The terrace of houses opposite Onyx is unusual because it is of late pure Regency design and as such is quite distinct from the other terraces in the town.*

Onyx itself was once home to the nightclub, La Parisienne, which was owned by colourful local entrepreneur Jimmy Godden.  Godden owned the Rotunda amusement park which was situated on the empty site next door, together with a string of others along the south coast.

An earlier Folkestone entrepreneur, Robert Forsyth, was a local businessman and councillor and in 1907 set up the Victoria Pier Syndicate.   He took over the lease of the ailing Folkestone Pier, which had previously provided high class entertainments, and introduced new diversions aimed at the mass market.  His groundbreaking ideas included novelty acts, wrestling, moving pictures and the first ever international beauty pageant.**

The international component included entrants from Austria, Ireland, France and Spain but the competition was won by Londoner Nellie Jarmon on 14 August 1908.  The Folkestone Express reported that Suffragettes occupied the front two rows with their demand for “Votes for Women” prominently displayed.  The debate about the role of women in such contests continues to wage.  In the meantime the Folkestone Beauty Competition continues each year, as does the Miss World Contest, which Robert Forsyth is credited with creating.

*Folkestone Map.  A Guide to Buildings in Folkestone and Sandgate, Christopher Lumgair, Campbell Lumgair, 2010.
**Folkestone’s Victoria Pier,

Post a comment

* = required

Be the first to hear about Triennial artists, events and exclusive news

Join our mailing list

Don't show this again