Folkestone 100: A Century Since the Armistice

To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, a full memorial service will take place at Folkestone’s War Memorial at 11.00am on Sunday 11 November.

The service will begin at the Leas Cliff Hall around 10.30am with a march down to the Step Short Arch, where a wreath will be laid, continuing on to the War Memorial at the top of the Road of Remembrance.

Folkestone’s Remembrance Sunday events start at 6.00am with a lone piper playing under the Arch and end at 7.00pm with the lighting of a beacon at 7.00pm to coordinate with towns across Kent and nationwide. Free cake will be available at the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm between 12.00pm and 3.30pm, just as it was throughout the Great War. At 6.00pm, there will be music and poems at the Leas Bandstand with commemorative candles handed out to the public for the procession to the beacon.

The Pages of the Sea creative remembrance event will also take place on Sunny Sands beach in Folkestone on Sunday.

Local Hero – Walter Tull

Walter Tull has been making the headlines a century after his death on 25 March 1918, amid calls to posthumously award him the Military Cross he was believed to have been recommended for during the First World War, but never received.

On Sunday 25 March 2018, a centenary commemoration service for Walter took place at the Step Short Memorial Arch in Folkestone, close to the plaque that bears his name. Military historian Liam Tarry (right of photo) spoke about Walter’s life and his inspirational military career which ended in battle at Favreuil. Piper Ben Milbery (left of photo) then played the Lament Flowers of the Forest.

Second Lieutenant Walter Tull’s story resonates today for many reasons, most notably for the racism he fought and rose above to become the British Army’s first British-born mixed race officer to lead troops into battle. Walter’s experiences also help to raise awareness of the diversity of those involved in WW1, extending far beyond the traditional representation of the British ‘Tommy’ or upper-class officer. The Indian Army, the Chinese Labour Corps, other black soldiers such as Private William Nurse, and thousands of women all played a significant part in the war, along with Commonwealth troops.

Walter was born in Folkestone in 1888 to Daniel and Alice Tull, a Barbadian carpenter and his wife who came from a local farming family. He seemed to enjoy happy working class family life until the deaths of both his mother and father in quick succession. At the age of nine, Walter and his brother Edward (the youngest boys of five siblings) were sent to a children’s home in Bethnal Green, East London. Despite this very tough end to his childhood and the prejudice rife at this time, he went on to become one of the country’s first black professional footballers before enlisting with the 17th (1st Football) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment in December 1914.

Awareness of Walter’s story and support for his posthumous award has been growing in recent years. Campaigner and biographer Phil Vasili recently spoke at Folkestone Museum about the launch of the latest edition of his book Walter Tull 1888 to 1918, Footballer and Officer. The museum is planning an exhibition about Walter to open in autumn 2018.

For more information about Walter Tull and his legacy, go to the Walter Tull Archive, Lives of the First World War and Phil Vasili’s website.

Folkestone 100 Years: Armistice Centenary March, 22 July 2018

Step Short has a busy summer season ahead as we near the culmination of four years of WW1 centenary commemorations. For this very special year we will be holding our annual march on Sunday 22 July, with a variety of commemorative events taking place in Folkestone during the summer.

The march will begin with all groups assembling outside the Leas Cliff Hall at 10.15am, ahead of a service at the Step Short Arch beginning at 11.00am. Lord Boyce, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, will unveil the last two plaques at the Memorial Arch followed by the laying of wreaths. After the service, there will be a walk down the Road of Remembrance to the harbour area. Free tea and coffee will be served at the Grand Burstin Hotel and participants can pre-book tickets for a post-service buffet at the Grand Burstin Hotel for £10 per person. Email [email protected] for more information.

Other WW1 centenary events in Folkestone include a photographic exhibition at Folkestone Town Hall organised by the Folkestone & District Local History Society during June and July; the Invicta Band performing at the Leas Cliff Hall on Wednesday 18 July (see flyer to left); guided history walks and talks on Saturday 21 July; a planned performance of the play ‘My Boy Jack’ by David Haig; and Hythe Town Band performing on the Leas Bandstand on the afternoon of 22 July.

And don’t forget, the Mole Café on the Harbour Arm is open weekends and bank holidays until the end of October. Mark Simmonds, Step Short’s Membership Secretary, will be there running his regular genealogy sessions on the last Saturday of the month between 10am and 2pm, May to September, for anyone interested in exploring their own family’s WW1 history.

We hope you’ll be inspired to get involved, perhaps discover something new, and help to remember those who lived in, came from or passed through Folkestone during WW1.

One Woman’s War

Dorothy Earnshaw Manor House Hospital FolkestoneDorothy Earnshaw was a VAD nurse (Voluntary Aid Detachment, the Red Cross) based at the Manor House Hospital in Folkestone during the First World War. Like many others during this unique and life-changing time, she kept a friendship album.

According to Red Cross records, Dorothy came from Wimbledon, Surrey to serve full-time in Folkestone for two periods between June 1916 and September 1918. Interestingly though her friendship album begins in Folkestone in November 1915, when she was 22 years old.

A small hardback notebook, it is stuffed with signatures, sketches, photographs, poems, letters, newspaper cuttings and heartfelt messages from servicemen from Canada, the United States and Australia as well as Britain. She was clearly popular with her patients and some messages hint at stronger feelings. Extremely personal, it is also a fascinating and poignant glimpse into a time that was to have such an influence on 20th century life.

Take a look at Dorothy’s album here, with the kind permission of Kent County Council.

The Manor House auxiliary hospital opened in October 1914, led by local philanthropist Commandant Florence Daly. The impressive building on the corner of Earls Avenue and the Leas Promenade was originally built for Folkestone’s fifth Earl of Radnor in 1895 but later sold, and loaned for the war effort by new owners.

Auxiliary hospitals were generally smaller, less formal and more homely than military hospitals, making them a very welcome retreat from the Front for wounded and convalescing soldiers. In such close proximity to the battlefields, Folkestone is thought to have had up to 47 hospitals by the end of WW1.

Dorothy’s album is now held by Folkestone Library. The Manor House still stands today, a Grade II listed building containing eight apartments overlooking the Channel towards France.

Learn more about VADs and the various roles women took on during WW1 on the Red Cross website.

Date For The Diary – Sunday 22 July 2018

Step Short Annual March 2017To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, we are planning a number of special events in Folkestone during the summer of 2018. More details will follow over the coming months.

This year’s Step Short Annual March takes place on Sunday 22 July. The march will begin as usual at 10.30am at the Leas Cliff Hall, followed by a service at the Memorial Arch and procession down to Folkestone Harbour Arm. The Mole Cafe will be open for refreshments, as it was during WW1.

Keep checking our Twitter and Facebook pages for more news of Step Short events for 2018.

Back To School

Stella Maris visit Step Short 2017
Step Short’s Ann Berry welcomes the Stella Maris group.

In mid-September 2017, Year 6 pupils from Stella Maris and Christ Church primary schools came to Step Short’s visitor centre (‘the Hub’) to discover more about the First World War in Folkestone.

Both schools spent an afternoon with Step Short for their First World War topic, a feature of the Year 6 curriculum. Vice Chair Ann Berry welcomed the groups and explained the work of the charity. Step Short director Geoff Tolson then shared a brief history of WW1 and Folkestone’s important role in the conflict. The children completed a quiz created by Step Short’s Heather-Gail de Souza, based on the information boards and artefacts at the visitor centre, followed by well-deserved refreshments.

“We had a great afternoon with both schools. The children were enthusiastic and asked interesting questions,” said Ann Berry. “And some were already aware of the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm.”

Please contact Ann Berry (01303 278644 or [email protected]) if you would like to arrange a school visit or other educational activity with Step Short.

Christ Church visit Step Short 2017

Christ Church visit Step Short 2017Stella Maris visit Step Short 2017

New Recruits Tackle Triennial Crowds

New volunteers at the Mole Cafe 2017

Three of our new volunteers were thrown in at the deep end on Sunday 3 September, offering refreshments at the Mole Cafe during the opening weekend of the Folkestone Triennial 2017.

With the Harbour Arm buzzing with visitors, Bobby Reader, Sandra Carpenter and Rosa Hewer got stuck in with the Harbour Canteen regulars serving up tea, coffee and cake.

Folkestone’s fourth Triennial exhibition (Double Edge) features 20 pieces of art located in public spaces around the town from artists including Antony Gormley, Sinta Tantra and Richard Woods.

As with each previous Triennial, many of these pieces will remain in Folkestone as permanent installations. There are a number of exhibits, past and present, in the Tontine Street and Harbour area close to the Step Short Visitor Centre and the Mole Cafe.

The Folkestone Triennial runs until 5 November 2017.

Photo: Diane Cronin

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer with Step Short, email [email protected] or phone Heather-Gail de Souza (01303 269181) or Ann Berry (01303 278644) for the Mole Cafe and Carl Plummer (07766 796006) for the Visitor Centre.

Passchendaele Remembered

Our annual march took place on Sunday 6 August with a special tribute to those who were lost in the Battle of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres, 100 years ago.

Step Short, including our Chairman Damian Collins MP, Dymchurch British Legion and other local groups gathered outside the Leas Cliff Hall at 10.30am before marching along the Leas to the Memorial Arch for a remembrance service at 11.00am. Major Phil Linehan REME spoke movingly about one of the bloodiest and most futile battles of the First World War.

Next year’s annual march will be held on Sunday 22nd July 2018.

Photos: Heather-Gail de Souza and Diane Cronin

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017

Step Short Annual March 2017