Folkestone to take centre stage for 2014 commemorations

Folkestone will take centre stage next August as the country pays its respects to the fallen, 100 years on from the start of the First World War.

News that the unveiling of the town’s commemorative arch on The Leas will form a major part of the country’s commemorations has been welcomed by Step Short, the charity which is leading the project.

With a big national media presence expected at the unveiling ceremony and military parade on 4 August, 2014, the event will raise awareness of Folkestone and the its historic role as the stopping-off point for up to ten million soldiers on their way to the Western Front

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has declared that the unveiling of the arch will be given national event status alongside religious services at Glasgow, Westminster Abbey, Belfast and Mons.

The imposing stainless steel arch, which includes a timeline of the 1914-18 conflict, has an educational theme and will be unveiled 100 years on from the day the British Empire joined the conflict that was to cost so many lives.

Step Short hopes that the arch will inspire significant interest in Folkestone as the town which, for so many people, marked the start of their war. The arch is likely to encourage some of the many thousands of visitors who currently tour First World War battlefields in northern Europe to spend time in the town as part of their trip.

Meanwhile other educational themes are being pursued by Step Short, which has arranged for the National Army Museum to bring a unique, ten month-long exhibition on Folkestone’s home front to Folkestone Town Hall from July next year through to May 2015.

Step Short, which is continuing to raise funds towards the cost of the project from local people and organisations, will be transforming the Tram Road visitor centre into an education resource.

The initiatives are all part of Step Short’s aim of increasing awareness, particularly amongst young people, of the war and the sacrifice made by the millions of soldiers who passed through the town between 1914 and 1918.

The DCMS information booklet here highlight’s Step Short’s importance in the national programme of 2014 events.

Aide memoire booklet – public

BBC announces Centenary plans

In what will be a monumental piece of broadcasting, the head of the BBC  has announced details of how it will commemorate the centenary of the Great War:

Dear All, 

This morning we’re launching the most ambitious season of programmes we’ve ever commissioned, to mark the centenary of World War One.   

The war touched the lives of millions across the country, across Europe and the world over.  Over the next four years, the BBC is going to have a profound impact on the way we all look at the conflict.   

I feel passionately about our role in education.  I want 2014 to be remembered for our national commemoration of all those who served on the battlefield and on the Home Front – and a chance for us all to learn something new about a war we think we know well.

On television, on radio, and on digital, we’ll be telling the extraordinary stories and legacy of World War One in whole new ways.    

Here’s a film of some of the highlights.  It moved me when I saw it this morning – and I hope you like it too:

Best wishes 

Tony Hall



Well done to Roy Eastland

At the bottom of our Home page we feature work of Kent artist, Roy Eastland. His series of silverpoint drawings of the victims of The Great Air Raid of 1917 have won critical acclaim and have been included in the Jerold Drawing Prize exhibition for 2013, Roy’s work will be displayed at The Jerwood Art Space, Union Street, London until 27 October 2013. It will then tour, including the Sidney Cooper Gallery in Canterbury in March 2014. We are hoping that Roy will be able to come to Folkestone next summer to exhibit at one of the Centenary exhibitions being arranged by Step Short. Click HERE to read a review in The Independent and Here to visit Roy’s blog.

The Harbour Canteen –

The photo on our Home page of two ladies behind a counter is of the Harbour Canteen, The following article appeared in a Folkestone newspaper on 10 April, 1915:

‘As the result of the appeal in “The Times” a buffet for soldiers returning
from the front was established on Wednesday at Folkestone Harbour Station.

Since October last a buffet organised by local ladies has been carried on at the
station, thousands of meals have been supplied to soldiers returning on leave,
and it was only when leave was practically stopped a few weeks ago that the
buffet was discontinued. It was really the pioneer soldiers’ buffet in the country.
Victoria only followed its example many months afterwards.

As a result of the appeal in “The Times” the ladies who previously gave so much
of their time and money have again come forward and the buffet has been
re-established. It will be open every day at noon; and will remain open until after
the boats have been disposed of in the evening. All the immediate wants of the
naval, military, and Red Cross Forces will be attended to.

The ladies who are carrying on this good work are Mrs Napier Sturt; the Misses
Jeffrey, and others’

Thanks to Eamonn Rooney for unearthing this snippet. Who knows, perhaps the canteen will open yet again…