GLORIA LEWIS looks at what was reported in the Kentish Express 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago.
May 11, 1907
Letter Box at Gore Hill. In answer to a request from the inhabitants of that part of the town, a wall letter box will be placed on Gore Hill shortly. Excursion Accident. Four local excursionists by the cheap train to London on Wednesday had an unpleasant experience. When the train left Charing Cross on its return there was a number of passengers, including Messrs. T. Smallfield, W. Hearnden R. Rossiter and F. Kennett, of Ashford, in a carriage by themselves. Just before the train reached the Spa Road station it ran into a light engine which had been stopped by signal. The light engine was thrown off the line, blocking two sets of rails, and making it impossible for the train to proceed. The carriage in which the aforementioned were travelling, was, we are informed, also derailed. Beyond a few bruises and one or two of the passengers being badly shaken, no serious injuries are reported.
May 6, 1932
The Southern Railway inaugurated a new night boat service from Folkestone to Dunkerque last Sunday which will give those travelling from London to the Continent a night’s rest on board and a convenient rail service by day to destinations on the other side of the Channel. Two trains run in connection with the boats, one from Charing Cross at 7.15pm, the other from Victoria at 11pm, and the Channel crossing occupies four and a quarter hours. If the weather is rough the time can be shortened, so as to give passengers less discomfort.
While working in a sandpit near Pinehurst, Sellindge, on Wednesday, William Henry Ashman, aged 30 years, a labourer, of Wayside Cottages, Brabourne, was buried beneath about five tons of sand and was killed. Ashman was digging in the pit worked by Messrs. Aldrich and the top fell in. Mr. Ashman, after being unemployed for some length of time, only commenced work the day before the fatality. He was a married man and leaves a widow and three young children.
May 10, 1957
Over 4,000 troops crowded the dunes and beaches at Camber this week and re-enacted the evacuation scenes under mock attacks for the Ealing Studios film Dunkirk. The scene could have been the real thing, except that most of the soldiers are too young to remember 1940. Derelict boats and Army vehicles were scattered over the beach and the troops worked to a background of clouds of thick, black smoke and bombblasts. The only thing missing was the embarkation jetty, which played such an important part in the operation and will now be built in the studios. On Sunday, at 8.25pm in the BBC Home Service, Wilfred Pickles will make an appeal on behalf of the Caldecott Community – a residential school near Ashford for children upset as a result of difficult home conditions.
May 7, 1982
Ashford’s County Hotel is to reopen this summer with a promise to restore its former glory. More than £100,000 will be spent on alterations to the premises which closed in 1980 after heavy trading losses. A new company, Buxhunt Ltd., is behind the enterprise and is a partnership between two Kent licensees and their wives. Frank and Jennifer Stevens are raising money for servicemen in the Falklands. Frank, landlord of the Chequers Inn, Smarden, served with the Royal Navy, in submarines, for nine years. He said: “It really is at times like this we need to pull together and do something.” The idea of raising money came from Jennifer. She said: “It is something we must do. I have two sons both in the Royal Navy, but they have not been sent out to the Falklands yet. There is a lad from the village there now. “I thought of the idea one morning and put a bottle outside the pub, in the high street. Within one hour there was £12 in it.”