DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
John Bavington Jones

Published in the Dover Express, 26 September, 1980.

A PERAMBULATION OF THE TOWN, PORT AND FORTRESS.

PART 117.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES

Castle Street started its career as a street of " professionals,“ clergy, lawyers, doctors, dentists, auctioneers, architects and educationalists. The clergy and the doctors seem to have all migrated to other parts of Dover, but the lawyers are more numerous than ever. At the lower end of the street a few shops were allowed, and Mr Edward Hills’ coach factory was established near the industrial quarter in 1838—that was, as soon as the first buildings in that part were completed. Mr Hills established his carriage factory originally in Market Street, with his offices in Biggin Street. After King Street was widened in 1829, he, for a time, occupied the old premises of the “Dover Chronicle," where he remained until the Castle Street factory was ready. In designing his factory, Mr Hills intended a portion of the ground to be used as a news room, but it was never put to that use.

The upper front was for many years used as the Dover Proprietary Library, until the fire of 1887, after which the library was removed to the Granville Gardens. Mr Hills’ factory was closed in 1906, and most of the buildings which it had occupied in the rear were added to Messrs Leney and Co.’s brewery.

It was the intention of the promoters of Castle Street that the only public house in it should be the Victoria Hotel, which existed until 1914, at the comer of Russell Street, and that was built in good style in the hope that it would be on the way to the seafront (which, unfortunately, never was realised), as well as on the way to the castle. There was, however, another licensed house in the street owing to the Burlington Inn in Church Street having a second front in the lower part of Castle Street. The distinction of having been the birthplace of two newspapers belongs to Castle Street. The "Dover Chronicle“ began its career here before the street was completed; and near the same spot, at a later date, was established the "Dover News.“

 

CHANGES SINCE OPENING

The oldest buildings in Castle Street date back about 150 years. The only new ones to be built in the latter part of the 19th century were near the Market Place, at the junction with Church Street, a site which has subsequently been redeveloped a second time, and the development already referred to at the corner of Dolphin Passage. These were the offices built by Messrs Leney and Co. which were subsequently taken over by Messrs Hawksfleld & Co., the fuel firm which owned a substantial fleet of steam colliers plying in and out of Dover. The firm is now Corralls. There were two houses taken down on the south side of Castle Street, one on each side of the pre-existing passage into Castle Place, in the street improvement in 1894. The one on the upper side of the passage was a large house which was for several years conducted as a Soldiers’ Home. Castle Street, as its name implies, is the most direct way to the castle, and one of the best views of the Castle Keep and towers is obtained by looking up this street from the lower part of the street or the centre of the Market Square.

 

CASTLE HILL ROAD

Castle Hill carries us to the eastward boundary of the town of Dover. There were the Old and the New Castle Hill roads, and the old one, which is most largely endowed with historic associations, we will deal with first. The old road was a continuation of St James’ Street, passing between the old church on the right and Castle Hill House on the left; and, in the 18th century, before either Castle Street or the new Castle Hill road was formed, the old road, at the foot of the hill, passed through an extensive shrubbery or thicket, which occupied both sides of the road.

The sloping ground between Laureston Place and Ashen Tree Lane was called "Tinker’s Close.“ At a still earlier period it was a market place, called “ Upmarket,“ to distinguish it from the town market place. It has been stated that " Upmarket “ was only a temporary place of business, used while the plague was in Dover, but “Upmarket“ existed as early as 1430, whereas the plague did not visit Dover until 1666. The truth of the matter seems to be that this land at the foot of Castle Hill, from a very early time, was a market for the use of the Castle. Within living memory, when this book was first published in 1907, there were “stepping stones“ above Laureston Place, which were remnants of the time when market produce was brought from the country places on horseback, those stones being used for mounting and dismounting. Going further back still, history tells how this spot was occupied by the French army under the Dauphin when they besieged the Castle in the time of King John.

Coming down to the early part of the 19th century, local records mention the development of “Tinker's Close“ as a building estate; but prior to that time there had been some houses there. The first was the Dairy abutting on Ashen Tree Lane, originally erected in 1671, but presumably rebuilt at a much later date. There was also at the upper corner of Laureston, a public house called Little Waldershare and a cottage. These were taken down by Mr J. M. Fector about the year 1836, who built there Laureston House which was named after the wife of Mr J. M. Fector, Miss Laurie.

Laureston House became the residence of Colonel F. Hammond, chairman of the Conservative Party in Dover for some time .He died in February 1877. Then, until his death in 1907, it was the residence of the Rev F. A. Hammond. During his time there he bought a public house known as The Plough, at 5 Laureston Place and promptly surrendered the licence. Subsequently Laureston House was bought by the late Mr John Scott, JP, who died there in 1919.

 

LAURESTON PLACE

It was not until Old Castle Hill had been superseded by the new road nearer the Castle, that the houses at Laureston Place were built, but the Old Hill remained as an alternative thoroughfare until it was laid out and planted as an ornamental public walk in 1886. Abortive ideas of utilising the upper part of the Old Castle Hill road, from Victoria Park to the top of Connaught Road, for public purposes had been entertained earlier. In July 1836, Mr Edward Pett Thompson, the first mayor under the Municipal Act, suggested that the Old Castle Hill Road should be laid out as a public walk, and he offered to give 1,000 trees for its plantation on condition that the town should vote £25 towards carrying out the work. The town council voted the money, but with the condition that its expenditure should be deferred until the following winter so as to provide work for the unemployed. Before the next winter there was another mayor, so that the trees were not given, and the work was not carried out!

In 1851, an application was made by the St James’ parish officers to the town council for permission to level and enclose the Old Castle Hill to use it as a cemetery for St James’ Parish, but the council could not entertain the application, because the old road was not theirs to dispose of, it being the property of the Ordnance Department. After that the Old Castle Hill remained, more or less, a waste, until 1886, when, on the initiative of the mayor Mr W. J. Adcock, the old road, and the barren slope above it, were transformed into a charming walk bordered with clumps of trees and greensward, with the addition of an elevated walk with seats on the hill side and a bridle path on the other.

 

Castle Street Phoenix Brewery

Prominent feature of Castle Street and a major employer of labour for many years was Alfred Leney & Company’s Phoenix Brewery. The brewery yard — later the site of the ABC Cinema — and one of the entrances is pictured above with members of the staff and draymen lined up and waiting the arrival of a distinguished visitor. This was possibly a Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports judging by the bunting and a line of soldiers with fixed bayonets in front of the crowd lining the street.

On the left at the corner of Dolphin Passage, is the imposing office block of the brewers, whose offices were later taken over by H. T. Hawkesfield & Co, the coal merchants and later by Corralls. On the extreme right of the picture, is an Army recruiting poster. On the left of Leney’s offices was for many years a butcher’s shop. The name over the shop is Holmes.

 

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