It is wholly appropriate that Something & Son are considering the future of food production near  the site of what was once an orchard, known as Payers Park.

Fish, chips and mushy peas have an association with seaside holidays which goes back to Victorian times.  This was food to go: it could be eaten out of the paper and enjoyed on the beach without fuss or flummery.  Deep fried fish was first introduced into Britain by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain during the sixteenth century while chips made their appearance much later.  The earliest usage of the term is found in Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859.  He refers to “Husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil”.  Dickens visited Folkestone between 1849 and 1865 and one might speculate that he first encountered deep fried slivers of potato here.  The first fish and chip shop was opened in London in 1860 by Joseph Malin.

While Lord Radnor had developed the West End of Folkestone as a fashionable destination, cultural and social imperatives were at work to expand the seaside market.  Cheap day train trips, excursions organised by employers or societies and holiday clubs made the seaside accessible firstly to clerks and shopkeepers and then to the industrial working class.  The seaside resort, a concept invented during the eighteenth century to promote the health benefits of ‘watering places’, now expanded to offer pleasure on a grand scale.* Folkestone developed to cater for the new market and early attractions included pleasure boat trips, Thompson’s Patent Gravity Switchback Railway, constructed in 1888, the Victoria Pier, built by Folkestone Pier and Lift Company, also in 1888, and Fagg’s New and Improved Patent Bathing Carriages established in 1889.

Easy portable food was an important element of the seaside holiday:  kiosks clustered around the Victoria Pier included Rossi’s ice cream, whilst “The Chocolate King” operated from Marine Gardens and the seaside staples of cockles and whelks were sold on The Stade.   Henry Mills’ fried fish and chip shop could be found in Jenny Pope’s Alley at the beginning of the twentieth century and the Marsh family ran A.C. Marsh, Fish Caterer, from 41 Denmark Street from 1909 until 1937.

The Sixth Form Centre was formerly the site of a Baptist Church, which was later replaced by the premises of Hastings and Folkestone Glassworks Company Ltd, who were in operation until the end of the twentieth century.  This collection of buildings has been intelligently remodelled by architects Pringle Richards Sharratt.  The ‘hub’ building links the disparate structures and marks the entrance.**

*The Victorian Seaside, Professor John Walton,
**Folkestone Map.  A Guide to Buildings in Folkestone and Sandgate, Christpher Lumgair, Campbell Lumgair, Deal, Kent 2010

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