The constituency of Folkestone and Hythe actually covers a large number of towns and villages in East Kent, covering the area between Dover to the North to Rye to the South West.
The UK terminal of the Channel Tunnel lies at Cheriton near Folkestone, and the M20 cuts through the constituency providing high speed road access to London. Dungeness B nuclear power station, opened in 1983, lies in the constituency at Dungeness Point at the edge of Romney Marsh, near to Lydd Airport with scheduled services to Le Tourquet - Paris Plage.
Folkestone and Hythe constituency is much more than a two town area, and actually covers the towns and villages of Acrise, Appledore, Arpinge, Brenzett, Brookland, Burmarsh, Capel Le Ferne, Cheriton, Densole, Dungeness, Dymchurch, Elham, Etchinghill, Folkestone, Frogholt, Greatstone, Hawkinge, Hythe, Ivychurch, Littlestone, Lydd, Lydd-On-Sea, Lyminge, Lympne, Monks Horton, New Romney Town, Newchurch, Newingreen, Newington, Old Romney, Ottinge, Paddlesworth, Peene, Postling, Rhodes Minnis, Saltwood, Sandgate, Sandling, Sellindge, Selsted, Snargate, Snave, St Mary in the Marsh, St Mary's Bay, Stanford, Stelling Minnis, Stowting, Swingfield and Wingmore.
Folkestone is a coastal resort town in the Shepway district of Kent, about as far as you can get towards France before you get your feet wet. Folkestone still retains some of its once extensive fishing fleet which operate from the tidal harbour.
The town has been undergoing something of a renaissance over recent years, led by the Creative Foundation sponsored by local businessman Roger De Haan. The Foundation owns and has removated hundreds of properties in the Folkestone Old High Street and Tontine Street areas, with a wide selection of galleries and creative led businesses regenerating the area. 2008 saw the inaugural Folkestone Triennial, a three-yearly exhibition of works specially created for public spaces throughout Folkestone, with a number of the artworks left in place after each festival, with the next scheduled in 2017.
The Folkestone Harbour Arm has been reopened as the first phase of a seafront regeneration, and is open to the public all summer weekends with a range of eateries, bars and entertainment drawing visitors from across the area.
Hythe is a small town around 6 miles south-west of Folkestone. One of the original Cinque Ports, Hythe has a significant history and is still a popular destination for tourists. It is a terminus of the miniature Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway. Every two years, it hosts the Hythe Venetian Fete, when local organisations and individuals create decorated floats which travel up and down the Royal Military Canal. In alternate years, there is a Hythe Festival, a two week programme of varied and often free events.
New Romney, another small town in the consttuency, is on the edge of the Romney Marsh and another of the founder towns of the Cinque Ports. Romney Marsh lies in parts below sea level, and was entirely under water. Land reclamation and the retreat of the sea over the last few hundred years has revealed the marsh, stretching from New Romney to Lympne and Hythe. Towns and villages on the marsh include Appledore, Brenzett, Brookland, Burmarsh, Dymchurch, Greatstone, Ivychurch, Littlestone, Lydd, Lydd-on-Sea, New Romney, Newchurch, Old Romney, St Mary in the Marsh, St Mary's Bay, Snargate and Snave.
"The world according to the best geographers is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh."
Ingoldsby Legends, Reverend Richard Harris Barham
Folkestone and Hythe constituency currently covers much the same area as Folkestone and Hythe District Council. Electors in Folkestone and Hythe are represented by Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Kent County Council and in many places town and parish councils.
The most recent District Council elections took place in May 2019, when Folkestone and Hythe District Council was up for re-election (this takes place every 4 years, with the next election timetabled for May 2023). The composition of Folkestone and Hythe District Council is now (December 2020) 13 Conservatives, 6 Green, 5 Labour, 2 Lib Dems, 2 Independents & 2 UKIP. The two Liberal Democrats were elected in Sandgate and West Folkestone Ward where Tim Prater and Gary Fuller beat the sitting Conservative Councillors.
The 13 District wards in Folkestone and Hythe are now Broadmead District, Cheriton Ward District, East Folkestone District, Folkestone Central District, Folkestone Harbour District, Hythe District, Hythe Rural District, New Romney District, North Downs East District, North Downs West District, Romney Marsh District, Sandgate and West Folkestone District, & Walland and Denge Marsh District.
In May 2021, there will be elections to Kent County Council.
As of 2017, the Kent County Council boundaries in Folkestone and Hythe have been redrawn, with the following six divisions created:
The history of the coastal Folkestone and Hythe area is inevitably bound up with the sea, with clear evidence dating back to at least Roman times of observation posts to watch for invaders.
Both Hythe and New Romney were founder members of the Cinque Ports, which in 1155 established the towns as having a duty to maintain ships ready for the crown in case of need. Folkestone also joined as a "limb" member in the next two hundred years.
In return the towns received significant rights:
"Exemption from tax and tolls; self-government; permission to levy tolls, punish those who shed blood or flee justice, punish minor offences, detain and execute criminals both inside and outside the port's jurisdiction, and punish breaches of the peace; and possession of lost goods that remain unclaimed after a year, goods thrown overboard, and floating wreckage."
From 1841 the South Eastern Railway company developed the Boulogne-Folkestone cross channel service. They bought and improved Folkestone port, from where they operated a fleet of steamships with connecting train-ship-train services between London and Paris, aimed at wealthy travellers. The cross-channel service and Folkestone's position as a seaside resort brough considerable wealth and redevelopment to the town over the next few decades.
With its strategically useful position overlooking the English Channel, the area has always been key to the defence of Britain. In 1794 the Army purchased over 200 acres of land just to the West of Folkestone which became Shorncliffe Army Camp and troops were stationed here before being sent off to fight in the Peninsular Wars.
Between 1805 and 1808, fear of a Napoleonic French invasion led to the construction of 74 Martello Towers along the South Coast. Overlooking the sea, the towers had thick brick walls, stood about 10 metres high and had a cannon on the roof. Stretching from Folkestone to Seaford in Sussex, there were 25 Martello Towers between Folkestone and Dymchurch alone, of which 16 still exist today.
The Folkestone area was however badly damaged by bombs in both World Wars, both as a direct target due to its garrisons at Shorncliffe Camp near the town, and as a result of "jettisoning" on bombs by planes that had abandoned their actual mission.
Cosmopolitan Folkestone, the smaller Hythe, New Romney, Dymchurch and many smaller villages, have drawn many people to the area through the ages, as a place to live, work or stay. The following list gives a few of the more famous examples - if you have more, then please do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Warren Stevenson, Maureen Speller and others for their contributions.
Walter Tull was born in Folkestone and was the third mixed-heritage professional footballer in top league playing for Tottenham Hotspur and one of the first mixed-heritage infantry officers in a regular British Army regiment.
Samuel Plimsoll, Liberal MP and inventor of the Plimsoll line is buried in St Martins Cemetery in Cheriton. He was a resident of Folkestone.
Recent residents of the surrounding area include Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Paul O'Grady - aka Lily Savage
The following sites have more information about the Folkestone and Hythe area, its services, attractions, transport and history. Their inclusion on this site do not suggest any support by or for the Liberal Democrats by those sites.