A very bad year for our town’s heritage
Today, those of us who are passionate about saving the town’s heritage are often fiercely determined in our efforts to retain longstanding component buildings, that feature in the crucial make-up of Ashford.
The campaigner in us steps up a gear and we do everything we possibly can to save buildings in and around the town that have stood for generations. With the former college at the corner of Elwick Road (affectionately known locally as the ‘Tech’) now a pile of rubble, another crusade to save old Ashford waits in the wings!
Often when a developer buys land that features such buildings or buildings are compulsorily purchased, the developer is often unaware and typically disinterested what the presence of that building means to the town or an individual, in the case where it may be their former home as an example.
The world of planning has so many obstacles and the use of the word Ashford and planning used in the same sentence entices memories of many dark days in the town’s history, when seemingly no matter how you tried, nothing worth saving could be saved.
While still a minefield, negotiating the planning framework is a little easier in many respects and some say that the ‘realisation’ of heritage assets, sadly absent before, is something of a ‘consideration’ today.
For relative newcomers to the town and the younger generation, Ashford may seem complete. It may have a few key sites to be redeveloped, but this is nothing compared to what the town suffered and endured 43 years ago.
This week’s Remember When offers a trio of pictures showing the town being pulled apart at the hands of bad decision makers
Do you have any photographs or slides that you would be willing to loan me, to enable them to be scanned and featured in the Kentish Express? If so please write to me: Steve Salter, Kentish Express Remember When, 34-36 North Street, Ashford, TN24 8JR; email me at rememberwhen_kmash@ hotmail.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @SteveKMAshford.
Or you can also leave a telephone message for me with brief details by calling 01233 623232.
Hempsted Street at its junction with Tufton Street and Regents Place, 1972. Concrete footings and drainage pipes sit alongside one of the few remaining buildings left on the upper section of Hempsted Street which is now totally consumed by County Square. The former and popular hostelry, the Coach and Horses, at the corner of the street can be seen here with attached dwellings shortly before they disappeared forever. 1972 was not a great year for the town’s heritage.
Forge Lane, 1972. Further along the Ringway site, an original section of Forge Lane with its ornate lamp posts is seen being ripped apart. Still trading today as Vauxhall and Skoda dealers at the Orbital Park, Caffyn’s Garage can be seen in one of their previous guises on the opposite side of the road.
Edinburgh Road, 1972. Scores of beautiful bay windowed properties were sacrificed by compulsory purchase when it was decided to build a new Ringway in the town. Many families were uprooted and moved elsewhere. Some had lived in these ‘blighted’ areas of the town for generations.