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A look at the changing face of Ashford town centre

Time has never stood still in Ashford and in the past half century, it seems its identity has changed more than any other town in this part of the county.

Many parts of the 'older' town have gone forever, familiar routes in and out of town and shops that residents once utilised in days gone by.

Many of the town's streets have disappeared in the name of progress and those that survive have changed beyond all recognition.

Gravel Walk, 1972. A rare view showing Gravel Walk in the early 1970’s before the area was given over to parking. The rear of the recently demolished Prince Albert and Prince of Orange public houses can be seen on the right, with the long lost Engineer public house in the white building on the left. Today there is no trace of Gravel Walk, but plenty of colourful memories among those who remember it. Picture: Steve Salter
Gravel Walk, 1972. A rare view showing Gravel Walk in the early 1970’s before the area was given over to parking. The rear of the recently demolished Prince Albert and Prince of Orange public houses can be seen on the right, with the long lost Engineer public house in the white building on the left. Today there is no trace of Gravel Walk, but plenty of colourful memories among those who remember it. Picture: Steve Salter

Routes in and around the town have altered considerably, and for those of us that do not drive, often the routes to our suburban residences no longer look how they did 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years ago.

Anyone revisiting the town after a long absence would most certainly get confused and lost – that’s how much the town has changed.

New Rents, 1975. Once crossing Forge Lane from New Street, this was the view back in the early 1970s in the days before Safeway purchased the Gravel Walk car park for their new supermarket which latterly became Lidl. Again, Lewis and Hyland can clearly be seen below the church tower of St Mary the Virgin which shops including F.G Bradley; Bakers sundriesman can be seen on the right. Picture: Steve Salter
New Rents, 1975. Once crossing Forge Lane from New Street, this was the view back in the early 1970s in the days before Safeway purchased the Gravel Walk car park for their new supermarket which latterly became Lidl. Again, Lewis and Hyland can clearly be seen below the church tower of St Mary the Virgin which shops including F.G Bradley; Bakers sundriesman can be seen on the right. Picture: Steve Salter

The huge amount of letters we've had over the years from those who originally lived in Ashford from birth and have popped back for a visit say the same thing: 'where’s my old town gone?'

Those that have come back after some 50 years away will have seen the most changes across the town.

New Rents, 1972. A sentimental view showing New Rents 42 years ago, when the street was still dominated by much-missed department store Lewis and Hyland. H.J Davis the Pork butcher can be seen further along on the left with the one-time premise of the Central Pie Shop on the right. Forge Lane heading towards Gravel Walk can be seen in the distance. The junction of Hempsted Street is on the immediate left. Picture: Steve Salter
New Rents, 1972. A sentimental view showing New Rents 42 years ago, when the street was still dominated by much-missed department store Lewis and Hyland. H.J Davis the Pork butcher can be seen further along on the left with the one-time premise of the Central Pie Shop on the right. Forge Lane heading towards Gravel Walk can be seen in the distance. The junction of Hempsted Street is on the immediate left. Picture: Steve Salter

Among the dramatic changes has been is New Rents Street leading eventually to the one-time Gravel Walk.

Pictures of Gravel Walk are scarce, but generations of Ashford families either lived nearby, or knew someone who lived nearby.

We've been told by a reliable source whose relative once lived there that there was a Gravel Walk gang many years ago.

Do you have any memories of Ashford? Email Steve Salter on rememberwhen_kmash@hotmail.co.uk

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