Still time to save town’s remaining gems
There have been many occasions in the 30 years of my exploring the history of Ashford that I have been angered and shocked when seeing evidence of the mass obliteration of the town’s heritage assets – many of which disappeared before my existence.
Opinions may differ from one person’s view to another when identifying what is an asset, but the town really did have some beautiful buildings that should never have been demolished.
Once they are gone they are gone, but one cannot help but think what might have been if planning decisions had been different.
The biggest mistake was putting up new buildings too close to the town’s heart, thus disturbing its rich heritage, something many older Ashfordians still speak of with much disapproval.
But rest assured that, as well as myself, there are individuals with a knowledge of the town and its history, and above all a passion for saving the Ashford of old, that are strenuously working behind the scenes to try to secure the retention of our remaining architectural assets for future generations. Some we may win and some we may lose, and sometimes we say to ourselves that we should have tried harder.
For example, despite a consortium of experts trying to save the recently demolished college buildings in Elwick Road and upcoming demolition of neighbouring properties, the efforts didn’t prove fruitful.
This week Remember When takes a look back at three such elements of Ashford’s heritage that planners should have taken a different decision on – i.e. retaining them! The pictures are from 1962, 1965 and 1972.
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 met 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.
Locals were up in arms when permission was given for the demolition of the picturesque cottage of Mummery’s the seedsman in East Hill in 1962. It was to be replaced by a car park for Ashford School, which has for many years occupied almost all of the buildings in what was a main thoroughfare from the coast to London in the days before the bypass opened. It is arguably one of the worst decisions that planners could ever have made back in the town’s pre-borough days. Sacrilege with a capital ‘S’!
The Duke of Marlborough pub is pictured at the junction of East Hill and Station Road in 1972. Damaged during the war and remodelled with its familiar roundel corner, the pub was yet another of the town’s heritage assets whose remains now sit underneath the Ringway. The popular Watneys house was a stone’s throw from the County Hotel and en route to the Star at the bottom of East Hill and the Queens Head, which stood opposite East Hill Mill until March 1968. This picture was taken just days before the bulldozers moved in.