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Local history: Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone marks its 90th Anniversary

Contributed by editor on Jul 31, 2017 - 08:45 AM

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By Ray Duff

Folkestone's leading entertainment venue, the Leas Cliff Hall, marked it's 90th anniversary on Sunday 23 July with a series of events inside and out.
 



Construction of the hall began in 1925 with the 'grand opening' on 13 July 1927 performed by H.R.H The Prince Henry, later the Duke of Gloucester, in front of 1,000 people.
 

Top and bottom: The crowds attending were entertained throughout the day by period performers  Photos: Ray Duff

The music was performed by the Folkestone Municipal Orchestra conducted by Capt A.Holland.

Built onto the side of the Leas near the top of Earl Avenue, the hall replaced the former Leas Shelter. It was designed by the Norwegian architect Mr J.S. Dahl.

It held a multitude of well attended events up the 1939 and even after the outbreak of World War 2, events continued.


Top: A copy of an original ticket to the opening ceremony of the Hall in 1927!
Bottom: A photo montage of some of the events during the Hall's history  Photos: Ray Duff


Servicemen and women, based at Shorncliffe camp and the airforce base at Hawkinge often enjoyed the amenities and shows.

On most evenings during this period it was said there was standing room only.


Left: The 90th Anniversary birthday cake  Right: The Hall is perched on the side of the Leas overlooking the Channel   Photos: Ray Duff

During the War the Hall never took a direct hit during any air-raids or from coastal shelling despite being a marker for approaching aircraft.

After hostilities ended, the venue continued to entertain locals and visitors alike with a wide variety of shows and events.

Incidentally, I have a family interest as my mother was an extra at the hall during the production in 1950 of the feature film; 'Lady Godiva Rides Again' which was part made around Folkestone and in the Leas Cliff Hall.

The film starred Diana Dors, Denis Price, Stanley Holloway etc and a then unknown Joan Collins. Also in the cast was a friend of Diana Dors, this being one Ruth Ellis, who was later to be the last women hung for murder in Britain! The film is available on DVD.


The Leas Cliff Hall 'pagoda' entrance today  Photo: Ray Duff

Further refurbishments have taken place over the years and in 1999 a new self supporting structure underneath the Grand Hall was constructed for a new function venue now known as The Channel Suite.

I'm sure the venue will continue to entertain people for many years to come.

 

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© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2003 - 

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