In earlier times town had a sense of order
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@ 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.
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.