com The church also hosts a series of Sunday afternoon concerts under the auspices of Bayle Music presenting local, national and international performers as well as occasional concerts by visiting choirs and ensembles. Website www.dandi.me.uk/music
Folkestone, together with Hythe, has an amateur theatre group: the Folkestone & Hythe Operatic & Dramatic Society. It is a charitable organisation, producing and performing several different shows a year at its own venue, the Tower Theatre, located in Shorncliffe. The society also has a youth section, which puts on three performances a year at the Tower Theatre: the Brigadier Thomas Memorial Competition, a summer show and a Christmas revue.
The literary journal The Frogmore Papers, published by The Frogmore Press, was founded by Andre Evans and Jeremy Page in Folkestone in 1983. The Folkestone Book Festival takes place every November.
The Folkestone Museum has been transformed into a local history centre: the Folkestone People’s History Centre.
Folkestone has two paid-for newspapers, the Folkestone Herald (published by Kent Regional News and Media, part of the Local World group) and the Kentish Express (published by the KM Group). The Kentish Express was previously known as the Folkestone Express until 2008, when it was renamed by the KM Group to add to the three existing versions of the Kentish Express. There is also a monthly paid magazine Folkestone, Hythe & Romney Life.
Free newspapers for the town include the Folkestone and Hythe Extra, part of the KM Group; and yourshepway, part of KOS Media. Kent Regional News and Media previously published the Folkestone Adscene, but this was merged with the paid for Herald in 2008.
Following the monthly magazine The Quarter, which ran from 2003–2005, a new arts magazine Folkestone Creative has been published locally since 2005. It reviews events and developments throughout Folkestone, Hythe, and the villages nearby.
KMFM Shepway and White Cliffs Country, use to broadcast to Folkestone on 96.4FM. The station was founded in Dover as Neptune Radio in September 1997 but moved to Folkestone in 2003 after being rebranded following a takeover by the KM Group. The studios were moved again, to Ashford, in 2009. Which went fully county-wide in January 2011.
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 F.C. which had had a long history in the Southern League.
Folkestone Rugby Club was formed in 1974 and currently play in London and SE league 4. 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 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 and Geraint Jones plus Neil Dexter, who moved to Middlesex CCC at the end of the 2008 season, have all represented the club. James Tredwell, who came through the youth academy, is still heavily involved with the club.
Folkestone Optimist Hockey Club are based at the Three Hills Sports Park (along with the cricket and netball clubs).
Notable people from Folkestone
There are a large number of people with connections to the town who have made themselves important in one sphere or another. Men such as William Harvey and his father Thomas Harvey Mayor in 1600 a.d. here, discoverer of the circulation of the blood; and Samuel Plimsoll who invented the line named after him for ship safety.
There have been many actors and actresses, some starting their careers at Arthur Brough's Folkestone Repertory Company including Robert Arnold; comedians including Michael Bentine; and a large number of artists in various fields. Wilkie Collins, Radclyffe Hall and A.E. Coppard were all writers; and there have also been musicians: Noel Redding among them. Les 'Fruitbat' Carter, one half of indie rock band Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine currently lives in Folkestone. Sam Pepper was in the UK reality TV show Big Brother, he was educated at Pent Valley Technology College.
Sport is well represented: numbers of cricketers and football players have Folkestone connections. King Edward VII and his mistress Alice Keppel (great-grandmother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall) regularly enjoyed the luxury (and discretion) of the Grand Hotel on The Leas. 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 [specification needed].
June Brown (wife of Robert Arnold) still has two homes in the town. Dr David Raymond, who spent 45 years at the forefront of the campaign to find a medical cure for stupidity, hails from Folkestone and still resides in the town. Professional wrestler Big B Mac was born and educated in Folkestone before moving to the USA to embark on his wrestling career. Ross Godfrey and Paul Godfrey, brothers from Folkestone, are main members of the UK music group, Morcheeba. Jimmy Hill, presenter of Match of the Day, was stationed at Folkestone Garrison during World War II, during which time he entertained troops.
The novelist Jocelyn Brooke, who died in 1966,writes evocatively about Folkestone and Sandgate in his memoirs. Rosemary Stewart the Canadian insurance heiress resided here for an extended period, known for dedication to coastal swimming from the harbour. During her time she continued to increase her fortune by becoming a significant player in the rag trade.
Folkestone is twinned with:
- Office for National Statistics Key Statistics for Urban Areas Table KS01
- White, (1961), p.55.
- Diaries of George Turnbull (Chief Engineer, East Indian Railway Company) held at the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge University, England
- Page 68 of George Turnbull, C.E. 437-page memoirs published privately 1893, scanned copy held in the British Library, London on compact disk since 2007
- Welcome. The Remembrance Line (2013-06-27). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- Oxford Dictionary of Place Names: this does not explain who Folca was
- "Shepway District Council list of local County Councillors".
- "Shepway District Council Councillor details".
- "Folkestone Town Council".
- "Folkestone Town Council Councillor Details".
- "Folkestone Town Council Councillor Contacts".
- [Folkestone:The Story of a Town C.H. Bishop, 1973, Headley Brothers Ltd, London]
- [dead link]
- News report, resumption of ferry service
- Venice-Simplon-Orient Express
- Leas Cliff Railway
- Leas Lift. Folkestone, Kent - History of the Leas Lift. Leasliftfolkestone.co.uk. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- Folkestone Cliff Railways. Hows.org.uk (1904-03-31). Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- [dead link]
- "Folkestone Town Council minutes".
- Shepway District Council Councillor details
- James Kirby. "Saxon Shore Way". Long Distance Walkers Association. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- Quarterhouse. Quarterhouse. Retrieved on 2013-07-17.
- Folkestone Triennial 2008
- Folkestone Triennial
- Folkestone People’s History Centre
- Room for another KMFM in Ashford.
- Folkestone Invicta Football Club
- Folkestone Rugby Club
- "Folkestone Optimist Hockey Club". Retrieved 2013-03-16.
- Folkestone Park Bowls Club
- Folkestone Running Club
- Chess Olympiad 1933
- "British towns twinned with French towns [via WaybackMachine.com]". Archant Community Media Ltd. Archived from the original on 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
H.P. White, (1961) A regional history of the railways of Great Britain, II Southern England, London: Phoenix House.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Folkestone.|
- The Folkestone Warren Landslide British Geological Survey
-  Dover and Folkestone Locals (forum)
-  Folkestone Tourist Information