No High Street

Article written by Robert Crook

Sandgate was well looked after by the Sandgate Urban District Council. I had the privilege of meeting many of the councillors and I always admired their efforts to govern the town. Sandgate was so self supporting and it indeed has so much to offer – and was a very happy little place.

Alas – the second ‘bombshell’ fell on Sandgate in 1934 due to the extension of boundaries and Sandgate becoming a part of Folkestone. Sandgate lost its heart as well as its own water undertaking, its own Volunteer Fire Brigade with its fire engine and most importantly its own council with a loyal and staunch body of councillors.

At the time it was even suggested that we could no longer have a high street – it was to be renamed ‘Broadway’ it being impossible to have three high streets in Folkestone. However, there was a huge petition and it was granted that we could call it Sandgate High Street Folkestone – as was Cheriton – Cheriton High Street Folkestone.

There were several builders living in Sandgate and very many houses and bungalows appeared – particularly in the Enbook Valley area to Shorncliffe Crescent. Sandgate was growing fast and all seemed to be going reasonably well – when there came disaster.

The third ‘bombshell’ fell – the 2nd World War – Sandgate High Street was completely cut in half by a mass of barbed wire – houses and shops oh the South side all closed.

Sandgate during the war is a long story – in 1937 air raid precautions commences. 1939 evacuees arrived from London and 12 months later were sent to Wales and so the real war was commenced. Hiroshima was obliterated by an atom bomb in August 1945 – and the war was over.

Sandgate found it difficult to recover and many people who left Sandgate never returned. One by one shops re-opened and the inhabitants made a great effort to recover. There were now 3 active churches again and I admired the effort that was being made. Sandgate suffered some severe gales.

I remember 1949 when much damage was done to the sea front – and then in 1954 the sea wall protecting the coastguard cottages was damaged. Sea defence commences and a wall was built along the coast which reduced the danger of flooding from the sea when there were gales.

My thoughts of the future – now 60 years after the war there is a fourth ‘time bomb’ ticking and the ticking gets louder each month. A way to immobilise this ticking bomb “the traffic situation” must be found!

A mass of apartments with hundreds of flats have been built with no regard about the number of cars that would be needed. Even this week I hear that 46 houses are being built in the Golden Valley which is already congested with parked cars. In 1962 The Sandgate Society was founded and in 2004 Sandgate had a Parish Council again. I am sure jointly they can and will do so much towards a recovery.

Written winter 2007.