Historically, Sandgate was once a little bastion against invasion (Pigots 1840 – Sandgate &c). Today, six gaunt Martello Towers on the heights, a peaceful Castle on the pebble shore, the lure of the French cliffs clear in the evening light, the Channel Tunnel not far off, remind us that those days of strife are over.
On the administrative side, in 1934 Sandgate is merged reluctantly with Folkestone Borough Council, absorbed in Shepway District Council in 1974*. Despite modern expansion, Sandgate proudly guards its identity and its sense of history. Through the efforts of The Sandgate Society, two large Conservation Areas (designated 1972) now help to protect a fascinating mix of architectural styles.
Economically, Sandgate has always adapted to changing times and needs. Its rise and progress clearly stem from the late 18th century days of shipbuilding for George 111’s Navy. With the Napoleonic menace, the growing presence of the Military at Shorncliffe Camp (est 1794), brings life and trade to the village; lodgings, inns and taverns are in demand.
When peace returns, it flowers as a select and serene little watering place long before Folkestone or Hythe. The revival of the Camp in the days of Imperial rule spurs the economy. Then post World War 11, Sandgate develops as the South-east centre of the Antiques Trade.
Through all its vicissitudes, Sandgate survives as a caring, close-knit community. In many walks of life, it embraces well-known, well loved characters – religious, military, literary, commercial – and a colourful social history unfolds.
* In 2004, the village re-acquired civil parish status