After five bloody months, the devastating Battle of the Somme finally came to an end on 19 November 1916. To mark the 100th anniversary of the event, a special ceremony will take place on the Leas in Folkestone at 11am on Saturday 19th November.
A symbolic planting of 1,000 metal poppies by local schoolchildren is planned close to the ‘Folk Stones’ artwork by Mark Wallinger. This piece represents the 19,240 British men who were lost during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The planting will be followed by a short ceremony to be attended by Folkestone Mayor Martin Salmon, the artist Mark Wallinger and town councillors. The event is open to the public.
Two of Step Short’s projects featured on a recent local history tour of Folkestone organised by The Mayor, Councillor Martin Salmon.
The guided history ramble was led by local historian and Step Short director Eamonn Rooney on Tuesday 4 October 2016, and raised funds for the Mayor’s three nominated local charities: Folkestone Rainbow Centre, Folkestone Division Guides and For Young People (FYP Charity).
Ramblers walked from the Town Hall on Guildhall Street to various sites of historical interest in the town, including the Memorial Arch on the Leas and the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm. Here participants, including visiting mayors from the local area, enjoyed a refreshing cup of tea and slice of cake from our volunteers in WW1 period dress.
The event also included lunch at Blooms in the Creative Quarter. Tickets were available to the public with all proceeds going to the charities.
On Sunday 10th July 2016, Step Short’s Chairman, Damian Collins MP, signed copies of his first book at the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm in Folkestone.
‘Charmed Life: The Phenomenal World of Philip Sassoon’ charts the eventful life and career of the glamorous British politician, socialite and art collector. Sassoon was born in Kent, into the Sassoon and Rothschild dynasties, and used his impressive political and social connections to great effect during the early part of the 20th century.
He was Hythe MP from 1912 until his early death in 1939, and became a second lieutenant in the East Kent Yeomanry during the First World War. Sassoon served as private secretary to Field Marshal Haig between 1915 and 1918 and passed through the original Mole Cafe on 29th October 1915. Take a look at Sassoon’s signature in the Mole Cafe visitor books, available to view and search on our website.
He was renowned as a fantastic, Great Gatsby-style host, holding legendary gatherings at his country houses, Port Lympne near Hythe and Trent Park in North London.
Read more about Damian Collins’ biography of Sir Philip Sassoon in Kent Life magazine.
On July 1 more than 200 people gathered at the Step Short Arch in Folkestone to remember the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.
The service began at 7.15am with an introduction by Councillor Jan Holben, Shepway District Council Chairman, and a talk on the bloodiest battle in British history by Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Dennis Bradley.
A whistle was blown poignantly at 7.30am, precisely when British troops were ordered to go over the top 100 years ago. A roll call of local people who died during the battle was read by Mr Bradley. Bugler Bryan Walker then played the Last Post and Folkestone and Hythe MP, Damian Collins read a classic verse from poem For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon:
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.”
Two minutes’ silence followed and then Mr Collins spoke again before The Reveille from the bugler. The lament Flowers of the Forest was played on the bagpipes by piper Ben Millbery. Reverend David Adlington, St Mary and St Eanswythe Church vicar, said prayers and finally, wreaths were laid and handwritten wooden crosses with the names of the fallen from the local area were planted in the memorial flower beds.
The Somme centenary was remembered in services across the country and France last Friday. In a moving arts project to mark the anniversary, First World War ‘ghost’ soldiers marched throughout towns and cities, including Folkestone. ‘we’re here because we’re here’ was a national event created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in partnership with Rufus Norris of the National Theatre, commissioned by 14-18 NOW.
On Saturday 2 July, a new war memorial was unveiled in nearby Aldington after a 60-year campaign by resident David Hughes to honour the village’s fallen from World Wars I and II.
Join Step Short in Folkestone on 1 July 2016 to remember the soldiers who lost their lives a century ago. This year, commemorations will mark both Canada Day and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
Shepway District Council has organised a ceremony under the Memorial Arch in Folkestone beginning at 7.30am on Friday 1 July. The event will be launched with the ‘blowing of the whistles’, the signal for soldiers 100 years ago to ‘go over the top’. Ben Millbery is scheduled to play the Flowers of the Forest (Lament for the Fallen), the official lament of the Canadian forces.
The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. On 1 July 1916, 57,470 British soldiers were injured and 19,240 of those died. The British forces were made up of troops from Britain, Ireland, Newfoundland, South Africa and India. Just three square miles of territory were gained.
On 1 July, Shorncliffe Military Cemetery will also host a Canada Day service to remember the 305 Canadian soldiers who died during the Great War and are buried there. The cemetery is open between 11am and 1pm on the day.
Become a Step Short supporter for just £10 a year to help us raise funds for our ongoing projects, and you’ll be able to search the Mole Cafe visitor books by name and receive the latest newsletters by email.
Locals and visitors alike can now discover Folkestone’s hidden history by following the newly-created town trail, launched on Friday 13 May 2016 by Folkestone Town Council, Step Short, Go Folkestone and Folkestone & District Local History Society.
Councillor Martin Salmon (the current Mayor of Folkestone), Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe MP and Chairman of Step Short), Step Short’s Vice Chairman Ann Berry and Richard Wallace (Chairman of Go Folkestone) introduced the series of seven history boards at the launch event held at Folkestone Town Hall last week.
With boards located at significant sites throughout the town telling Folkestone’s story, the trail stretches for more than two miles from the East Cliff down through the Harbour onto the Bayle and along the full length of the Leas.
The Town Trail is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration between local groups Step Short, Go Folkestone and Folkestone & District Local History Society in partnership with Folkestone Town Council, Shepway District Council and Kent County Council. The initiative was conceived as a celebration of Folkestone’s rich but often unknown history.
Step Short’s Ann Berry said: “At last this amazing town trail has come to fruition after many meetings and much research by the groups involved.”
Step Short also previewed its new Geocaching Trail which launches in July. The digital treasure hunt will incorporate the Folkestone Town Trail, taking around two hours to complete. From the end of July, once all the trail clues have been solved participants can pick up a commemorative coin at Step Short’s Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm. The cafe is open at weekends and bank holidays throughout the summer.
Look out for more details of the Geocaching Trail on the Step Short website soon.