Folkestone

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Folkestone (/ˈfoʊkstən/) is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its growing importance as a seaside resort all contributed to its growth. Folkestone has the only sandy beach and coastal park within an hour of north London.

A Norman knight held a Barony of Folkestone, by which time the settlement had become a fishing village. That led to its entry as a part of the Cinque Ports in the thirteenth century and with that the privilege of being a wealthy trading port. At the start of the Tudor period it had become a town in its own right. Wars with France meant that defences had to be built here and soon plans for a Folkestone Harbour began. Folkestone, like most settlements on the south coast, became involved in smuggling during the eighteenth century. At the beginning of the 1800s a harbour was developed, but it was the coming of the railways in 1843 that would have the bigger impact. With it came the tourist trade, and the two industries contributed to its prosperity until changes in tourist opportunities in the mid twentieth century hollowed out its economy.

Until the 19th century Folkestone remained a small fishing community with a seafront that was continually battered by storms and encroaching shingle that made it hard to land boats. In 1807 an Act of Parliament was passed to build a pier and harbour which was built by Thomas Telford in 1809.[2] By 1820 a harbour area of 14 acres (5.7 hectares) had been enclosed. Folkstone’s trade and population grew slightly but development was still hampered by sand and silt from the Pent Stream. The Folkestone Harbour Company invested heavily in removing the silt but with little success. In 1842 the company became bankrupt and the Government put the derelict harbour up for sale. It was bought by the South Eastern Railway Company (SER), which was then building the London to Dover railway line. George Turnbull was responsible in 1844 for building the Horn pier. Dredging the harbour, and the construction of a rail route down to it, began almost immediately, and the town soon became the SER’s principal packet station for the Continental traffic to Boulogne.

Folkestone Harbour Company commissioned Foster Associates to produce a masterplan for Folkestone which was published in April 2006. The plans describe the rebuilding of the harbour as a marina, a “Green Wave” along the sea front linking countryside west and east of the town, new housing, shops, a performance area and small university campus. The plans take in the land that was previously the Rotunda Amusement Park. Progress in developing the area has been inhibited by the recession and by new guidelines governing flood protection. A new approach to the seafront is being developed by Terry Farrell and Partners, and the former fairground site is being considered for temporary recreational use whilst planning takes place.

However, there is an alternative plan being developed by the Remembrance Line Association  which is based on retaining the harbour railway and its station as a major heritage/tourist operation and ‘Leaving for War’ museum. The harbour railway station, now unused, is gradually succumbing to nature.

Although Kent was the first part of the British mainland to be conquered and settled by the invading Angles, Saxons and Jutes from the middle of the 5th century AD onwards, after the departure of the Romans, it was not until the late 7th century that the spelling Folcanstan appears. One suggestion is that this refers to Folca’s stone; another suggestion is that it came from an Old English personal name, with the addition of stone, possibly meaning, in this context, “meeting place”. It was not until the mid 19th century that the spelling of “Folkestone” was fixed as such, with the Earl of Radnor requesting that the town’s name be standardised (although this tendency towards standardisation in the 19th century is true of English place names generally). Folkestone is often misspelt, variants including Folkston, Folkstone & Folkeston.

The governance of Folkestone lies in both national and local government. Insofar as national government is concerned, Folkestone is part of the constituency of Folkestone and Hythe, which is currently (2010) represented by Damian Collins (Conservative). In the European Parliament, Folkestone is part of the South East England constituency, with ten MEPs.

Local government consists of three tiers. In the first tier, Kent County Council, Folkestone is divided into three Divisions each returning one County Councillor. Folkestone North East comprises Park, Foord and East wards and is represented by Cllr Richard Pascoe (Conservative). Folkestone South comprises Harvey West, Harvey Central and Harbour wards and is represented by Cllr Roland Tolputt (Conservative). Folkestone West comprises Cheriton and Morehall wards and neighbouring Sandgate Parish Council. It is represented by Cllr Tim Prater (Liberal Democrat). The next elections are scheduled for June 2013.

The second tier of local government is the non-metropolitan district. Folkestone forms a part of Shepway District, which was established by the Local Government Act 1972. Folkestone elects 18 of Shepway District Council’s 46 Councillors, who currently sit as 16 Conservatives and two People First. The next election is due to be held in May 2015.

The third and lowest tier was established as the civil parish: in Folkestone’s case, because it held a Town Charter, and when the then Folkestone Borough Council was abolished, Councillors elected to represent Folkestone’s wards were designated as the Town’s Charter Trustees, responsible for electing a Town Mayor. This role has since passed to Folkestone Town Council.

Folkestone Town Council was established in 2004, comprising the area of the former Borough of Folkestone less Folkestone Sandgate ward, which was separately parished. Folkestone Town Council comprises eight wards: Cheriton, Kent; Morehall; Park; Harvey West; Harvey Central; Harbour; East; and Foord. Each ward returns two or three members, for a total of 18 Councillors elected to four year terms.

Note: this page is partly based on a Wikipedia page. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Where possible, text is being updated to original, fully referenced research. ‘Our photos’ means we took the photographs. The Street View and street map visuals are courtesy of Google.

 

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