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Historic station at Folkestone to be saved as part of plans to create new pier for town

By Matt Leclere

Folkestone’s harbour arm is set to be transformed into a new pier for the town.

Plans for the new leisure facilities on the outer arm will also include renovating the former military station used by soldiers to board ships bound for the Western Front in the First World War.

The two halves of the station will be included and retained as part of redevelopment plans.

Artist's impression of how the new pier will look. Picture: Folkestone Harbour Company

Project manager for the seafront redevelopment, Trevor Minter, said the plans will retain much of the harbour station’s heritage and character.

Mr Minter said: “Along this elbow we’re going to reintroduce the old cafe – as a cafe or museum – but we need someone to come in and run it. Mostly officers got off the train here. The soldiers walked down the Road of Remembrance but boarded the boats here.

“It will be reglazed and a temporary door put in, to stop the pigeons flying in.

"One of the rooms, as yet we don’t know exactly which one it is, will be refitted as the cafe run by the Jeffrey sisters to give soldiers a last cup of tea.

“We don’t have to do this [the pier work first]. What we applied for and the idea was that the flats would pay for it but we’re doing it anyway and if it was for profit they wouldn’t do it this way.”

The far end of the arm is to become a new pier for residents and visitors with a cafe built in the lighthouse and plans for shops and bars.

Peter Bettley pointing out one of the most damaged parts of the pier that has now undergone restoration. Pictures: Paul Amos

Peter Bettley, for the Folkestone Harbour Company, said it would become similar to the Prince of Wales pier in Dover.

He added: “It gets hundreds of people out there on a nice day but you don’t get these views.

“It’s going to be a new town pier. People say Folkestone should have a pier and it’s going to get one.

“Critically, the embarkation for soldiers is the bit further up. If we’re going to rebuild it, do the one with the historical value, which is what we’re doing.

“We haven’t worked out who the developers are going to be, there’s probably half a dozen and we’re in discussions.”

Folkestone Harbour Company hopes to have restored the ‘military station’ by next summer.

The ferry terminal area will eventually become flats but until then it will be car parking and is also set to show the First World War commemoration on August 4 on big screens with the parade ending up there.

The whole area needs to be raised by a one metre with additional flood defences put in place under guidelines imposed by the Environment Agency.

The area around the harbour

Mr Minter added the former ferry terminal platforms will probably not remain as platforms.

FHC will need to negotiate with Network Rail to take over the land as and when the closure is made official.

“It’s going to be a new town pier. People say Folkestone should have a pier and it’s going to get one" - Peter Bettley

However, the area will become known as Harbour Station Street and would still retain part of its station character but will be a roadway with a turning off to an underground car park when the flats are built.

Also among the ideas for the outer arm is also to restore the historic landing platforms.

One was used at low tide and the other on the main level at high tide.

A previous owner had blocked the lower docking point and the new plans include reopening them for public access with one idea to use it as a berthing point for yachts and pleasure boats.

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