How town was changed by war bomb­ings

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

DUR­ING the war years, the United King­dom suf­fered badly at the hands of the en­emy, and sadly Ash­ford was no ex­cep­tion. Many towns and vil­lages up and down the coun­try were scarred, many be­yond recog­ni­tion, leav­ing life for many shat­tered. Those dark hours meant the usual tran­quil and har­mo­nious lives of many were never the same again. Lives were lost, and many lost their worldly goods, but thank­fully we have not ex­pe­ri­enced such wide­spread dev­as­ta­tion since. The town’s rail­way sta­tus meant its works were at­tacked and, al­though a large per­cent­age of bomb­ing raids missed their tar­get, the works at New­town took a di­rect hit, caus­ing ex­ten­sive dam­age. The land­mark in­dus­try sur­vived un­til its fi­nal clo­sure in the 1980s. This week, we look at some of the less for­tu­nate sites and lo­ca­tions around the town in some re­cently acquired pic­tures, taken by the Kent Mes­sen­ger in 1943. Many of the pic­tures used in Re­mem­ber When come from my own col­lec­tion, but this week’s fan­tas­tic pic­tures come from Bert Old­field, who has very kindly loaned the fol­low­ing pic­tures, which ef­fec­tively tell their own story. My sin­cere thanks go to Mr Old­field and I am in­debted to my friend Jenny Eas­ton, who took the trou­ble to tele­phone me. The first of this week’s four pic­tures, taken af­ter the day­light raid in March 1943, shows the gut­ted shell of Hay­ward’s Garage in New Street fol­low­ing a di­rect hit by a Focke-Wulf 190 fighter which de­stroyed the nearby premises of Snashalls Bak­ery in Kent Av­enue, too. Two peo­ple were killed at the garage alone. The bustling, fam­ily-run garage was later re­built and ex­panded, and be­came part of the Caffyns group in 1967. The sec­ond pic­ture shows the dev­as­tated premises of Lewis and Hyland. Their once pop­u­lar depart­ment store, which stretched along New Rents, was a stone’s throw from the afore­men­tioned Hay­ward’s Garage, and suf­fered ex­ten­sive dam­age. Again the build­ings were re­built, and trade con­tin­ued. Lewis and Hyland re­lo­cated to the Tufton Shop­ping Cen­tre in 1975, and the New Rents premises were de­mol­ished the same year. This week’s third pic­ture shows Beaver Road school at the corner of Beaver Road and Vic­to­ria Road, where all 300 pupils es­caped un­hurt af­ter a di­rect hit all but de­stroyed its build­ings. The head­mas­ter, Mr E.H.White, and his staff had trained the chil­dren to get into the shel­ters as soon as the warn­ing sounded. Ev­ery child was un­der cover in 30 sec­onds, and just mo­ments later the bomb hit. The school and its close prox­im­ity to the rail­way sta­tion made it a pos­si­ble poor tar­get by the en­emy. The fi­nal pic­ture shows the ex­ten­sive oblit­er­a­tion of the Tan­nery in Dover Place, where four peo­ple lost their lives. Cars were tossed on their sides like aban­doned toys, some man­gled be­yond recog­ni­tion. De­spite the town be­ing bravely de­fended by the Bofors an­ti­air­craft guns, the en­emy were ob­vi­ously in­tent on ru­in­ing the calm of the sleepy mar­ket town. To­day’s gen­er­a­tion (in­clud­ing my­self), do not know how lucky we are. As al­ways, I would like to ap­peal to read­ers who ei­ther took or have any am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional pic­tures of the town dur­ing the changes from the 1950s to the 1970s, as I would love to see them. I am al­ways keen to hear from those peo­ple who worked in the town, per­haps in lo­cal govern­ment, and whose job en­tailed pho­tograph­ing the town, for ex­am­ple for plan­ning and con­ser­va­tion, high­ways and con­sul­ta­tion pur­poses, and also those in­volved with the Com­pul­sory Pur­chase reg­u­la­tions in the 1970s. Please con­tact me at the ad­dress be­low if you have ma­te­rial that you are will­ing to share with read­ers. Have you got any pic­tures, neg­a­tives or trans­paren­cies from the past that you would be will­ing to share with read­ers?

Send them, with brief de­tails, to Steve Sal­ter, Ken­tish Ex­press Re­mem­ber When, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR, or by email to re­mem­ber­when_ kmash@hot­mail.co.uk Please sup­ply a re­turn ad­dress for the re­turn of orig­i­nals.

Wrecked build­ings and over­turned cars af­ter the bomb­ing of the Tan­nery in Dover Place, Ash­ford, where four died

Hay­ward’s Garage in New Street was de­stroyed by fire af­ter be­ing bombed in the day­light raid in 1943

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