The process of the development of refurbishing the harbour was challenging. When the Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company took possession of the harbour buildings, it was clear that very little of the original 1850 station structure remained. The only remnants are in Customs House. The 1890s replacement structure was decaying. Even though the physical structure lacked authenticity, we realised that the existence of a station on the Harbour Arm had been integral to the successful development of Folkestone. It was interlaced with layers of history, making it an important piece of the town’s story.
We looked at ways the buildings could be given a new role in the thriving future for the harbour. It was important that it retained the station’s links to the past, as well as developing it for the future.
Image credit: Ian D Johnstone
Renovation work has been as faithful as possible to the station’s deeper history. We have reused materials such as wood, stone and cobbles. Referencing old photographs from local archives helped in the design of new elements such as signage. Oak railway sleepers have been repurposed as wide, stepped seating leading down onto the old track beds. Restoring and extending the platform canopies highlights the platforms. New and old columns exist side by side. You can spot the original cast-iron and steel columns as they are more angular than the rounded new ones. We sourced modern lights in keeping with the style of the Victorian originals, matching those of the Harbour Arm. Also, the enamel signs revive vintage designs.
In removing the redundant 1908s plastic and concrete footbridges the station became open and uncluttered. Enjoying the smooth curvature of the station is now possible. Opening up a section of the wall now makes a connection to the Boardwalk and beach beyond.
This project has been assisted by a grant from the Regional Growth Fund, with support from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, Kent County Council and Folkestone and Hythe District Council.