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23-27 The Old High Street

The development comprised of the refurbishment, part reconstruction and part extension of the buildings at 23, 25 and 27 the Old High Street, Folkestone, extending onto the gap site at 29 Old High Street. The buildings in this area have great heritage value.

23 and 25 are shown as a single building in the 17th century, standing on a large cellar, with large open rooms on ground and first floors and an original floored attic. In 1650, 23-25 was owned by a licence victualler, so there is speculation of a public house there. By 1688 it was used as a butcher’s shop with a slaughterhouse at the rear. No. 23 Old High Street still incorporates significant amounts of 17th century fabric.

By 1851, 23-25 had been subdivided into two premises and 23 was bought by a miller operating a windmill on Cheriton Road. The shop initially sold corn and subsequently became a bakery. No. 25 probably became a greengrocer at this time and subsequently by 1889 was taken over by a confectioner and pastry cook.

23 continued as a bakery until it became the “Little Dog Shop” around 1934, selling mostly dog food. Later it became an antiques shop for some time until it was taken by Goldpoint Jewellers in 1996, who extended into 25.

25 remained a confectioner in the hands of various owners until around 1938, when it is listed as a toy dealer. Around 1970, the toy shop extended into 27. We have less evidence of the history of 27, but we know it largely shares a common history with 23 and 25.

The upper end of the High Street was severely damaged by shellfire on 12 March 1943 when parts of the Earl Grey Pub and World's Stores were destroyed, along with the Folkestone Express offices at number 31, now the gap between 23-27 Old High Street and the Big Boys Fine Burger Co.. The blast may also have prompted the unsympathetic refacing of no. 27.

In 1972, one Councillor suggested demolishing the street altogether and rebuilding, but its heritage value was recognised and it was then included in the Folkestone Conservation Area and therefore protected. Around 1973, the High Street was renamed the Old High Street.

In March 1975, no. 23 and 25 were listed. For the past 5 or 6 years, all the buildings have stood empty and the first and second floors have become infested with pigeons.


23-27 The Old High Street

As with 18-24, the plan was to bring these properties back into use. Where possible, the approach was to refurbish the existing fabric of the buildings, retaining their original character. Where appropriate, elements of architectural or historic merit will also be retained, whilst reinforcing and enhancing the character of the building and that of the conservation area. There will also be an introduction of modern elements of design to the properties. All of this was undertaken with the overarching objective of producing buildings of lasting quality and where possible, in line with modern standards.

The overall arrangement of the existing buildings forming number 23, 25 and 27 remain unchanged. However, on the vacant plot of number 29, it was proposed to re-introduce an end to the terrace of buildings, signalling the termination of this row of buildings and also celebrating the entrance to Payers Park from the Old High Street.

On the ground floor, 23, 25 and 27 will provide 3 separate retail units. The first floor will span all three buildings to provide one 2-bedroom apartment with balcony. The second floor will also contain a 2-bedroom apartment.

At ground the floor level of numbers 23, 25 and 27 it is proposed that the shop fronts will be repaired and reinstated using traditional timber frames and mouldings including the removal of the modern tiles that have been applied between pavement level and the show window sill of number 23. This will be replaced with a painted render finish. It is anticipated each of the three ground floor shops will be occupied by separate tenants. It is proposed, that subject to the lease agreement with future tenants, that this arrangement be reflected in the decoration of the shop fronts.

The degree of access into the ground floor of the buildings will be maintained through the use of three existing shop entrances from the Old High Street. Access to the first and second floor residential accommodation will be improved significantly from the very steep, narrow and twisting stairs that exist within the buildings at present. In the current arrangements, the upper floors are only accessible through the shops. It is proposed that on the vacant plot of number 29 a new stair will be constructed in line with current building regulations providing access to the first and second floor residential apartments. Both these apartments traverse across number 27, 25 and 23 providing single level access to all the accommodation within each apartment.

The Architects employed and acting as overseeing the works as they progress are Pringle Richards Sharratt. They come with prior experience in buildings of architectural and historic interest and have a particular skill in bringing these precious but often neglected buildings back to full use and extending their life. Further details can be found here on their website: www.prsarchitects.com

The principle contractor engaged on the works are Arkay Building Services ltd. Further details can be found on their website: www.arkaybuilding.co.uk.