Earth Peace 2014
Folkestone Central Station
Grid Ref TR2218736275

The realisation of South Eastern Railway Company’s grand design for a fast straight railway to Folkestone and Dover marked a turning point in Folkestone’s history.  The building of the railway brought upheaval, as noted in the Kent Herald on 22ndSeptember 1842:

We are ‘marching onward’.  The proposed introduction of gas light into our streets, houses and shops; the bustle occasioned by the landings of immense quantities of material s for the railway, and their transit to the line; the crowded state of the streets in the evening, from the great number of navvies and brickmakers employed in the works and other mechanics resident in the town, altogether have made so great a change in the place as to excite our wonder.  In the meantime it is to be remarked that a desire of improvement has manifested itself as regards the adaptation of the town for better residences and improved thoroughfares; and it is not unlikely but the next spring season may exhibit a new town arising, by an extension of the present one, upon the border of the rail-line.*

Engineered by William Cubitt, the main line reached Folkestone on 24th June 1843 and two months later on 1st August 1843 a cross channel steam packet service was inaugurated.  The former fishing village and smugglers’ haunt was now connected to London and the Continent: the rebirth of Folkestone as a ‘fashionable’ resort was imminent.

*Folkestone Railways, Brian Hart, Wild Swan Publications 2002

 

Folkestone Quarterhouse, courtesy Folkestone Camera Club

Folkestone Quarterhouse, courtesy Folkestone Camera Club

Earth Peace 2014
Folkestone Central Station
Grid Ref TR2218736275

Yoko Ono exhorts us to imagine the future with an instruction poem, which can be found upstairs in the Quarterhouse bar.  The imagery of a Skyladder, with its associations of aspiration and imagination, has found an appropriate home in the iconic Quarterhouse.

The Quarterhouse was designed by the Stirling Prize winner Alison Brooks in 2009.  It is a performance space clad with aluminium “pleats”; the effect is suggestive of a stage curtain.   It seems that she derived her inspiration from the scallop shells on some of Folkestone’s Victorian facades.

Folkestone Map.  A Guide to Buildings in Folkestone and Sandgate, Christpher Lumgair, Campbell Lumgair, Deal, Kent 2010

Black and white photograph, Free Library and Museum. Collection Alan F. Taylor

Black and white photograph, Free Library and Museum. Collection Alan F. Taylor

SKYLADDER 2014
Public Library, Grace Hill
Grid Ref TR 22896 36199

Yoko Ono exhorts us to imagine the future with an instruction poem, which can be found upstairs inside the Library. The imagery of a Skyladder, with its associations of aspiration and imagination, has found an appropriate home in Folkestone’s Library and Museum.

Folkestone Museum was established by the Folkestone Natural History Society in 1868, and moved to the purpose built museum and library building in Grace Hill in 1888, where it occupies rooms on the first floor.  The adjoining Sassoon Gallery was opened in 1910 and is used for temporary exhibitions.

The red brick and terracotta building in the Queen Anne Revival style was designed by Brightwen Binyon of Ipswich in 1888.

Folkestone has an impressive art collection. Many paintings were donated before World War ll; the oils and watercolours being mostly of topographical scenes or by locally-based artists.  An important collection of chalk, ink and pencil drawings, from the 15th to the 19th centuries was donated by Mrs Amy Master in 1924.

The museum was run by Folkestone Borough Council until 1974, when the library and museum collections were passed to Kent County Council.  The building now houses internet facilities, as well as the library, museum and history resource centre.

Folkestone Map.  A Guide to Buildings in Folkestone and Sandgate, Christpher Lumgair, Campbell Lumgair, Deal, Kent 2010

The Grand and the Metropolitan Hotels in their heyday.  Collection Alan F. Taylor

The Grand and the Metropolitan Hotels in their heyday. Collection Alan F. Taylor

Earth Peace 2014
The Leas
Grid Ref TR2170235406

The second element in Folkestone’s rebirth as a fashionable resort was the decision of the Earl of Radnor to develop his estate.  The arrival of the railway had heralded expansion in the east of the town but it was the architect Sydney Smirke who designed the West End: large four storey stucco houses and pairs of villas were arranged around garden squares on either side of the Sandgate Road.

The Leas, formerly Lees meaning common land, was laid out on West Cliff for the Earl of Radnor by Decimus Burton, the designer of Hyde Park, in 1843.  The Metropole (site of Yoko Ono’s earlier exhibition) is a bombastic hotel building in red brick and terracotta built by Jenning & Co to TW Cutler’s design and was completed in 1897.  The building’s centre section is topped by a bulbous pavilion roof and cupola: its wings by Dutch gables.* This magnificent building created a genre for splendid seaside hotels.

The Grand, an interesting structure as it is purportedly the first steel building in the world to have been infilled with reinforced concrete was built by local man Daniel Baker, between 1899 and 1903.  Its red brick tripartite frontage has layer upon layer of window bays, affording its occupants good views.  The upper part is finished off by a French- style pavilioned attic flanked by pedimented gables.  Edward VII, his wife and mistress, Alice Keppel, all regularly stayed here despite ‘the monkey business’ and the hotel’s lack of a liquor licence.  Michael Caine, Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, The King of the Belgians, Sarah Bernhardt, Ian Fleming, Robert Morley, Sheridan Morley and Mrs Simpson also stayed here.

Earl Radnor’s vision for Folkestone was a masterpiece both in terms of its scale and its completeness.  Desirable accommodation was provided in hotels or stately villas could be rented for the season.  Recreation was available on the Leas, where private policemen maintained order, and livelier amusements were on offer on the pier and the front, while the upper and lower Leas were connected by lifts and walkways.  By the end of the nineteenth century, Folkestone was considered to be the most aristocratic seaside resort in the country.

Folkestone Map.  A Guide to Buildings in Folkestone and Sandgate, Christpher Lumgair, Campbell Lumgair, Deal, Kent 2010

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