The Somme Remembered

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Service Folkestone 1 July 2016
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.

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Folkestone Ben Millbery 2016

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.

Start to uncover the stories of the soldiers and nurses involved in the Battle of the Somme by searching the Mole Cafe visitor books now.

Folkestone Town Trail Launches May 2016

Folkestone Town Trail Road of Remembrance

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.

FolkestoneTownTrail Ann Berry, Damian Collins

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.