Regeneration of the Harbour
Despite ferry services resuming in 1946, the harbour’s fortunes dwindled in the second half of the 20th century. Major investment in 1970 introduced new ferries and the roll on-roll off vehicle service. However, competition from the Dover to Calais route and the opening of the Channel Tunnel in the 1990s were the final straw. Folkestone’s relatively shallow harbour was always difficult to access because of the large ebb and flow of the tide. It was uneconomical to run. Ferry services ceased in 2001 and the associated buildings on the Harbour Arm fell into disrepair.
Following the acquisition of the harbour in 2004, a team lead by Sir Roger De Haan set about investigating how best to regenerate the site and its main structures. The multi-million pound renovation of Folkestone Harbour Arm has opened this area up to the general public. This is the first step towards a major development in the harbour. Converting the spaces along the pier into small independent bars and food outlets, the Harbour Arm has become the town’s new social hub.
Careful and intensive work has respected the site’s heritage. Decades of neglect and persistent battering of storms have taken their toll on the area. Granite stonework has been cleaned and the covered area along the platform has been renovated and re-glazed. Light columns have been replicated and where possible materials have been reused, such as the paneling in the waiting room.
Folkestone’s new social hub
The Harbour Arm is now known for its independent bars and eclectic range of food outlets. These are housed in the old platform buildings and additional shipping containers – bao, locally caught seafood, pancakes and pizza. Notably, a champagne bar is now housed in the Grade II-listed lighthouse at the pier head. Subject to weather conditions, the quayside buzzes with activity and many visitors come to enjoy live music or alfresco dancing on a sunny afternoon. However there’s also room for quiet contemplations, whether fishing off the upper walkway, strolling out to the lighthouse, or resting on one of the specially made benches to drink in the views.
To find out more about what’s happening on the Harbour Arm, visit folkestoneharbourarm.co.uk