Sea Scouts at the Railway
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
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....
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.
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.