Charles G. Harper points his caustic pen at Folkestone, England, and its social divide.
….modern Folkestone, as distinguished from the old fishing-port, wears in its most prominent residential parts the appearance of an unregenerate South Kensington. Cubitt [the architect], that great conjurer with bricks and mortar (not forgetting the plaster) was the author of both. He bade arise both Cromwell Road and the intensely respectable and extremely expensive mansions that front upon the Folkestone Leas – or Lees, as I grieve to find them frequently spelt.
Now the Folkestone that in these times centres upon the Leas notices sometimes that the sea does, in fact, incidentally stretch away out and down there, and it knows – ah, yes – that there is a harbour. Sometimes you start from it for the Continent, don’t you know!
But from the austere and exclusive Leas the tripper element is entirely banished, and those sedate and dignified fashionable visitors who promenade beside the lawns between the old church of St. Eanswythe at the eastern extremity and the huge Hotel Metropole and the Grand at the western end seem to take their pleasure as solemnly as though it were one everlasting Church Parade.
There are people, it is true, of a lower social status, and of a more primitive and joyous nature, who come to Folkestone, and patronise the very fine pleasure pier, and do not disdain the beach and the simple old delights of the seashore; and there are still other people who patronise a “switchback” contrivance down below; but these are folk who stay somewhere in back streets, who have no sort of commerce with the refined life which distinguishes the Leas.
Sometimes, it is true, some of the Olympians of these heights descend by the lifts that communicate directly with that geographical and social underworld, and occasionally the primitive people of down yonder ascend by the same means from the Lower Road to explore this rarefied region, and both are impressed by what they see and hear. But they mingle no more than oil and water will do. The very bands understand to a nicety the differences of ideals and outlook, and render Grieg, Wagner, and classical music above, while to the Lower Road audiences they discourse strains of a simpler and more popular kind.
‘The Kentish Coast’, Charles G. Harper. Chapman & Hall, Ltd. 1914. [Abridged]
Illustrations from vintage postcards in my collection.