Lower Sandgate Road in 1914
The Toll Road Playground in 2003
An alternative route to Sandgate used to be the Lower Sandgate Road, which ran right along the seafront.  Originally a privately owned toll road. 
Payment would be collected from vehicles wishing to travel that route.

The toll house down there is probably the most photographed house in Folkestone.  It is still there, but is now a private residence.  However, for many years, right back to the horse and cart days, it kept someone gainfully employed collecting the levies which kept the road in good repair.

These days, the Lower Sandgate Road has gone, it has been turned into the Lower Leas Coastal Park, which includes a playground for children, paths flowers and shrubs.  A beautiful area to spend a summer afternoon.  You can see more photos of the park and playground on the Parks & Gardens page.
A brisk constitutional along the Lower Sandgate Road.
Something tells me though that not one of those people took those steps up to the Leas!
Here is an art card of the Toll House and Lower Sandgate Road.  In the background you can see the Victoria pier and a ferry on its way to Boulogne.
And here is a real photograph of it.  It is interesting to note all the changes around this house over the years.  In this one, you can see some kind of changing hut behind it, and quite a lot of activity going on across the street from it.  I wonder what they were doing?

See the car heading for the gate?  He would have had to pay to go through.
There is not much going on opposite the house in this picture is there?
The date of this one goes right back to 1904, and you can see a horse and carriage taking a lady with a parasol out for a nice afternoon drive.

I wonder if you had return tickets when you went through?  Also, if someone lived in Sandgate, did they only have to pay on the way back?

I know, I like to know everything don't I? :-)

Looks like lead in the windows of the house in those days.
This photo dates from just a year later than the one above, and someone has gone insane with a paint brush!
Dating from 1906, it must have been hand tinted too.
Now here is a very different view of the Lower Sandgate Road.  I don't know the year of this one either, but would guess it to be around the same era.
Here is a view of it taken from above.
Another one of the Toll House, this time a horse and cart are waiting at the closed gates.

Something is going on opposite the house in this photo, but not as much as in the one further up the page.
I left this one large so you could see all the detail in it.  I was looking at the Victoria pier.  There doesn't look to be much of a pavilion in this photo does there?  I wonder if it was in the process of being built?  If so, it would date this photo to the late 1800's.
Just look at this!  They even used the toll gate as a Christmas card!  Not as much snow here as they had in 2005 by what I hear!

And certainly nowhere near as much as we have here in Winnipeg every  year!

We don't have to dream of a white Christmas, we are guaranteed to get one! :-)
Ah yes, it certainly was charming wasn't it?  Actually it still is despite all the changes!
It's strange the things that went on opposite the house isn't it?  The picture on the left dates from 1904, but the one on the right is 1932.  I have no idea what those ladder type things are in the photo on the right.  It is also interesting to note that they had what looks like a pavement to walk on in 1904, but had done away with it by 1932.  The pier also looks different in 1932 doesn't it?  Something solid looking is going down into the water.   Alan Taylor has the answer to one of these questions:  "That something going on opposite was the council workers yard used for storing their plant & materials which was used for repairing the groins on the beach. The ladder type thing is a pile-driver, used to drive piles in the beach when repairing the groins."
A couple more comparisons.  On the left in a photo sent to me by Keith Meadows, there is a horse & cart at the gate, and not as much going opposite as in other pictures, but click it to see it enlarged, and you will see it is used for something.  On the right, you can see they have built some type of shed thing in that spot.  As you can probably guess by the style of the cars, the postcard on the right is later - it was postally used in 1957.
On the left, that lady at the gate was standing there in 1908, and the lady scurrying away from the house was there in 1957.
This card was posted in 1936, but I am wondering if someone found an old one in the bottom of their suitcase, because to me that looks like a horse approaching the toll gate, and didn't think there were many horses still around by then.  I could be wrong though.  Again, you can see the bathing hut in the background.
I will finish with a couple of photos taken at the Toll Road Playground that is there now.  Lots of things for children to climb on, balance on, swing on and best of all, it's free!  The child in the photos is my granddaughter, who lives in Canada.  She had a ball there!
This is a great photo from 1958 of the Lower Sandgate Road, and someone who knows their cars better than I do tells me that is a Messerschmidt bubble car in the foreground and a Ford Consol in the background.

I once had a boyfriend who owned a bubble car, but it didn't look like this one, so I guess his wasn't a Messerschmidt.  His was more bulbous with the wheels tucked under the body.  It was fun though, the whole front of it was the door, and you both sat on one bench seat
If any of the photos remain blank after the page has loaded, right click your mouse into the space, and click 'Show Picture', and it should come in for you.  If you cannot get one to load this way, I may have inadvertently deleted it, so please let me know.
I don't know when the photo on the left was taken, but you can be sure it was a long time ago.  The one on the right was taken in 2006, and although you can see that a lot of work has been done to the toll house, people have gone to great pains to preserve the original look of it.
I don't remember these houses being down there, do you?
I think this is the same as one further up the page, only this time it hasn't been coloured.
In the background is the Victoria Pier
Yes, I didn't know the year of the one further up, but here it is again, and this time it was tinted and postally used in 1908.  I bet that fellow had no idea they would put him into a pink shirt!
This is a brightly coloured one for 1919 isn't it?
Here is a vew taken at night.  The Toll keeper has gone to bed, although it looks as if he is having a read by candlelight.
A modern view of the house.  Gerry Jenkinson lives there now with his partner, who owns it.  If you are wondering what is across the road nowadays, it is a space for them to park their car!
The Lower Road gardens in 1906
And the lower road gardens now.  Except they now call them the Lower Leas Coastal Park.  Like them?  I do!
This is the view you get now when you look West from the Leas Cliff Hall.  Note the work they have done on the beach, designed to break up the waves and prevent coastal erosion.
And this is the view you get now when you look East from the Leas Cliff Hall.  No more pier,  the Rotunda almost gone here, completely gone now, and no ferries leaving from the harbour.  But we do have the Lower Leas Coastal Park to look down on, and I think that will get more beautiful as the years go by.
If you have your own memories of the Toll Gate or the Lower Sandgate Road or anywhere else in Folkestone, please be sure to share them with us by jotting them down in the Guestbook below
This page updated August 30, 2007