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Nearly 30 years ago I came to live in Sandgate. Where’s that? people asked me - ‘It’s a small village near Folkestone where people either retire to or have a holiday pad. It is a (thriving) lively community and has always attracted interesting people.’
When I arrived on the scene, people were still harping back to ‘the old days’. ‘Folkestone was a lovely place - the shops; tea at Bobby’s; receptions at the Town Hall - everyone knew everyone in Sandgate.’ O.K. I said, you all live in nostalgia.
The coming of the Channel Tunnel changed that. Too bad! – you will have to live with it.
The first thing I noticed was the huge expanse at Cheriton which was criss-crossed with earth movers creating a flat surface for the Channel Tunnel. The dust, in a very hot summer was everywhere and the local surgeries were inundated with patients with respiratory problems. It was an excuse for everything – including the car washes being out of action. We had a steamer going up four times a day taking the excess water from the Channel Tunnel. We all got rather fond of her and missed her when she left.
Gradually we learned to live with this, but people said ‘it’s all very well for you, - we lost our favourite picnic spots.’ ‘Well’ I said, ‘you have a better road to London instead. ‘I gather at the very first meeting, way back, it was thought there would be more jobs for everyone. Tell that to the parents who lose their children when they leave college.
I joined the Sandgate Society and enjoyed the meetings. At that time the great talking point then was the proposed marina at Seabrook which, after a lot of meetings in which Sandgate had a lot to say, it was finally abandoned.
The first Sandgate Society party was at Christmas, and I went with Richard and Anne Colville. It was a lovely evening with gaiety and mirth. All I can remember apart from the white tablecloths and a rather nice supper was the pianist being asked to play – surely, I thought to myself, there must be someone in Sandgate who could lead the singing - I almost volunteered my service.
Sally Ridley Day referred to the Channel Tunnel as the mouse hole until she actually saw it and remarked then that it was like a cathedral.
Gradually things have changed with a new Chairman starting with a lunch at Reg Turnill’s home, followed by a number of lunches at SAGA – each one better than the last. Now we have children’s parties, Christmas lights, and summer ‘dos’ at the Rowing Club – fireworks and the Jubilee celebrations – the best in the area. Twinning with Sangatte and a Parish Council. I used to think ‘one day the cycle will have come full circle – and you will have a Mayor’ and now you have. Who knows what will have happened to the Channel Tunnel and then we will be nostalgic about that event.
But the sun will still shine and the lovely autumn luminescent as you walk along the esplanade. There will be great storms, wonderful seas, walks on the cliff top when the winds blow. The gulls will be there enjoying the stormy weather and the marvellous sight of thunderstorms over the sea, never to be forgotten and you will see badgers and rabbits and hedgehogs, the occasional snake and the foxes. Long Live Sandgate!