Re­mem­ber Dan­ton Pinch – the ham­let lost for the Tun­nel?

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Countryfile -

WHILE it some­times feels as though the Chan­nel Tun­nel has been there for ever, it was only 20 years ago that the fields, farms and houses around New­ing­ton were con­creted over.

The Folkestone and Dis­trict Lo­cal His­tory So­ci­ety led an ex­pe­di­tion to the area be­fore build­ing com­menced, and took many pic­tures of what was soon to be the pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nal and freight yard.

Many vil­lagers fought the plans and many moved away when those be­hind the plans of­fered to buy their houses.

The most fa­mous vic­tim of the Tun­nel was Dan­ton Pinch, a ham­let based around Dan­ton Farm, down Dan­ton Lane.

No sign of it or its dog ken­nels re­mains, al­though cer­tain names live on: the Long­port se­cu­rity cen­tre at the tun­nel ter­mi­nal, off the A20, is named af­ter the Long­port dairy farm.

My fa­ther well re­mem­bers herds of cows be­ing marched down those lost lanes in the 1950s, when it was a pas­toral set­ting, with streams flow­ing out of the chalk hills down to the Pent and the sea. Alan Tay­lor, of the his­tory so­ci­ety, re­mem­bers roam­ing Big­gins Hill woods and the pop­u­lar­ity of the area among lo­cal fam­i­lies.

I met with Arthur Hop­kins, who has lived in New­ing­ton since 1939, and Ron and Jan Fagg, who have lived in the area since the 1950s and 1960s re­spec­tively.

Mr Hop­kins, 88, spent his whole work­ing life in agri­cul­ture, and felt the im­pact of the changes more than most.

He said: “It was all agri­cul­ture round here then and there were five farms that went as I re­mem­ber. They were Pound Farm, Home Farm, Long­port Farm, Dan­ton Farm and Stone Farm.

“Bar­grove Farm was where Dol­lands Moor is now and I re­mem­ber once com­ing home and see­ing them steam plough­ing it.

“They had one en­gine at one side of the field and an­other pulling it across at the other. It could cut four or five fur­rows at a time and I think it must have been in the 1930s.

“There was also a wa­ter­cress bed here, al­though it was only small. It grew along the stream.”

Mrs Fagg added: “They still call it the wa­ter­cress meadow.”

Long­port Farm’s build­ing lives on at the Wealden Down­land Mu­seum as its en­trance hall, while the 16th cen­tury Stone Farm build­ing was de­mol­ished and re­built else­where.

One per­ma­nent ca­su­alty of all the changes was The Star pub, which was on the A20 to­wards where the shut­tle rail­way lines loop around the ter­mi­nal.

The wa­ter­cress bed would have thrived thanks to the pre­vi­ous­ly­men­tioned streams, and the po­ten­tial for wa­tery prob­lems in the area could be seen when the vil­lage flooded two weeks ago.

South­ern Wa­ter still has bore­holes across the Downs, one of which comes up just off the A20, al­most op­po­site the for­mer Stone Farm.

Mr Hop­kins said: “It was ter­ri­ble when the Tun­nel came. They [the res­i­dents] all cleared out and there were only two of us left.”

Mr Fagg said: “They agreed to buy at the cur­rent value of the prop­er­ties, and they sold 29 of them, though sev­eral peo­ple wanted to come back later.

“When TML were work­ing, all the build­ing traf­fic was banned up here but some of the vil­lagers blamed ev­ery drinks can, crisp packet and rat on them.

“They were against the Tun­nel and they were against ev­ery­thing.”

Through the house sales in­spired by those feel­ings, the na­ture of the vil­lage changed and the close-knit com­mu­nity was never the same. Hav­ing said that, it is thriv­ing again, with an ac­tive vil­lage hall com­mit­tee putting on plenty of events.

The ac­tual build­ing of the tun­nels took about six years and in­volved bring­ing the level of the land up mas­sively – by pump­ing Good­win sand up the Horn Street val­ley in a big blue pipe.

When it opened, Mr and Mrs Fagg en­joyed sev­eral free trips on the Chan­nel Tun­nel as guinea pigs, but Mr Hop­kins stood firm on his views and never took the jour­ney.

Pho­to­graphs of Frogholt, an­other vil­lage lost to the Tun­nel – see Ex­press Mem­o­ries, page 28

Arthur Hop­kins, 88, re­flects on how life in New­ing­ton has changed over the years

The Firs Farm fields look­ing to­wards the A2

Pic­ture: Chris Den­ham pd 1357650

Jan and Ron Fagg at their home in New­ing­ton

An 18th cen­tury barn at Dan­ton Farm. It was taken apart and re­built at the El­ham Val­ley rail­way mu­seum, Peene

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.