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Sea Scouts at the Railway Station HQ

  

The Sea Scouts have always been an integral part of town life. Thus, when we investigate the units colourful past, it is hardly surprising that we pick up wider elements of town history . This is no more evident than in the pictures kindly supplied by Jock Harnett and featured on this page.

Just take a look at this picture of the the unit at their old HQ... 

  


Photo supplied by Jock Harnett

  

The building is the old railway station on the Crab & Winkle Railway Line (just south of the harbour's east gate) and it was used by the Sea Scouts throughout the 1950s. The precise location is shown on the  the "then" map below and the white arrow indicates the angle taken by the photographer.... 

  

Then...

Now...

  

The map on the right shows the scene today and, as you can see, the land is now occupied by the Whitstable Health and Youth Centres.

We have yet to establish the date that the Sea Scouts first occupied the building. The railway line ceased to provide a passenger service during 1930s and the station may have become vacant at that time. Goods services continued until 29 November 1952 when the entire railway line closed but, a few months later,  the track was re-opened in order to bring much needed aid to the town in the wake of the massive sea flood of  January/February 1953. Jock recalls trains passing the Sea Scouts HQ and so the unit was obviously in residence prior to 1952.

If we look at the photo again, we can pick out some of the detail and try to date it...

 

 

The lads are standing on a tarmac concourse that provided vehicle access from Harbour Street. On the right, you can see some cone-shaped concrete blocks. These were the anti-tank traps installed during World War II and the photo is therefore likely to have been taken post-1945.

To the left of the scouts, steps lead up to the station platform. This is covered by a substantial wood canopy supported on a metal framework. Jock can vaguely remember scouts playing drums under this shelter during wet weather. However, the canopy does NOT appear in the many pictures of the railway line's closing ceremony. Thus, the  photo is likely to have been taken BEFORE the 29th November 1952. Other evidence also suggests a pre-1952 scene. The platform appears to be in reasonable condition and the iron fencing is still in evidence to the right. 

The car in the background belongs to a much missed scout leader - Jock's dad, Shirley Harnett. Shirley oversaw both the sea-based activities and the unit's band. The scoutmaster was another popular local character - Ken Treliving. Ken worked locally as manager of the menswear department at Davey's shop in the High Street. He later assumed ownership of Davey's Menswear after it relocated to Harbour Street in the 1960s.

Our final photo was also taken on the concourse of the old railway station HQ.... 

 


Photo supplied by Jock Harnett

  

This scene shows the large area of waste ground that separated the station from Westgate Terrace. It would appear to be a slightly later photo as the iron railings have been removed.

Eventually, the Sea Scouts relocated to their present day site - a hut on the promenade at Long Beach. I am not sure of the date of the move but it was probably during the late 1950s. 


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