No date, but before prom or East Cliff Pavilion
East Cliff Sands now
The East Cliff Sands, or Sandy Bay as it was once known, has always been used, but for some reason wasn't as popular in Edwardian and Victorian times as it is now.

This is the beach I grew up on, and as I was living in Tontine Street for a few years of my childhood, we were allowed to head down here by ourselves, and not return home until we got hungry.  Those days were a different time altogether, we were given a list of instruction as we headed out the door, like "Don't talk to strangers, look both ways when crossing the road, don't accept lifts in cars" etc. etc. and we would give a pained expression and mutter "Yes mum, no mum" and disappear.  Our parents ( in our case, our mother, as our parents were divorced)  then didn't give us more than a passing thought until we appeared again.

Anyway, here are some photos showing the various transformations that the East beaches have undergone over the years.  As always, we will flip back and forth in date, so try to keep up!
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The East Cliff Sands, or Sandy Bay as it was called then.  This postcard was mailed in the 40's, and as you can see, it was before the East Cliff Pavilion was built.
I see they had a man in a rowing boat watching over the swimmers in those days, just as they did when I was a child.

I wonder when the name was changed from Sandy Bay to either the East Cliff Sands, or the Sunny Sands?
Not sure of the date here, but it shows a couple of Boulogne steamers, and lots of people grouped around what we used to refer to as 'the little sands'

We used to like to go here because it was less crowded, but it was no good for swimming as it was pretty dirty.  I wonder if the fishing boat owners are still allowed to throw everything over the side?
I found this card extremely interesting, but unfortunately it wasn't dated.  It states that it is a photo of the New East Cliff Promenade, taken from Folkestone Harbour.  So would assume that this was the time when the arches were installed

I have since been told by Alan Taylor that it must have been dated 1935 because that was when the new promenade was built, and was called Coronation Parade.
Now isn't this one interesting?  It is entitled 'The New Undercliff Walk'  Which I take to mean the prom down on the Sunny Sands. Don't the arches look square?  That looks like graffiti on the wall in the bottom left corner doesn't it?
I guess it was a new structure, just crying out to be defaced!

It depicts the first promenade which was built in the 1920's, and was replaced in 1935 by the one mentioned above.

I can't get over how bare the cliff looks here.  I guess it was because it was all newly excavated.
This one looks quite modern, but it was actually taken in the 70's, and they haven't yet built the steps in the centre leading down from the prom.  Note the Martello tower and the East Cliff Pavilion at the top right.

Those windbreaks are a good idea, wish they had had them when I used to spend time on the sands.
Another one of the East Cliff Sands, but this time taken from the East Cliff, facing the other direction, showing the sands, and in the distance, you can see the Pavilion Hotel, and up on the hill, the Parish Church.
This one was taken in 1934, just a year before the prom was replaced.  It seems to be a mixture of sepia and colour tint.  

Can you see the donkey on the beach?  It looks unattended!  Maybe it took off for a paddle.

Up on the East Cliff you can see Martello Tower No. 3
This one was sent to me by David Santry, who used to live on The Bayle.  It is dated 1971.  The building you can see up on the cliff used to be the St. Andrews Nursing Home, but has now been made into luxury flats.  You can also see the spire of St. Peter's church.

Thanks David! :-)
Another one of the East beach, I am not sure what that pipe thing is, but I am petty sure I know what the white box thing is behind and to the right of it.  I think it is a Punch & Judy show.  I can remember watching those down there when I was very small.  Terribly violent for young children though, weren't they? Mr. Punch always murdered his wife didn't he? :-)
A more modern one of the sands. .  Something tells me it doesn't get as crowded there now as it did when I was a kid.  Then, you had trouble finding enough room to spread out your towel to sit on!
I have a picture of my grandmother sitting in a deck chair, with enough clothes on for mid winter, including shoes & stockings (lisle of course!) fast asleep with a hanky on her head, knotted in each corner!
Can you see the martello tower up on the East Cliff?  I think this one is now an interpretive centre, but many others are now private residences.
This one looks more like the Sands of my childhood.  You didn't go down here if you valued your personal space! 

This one was dated 1956
Someone did a very peculiar job of tinting this one in 1951.  I don't think the East Cliff ever had funny patches of grass like that.  If I remember correctly, it was green with lots of white from the chalk underneath.

Anyway, if you didn't fancy fighting for your 6 square inches of sand, you could always rent a deckchair up on the East Cliff, and watch the activity in peace.
This one is not dated, but it has to be prior to 1935 because the old prom is still in place.
On the other hand, this one looks to be around the 40's
Jumping back in time again, this one has no prom at all, so it would date it back to the 20's
Whereas this one was entitled 'New Promenade', and as it also shows the East Cliff rock garden, I would guess it was dated around 1935 and the new prom was the second one.
This probably dates from around the same time.  Notice the Pavilion Hotel both in this one and the one above right?
Isn't it a coincidence how many women had exactly the same shade of pink dress on in this photo? :-)  It is a tinted photo (with a very limited palette!) dating from the 50's
This was the view that the people on the sands actually had in 1958.  They got to watch the ferries coming and going, then play in the big waves that they caused as they came and went.

It must be very boring nowadays without the ferries.
I wasn't sure if this photo should be listed with the East Beaches, but for me, this part of the Stade was always a big part of the Sands, as you have to walk through it to get there.

I think this picture dates from the 60's or 70's, and I stand to be corrected,  those arches are still there.

I always loved those little cottages along there though, very quaint.
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We have quite a mystery here that we would like your help to solve.  This card was sent to me by Mike Vernol, a man who grew up in Folkestone.

As you can see, the card is of the East Cliff Sands, and we have dated it to around 1930.  We know for sure it was before 1935 because it still has the old prom with the square arches.

Alan Taylor thought it was summer, because of the deck chairs on the prom, but it looks cold doesn't it?  People are wearing coats.  Mike thought the chairs might have been brought out especially for the event.

What we want to know is what the heck were all those people watching?  It must have been something fairly visible, because many people were standing right at the back under the cliff, so I don't feel it was right down at the water's edge.  If you know, please drop me a line, because it is driving us crazy!
Update - see possible answer on the right!
I don't know the date of this one, but it could very well be from my childhood in the 50's. Can you see the Punch & Judy man entertaining the children bottom right?  Just look at the crowd he has watching Punch bump off poor old Judy yet again!
Isn't this a fabulous photo?  It was given to me on my last trip over, and from right to left it is my mother's sister,  Nellie - or Ellen which was her actual name, her husband  Len, pushing my cousin Tony.  Next to Len is her sister  Kay - or Hilda as she hated to be called, and far left was a friend of hers, whose name I don't know.  They were all walking along the Stade coming from the East Cliff sands, and obviously having a great time!  I know Tony was born in July 1937, so would guess the date of this photo at appx. Aug 1938.  Ooh, can't you just taste those toffee apples?
This card  was posted in 1968, and shows the Sunny Sands restaurant on the left.
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I didn't know what that pipe thing was, but Alan Taylor sure does!  He just wrote to tell me that it was a landing stage used by a pleasure boat taking out trips.  I assume then that it only ran when the tide came in.
Here is the East Cliff Sands before any development had taken place.  It didn't stop lots of people from enjoying themselves though, did it?  Only in England would you see a man on the beach in a suit though!
If you have memories of Folkestone, be sure to share them with us by jotting them down in the guestbook
A fellow called Mick posted the following in the Folkestone Memories book (below):

" A question for Alan Taylor. Alan, do you know what the remains of the building are, at the foot of Copt Point? It appears to be a chimney and some sort of concrete block (hut?) and some rails/track(?) which can be seen at low tide. I am talking from the viewpoint of the Sunny Sands end of the harbour looking East towards Dover. Many thanks "

Alan not only answered his question, but  sent me a photo to put up.  Here is what Alan said:

" The square concrete building at Copt-Point is a disused sewer chamber. The two tall chimney like things were built to erect a crane on when the chamber was being built, in the late 1920s. The railway line which can be seen at low tide was left behind by contractors in the late 1940s who extending the sewer pipe further out to sea."


So this is a picture of that crane.  Thanks very much Alan, I too always wondered what that structure was.
This page updated February 18, 2016
Update:  I think we might have the answer to the question below the photo on the left.  Christine Friell ne้ Kennett wrote in my guestbook that her mother had been caught in a tidal wave while swimming on the East Cliff Sands sometime between 1925 and 1930.  She and others were taken into fishermen's homes to recover.  Christine then did a bit of online sleuthing, and found the following paragraph on the site http://www.sandgate-kent.org.uk/environ.htm   1929 Storm & Coast Erosion: A tidal wave, 10-12ft above ordinary sea-level, sweeps up the beach and within 10 minutes attains high-water mark, then collapses and vanishes as quickly as it came. It is thought to be a recurrence of some deep disturbance under the seabed, as in 1812.

We had dated the left photo as being before 1935, so it is just possible that this might be what everyone had gathered to look at.  However, if Christine's mother was swimming that day, it doesn't explain why so many of the onlookers are wearing heavy clothing, unless she and the other swimmers were very hardy.  But then, in those days, people did go onto the beach in suits and hats, case in point is the photo below left, people are swimming, yet the bystanders are all in jackets, coats and hats.

My verdict is that we have cracked the mystery - my vote is a tidal wave.  Thank you so much Christine!
Here is another e-mail that adds power to the tidal wave theory:

Looking at your photos of the sands in the '30s I came across one of crowds on the promenade with the idea that it might have been a tidal wave. I have always had a memory of being rushed from the sands with my mother because a tidal wave was coming. Since my earliest memories seem to be from when I was about four this would then have been 1931. How interesting - I have always wondered whether my memory of such a thing really happened.  Regards, Ron Lynch

Thank you Ron -  I think there can be no doubt, all of those people were perhaps foolishly waiting to be drenched by a tidal wave!

There is a mention of this on a Wikipedia page.  Headed: Meteotsunami 1929 it reads:  On 20 July 1929 a wave reported as being between 3.5 and 6 metres high struck the south coast including busy tourist beaches at Worthing, Brighton, Hastings and Folkestone. Two people drowned and the wave was attributed to a squall line travelling along the English Channel.  So I think the question is definitely answered, and the photograph dates from July 20, 1929.