Folkestone has always recognised the importance of green space, the necessity to give people a place of beauty to relax and unwind - a place for children to play in a safe environment.  From the ordinary parks like the Rec in Canterbury Road to the more formal Kingsnorth Gardens, or the large Radnor Park, there is something for everyone.  Most recently, a new Adventure Playground has been built for children in the Lower Sandgate Road.  It is lots of fun, and more importantly, it is free!
Lower Gardens and Parade - 1911
The Radnor Park Lake, or as we called it when I was a child, the boating pond.  Radnor Park also has another pond that is a pretty good place to go fishing.
In the background, you can see The Royal Victoria Hospital, where my son Graham was born.  It is still used as a hospital, but mainly for geriatric patients.  It even has its own radio station called Radio Victoria.  One of the presenters is Stan Cascino.  A link to his site can be found on my links page.
Don't you love the little boy in his sailor suit?
It has struck me how many photographs of Folkestone were taken in 1915, I wonder why? I would like to think that it was in honour of my mother, who was born that year, but more likely there was a very avid photographer living there then. This is another 1915 view of Marine Gardens.
This is a place you will see many photos of on this page, because it is a postcard manufacturer's dream!  It is of course Kingsnorth Gardens, located right in the centre of town near the Central Station.

This photo is pretty old, but I don't have a date for it.
Another one of Marine Gardens.  Those buildings on the right of the picture were allowed to fall into serious disrepair.  However, Jimmy Godden sold the Crescent in 2003 to developers Sapphire Property (UK) for 2.25million. The building is currently being converted into 91 luxury flats, starting price for a single bedroom is 175,000.
Back to the boating pond in Radnor Park, where the children - or should we say the Dads - are sailing their model yachts.
These are the rock gardens up on the East Cliff.   They are no longer there due to cliff erosion - a big problem right down the coast.

Notice the white horse of Kent in the upper left hand corner of the card.
I have no date for this one, but it is obviously a very old one of Marine Gardens & Parade.

At the very back of the photo, you can see a bandstand that used to be down there.
Another view of Radnor Park, date unknown but would guess it to be before the last war.

It was also taken before the statue on the top of the fountain was broken off.  I believe it was of St. Eanswythe.

A gentleman by the name of Chris Keller kindly took some recent photos of this fountain, which you will see left :
Thank you Chris, these are fabulous photos.  What a beautiful structure it once was.  Too bad they can't restore it.
Here is an extremely old one of Radnor Park.  Is anyone old enough to remember that structure?  Where in Radnor Park was it situated?
I think what we have here is an art card depicting the Peter Pan Boating pool in Radnor Park.

These boats required a little more skill than the ones down at the Rotunda, and if you lost your oars you were in real trouble! :-)  I remember having a lot of trouble getting the boat to go straight.
Here is the Kingsnorth that we all know and love! 

I am told that plans are underway to give this beautiful place a face lift. One of the things they plan to do is remove the shelter at the back, which attracts undesirables at the moment. They assured me that the fish will stay though!

In the background near the Central Station is the United Reform Church.
In 2003, I visited the Toll Road Playground for the first time.
What a wonderful place to take the children - and it's free too!  I was there in May, and the place was packed with kids having the time of their life.
I watched in envy while the children hung onto a little platform thing, and went whizzing down what looked like a clothes line.  Now why didn't they have those when I was a child? :-)
Doesn't the photo on the right  look neat?  It is also in the Toll Road Playground, and is a wreck, buried into the sand.  The children get to climb all over it.  They were having a whale of a time the day I went.

The old Toll House is still down there, but it is now a private residence, and there is no traffic allowed at all where the playground is.
Ooh I would love to look out of my living room window onto grounds like this - just as long as I have a gardener to do the work of course!
Actually, this is Kingsnorth Gardens in May.  Imagine how gorgeous it will be in July!
Another picture of Kingsnorth Gardens, aren't those trees absolutely beautiful?
I think it should be in everyone's job description that you have to spend at least one hour a day in here.  It's a wonderful place to sit and unwind.
A couple more pictures of the Toll Road playground.  Isn't it a great place for kids? :-)
The entrance to Radnor Park taken in 1920.
Radnor Park again but a little earlier, both of these photos were taken in 1908.
Scooting right back to 1904 for this one. I thought at first these children were sailing boats, but on second glance I think they are swans in the water.
The Radnor Park lake again, this time in 1905.
Still in Radnor Park, and still back in time.  Here we have a little stream, which  is  still there.  They have covered up streams in Folkestone before - remember the Pent, which ran under Tontine Street?  But not this one.  Does anyone know if this is also the Pent?
That shelter isn't there any more - after all, this photo dates from 1906.
This was in 1907, I wonder if that woman is looking at the same stream?
The First World War was just over when this picturesque card was mailed.  We are still in Radnor Park, and possibly that child is also looking at the stream!   Note the pretty waterfall on the right.
  This photo of Peter Pan's boating pool was mailed in 1947. So we have jumped past yet another world war.
Not a park this time, but a gardener has gone to a lot of trouble to make it attractive.  This time it is the Harbour Gardens.  In the distance you can see Tontine Street and the Old High Street.  The year is 1965.
I don't have a year for this, but it looks considerably older doesn't it?  In fact that car looks to be around the 20's, not that I am an expert on cars.

Do you recognise the place?  Neither did I!  But the title was 'Jubilee Gardens'.  Could it possibly have been the ornamental flower bed on the Leas?
I have far more photos of Kingsnorth Gardens than I could ever put up, so will just select a few.  This one dates from either the 40's or 50's.
The style of Kingsnorth seemed to be a lot more stark in the 30's.  Very clean lines and not many trees.  Of course it was pretty new then, which might account for it.
This one as you might have guessed dates from the 60's, and I feel they enhanced the brightness of the colour somewhat don't you?
Oh now, isn't this lovely?  It is Kingsnorth Gardens at night.  What a romantic setting this would be for a wedding - or at the very least, a proposal!
Back to daylight hours now, note the bird statues in the lily pond?  I don't think those are there any more are they?
A photo of the very pretty pergola.  It think that was still there the last time I visited, but there were no roses in bloom over it - too early in the year.
We started this page with Marine Gardens, so will get back to it now.  I don't have a year for this one, but you can be sure it isn't last week!
Marine Gardens again, and this time you can see the Victoria Pier over on the left.  Plus one of Mr. Fagg's Bathing Carriages.

Notice the boats pulled up onto the beach.  You could rent them to have a little row around in those days.
I am so happy they are refurbishing the buildings on Marine Crescent.  They are in so many old photos, that Folkestone just wouldn't be the same if they were not there.

This charming picture was taken in 1907.
What a pleasant place this was to go to on a warm summer day. I guess they had a band to listen to on some days too.
Did you know that Marine Gardens had these two things?
A footbridge in this 1911 photo, and a putting green in the one below which dates from 1950.
This card, dating from 1907 is entitled 'Marine Gardens from Shelter'.  I imagine the shelter was the structure on the right.  I wonder what was inside it?
That's your lot for now, but check back from time to time, because more will be added.
I took this photo in 2005, do you think it might be a remnant of the structure above?
Same place in 2005
Same lake in 2005, exactly 100 years later!
2005 - and it really hasn't changed much has it?  In fact I think it is the same area, taken from the opposite direction, with the wooden railing changed to metal.  In which case, the child was definitely looking at the stream.
I wrote the snippet on the right in 2003, so it might have been done by now.
Both of these photos were taken in May 2003
The day after I left Folkestone in May, 2006 they were due to have a Grand Opening of the Lower Leas Coastal Park, which adjoins the Childrens' Playground above, and runs right through to the lifts.  In other words, the Lower Sandgate Road is no more, however, the Toll House is still there, now in beautiful parkland, and is still occupied by Paola, who owns it, and her partner Gerry.  I just couldn't go back to Canada without seeing the new park, so squeezed behind the barriers, (shhhh) and took the following photos.
It's lovely isn't it?  And I am sure it will look even nicer when the newly planted trees have matured a bit, and the flower beds have filled in a little more.  A beautiful place to sit or stroll, with a beautiful view of the sea.

I was gratified to note however, that they had retained the old bridge on the left.  It seems to me it has been there for years, and it was nice to see it incorporated into the new area.

Whosever brainchild this was - well done!  I love the way Folkestone used to be, but changes like this are a definite improvement.  We have lost the Lower Sandgate Road, but in this case, I really don't think it is a bad thing, I would love to hear if you agree with me, post your thoughts into the guestbook below.
So this is now the view you get from The Leas.  Rather nice isn't it?

These two show the Childrens' Playground from above.  You can see the finished groins that they put in to control erosion.  Those little dots all the way out to sea are benches.  Some days that might be nice, but other days?  I don't think so!
Alan recognised this,  he said it is  an ornamental flower bed on the Leas. The wall in the background runs between the Clifton & Salisbury hotels.

Thanks Alan! :-)
Talking about Kingsnorth Gardens being new.  Alan Taylor sent me these two photos of the  Grand Opening on June 27th 1928 by Viscountess Folkestone.  What a lovely smile she had, and I adore her dress.  It wouldn't look out of place these days in my opinion.

She is seen here with the Mayor who was Alderman R.G. Wood.
Below, you can see her being put to work planting a tree.  She looks like a lovely lady, if anyone knows more about her, please drop me a line and let me know.
Taken from the same spot as the one above, this photo of the lily pond was taken in 1962.  No bird statues there then.
Radnor Park in 1914, and again the statue is intact on top of the fountain.
A crooked oak tree in Radnor Park
Alan came up with the answer to my question on the left.  Here is what he said:

"It had a central hall 60 feet by 15 feet with toilets & cloak rooms at either end & promenade on the flat roof. It opened June 2nd 1906, concerts were held in the central hall, but in our time it was a shelter. The building was demolished by Jimmy Godden in February 1987."
If you have your own memories of Folkestone, please share them with us by jotting down your thoughts in the book below.
This page updated August 27, 2008
Mike Vernol sent me this one.  It is the tea gardens of the Highcliffe Hotel in Clifton Gardens
On the right, a man in a jaunty boater is walking across a bridge in Radnor Park.
I always get very excited when I discover something about Folkestone that I didn't know before, and the photo below, sent to me by Alan Taylor had that effect on me.
Did you know that the Pleasure Gardens Theatre was once inside the Pleasure Gardens?  I didn't, but was thrilled to see what it looked like!  Thanks Alan.
This was entitled Lower Road Gardens in 1906.  Isn't that the same bridge that I was saying they had retained in the Lower Leas Coastal Park above?
And here is a look at a completely deserted Marine Gardens, complete with bandstand.
These were called Tontine Gardens in 1962, located just around the corner from the Old High Street
Let's finish off by taking one last look at Kingsnorth Gardens.  These were taken by me in 2006.

I know how it is when you live there, you never visit places like this do you?  However, it is very good for you - please slow down and stop and smell the roses every once in a while - you will live longer.  And you have a beautiful place in the heart of Folkestone to do it!
True to their word, the shelter at the back of the park has gone now
Utterly beautiful isn't it?
I asked, and I certainly got!  I had an e-mail from Shinjinee Sen who went to an awful lot of trouble for me.  Click HERE to read what her research turned up!
Paul Seward also did a little detective work on this one, and compared it to a photograph on the Leas page.  He decided this has to be in celebration of George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935, as he even managed to match up the lettering on the two photographs.  Tricky though, because this one was taken from a totally different angle.  Looking at the two myself, I believe Paul to be correct.  Thank you Paul.  I still say that car looks older than 1935 though, but without MOT in those days, I am sure there were a lot of old cars on the road - safe or not!