Edi­tor’s con­cerns for the ‘old’ town

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

THIS week’s Ex­press Cut­tings looks back at a piece pub­lished in the Ash­ford Ad­ver­tiser, a fore­run­ner to the Ash­ford Ex­tra, on Septem­ber 12, 1974, and il­lus­trates the op­ti­mism expressed by Ash­ford Ad­ver­tiser founder and edi­tor Rod Craig sur­round­ing the fu­ture of Ash­ford. Mr Craig, who founded the pop­u­lar weekly paper in 1967, had just been ap­pointed chair­man of Ash­ford Cham­ber of Trade, when he wrote about the town in his own news­pa­per. He spoke of some of the prob­lems in the town dur­ing that time, and felt that the size of in­di­vid­ual stores in what he called ‘a small agri­cul­tural and rail­way town’ and the ‘un­so­phis­ti­cated’ shop­ping needs did not ac­com­mo­date the sud­den ex­pan­sion of the town’s pop­u­la­tion. He spoke also of the mis­giv­ings felt by lo­cal busi­nesses with re­gards the Hemp­sted Street devel­op­ment, which was near­ing com­ple­tion, and opened the fol­low­ing year as the Tufton Cen­tre. Mr Craig held grave con­cerns about the ‘old’ town, in par­tic­u­lar the Lower High Street upon the open­ing of the new devel­op­ment.


On a pos­i­tive note, he felt the ex­pan­sion of ex­ist­ing busi­nesses and the in­tro­duc­tion of many new chains to the town, would rec­tify the old com­plaint that lo­cals would have to travel to the Med­way Towns and London for greater va­ri­ety. There were var­i­ous sub­jects on the agenda for the newly ap­pointed chair­man, in­clud­ing car park­ing and a rat­ing re­lief for busi­nesses. There had been a sug­ges­tion at the time that rates should be abol­ished, but as all busi­ness­men and women know to­day, their wish wasn’t granted. Mr Craig also praised the work of the Cham­ber, say­ing that it was thanks to them and their mem­bers that the car­ni­val was in ex­is­tence, and they do more for the town than they do for their mem­bers – but they were all mem­bers so maybe that was not such a bad thing. Many will re­mem­ber the ex­is­tence of the Ash­ford Ad­ver­tiser, whose of­fices were lo­cated in many dif­fer­ent places around the town in­clud­ing Gas­works Lane and Wolse­ley Road. The news­pa­per be­came part of the KM Group around 1982 and was re­placed by the ever pop­u­lar Ash­ford Ex­tra.

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