In ear­lier times town had a sense of or­der

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? The Kentish Express Memories Page W -

When look­ing back at the his­tory of Ash­ford, the 1970s and 80s were a favoured era of many. De­spite chal­leng­ing pe­ri­ods, Ash­ford was grad­u­ally set­tling down af­ter large pe­ri­ods of build­ing and al­ter­ation. It was this pe­riod that I grew up in, and from the lat­ter part of the 1970s through to the 1980s, I have many fond mem­o­ries of shops, stores and features that the town had back then. To a de­gree, you still had that ‘mar­ket town’ feel and you would see fa­mil­iar faces both on the street and in the shops that you vis­ited reg­u­larly.

I re­mem­ber be­ing taken into Lewis and Hy­land in New Rents so that my mother could buy me a hat. She would like look­ing at the ex­trav­a­gantly priced cloth­ing avail­able in Richard Shops or Dorothy Perkins and would al­ways get her shop­ping in Tesco where BHS now stands.

I can even re­mem­ber be­ing taken into In­ter­na­tional Stores where Park Mall now stands and Sains­bury’s where Boots now trades. One shop that scared me as a child was James and Kither where the EE Mo­bile shop now trades. It was aw­fully dark and very old­fash­ioned in­side. I have of­ten been re­minded of my fan­tas­tic pic­to­rial mem­ory of places from my child­hood, so you can imag­ine, I could go on and on.

I don’t care what any­one says, the Ash­ford of to­day is noth­ing like it used to be and the way that life has evolved, there is part of you that doesn’t ex­pect it to stay the same, but both my­self and oth­ers like me, still favour the Ash­ford of the past – when the town had a sense of com­plete­ness and or­der.

The num­ber of empty shops in the town trou­bles me greatly and the fact that you have to go to neigh­bour­ing towns to get many things nowa­days.

My great­est wish would be for those in author­ity to act to re­gain the lost trade and the features and pros­per­ity in the town’s heart that made peo­ple visit Ash­ford in days gone by. There is so much that can be done to re­vive and repli­cate such pros­per­ity and it needs to be done prop­erly, but sadly nowa­days cost and hugely in­flated over­heads are a con­sid­er­able con­cern.

Do you have any pho­to­graphs or slides that you would be will­ing to lend 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 or email me at re­mem­ber­when_k­mash@ hot­ or fol­low me on Twit­ter @SteveKMAsh­ford. Or you can also leave a tele­phone mes­sage for me with brief de­tails by call­ing 01233 623232.

A rare view taken of New Rents in 1977 by his­to­rian and es­tate agent Richard Filmer, re­veal­ing early sign­writ­ing for one-time draper Lewis, lat­terly more fa­mil­iarly known as Lewis and Hy­land. The im­age was taken dur­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment of the area which ne­ces­si­tated de­mol­ish­ing their ex­ten­sive store. Here we can see the fi­nal piece of the de­part­ment store next to H.J. Davis the pork butcher and op­po­site R. Marsh the butcher and Farrs fab­ric shop. The rev­e­la­tion of the sign con­firms that the store was ex­ten­sively ex­tended over time.

Bank Street at its junc­tion with the Up­per High Street in 1986. Here we can see the pre­pedes­tri­anised area of Bank Street and the High Street at a time when traf­fic still used the town cen­tre streets dur­ing trad­ing hours and with­out any re­stric­tion. Both do­mes­tic and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles used the roads in the heart of the town back then, and although the Ring­way was op­er­a­tional, the nar­row streets were still busy. It wasn’t long af­ter this that traf­fic was banned, ac­cess was made per­mit hold­ers only and the area was pedes­tri­anised.

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