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Folkestone Harbour Railway Ltd

Members Survey

Remembrance Line Association Survey of Opinions

In determining member opinion about the Seafront Development the association sent out survey forms to gain responses as to how the committee should represent their views.   The responses were returned by 46% of members and thus may be taken as a representative set of views.

The Remembrance Line Association has members within the town of Folkestone (40%) and beyond its borders (60%) with many of the latter being visitors who have joined during their visit to the town.   This allows the association to represents the opinions of both residents and visitors and the analysis has found some differences between the two communities.   The survey itself did not ask for names or addresses but a number were returned with both.   An interesting feature was that although some respondents classed themselves as not living in Folkestone some did live in nearby towns such as Sandgate, Hythe, or in Romney Marsh villages.   Some of those who indicated being a Folkestone resident also made a point of saying that they were born in the town or had worked at the harbour.

14% of members have family memberships and the average size those families is 2.8 persons.   When considering Folkestone members the level of family membership is 19% so indicating that those from outside of the town have a higher proportion of singular membership.   We asked if members not only lived in the town but whether they worked in the town or had a business.   5% of local members who responded own businesses and a further 9% were employed in the town.

We asked members to place themselves in one of four age groups of “16 and under”, “17 – 34”, “35 – 54” and “55 and over” so as to compare membership with national demographics.   We found that in broad terms our members were slightly older than the English population demography in which the highest number of people are found in the 30 – 59 years age groups.   When compared to income levels then membership is more in line with those age groups whose average earnings are higher than at younger ages.   These proportions were about the same for both Folkestone residents and those living outside of the area.

Reasons for joining the Association

We asked members what prompted them to join the association.   36% responded that it was preservation of the railway, 35% indicated that it was lead by the harbour, ferries and potential for coastal cruise vessels and 18% purely on the protection of harbour heritage.   The remaining 11% either didn’t give a reason or wrote a sentence that gave a more personal reason.

When looking at responses in terms of Folkestone residents against those living outside of the area the emphasis from residents was much higher toward the wider harbour and ferries and those living outside the town being more concerned about the railway.   This may relate to the different associations by virtue of residence.   The choice concerning the preservation of harbour heritage was virtually the same for both groups.

Connectivity with General Statements

We wanted to gauge opinion with regard to broad statements about their feelings associated with the seafront development as previously consulted.   In order to include a degree of their feelings respondents were asked to give a mark out of 10 (for strong views) at the upper end and 0 (for few views) at the lower end.   The 13 statements and their marks are shown in order of marks against a maximum mark of 10: -

8.11      “Use railway connections between the harbour and other stations”

8.06      “Revitalise the harbour as a working harbour”

7.77      “Revitalise the harbour for shopping and other attractions”

7.75      “Revitalise the harbour as a lively and vibrant quayside”

6.06      “Create a varied landscape within the seafront/harbour area”

5.64      “Develop the seafront from the harbour (first) to the coastal park (last)”

4.83      “Provide bus connections between the harbour and mainline station”

4.76      “Create a pedestrian and cycle environment in the harbour area”

4.12      “Use a variety of styles along the seafront and harbour areas”

3.30      “Restrict access to the harbour area to householder’s cars only”

2.95      “Develop the seafront from the coastal park (first) to the harbour (last)”

2.83      “Use the railway land as a green pedestrian and cycle route”

1.34      “Remove all old buildings and replace with modern designs”

Those living in Folkestone identified a preference for development of the seafront from harbour to coastal park much more strongly (6.73) within the overall marks, those living outside of the area not putting either option very strongly.

Harbour Area Facilities and Use

We asked each member to choose 5 out of a list of 14 options of facility provision.   The proportion of responses identifying choice of a specific item is shown: -

19%      Railway

16%      Cross Channel Ferries

15%      Heritage

11%      Coastal Cruise Ships

  8%     Viewing/Sitting

  6%     Eating/Drinking and Fishing (equal)

  5%     Shops/Market

  4%     Marina and Sailing own boats (equal)

  2%     Amusements/Fun and Arts – related (equal)

  0%     Jetskis and Windsurfing/Kite-surfing (equal)

The proportion of responses between Folkestone and non-Folkestone responses were generally in line with each other with the exception of those living within the town identifying “Amusement/Fun” and “Viewing/Sitting” slightly higher than for those living outside of the area who weighted their responses more heavily in the most supported facilities.

Importance of Heritage

We asked members what structures were important in terms of preservation.   To more accurately gauge opinion we asked whether each was “Essential”, “Nice to have”, “Not important”.   To bring this to a single statement “Essential” was given a 3 mark, “Nice to have” 2 and “Not Important” 1.   If no choice was shown then a 0 was awarded.   Support for the structures is listed from those considered as most important to least important with a maximum score being 3: -

2.72      The Viaduct and Harbour Signal Box (equal)

2.59      North End (1904 era) station platforms and canopies

2.50      South End (1938 – east side) station platforms and canopy

2.46      Harbour Master’s House

2.30      Swing Bridge

2.20      Outer Pier Platforms and Canopy

2.18      West Quay Harbour Walls

2.17      South End (1960 – west side) station platforms and canopy

2.14      WWI Café

1.98      South Quay Harbour Walls and Wooden Supports

1.76      Tram Track in The Stade road surface

1.74      Bullion Room

The ratings by Folkestone residents and those from outside of the town closely followed the same order and would not significantly change groupings of structures.

Potential Movement of Smaller Structures

In order to produce relevant groupings of heritage the seafront may benefit from the movement of some smaller items, in order to assist in the preservation of major structures chosen by members as most important.   We therefore asked members whether these should remain in “The Harbour Area” (given a mark of 3) “Near the Harbour” (given a mark of 2) or “Not in Folkestone” (given a mark of 1).   If no choice was made then a mark of 0 was given)

Responses to the five items are listed in descending order with a maximum score of 3: -

2.61      Harbour Signal Box

2.43      Harbour Station (1904 era Canopies at the north end of the platforms)

2.31      WWI Café

1.95      Bullion Room

1.86      Tram Track in The Stade Road Surface

The first two listed were by far the most important items in the minds of members.   Whether this is because the WWI Café is presently out of reach, and thus out of mind, isn’t certain and the Remembrance Line Committee understand its importance to other heritage groups and wider local history.   What does seem to emerge is the implied general importance given to the various structures associated with the evolution of the world’s first international rail-sea passenger service and, because that happened, their later importance with supporting military events in the early part of the 20th century.