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Dinosaurs gather around the Christmas tree on the pillar box outside Faversham post office – the latest creation by the town’s guerrilla knitters. Last month, they paid tribute to the fallen on Remembrance Day
The Fleur Museum is reopening over the Christmas holiday: on 21, 22 and 23 December, then 29, 30 and 31 December, 10am-4pm.
The past month has been dominated by planning matters, vital issues that will shape the future of our town for generations. I have written here before that Faversham faces change on a scale similar to that experienced by our forebears with the coming of the railway.
First, some good news. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has secured permission to improve the biodiversity and lay the foundations for public access to 715 acres of the Seasalter Levels between Whitstable and Faversham.
Brogdale, a community interest company, has renewed its lease on the Georgian walled garden at The Mount (on the north side of the A2 as you travel towards Ospringe Street), and will continue its restoration work.
And …Bob Geldof has secured planning permission to create a Monet-inspired pool on the grounds of Davington Priory.
The Faversham Society helped fund the exhibition held in the Assembly Rooms during Cop26 and Matthew Hatchwell interviewed Bob Geldof, who read from Philip Larkin’s Going, Going. An excellent choice. If you do not know it, look it up: “All that remains/ For us will be concrete and tyres.” See pages 6-7.
Endless delays in building material supplies have bedevilled our efforts to move the Visitor Information Centre to 12 Market Place, but it does now look as though we shall be able to move in January and begin work on moving the second-hand bookshop into Preston Street to complete – we hope – by Easter.
We have donated £500 to the Christmas lights this year – they bring so much pleasure to Faversham people of all ages – and £500 to the Friends of the Westbrook to support their efforts to clean and improve our important chalk stream.
Next year will be the Faversham Society’s 60th anniversary. If you have ideas for how we might mark the occasion, please let me have your suggestions. Covid permitting, we plan to hold our AGM in May next year.
As I write this, we have just heard that there is mounting concern about the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and that masks are to be worn again in shops. This is the season of goodwill, a time to be kind to each other.
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Please take care, stay safe, be kind … and don’t forget your mask
Ever wonder what a beat-measuring wheel is? Or when women first joined the police force? Or how forensic techniques help to solve cases? Then the new Kent Police Museum has the answers.
It was officially launched at Faversham Police Station in Church Road on 8 October, when Chief Constable Alan Pughsley was joined by police and crime commissioner Matthew Scott, Mayor of Faversham Alison Reynolds and members of the National Association of Retired Police Officers.
The police station, which houses the museum, was built in 1904, and will give the public access to its atmospheric original cells.
Interactive displays and exhibitions chart the history of the county force, with more than 150 years covered in the museum’s collection of artefacts, memorabilia, photographs and documents.
The museum is open to the public three days a week (Thursday to Saturday 10am-4pm). Entry is free but booking is preferable and can be made via our Kent Police website. Large group bookings are also welcome from Monday to Wednesday. You can also contact me, Paul Upton, the curator, to book a visit on email@example.com or by telephoning 01795 433028.
After so much hard work over a number of years it is very gratifying to be able to offer visitors of all ages an opportunity to discover what the museum has to offer. Our displays offer a contemporary and exciting visitor experience, which has an interactive element while making maximum use of the historic building.
Chief Constable Pughsley said: “I’m delighted we have been able to find a new home for the museum. It’s important the public are able to see the difference between the early days of policing and our operations now.
“And yet, over 160 years later, those foundations still align with many of our foundations today. We continue to embrace the concept of policing by consent and our vision, that Kent is a safe place for people to live, work and visit is as important in 2021 as it was then.”
Way back in 2008 the Faversham Society was asking for a volunteer to help in the costume section of the museum. I applied, although I knew almost nothing and was assured that I would have some training.
Now we restrict our collection to items that have a link with Faversham and its environs, but that has not always been the case. If it had, we would not have one of the oldest items in the collection, the beautiful Polonaise dress on display in the glass case on the first floor.
The dress dates from the 1780s and I understand it was donated to the town about 1960 by a family with connections to the Whitstable Oyster Fisheries. How I wish its history had been documented at the time. Why it is called a Polonaise dress is a long story for another time. If you are interested, do ask me. You will find me in the attic at the Fleur most days.
I enjoyed our open evening, which we hope to do again soon.It gives us a chance to open drawers and boxes and show the treasures within.
For instance, in the Childs shop display (upstairs in the museum), we have a drawer full of men’s ties. Nineteen of them were donated by the artist Jack Salmon, a founder member of the society who died in 2014, and they reflect fashion trends from the narrow Italian silk one dated 1958, when anything Italian – films, food, wine and holidays – was in vogue.
They go through the flamboyant psychedelic 1960s and into the pretty floral Liberty prints of the 1970s and on to the sad times of today when you hardly ever see one … except in a museum drawer. Even Marks & Spencer doesn’t sell ties in all its stores now.
The Costume Attic is harder to open for visitors as the winding staircase puts many people off. But what treats await you there! Six rails of hanging clothes in mothproof bags and, in museum-quality boxes, clothes too fragile to hang and items such as parasols, fans and hats, all wrapped in acid-free tissue and packed away carefully. In one box you will find 84 different examples of lace: bobbin, crochet, hairpin, Irish picot, needlepoint and tatting.
I could go on … and who wouldn’t enjoy working with and talking about so many treasures?
Last month, the UK hosted Cop26 – the most important meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Convention in history.
Events were organised around the UK, and beyond, to highlight the implications of global climate change for communities like Faversham. In our case, we decided to highlight the local relevance not only of climate change, but of the entire suite of UN sustainable development goals which also address the issues of poverty, human health, human rights and biodiversity loss.
The goals are as relevant for Faversham as they are for every other community in the world. One of them, Target 11.4, is to “strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.
Cherishing and preserving the town’s rich cultural and historic heritage remains vital to maintaining its unique character, but the greatest challenge facing the town and the Faversham Society today – in the face of the housebuilding boom – is to define a positive and ambitious vision of the community we want to be and then to achieve that through our actions.
Together with Bond (a network for organisations working in development) and Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society held a week-long exhibition to demonstrate the links between the goals and work being done by 15 national and groups in and around the town.
Exhibitors included Amnesty International and Kent Wildlife Trust as well as the Faversham and Villages Refugee Solidarity Group, the Healthcare Ethiopia Partnership and the Kent Tree and Pond Partnership.
We are also organised four evening events focusing on the goals and their broad relevance for Faversham (by town councillor Hannah Perkin and Sophie Willis of Bond); the implications of climate change for the town and what we can do to mitigate or adapt to its impacts (by Hannah Temple); climate-related migration and the impacts for a community like Faversham of climate change in other parts of the world (by Xanthe Hatchwell); and an interview with anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof, by Faversham Society trustee Matthew Hatchwell. Their discussion covered a wide range of topics including pollution of Faversham Creek by Southern Water and a reading by Bob of Philip Larkin’s poem Going Going.
Swale Council allowed only one month for the Reg 18 consultation on the new Local Plan for Swale, which covers issues and preferred options. The Faversham Society environment committee looked in detail at the 60-page document and drafted responses – a time-consuming process – and they were considered and debated at a special meeting of the society’s board on 23 November. This is the board’s response:
n We are very aware that Swale is vulnerable to speculative planning applications and sites being allocated by developer appeals to the Planning Inspectorate without a Local Plan in place.
n We cannot over-emphasise our belief that Swale must have an approved Local Plan that delivers a five-year housing land supply and ensures that the central government’s housing demands are met, even though we disagree fundamentally with the way in which central government sets and imposes housing targets. This needs to be raised with central government and our MP. Planning in England is highly centralised.
The Minister for Housing spelt out the risk in the House of Commons on 23 November:
“The challenge for all authorities … is to get an up-to-date plan in place. We might say that, in the land of no plan, the local housing need number is king. If there is no set number in an up-to-date local plan, it is quite possible for developers to submit speculative development applications to local authorities. The local authorities may choose to turn them down, but if they have no number in their plan, the local housing need number is the default that the Planning Inspectorate will look at. It is entirely possible that the Planning Inspectorate will overturn refusals sent down by local authorities that do not have up-to-date plans or targets, and will instead look at the local housing need target. It is incumbent on local authorities that wish to protect their communities and avoid speculative development to get up-to-date plans in place.”
You can read our detailed submission to Swale’s Reg 18 consultation on the society’s policy blog.
Abbey fields objection We have submitted our objections to housing development on Abbey Fields – this is just one of the many that would be taken to the inspectorate for approval if Swale fails to have an approved local plan in place.
We have looked again at the revised scheme and remain of the view that it constitutes substantial harm. Even if Swale planners decide that less than substantial harm is caused to the conservation area, there is no public benefit to justify the development.
The society objects to this proposal on three grounds: it constitutes substantial harm to the conservation area; there is no substantial public benefit to outweigh even “less than substantial harm”; and there is insufficient and inadequate road access.
You can read our objection in full on our policy blog.
Cleve Hill bought Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners has bought the Cleve Hill Solar power station and announced that it plans to begin construction in the first half of next year, with plans to be operational in 2023. Press reports reaffirm that it will have a lithium battery storage plant the size of 20 football pitches. Swale Council has confirmed that it will consult key agencies and regulators before giving final planning approval. The Faversham Society remains active on this issue, concerned about the danger of a battery fire and the release of toxic gases so close to Faversham, Whitstable and Canterbury
At Davington Primary School we have always valued our local history as a teaching resource, and so we are delighted to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to investigate the Great Explosion of 2 April, 1916. In particular we shall focus on connections between Davington, Faversham, and the First World War, the conflict that set the world in flames.
Our Year 5 children will start work on the project in March 2022. Visits will include the Love Lane Cemetery to view war and civilian graves where they will record information from the headstones and make a rubbings of them. Back at school they will research the individuals through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site (CWGC) and the 1911 Census. Later in the week they will be enrolled to “work” at the gunpowder works at what is now Oare Country Park. They will follow a gunpowder trail through the town and have some unexpected encounters. The project will be further enhanced with re-enactors and artists.
Like most history however, it is personal stories that bring events to life. The children would like to research and archive family memories about life during the First World War and in particular ancestors that worked in the explosives industry. These might be stories of troops on the many battle fronts, the amazing contribution of Faversham to the war at sea and land or the experiences of civilians and women in the munitions works.
Even better, does your family have any memorabilia that could be photographed for an online exhibition, perhaps a ration book, ID card, medals or remnants of uniform? Do you have any wartime photographs, letters or diaries that could be copied and shared?
If you have anything at all that you think could help us with our project, then we would be very grateful if you could contact me or bring it into school, so that it can be carefully recorded and become a permanent part of our research and school archive.
The Yuletide walk (known before the pandemic as the Boxing Day Walk) will leave from the Guildhall in Market Place at 10.30am on Monday, 27 December. We will be walking south of the Swale, a circular route just over six miles, no hills, and an excellent way to spend the day after any overindulgence.
We shall be walking past Abbey Fields (which is in danger of being concreted over) and then alongside Faversham Creek to Nagden, and then around the marshes (before the solar power station is built in the spring) to the South Swale Nature Reserve. The walk is free for society members, and your family and friends, and we always start with a group photograph before we set off.
A word of warning, though: if you do decide to come, please wear appropriate outer clothing and footwear as it may be icy and/or muddy on the day. You also need to bear in mind that everyone is walking at their own risk and will not be covered by Faversham Society insurance. If you wish, you can do a shorter walk and turn back at any point.
We hope the weather will co-operate on the day. A nice invigorating walk in the fresh air may be just the tonic you need. Have a lovely Christmas and we hope to see you on the Monday (which is not actually Boxing Day, but near enough!)
Hurry now! Calendars for 2022 are now on sale from the Visitor Information Centre. They would make ideal Christmas gifts. And, they are £5.20 each –that’s excellent value for money.
We are offering something different this time. Each month depicts a hand-drawn black and white image of a Faversham building by the talented Richard Hugh Perks who died last year. Hugh was a big supporter of the Faversham Society and we are grateful to his family for allowing us to use his images for the benefit of the society. You may well have spotted Hugh sitting outside the various buildings with his sketch pad and we hope this will be a fitting tribute to him.
Calendars will also be available from our website (favershamsociety.org/store), so there’s no excuse if you are not local!
Christmas cards featuring the town pump in the snow are also available at 65p each or £3 for a pack of five.
Images of Faversham for future editions of the calendar are always welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send one best quality jpg landscape format image per email using the heading “Faversham Society Calendar”. You may send as many images as you like during the year but please only one per email. Include your full contact details, where the photo was taken and the month it was taken. Images need to be received by the end of June.
Thank you for your continued support of The Faversham Society.
The historian Peter Sorenson told Faversham Society members the story of the rise and fall of the Hazard Powder Company, one of the largest gunpowder manufacturers in the US in the 1800s.
Peter, author of Hazard Powder, gave details of the company from its inception to its death in a violent explosion in 1913, nearly destroying the nearby Connecticut town of Hazardville.
He gave details, in an online lecture, of the lives and deaths of the men and women who defined themselves by the work they chose and the turbulent times in which they lived at Powder Hollow, which has links with Faversham.
You can watch his talk on the events page on the Faversham Society website.
A small but select group took part in a quiz night recently and raised £79 for the Faversham Society.
The girl in the photograph on the front page of last month’s newsletter – showing Noni II, the last in a long line of tugs that served Faversham – is the late Jackie Rogers, Perce Monk’s youngest daughter.
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The Faversham Society Newsletter is edited by Stephen Rayner, who is independent of the board.
Contributions are welcomed, and should be received by midday on the 15th of the month before publication, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Faversham Society or of the editor. All contributions will be edited and the editor’s decision is final.
Opening times for The Visitor Information Centre, Book & Gift Shops, Fleur de Lis Museum and Chart Gunpowder Mills vary throughout year. The latest opening times can be found on the right-hand panel of every page on the Society's main web site