Town fes­tooned with splen­did new lights

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

Fol­low­ing last week’s Re­mem­ber When, this week we con­tinue the Spirit of Christ­mas past in the town by looking at one of the first colour pic­tures taken of the fes­toon lighting that proudly dressed the heart of the town in De­cem­ber, 1972. In the years prior to that Ash­ford had not wit­nessed such ex­trav­a­gance and splen­dour, so this type of lighting was new to the town cen­tre. Sim­i­lar dis­plays were used up un­til the late 1980s un­til the lights had to be re­placed. To­day the town of Ash­ford still makes a con­scious ef­fort to light up the town at Christ­mas, but ex­trav­a­gance isn’t an op­tion with con­tin­u­ing ris­ing costs. One view, not pic­tured, shows the Lower High Street when the buses still stopped out­side the Co-op – and many will re­mem­ber the Odeon, which closed in 1976 to be con­verted into a Top Rank Bingo hall. An­other of the set shows Bank Street, near the junc­tion with Tufton Street. Many peo­ple will re­call the shops there in by­gone days, such as Bur­nage, Frank Man­ning, Kings­man’s the Baker and Ti­mothy Whites. Our fea­tured pic­ture shows the Lower High Street at its best, a view taken from the bot­tom looking up to­wards Mid­dle Row. In 1976, the street was par­tially pedes­tri­anised, but it wasn’t un­til 1999, that tar­mac was re­placed by York stone and cobbles, mak­ing the town traf­fic free dur­ing day­time busi­ness hours. This Satur­day for the sec­ond week­end run­ning, I will be sign­ing copies of all five of my books at Sus­sex Sta­tion­ers in the High Street, af­ter sell­ing out of my cur­rent book Re­mem­ber­ing Ash­ford last week­end. The book has been re­ordered, and will be avail­able from Satur­day. Un­less you catch me walk­ing around the town, this will be the fi­nal chance to get your signed copies, which are ideal Christ­mas presents. Even if you have pur­chased copies else­where, please do come and meet me, and I will of course sign th­ese too.

Have you got any pic­tures, neg­a­tives or trans­paren­cies from the past that you would be will­ing to share with read­ers? If so, send them with brief de­tails, to Steve Sal­ter, Ken­tish Ex­press Re­mem­ber When, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent, TN24 8JR, or by e-mail to, re­mem­ber­when_ kmash@hot­mail.co.uk Please sup­ply a re­turn ad­dress for the re­turn of orig­i­nals.

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