Simply Whitstable Visitors Book Content

Date Message/Response Sender
30/4/13

Message Re: Old Bridge Road & Old Ideas

Hi, Dave,

Further to your response to my last posting, I have had a look at Dad's photos as now incorparated in the Flood section - thank you for such a professional presentation. Also, we are settling well in the Midlands - thank you for asking.

With regard to your recent response to Rosemary Gilbert and your comments about the proposed road from Church Street to Old Bridge Road, that road was planned to join Old Bridge Road adjacent to no 75. As a result, a window was put in the side wall of that house as it would have faced the new road and sufficient light would have been available to make a such a window worth having.

 House no 71, which was of a similar design to no 75, did not have the equivalent window as it faced on to the side wall of no. 73 and the window would have provided insufficient light.

The change of name of the upper part of Old Bridge Road to The Bridge Approach was all part of the same thinking - The Bridge Approach was to be a cul-de-sac with through traffic using the new road. No motor traffic would have passed under the Old Bridge which, as you rightly say, may have led to the latter's survival. It may not have done had the argument between the British Railways Board and the then WUDC been about money for maintenance. It is, however, interesting to ponder on this might-have-been! As an aside, is there any further talk of constructing a new bridge over Old Bridge Road, the railway and Teynham Road?

 Once the bridge was demolished and no new road was to be built, the remaining houses between no 75 Old Bridge Road and the old railway were constructed, sometime in the 1970s, as I recall. By this time, I had moved away from Whitstable and rarely went home, so I have no knowledge of the reasons behind the layout of that part of Old Bridge Road.

Lastly, my apologies if I am repeating information that I (or anyone else, for that matter) has previously posted concerning this subject. As you say, Dave, it was a while ago when we discussed it last.

With every good wish,

Terry

Site Response:

Thanks, Terry. My explanation was perhaps a bit of an over-simplification. You are right to distinguish the1960s properties of Old Bridge Road from the 1970s houses.

The 1960s properties left a gap for a road. The 1970s additions were built at an angle and look as if they were also making room for a road. That may still be true as they may have followed the original division of London's Field into plots but, by the 1970s, the idea of a road from Church Street may well have been discarded and there may have been some other reason for their orientation.

Before I answer your question about the the re-bridging of Old Bridge Road and Teynham Hill, I will outline the issue briefly for any new readers.

In its latter days of operation, the old Canterbury & Whitstable Railway had three bridges in close proximity as follows....

  • The first carried it over Old Bridge Road.
  • The second carried it over the main London-to-Thanet railway.
  • The third carried it over Teynham Road.

It was one of the most complex sectuons of the railway and, by the early 1950s, it looked something like my rough skectch below....

C&WR Bridges at Whitstable

Some time after the line closed, all three bridges were demolished and it then looked like this...

C&WR The Three Bridges at Whitstable

In recent times, a lot of work has been done to establish a cycle/pedestrian path that follows the old railway line from Whitstable to Canterbury. In fact, a path has now  been created enabling walkers and cyclists to travel from Ivy House Road (Whitstable) to St Thomas's Hill (Canterbury). However, it only utilises some of the old track and, in many places, it relies on nearby country paths. Furthermore, it is missing the final stretches in both Canterbury and Whitstable.

The holy grail is to try to get a path that follows the entire railway track - including the addition of those "end bits".

The missing bit at the the "Whitstable end" is from Ivy House Road to the Harbour and it is felt that most of this could be restored relatively easily because much of the embankment is still in place - particularly at the rear of Clare Road. The big issue concerns the three missing bridges.

Eventually, plans were formulated for re-bridging by way of two new pedestrian bridges. The first would span BOTH Old Bridge Road AND the main line railway track. The second would span Teynham Road. The diagram below explains the proposal...

C&WR The Three Bridges at Whitstable

A substantial amount of money was secured from the National Lottery to help fund it.

Then, protestors became involved to challenge the proposals - not just for the bridges but also the use of the track at the rear of Clare Road. As you can imagine, the whole thing descended into the normal arguments and appeals. In the end, the appeals were turned down BUT, by then, the Lottery "award" had expired. As far as I know, things have ground to a bit of a halt for the time being. However, someone may be able to give a more up-to-date report on that.

It appears to have been a classic case where a protest loses.... but wins anyway. However, whether it is just a battle won or a whole war remains to be seen. Personally, I hope that it all gets going again... but I am sure our readers will make up their own minds.

PS I apologise for the above diagrams being so small but I cannot fit larger items in the Visitors Book. Larger diagrams will appear in a permanent article in due course.

Terry Phillips
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwicks.
29/4/13

Message Re: Harbour Trade

Thanks Dave,

That's what I call quick answer. I was wondering if there was a coal handling facility there as well? I will read your suggested sites with interest. I like your comments about the pot holes. I wish I had thought of photographing the holes in Seaham. It would probably have saved Kodak from going bust. Thanks again.

Ray

Site Response:

Thanks, Ray. The articles I mentioned are actually on Simply Whitstable as they were very kindly produced for us by Brian and Terry. We are very lucky with the many people who contribute their time and expertise to keep the site afloat. I have learnt an awful lot form them over the years.

I am perhaps being a bit unfair about the new tarmac. There are some slight grooves forming where cars are pressing it down... but it could all flatten out eventually. I am just pleased that the potholes have been covered up.... but it seems that is much the same in other parts of the country.

I have to be honest and say that I really don't know how England is ever going to repair all its roads and pavements because they have been allowed to disintegrate over decades. 

Ray Curtis
Seaham
Durham
29/4/13

Message Re: Harbour Trade

Hello again, Dave. Hope you are ok. You have my permission to forward my e mail address to anyone.

Could you tell me if Whitstable Harbour could take steam vessels of about 800Tons in about the year 1911. Pardon my ignorance, I know you are famous for oysters etc, but cannot see any other trade.

Thanks again,

Ray

Site Response:

Thanks, Ray. I have passed your email address on to Jock Harnett. I'll have to duck the question of the ship sizes and leave it to our maritime experts and/or historians!!!! However, I can mention a bit about trade.

Several centuries ago, Whitstable had two key exports apart from seafood - namely copperas (produced at Tankerton and used in the making of dyes) and salt (produced in various locations in the area). The latter is still celebrated in various place and street names around the town - such as Seasalter, The Salts, Saltmarsh Lane etc. For more detail on this, take a look at Brian Smith's article The History of the Whitstable Shoreline since 1287.

Other trades also grew up and most perhaps resulted from the fact that Whitstable gradually became a seaport for the nearby City of Canterbury. The first significant location for this was at the Horsebridge where vessels (largely the flat-bottomed Thames barges) were unloaded on the mudflats.

I say Whitstable GRADUALLY became the city's seaport because Canterbury did, originally, have its own maritime facility but this disappeared when its river (the River Stour) slowly silted up.

By the first half of the nineteenth century, Whitstable had become so important to the City that a railway line (The Canterbury and Whitstable Railway line) was built to transport materials from the coast to the city. This started running in 1830....  and was followed, in 1832, by the opening of Whitstable harbour. You may find it useful to read Terry Phillips article The Canterbury & Whitstable Railway at the Harbour . This mentions some of the key products traded through the harbour and provides some dates.

When the harbour arrived, it also gave rise to a steampacket passenger service to London. However, this was never going to last long - particularly as the age of the railway network was on the horizon. Our mainline railway arrived in 1860.

Ray Curtis
Seaham
Durham
28/4/13

Message Re: The Old Parsonage

Dave,

I've tried several times on-line to find reference to "The Old Parsonage" ca. 1424 (?) in Whitstable. Going towards South Street, it's a very short distance from All Saints Church - same side of the road. It once was owned by Mr. Stroud of Stroud & Roberts, and I understand from one of his daughters that part of the land surrounding "The Old Parsonage" was sold a few years ago and a new property built thereon - but NOT on the site of the property I'm inquiring about.

In August/September of 1968, I was back in Whitstable for a short while and walked out to find "The Old Parsonage" which had been very tastefully "done up" with huge, very tall wrought-iron gates and the year the property was built in wrought-iron figures. I think the date was 1424. I really hope this beautiful, centuries-old property is still in Whitstable and not destroyed in order to build wretched condos.

Thanks for any help.

Site Response:

Thanks, Rosemary. The lovely Old Parsonage is still there... but I don't recall seeing wrought iron gates in recent years.

In more recent times, two detached properties were built at the rear and this led to some minor changes to the layout of the entrance. Rather than giving direct access to the driveway of the Old Parsonage, the entrance now serves a long driveway leading down the side of Church Street playing fields to the new properties. The new gateway to the Parsonage is on the right of this driveway. Any wrought iron gates may have been removed when these changes were made.

I cannot confirm that date of 1424... but some of our historians might like to comment. Incidentally, The Old Parsonage was mentioned in John Kokorsch's Vistors Book entry of 1/1/13.

Despite the extra development in that area, Church Street still manages to retain some of its village feel. This is largely because many of the older properties have survived and, whilst they now have modern street numbers, they still display their original names.

Of course, a couple of buildings have been lost. The old forge (now replaced by the entrance to the All Saints Church car park) disappeared well before my time. However, I do recall the demolition of one old property. That was Ivy House - located on the sharp bend of Church Street, next to Smeeds farm house.

Ivy House was derelict in the late 1950s and, as a kid, I remember hunting around it and discovering a hoard of cut throat razors.There was a lovely meadow at the rear and this stretched across to the old C&W railway line. It normally contained two horses - a big brown one.... and a little brown one with a black main. The litttle one was called "Bambi". Bambi was well known in that area and he turned up regularly at the annual gymkhana at Westmeads rec'.

Eventually, the meadow became the Ivy House Road residential development and the property itself was demolished to provide access.

In some ways, it was a shame because Ivy House could have been a lovely country-style cottage. However, I suspect that it had become dangerous - particularly for kids with cut throat razors and no stubble. Demolition was probably inevitable by that time.

As Terry Phillips mentioned in the Visitors Book some years ago, Ivy House Road may never have been built as there were all sorts of other ideas around at that time. One was to demolish Ivy House and put a new road through to Old Bridge Road. This would have rid Church Street of that nasty bend and possibly helped to save the Oldest Railway Bridge in the World from demolition at the foot of Bridge Approach.

Another idea was to build a new road down the old C&W railway line from the Thanet Way to the harbour with a spur leading down to Old Bridge Road. That would have provided another route into town and eased the traffic problems of modern times at Millstrood Hill, Borstal Hill, Canterbury Road and Oxford Street. However, this would have been very expensive because the old single track railway was not, of itself, wide enough to support a two-carriageway trunk road.

There is still some evidence of these ideas today. If you look at the houses opposite the railway station in Old Bridge Road, you will notice that, near the old C&WR embankment, some are set at an angle with a triangular section of grass in front of them. That triangle was probably left undeveloped to allow for the construction of a road.

Looking back, Whitstable had a number of opportunities to get its road infrastructure ready for a new world - and not just in the Church Street area. Now, of course, we are stuck with convoluted and "ill-thought out" proposals for one-way systems because massive infill and conservation limit our options.

Goodness, now I have wandered off the point again. What was I saying about the Old Parsonage?.......

Rosemary Gilbert
San Francisco
USA
28/4/13

Site Note: Tarmac and Roads

In response to Peter McInally's message, I mentioned that new tarmac had produced some local roads that were as smooth as baby's bum. Unfrtunately, the baby's bum of Bridge Approach appears me to have started to develop some slight bumps and grooves under the weight of traffic.

Site Note: Whitstable... 2 (0) Three Bridges.... 1 (0)

I spotted the tarmac on my way to the Belmont to see a bit of Whitstable's final match in the Ryman League Division 1 South.

Whitstable had the edge in the opening hour and looked the more likely to score but it wasn't until the 65th minute that they took the lead. A scramble in the visitors' penalty area led to the ball breaking free on the right and, from an acute angle, Everitt powered a shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net.

It has been a season in which the Reds have often snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and this match could easily have followed the same pattern. In the 70th minute, Morrish should have made it 2-0 when some woeful defending allowed him to drive through the centre of the Three Bridges defence to confront the goalkeeper. It wasn't even "one on one" because he had unmarked team mates supporting him on either side but he chose to go it alone.... whereupon he stumbled in his attempt to round the keeper and ended up winning a corner rather than the match.

To rub salt in the wounds, Whitstable were then guilty of their own pitiful defending. Three Bridges progressed down the left and swung a crossfield pass into acres of space on the right wing. Why the space when Town were defending a slender 1-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining? Heaven only knows... but the ensuing low cross was turned into the net from close range by O'Hara.

It looked as if the Reds' chances of a win had gone.... but we then witnessed one of the few occasions of the 2012/13 season when the footballing gods chose to smile on them. In fact, those gods were actually having a bit of a laugh because they helped to produce a comic finale in which they smiled not once but four times. Here is the sequence...

  • Smile number 1 came when, with no great threat to his goal, a defender needlessly tripped Everitt just inside the penalty box.
  • Smile number 2 followed when the referee pointed to the spot despite Everitt's innocuous-looking tumble. (On reflection, it was a penalty but there was something that didn't look quite about it and I supect that some officials may have ignored it)
  • Smile number 3 arrived when a stiff breeze shifted the ball several inches to the right as Everitt tried to take the penalty kick. Fortunately, he managed to abort his approach at the very last moment.
  • Smile number 4 ended the sequence when Everitt finally scuffed his shot and the ball bobbled towards the goal. Had the goalkeeper remained upright he might have walked across and picked it up... but he had dived and, from his prone position, he could only watch as it trickled inside the left hand post.

It was the sort of luck that town perhaps deserved. Just a couple of weeks ago, they had faced a similar situation in their Easter derby clash with Herne Bay at Winch's Field. Leading 1-0 and well in charge, they had the opportunity to kill off their opponents with a penalty. On that occasion, the wind moved the ball off the spot several times and Herne Bay players made semi-professional mischief by arguing about the placing of the errant leather thing. When the kick was finally taken, the ball was sitting horribly "high" on the hard ground and the shot ballooned up to hit the crossbar. Bay eventually equalised to claim a point.

Yesterday's successful penalty against Three Bridges gave Whitstable some revenge because the victory raised their points tally to 44 for the season and carried them into 17th place in the final league table - one point and two places above Herne Bay.

Let's hope a bit a bit of luck can stay with them through the summer so that they can make a bright start to 2013//14 in August. 

Dave Taylor
Site Note
26/4/13

Message Re: A Whitstable Town Council?

I think you should represent Whitstable for KCC and show them what is needed to save our dear Whitstable. Oh, it is so good to have you back.

Site Response:

Strewth, Penny. I don't think I could ever be happy attending meetings. I am just not an "agenda and minutes" person!!!!

Seriously though.... the current system of local government is so heavily weighted against independent candidates that I doubt that we will see too many now or in the future. As far as I am concerned, political parties should have no role on a local council.... but how do we get rid of them?

Penny Young
Mississauga
Ontario
Canada
25/4/13

Message Re: A Whitstable Town Council?

Hi Dave I understand that following a meeting of Canterbury City Council this evening, a "community governance review" may take place to consider the prospect of separate town councils for Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay.

Apparently The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (Part 4) devolved power from the Secretary of State to principal councils to carry out 'community governance reviews' and put in place, or make changes to, local community governance arrangements.

Can you give us the skinny on this Dave? Could it mean WUDC redux?

Best

Peter

 PS It's so good to have you back!

Site Response:

Blimey, Peter. You are better informed in New York than we are in Whitstable!

At the moment, the CCC web site doesn't have the minutes of the meeting available.... and I daresay someone is still labouring over them up Military Road. Thus, I really don't know much about it.

The agenda is available of course and there is an agenda item on the subject. This is accompanied by a recommendation from the council executive to the effect that a Community Executive Review should not be initiated at the present time on the basis that an Electoral Review of the city council could take place in 2013. The recommendation goes on to add the following caveat...

"Whilst a Community Governance Review cannot practically take place at the same time as an Electoral Review, the council can take soundings of likely public interest and reconsider the issue once the Electoral Review has completed".

As the executive is manned and womanned by Tories and the full council is controlled by Tories, one would expect the recommendation to be rubber stamped by the flock... but the caveat may lead to some discussion.

Whatever the long term outcome, I think we can dismiss the idea of a WUDC-style council ever making a comeback. Remember that the WUDC had total control over most things and employed its own direct labour force - including surveyors, planners, finance people, builders, painters, refuse collectors etc etc. Realistically, we are never going to see that situation again.

Furthermore, I am not sure that I want to see it again. Some things were better under the WUDC. .... but there was an awful lot that wasn't. The council simply lacked the clout, money and expertise to cope with the many problems that faced the town in the aftermath of  World War II and Whitstable fell into serious decline. It finally re-emerged some years after the CCC took over. The CCC exploited local assets and, by and large, it has run a pretty tight "financial ship" ever since.

Blimey.... here I am singing the praises of the CCC!!!! But credit where it is due... and don't worry! I won't be heaping total praise on it by any means.

The CCC kickstarted change... and then, for me, failed in many aspects of "change management" while it fiddled with its spreadsheets, performance indicators and award trinkets. There seemed to be a feeling that Whitstable was "okay now" and could be left to market forces for its future progress. The end result was that the town became a yuppy paradise at the mercy of the wealthy, the arty-farty and the property developer. It also moved forward without some of the infrastructure necessary to support the advance.

With the demise of the independent councillor, the takeover by the main political parties, the establishment of a one-party executive and the growing power of non-elected senior officials, the CCC seems (to me) to operate more like a dictatorship than a democracy. This has led to a growing feeling that the Leader of the Council, some of his "chosen few" on the executive and a handful of senior officials have the power to ride roughshod over the people of Whitstable.

When we examine the make-up of that powerful executive, it gets even more depressing from a "Whitstable" point of view. Since Neil Baker left the committee, the CCC web site has listed the membership as eight councillors -  of whom four have been drawn from the Herne Bay area. Whitstable is listed as having one representative.... and guess what! She is also a Kent County Councillor for... wait for it.... wait for it.... Herne Bay!!!! I have no idea if Neil will be or has been replaced by another Whitstable councillor. I can only go by the contents of the web site.

A lot of this been allowed to happen because too many of our elected councillors have been all too eager to tow the party line. However, we nim-nom members of the public can't moan too much... because we either elected them on the basis of the colour of their rosette or failed to turn up at the polling stations to get shot of them. Of course, we do have something of an excuse because, at times, we may have felt that none of the candidates were worth voting for. After all, interest in politics is now in such decline that parties may be struggling to find candidates of real quality. Give it a decade or so and candidates could  be selected purely on their ability to steam up a mirror, generate a pulse or breathe in and out at approximately the right intervals. Move on a few more years from that and we could be electing people who are clinically dead. Meanwhile, the whole local government system is heavily stacked against talented independent candidates ever making an impact.

Irrespective of whether this disenchantment with the CCC (and its party politics) is justified or merely a paranoid misinterpretation of the circumstances, it has led to a growing feeling that Whitstable needs a town council.... BUT, for heaven's sake, take care with this one because I am not sure that the people pushing it necessarily know what they are talking about. It could be a route from frying pan to fire.

The first problem is... "What is Whitstable?". Yes.... we old SW readers regard it as central Whitstable, Swalecliffe, Chestfield, Tankerton and Seasalter. However, nowadays, it is getting to the stage where we have to quote the post code (CT5) in order to get newcomers to understand this old definition of "Whitstable".  I suspect that many of them see the town as little more than a very small circle drawn from a mid point somewhere around The Duke of Cumberland and including Whitstable bay because they have yachting interests.

So, do we have a town council for that small area or for the whole of CT5? Do we need or want separate councils for Tankerton, Swalecliffe and Seasalter? Do the people of Chestfield want to be part of Whitstable anymore or do they just want to enhance their existing village council?

Rather than bringing us together, a town council could prove to be the most divisive thing to hit us in years!!! Ironically, it is our mistrust of CCC that helps to unite us and Whitstable wouldn't be the first place to descend into tribal warfare when the shackles of an "occupying force" are removed. Even under the old WUDC, there was a touch of this.... with the run-down central areas claiming that Tankerton always got a better deal... and everyone claiming that Chestfield always got a better deal. In modern times, it is even more complex due to... the emergence of central Whitstable as a media-inspired "place-to-be-seen"...  the growth of Seasalter, Swalecliffe and Chestfield.... and the influx of newcomers to the area. We also have the problem that Whitstable could soon be cut in half by proposals for a revamp of the local parliamentary constituencies.

Then we have the problem that a town council will add to bureaucracy and costs.... and you can bet your bottom dollar that the main parties will try to grab control of it. So, you could pay more money and still end up with decisions being made at Conservative HQ in Canterbury, the Labour Club up Belmont Road or whichever front room happens to be serving as the Lib-Dem battle bunker. And I fear that Canterbury politicians and officials will still be able to exert pressure via party links and official channels.

Of course, the other possibility is that a town council will be controlled by local pressure groups..... or local do-gooders who are hell-bent on creating a hobby for themselves rather than construct model boats in their shed. Some of those pressure groups could be a disaster because they are so swathed in self interest.... whilst others are so broad in their representation that they couldn't make a decision if they were locked in a council chamber for an entire century. Meanwhile, some of the do-gooders could turn the town into a real life version of Ever Decreasing Circles.

Basically, if we can't find candidates with real ability to fill seats on our existing councils, how are we going to stock an entire extra tier of local government?

An even more fundamental question revolves around the issue of what powers a town council will be given. If it has direct control of important budgets and unhindered decision-making over most key issues (eg planning, roads etc), it might be worth having. However, if it can only fiddle with the choice of flowers for the High Street tubs and decide which font should be used on the "twin town" signs, I don't want to pay extra council tax for it. I am not gonna finance someone else's hobby or ego from my pension. As far as I am concerned, they can buy another Airfix kit and get back to their shed.

Even if we could decide what Whitstable is, get all districts working in harmony, negotiate real local power and find some half decent councillors, we have a final problem. Any town council would simply be an ill-fitting cludge tacked on the side of an existing system .This carbuncle of an organisation would need to work closely with the CCC and rely on its help. What kind of relationship would exist between a potentially resentful Canterbury and a rebellious Whitstable? Just how hard would it be for us to negotiate decent sized budgets or get ourselves high on the priority list for public works? I have a feeling that, for places like Whitstable, town councils will only really work if the whole system of local government is revamped to accommodate them.... and that isn't going to happen in the current financial climate.

Despite all these concerns, I have never heard anyone define precisely what a Whitstable town council would involve or how it would operate in practice.... and THAT really worries me.

Mind you, there is a scenario that I find interesting... even if I am not wholly convinced by it at the moment. Let me explain...

Could we have a set up whereby the big number crunching (eg housing benefit payments, council tax collection, contracting-out of public works/services, district wide policies etc) remains with a larger authority (such as the CCC or KCC). Meanwhile, executive decision making on local issues is devolved to a town council that has direct control over key matters such as local budgets, town planning, roads etc etc.

In this scenario, the town council would only need a minimum of staff. If the council approved some public works, the decisions would be binding on the larger authority who would then arrange for the work to be carried out. The cost would be deducted from the town council's budget.

If this was ever implemented, a major decision would have to be made. Should the higher authority be the Canterbury City Council or Kent County Council. The advantage of the KCC is that we could remove a tier of local government by scrapping the CCC altogether.

Let's face it, the CCC is already working in co-operation with other East Kent councils in order to provide common/shared services. This is a cost cutting exercise but, to me, it may also indicate that it is now too small and too insignificant for the new millennium. If it is also failing to provide Whitstable with local decision-making and real local democracy, should we bother with it anymore? Is it merely giving us the worst of both worlds - too small to achieve real economies of scale but too big/remote to allow Whitstable an adequate degree of self-determination?

So why not have a town council linked to the KCC? I am not convinced that it is practical but it is something that our readers might like to kick around.

Wow, thanks, Peter. I feel I have just got back into the swing of this Simply Whitstable thing.

PS I am sure most of our local readers will have spotted great dollops of tarmac being splodged on roads all over town in recent weeks. The work includes the whole or parts of Teynham Road, Railway Avenue, Tankerton Road, Tankerton Circus, Bridge Approach, Old Bridge Road and Ham Shades Lane. I may get some photos to prove it all to our ex-pat Natives.

Wow.... I am really pleased because we've now got  a few highways that are as smooth as a baby's bum.... and that could mean the demise of the 4x4.

I am sure that it is pure coincidence that all these roadworks have preceded the KCC elections on the 2nd of May. Even so, could we have another election in October.... to see if a coincidence can fix our pavements in September.

PPS Has anyone got some tar remover for my car? 

Peter McInally
New York
USA
22/4/13

Message: Site Re-Opening

Good morning, Dave,

Since your enforced absence, I have been looking from time to time at the web in the hope of seeing something other than the July Site Note. Clearly, I have not been looking enough as I have suddenly discovered that you are back on the air. Great stuff! I can tell from the many comments on the Visitor's Book that there are many others who are equally delighted to see the return of the new revamped website.

The site now looks very smart and not only have you been dealing with your eye issues you have, clearly, been very busy - thank you very much for your hard work. It is also great to see the comment flowing from many of the "old names" that wrote so frequently before the closure.

I have not been able to spend much time reading the entries that I have missed but when I saw Barry Freeman's comments about Oxo crisps and your response regarding Potato Puffs I knew that my life was just that little bit more complete! Where else can such important matters be aired in such an erudite manner? Welcome back, Dave. Look after that eye.

With every good wish, as always.

Terry

Site Response:

Thanks, Terry. I will get in touch shortly as I would like to discuss the use of some of your photos.

At the moment, I am trying to restore old material to the site but once that task has been completed, I want to add new articles and update old ones. Of course, I am having to take things steadily because my "bad eye" is now deteriorating due to the cataract. Hopefully, I will get my op in the near future and I can then get back to normal.

PS You may have noticed that the Flood of '53 item has been updated and now includes your dad's photos.

PPS I hope you are settling in in your new home

Terry Phillips
Stratford-upon-Avon
Warwicks.
15/4/13

Message for Audrey Randall

 Audrey, were you successful in re-establishing contact with Daphne? I believe I sent you her most recent address in Clearlake about 2-3 years ago. Just curious.

Site Response:

Thanks, Rosemary.

Rosemary Gilbert
San Francisco
USA
13/4/13

Message: Re: Albert Potter and the Whitstable Fire Service

Hi, Dave. Great to see you back.

 I have been on the ex-pats page for some years, living in France for nearly 9 years. We returned to the UK in September 2012, back to the Whitstable area, primarily for the children's education but also to spend time with my father and sister who live in Whitstable.

Sadly,my father passed away after a short illness on Good Friday 2013. It has been such a shock for us, but we are so glad to have come back and had that time with him.

Some of your readers may know of him - Albert Potter, aged 79. He was a 'retained fireman' serving the Whitstable community for 23 years before retiring in 1988. He was also an independent haulage driver for many years working alongside Bretts at the harbour driving the Tarmac lorries. His funeral is on Monday and we have arranged with the Station Officer that the hearse will pass the fire station for a final parade and salute.

Everyone has been so kind and some of the stories we are now hearing of his time in the fire brigade make us proud beyond words. It would be great to see an article covering the Fire Station,and it's brave men. I'm sure there would be many stories. When I get a chance I will send a few in.

Site Response:

Thanks, Linda. I am sure everyone connected with Simply Whitstable will want me to pass on our sympathy and best wishes at this difficult time for you and your family.

It's great that you have so many fond memories.... and that yet more are being stirred. I always feel that, through memories, our loved ones are never wholly lost to us. It's the greatest legacy that they leave to us.

It would be a great idea to produce something on the local fire service. Perhaps some of our readers can start us off with the history and any personal memories. It won't be easy and it may take some time as the fire station has moved several times during its lifetime.

Linda Proctor
Blean
Kent
13/4/13

Site Note: Clare House School History - Help Needed

A few days ago, I included a site note to inform everyone that our schools menu was operational again. I also made specific mention of a revamped article on the Clare House Boys, Clare House Girls and Horley Schools.

Some years ago, we were very confused about the origins of these establishments. The revamped article clears up many of the mysteries by tracing the origins back to a Mr Sargent who set up a Clare House boys school at the corner of Strangford Road and Castle Road (then known as Church Street Road) in 1911. The first mention of girls comes in 1915 when they were mentioned as receiving awards alongside the boys at a Prize Giving ceremony. However, we don't know whether the girls were taught at Strangford Road or elsewhere in Whitstable.... and we don't know when a girls establishment first started.

Things changed and became much clearer by the mid-1920s. Mr Sargent had moved the boys to All Saints Church and there was quite clearly a separate Clare House Girls School being run at 81A High Street by a Miss Horley.

Since revamping the article, I have had some further thoughts... and they concern the name Clare House. It could simply be that Mr Sargent used a name that was associated with that bit of Whitstable - after all, Clare Road isn't far from Strangford Road. However, there is another possibility.

Often, roads have the same name as a prominent property within them. So, was there ever a Clare House in Clare Road prior to 1911.... and was it used as a school?

If there was a Clare House School in Clare Road, it could change our thinking. It might push the start date of the school back by a few years and raise doubts as to whether Mr Sargent was the founder of the establishments. It might also lead to us discovering that it all started as a girls or mixed school rather than a wholly boys establishment. I have explained all this in an addendum at the end of the revamped article. You can check all this out by  going to our Schools Menu.

As the weather in Whitstable is pretty miserable at the moment and the quality of British TV seems to deteriorate by the day, some of our readers might like to amuse themselves by doing a bit of digging through old street indexes and archives. ;-) 

PS As you know, I don't like being controversial but can I just say that the number of TV Award Ceremonies seems to grow in inverse proportion to the shrinking quality on our HD Readies. I dread to think what will happen when we all get 3-D. We'll be totally immersed in self-indulgent crap like a post-Vindaloo nightmare.

And what are these ceremonies all about? They seem to laud mediocrity with such gusto. They also seem to be an exercise in self-congratulation as they are presented by the industry, celebrated by the industry and watched by the industry. Meanwhile, the rest of us grab the remote and switch to "Dave" or "Dave Plus 1" so that we can dig through history and remind ourselves what a decent TV progam looked like.

Why can't we have a "BBC1 Minus 1" or an "ITV Minus 1". This would enable us to travel back through time and bypass the likes of Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton when they announce yet more meaningless award nominations and make us cringe with embarrassment.

Dave Taylor
Site Note
13/4/13

Message:

Hi, Dave Just done my regular favourites check to see if SW was up and running again and - Bingo!! There it was!! Great news - really made my day.

Welcome back and I do wish you all the very best for a healthy future.

Best wishes

Nigel

Site Response:

Thanks, Nigel

Nigel Robinson
Southampton
Hants
13/4/13

Message:

Welcome back. I have missed my regular dose of nostalgia. Special thanks to you for all your hard work.

Paul

Site Response:

Thanks, Paul.

Paul Ryan
Charing
Kent
11/4/13

Message to Jock Harnett re: Photos

Hello, Jock Harnett. I have been talking to my mother about you. She is now 95years old and losing her sight but she has a great memory. She remembers visiting your father about 1963. She is sure you were there also. Does Wynn Street mean anything?

Know about the photos. I am told Phyllis Harnett was your aunt . Mother says she had a photo showing Phyllis on a float as a Carnival Queen about 1930.  Sadly, this cannot be found.

On the other photo, Grandfather Henry is on back row - standing fourth from left with Sydney fifth. Henry's father had same name.

Mother sendsyou her best wishes... me to. If you would like more info on my findings just let me know.

Cheers

Ray

Site Response:

Thanks, Ray. I think you will find it was Wynn Road rather than Wynn Street.

Please let me know if email addresses need to be exchanged. Obviously for privacy reasons, I cannot pass on addresses without clearly expressed permission.

Ray Curtis
Seaham
Durham
10/4/13

Message: Victoria McAlpin's Enquiry re: Mathews Ancestry

I was sure there must be others who had knowledge of the Matthews family. In Roger Newlyn's item, he mentioned that Donald and John had worked together at Anderson Rigden. I think he has confused John and his brother Ray, some eight years older than John. Ray and Donald did indeed work at the shipyard together.

Site Response:

Thanks, Anne.

Anne Harman
Sidney
BC
Canada
10/4/13

Message: Victoria McAlpin's Enquiry re: Mathews Ancestry

No problem with passing my email address on to Victoria McAlpin. r

Rgards,

Roger

Site Response:

Thanks, Roger. I will pass it on.

Roger Newlyn
Gravesend
Kent
7/4/13

Site Note: Site Revamp

Just a quick note to let you know the progres being made on  the revamp of Simply Whitstable.

I have now re-instated all the School Memories articles. Most are unchanged and will be updated in the near future. However, you may wish to note some new or amended items.

  • The Sir William Nottidge section has been completely re-written in the new format. It includes extra information on the history of the school and the the school badge. There is also an additional page that provides then and now photos of the school buildings.

  • There is a new page on the PNEU school of Gloucester Road of the 1930s to 1950s

  • I have also reviewed all the information received on the subject of the Phipps Prep School, the Clare House Boys/Girls Schools and the Horley School. Some of our readers will recall that these establishments were linked and it was proving difficult to unscramble the history. Thanks to all our hardworking contributors, we now have a clearer picture and I have set this out in two documents. The first concerns the Phipps Prep School which we can now regard as a separate enterprise. The second is a composite page discussing The Clare House Boys School, The Clare House Girls School and the Horley School. These schools were clearly connected and I have tried to explain the links in some detail.

You can check all this out by via the options on our Schools Menu.

 

I hope this helps!!!!

Dave Taylor
Site Note
7/4/13

Message:

How, wonderful  to see you back. I hope that you are much better and that you will continue to be .

Angela

Site Response:

Many thanks, Angela. There may be a short break in service in the summer as I have to have another eye op as a cataract has developed on the bad eye. However, this will probably be a more simple procedure and may not involve a lengthy recovery.

Angela Puech
Oise
France
7/4/13

Message re: Donald Matthews

Dave, great to see you are back up and running. I have missed the memories the site recalls.

Don't go too mad and push the sight too much in playing catch up. On the subject of catch up, I have read back and your "long shot" comment on the 21st of January 2013 to Victoria McAlpin's query re Donald Matthews and Magaret Barham is not such a long shot.

Margaret was my cousin. Always called "Auntie Peg" as she was much older than her siblings and me. She looked after me in my younger years whilst my mother (her sister) was in hospital. Peg died in 2010 but Don Matthews is very much alive, approaching his 92th year and still riding a push bike to town. Don't get in his way, he is fearless.

He was good mates with the late John Harman as they both worked for Anderson Rigden & Perkins. If you haven't had any other replies from the family, let me know as I can help Victoria out.

As a seperate issue, running the site and updating your kit must cost you a fortune. Are you open to donations towards those costs?

Regards

Roger

Site Response:

Many thanks for your message and kind thoughts regarding the running of the site. At the moment, things are okay on that score.

As you will see form the message below, Anne Harman has kindly offered to help but I can also pass your email address on to Victoria as well if you let me have your permission.

Roger Newlyn
Gravesend
7/4/13

Message re: Donald Matthews

How nice to see the SW site open again. I have looked from time to time to see what was happening and was aware of your eye concerns. Brian Smith has alerted me to the fact that the site was now available.

I never thought I would have a helpful piece of news to share but a Victoria McAlpin Middlesboro had sent a request concerning a Donald Matthews. We knew Donald very well and I am still in touch with him. He is not computerized. In fact he has just celebrated his 92nd birthday. It would be all right to share my e-mail with Victoria and perhaps I can answer some questions.

Thank you.

Site Response:

Many thanks, Anne. It's great to hear from you. I have passed your address on to Victoria.

I don't know whether Donald knows about Victoria's enquiry yet but, obviously, we need to be careful about passing anything on without his permission. 

Anne Harman
Sidney
British Columbia
Canada
7/4/13

Site Note: Photos Forwarded by Ray Curtis

Ray Curtis mentioned some photos in his message dated 30/3/13. These are now available below.

The first is a post card of a family member, Phyllis Harnett. It is a Doug West print and the reverse of the card is marked "Phyllis in Drum Major December 1926".

The use of Doug West confirms that it is a local scene but it doesn't look like a formal portrait photo as I don't believe that Doug would have used that background. The reference to Drum Major is interesting. The obvious guess is that it was some kind of drama production. However, I can find no reference to any well-known play of that title.

If it was a play, it must have involved a local drama group, organisation (such as the Sea Scouts) or school. The date (ie December) may be significant as schools traditionally performed school productions at Christmas. The problem is that I wonder if there were many state schools of 1926 that would have done so. This makes me wonder if it could be a private school. Tankerton College is certainly one establishment that did present drama productions.

The other photo shows some of Ray's family (Henry and Sidney Harnett) working on the construction of a new building in Whitstable....

I have seen a similar photo (possibly provided by Jock Harnett) and I seem to recall that the houses were two Cromwell Road properties - located on the south side of the road and facing the entrance to Regent Street.

Of course, Nicholls is quite a well known name from the past and one that is associated with a number of local commercial enterprises ranging from shipping to High Street retail. It now seems that we may be able to extend the Nicholls family interests to construction and an undertakers.

I am amazed at how many Whitstable businesses combined building with undertaking. Can anyone explain that?!!!! I suppose that there was some kind of connection in that both required stonemasons. It also allowed a bit of diversification to cover seasonal variations in trade. The winter lull in the construction business (due to bad weather) was offset by an increase in the number of deaths!!!!!! I suppose it was also handy for more dubious customers who wanted someone buried under a patio. ;-)

Dave Taylor
Site Note
6/4/13

Message:

In answer to Ray Curtis message trying to trace the Harnett family, I am Herbert (Jock) Harnett son of Shirley Bernard Harnett and my grandfather is Henry William Harnett who lived in 15 Belmont Road (formerly Church Road). It would be interesting to learn more on this.

Site Response:

Thanks, Jock. I have now received the photos from Ray. They are shown in the site note above.

Jock Harnett
Whitstable
5/4/13

Message:

Hi, Dave. Just happened to click onto SW in the favourites great to see you back. Looking through the entries in the VB so are many many other readers. I can appreciate you must have put in a great deal of effort and money to get the site up and running again.

Hope you have fully recovered from the problem with your eye.

Best regards

Dave

Site Response:

Thanks, Dave.

Dave Midson
Whitstable
2/4/13

Message:

It is wonderful to have you back. Take care.

Site Response:

Thanks, Penny.

Penny Young
Mississauga
Ontario
Canada
1/4/13

Message:

It's good to see you back again. Well done for all your hard work rewriting everything. I hope your eyesight is much improved.

Ian

Site Response:

Thanks, Ian. I will email you about some new pages when I have re-instated the old material.

Ian Johnson
Huddersfield
W. Yorks

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