I’ve read through this thread and feel that it needs a major news update!
In 2009 a group was set up to look at a number of issues related to the history of Folkestone and the relationship to the Great War in particular. The group is called ‘Step Short’,
after the order given to troops when marching down a steep hill which in Folkestone’s case is the Road of Remembrance, from the Lees down to the Harbour. Step Short is a sub group of ‘Go Folkestone’ and has a number of working groups and committees working towards the 2014 anniversary.
The Step Short Group is working with Kent County Council, Shepway Council and the Roger De Hann Charitable Trust to focus on a number of real and potential projects. These projects are:
The Road of Remembrance and War Memorial
The Visitor Centre and Trenches
Lower slope restoration
The Harbour Canteen
The Heritage Trails
Schools and Community Programmes
The aim is to have a number of these projects completed before or for the August 2014 100th Anniversary.
To expand on this list in detail would take up too much space so here is a short summary.
Road of Remembrance.
Originally called ‘The Slope’, it became the Road of Remembrance because of the thousands of troops who marched down it to the harbour in WW1. At the top is the town war memorial. The plan is to restore and update the panels on the memorial as there are many names missing. The memorial could also be moved a few yards to put it in a pedestrian setting rather than being a traffic island. A Time Line would be added to the Road of Remembrance making it a ‘living museum’, marking events in the war. The Time Line would be a major project of historic and artistic merit. Refurbishment of the memorial has started.
Halfway down the Road of Remembrance is a WW2 bunker. This is a large 5 roomed underground complex and it is hoped that this can be used as a museum site. For photos see http://www.undergroundkent.co.uk/rd_of_rem...ance_bunker.htm
Currently ownership is being investigated, with a view to acquiring it for use as a museum.
Visitor Centre and Trenches.
Space has been identified and the lower end of the Road of Remembrance for the building of a WW1 related visitor centre that would also have some reconstructed trenches in the grounds. Planning discussions relating to use of the land are under way.
The Harbour Canteen.
The Folkestone harbour Railway station still has the original canteen (Mole Café) in place that was used by thousands of troops before they embarked for France. It was here that as many as 30,000 troops signed the visitors books, now held by the Kent County Archive. It is hoped to restore the canteen as a museum. The WW1 visitor’s books have been digitised by KCC and plans are in place to decipher regimental and individual names.
The other items are linked to the build up to 2014 and involvement with the local community.
There are good links with Etaples and the Mayor of that town is aware of the plans and a partnership with Etaples regarding 2014 projects is being discussed. Links to Belgium and Canada are also possible.
As you can imagine there are many hurdles to leap and many mountains to climb when driving such a broad programme of work. However many small successes have been won already and work will continue through to 2014 and probably beyond.
I have become personally involved in Step Short and I am happy to update the forum on progress from time to time.