DOVER KENT ARCHIVES
John Bavington Jones

Published in the Dover Express, 20 February, 1981.

A PERAMBULATION OF THE TOWN, PORT AND FORTRESS.

PART 158.

 

END OF FAIR

Later it became purely a pleasure fair — annual merry-making with the usual amount of revelry, dancing on the green, and the exhibition of curiosities and monstrosities, as was the custom in those times. When the fair was in its early days, and the population was small, the Green was large, and there was plenty of room for business and pleasure; but, in the inverse ratio, as the population increased, the Green grew too contracted to afford the requisite accommodation, and about 1866 Charlton Fair, as a parochial institution, ceased, although some semblance of it kept up a struggling existence, until the surrounding meadows, which had accommodated it, being devoted to building purposes, about the end of the 19th century it was finally extinguished.

 

REMINISCENCES

The Green has been greatly altered since the bridge was built in 1829. Previously the road sloped down to the river, the traffic passing through the water, a rustic footbridge serving for pedestrians. After the bridge was built, the approach road was raised alongside the river, where there was left a dwarf wall, but leaving at one point a sloping watering place. The bridge itself was not a very substantial structure. Prom time to time it was patched up by the parish, but on the 1st October, 1861, the parapet fell into the river, and it was then repaired at the cost of the Corporation of Dover. In 1869 a prominent iron fence was placed down the side from the bridge to the watering place near the old Sportsman public house, Mr A. L. Thomas, of the ironworks over the river, being the contractor. The bridge was rebuilt and widened by Mr William Bromley, for the Corporation, as a stone on the southern side recorded, in the year 1892.

One famous feature of Charlton Green was its pump, which appears to have existed for the supply of spring water ever since pumps came into use; but in August, 1866, the purity of its water was suspected, and Mr Alexander Bottle, chemist, being commissioned by the Corporation to analyse it, the report was that the water was “not very bad.“ Damned by faint praise, the pump soon after ceased to exist, and the inhabitants were supplied from the Dover Waterworks.

When Dover first became a fashionable seaside resort, in the early 1800s, Charlton Green was regarded as one of the prettiest spots in its environs. The houses, like those still standing in Frith Road, stood far back from the road, and the intervening gardens were carefully kept up, most of them being occupied by famous tulip beds, which in the summer time were protected by awnings. Other fragrant flowers were cultivated in profusion, and rows of beehives showing the busy honey-gatherers at work, were a great source of interest. The locality retained these attractions down to about the year 1840, when the Green began to lose its rusticity.

 

CHARLTON MILL

In the late 1840s the click of the old mill (which dated from before the Conquest), was drowned by the noisy stampers of Mr William Kingsford’s oil seed crushing establishment, built alongside his com mill. Flour milling was then at a discount in Dover, and Mr Kingsford, ever ready to take occasion by the hand, was devoting himself entirely to oil cake making. The corn mill Mr Kingsford sold to a Mr Bell, who spent some £5,000 in enlarging the building and improving the plant, but without attaining success. Another tenant, Mr J. C. Thorpe, had the corn mill for a time, with poor results. The oil cake making, too, declined, and the premises came into the possession of the Dover Aerated Bread Company, who did milling and baking, the part of the premises joining up to the bridge being built for the Aerated Bread bakery. This company fell between two stools; their scientific bakery was not a success, yet the fact that they supplied bread put the other bakers against them, so the whole concern went into liquidation in 1865, when the late Mr G. W. Chitty became the purchaser.

Twenty-five years before, when Mr Chitty the elder was a young man, he was asked by Mr Kingsford to purchase the corn mill, which offer was not accepted, but in 1865 he seized the opportunity, and in purchasing the Charlton mill he called his sons Messrs. G. W. and Edward Chitty, to his aid, and also the resources of invention and science. Roller milling was introduced, and about the year 1885, the old system of grinding with stones was entirely discarded, and the mill was in due course fitted with Carter’s chilled steel rollers, which were regarded as the ne plus ultra of flour milling. When Mr Chitty bought this mill in 1865, the whole of the machinery was driven by one breast shot water wheel. This was soon supplemented by steam power plant, as the tall chimney shafts proclaimed.

The steam driving power consisted of one tandem horizontal compound engine, capable of developing 200 horse-power; and the water power was applied by two turbines, the first of which developed, with a full flow of water, up to 25 horse-power, and the- second up to 20 horse-power. One of these turbines was used to generate electricity, with which the mill and offices were lighted. The mill had a tower containing a water reservoir, and the whole of the premises were fitted with a sprinkler installation for the prevention of fires. In fact, the whole establishment was thoroughly up-to-date, and in striking contrast with the old mill of the early years of the century.

Charlton Green in the early part of the 20th century was made up of a large number of homes running from Peter Street on one side up to and including Charlton Mill, and Charlton Villas, with the Red Lion adjoining, overlooking the millpond, to the Grapes public house — now known as the Louis Armstrong — on the other side, together with a cluster of homes at the bottom of Frith Road.

With the exception of a few old cottages at the bottom of Frith Road, which were demolished about 80 years ago, the properties were of no great age. The Red Lion, with its bowling green, Mill Cottage, long the residence of Mi George Clark, the gardener, and the former stonemason’s house an the Frith Road comer, were all built in the 1800s, as were most of the homes, with long gardens down to the street, which occupied the spacious site on which the Post Office sorting office now stands.

Aeriel View 1930

An aerial view of the Charlton Green to Beaconsfield Road area 50 years ago. In the foreground is London Road, with the Methodist Church, in its original form, on the corner of Beaconsfield Road. Leading off London Road at right angles, in the centre of the picture, is Churchill Street at the end of which can be seen Charlton Mill. Note the houses on either side of Granville Street which connects Churchill Street with Beacons-field Road. Bridge Street, running diagonally up to Charlton Green from the right, is also lined with houses on either side.

At the top of the picture are the Girls’ Grammar School, part of Frith Road and Salisbury Road. At the bottom of Frith Road are the extensive premises of Ashdown, the monumental mason and undertaker and, facing Dover Engineering Works the properties include Dour View Cottages, Castle Cottages, Cook’s Cottages, the carriage business of E. Wellard, F. W. Horton, the cabinet maker, Maison Dieu Garage and the Sportsman Inn. All these buildings together with Palmerston Terrace, which adjoined what is now the Louis Armstrong public house, have been swept away and the site is occupied by a Post Office sorting office.

 

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