At the end of the 19th century Folkestone was one of the main seaside resorts of southern England, thanks to the coming of the railways and the advent of cross channel ferry services. Numerous Victorian buildings and period architecture, wide leafy avenues and sweeping promenade are testament to this. Folkestone as a port fell into decline and eventual closure as cross channel ferry services suffered severe competition from neighbouring port Dover. During the 1980's and 90's construction of the Channel Tunnel provided employment for many, and continues to do so. The Channel Tunnel, also known as Chunnel or le tunnel sous la Manche, is operated by Eurotunnel, and is 50 km long of which 39 km are undersea. It connects Folkestone in Kent, England with Sangatte in northern France. Rail services carry vehicles as well as passengers and freight. The Tunnel was a long-standing project that saw several false starts for more history, click here for Eurotunnel . Since Eurotunnel introduced the Folkestone to Calais Channel Tunnel route in 1994 and added a new dimension to cross channel travel, it has become a favourite and some 2.3 million motorists travelled in 2003 alone. The journey from Folkestone to Calais takes just 35 minutes. The Tunnel Passenger Terminal Building has all the modern facilities you would expect including information and tourist information Centres, wide selection of High Street shops, fast food restaurant, toilets, telephones, rest area, etc.
Folkestone History. The history of Folkestone began well before written records. Ruins excavated in 1924 revealed buildings that date prior to the Roman conquest of 43 AD. Also excavated were the ruins of a Roman villa dating from 100AD. Unlike her neighbours Dover and Lympne, Folkestone was not blessed with a river or deep water anchorage for large ships and was therefore not suitable as a major port. Instead the Romans viewed Folkestone as a strategic lookout and signalling post and built a minor base in the area known as East Wear Bay. It is believed that Romans remained in the area until the Roman withdrawal in 368 AD. By 1066, the time of the next great invasion, Folkestone was a mere hamlet occupied by fishermen and farm workers. In the following centuries, Folkestone became increasingly important for its fishing and later smuggling. Folkestone suffered severe damage in WW1 and only 20 years after the town was transformed, it again faced enemy activity. The rebuilding of Folkestone after the WWII was the birth of the modern town.
Folkestone Town Centre. Folkestone today is a town with sandy beaches, colourful gardens and charming people. Take a stroll down Folkestone s wide leafy avenues with cinnamon brick buildings, period architecture and Georgian stone columns. You can not miss the picturesque old High Street, working harbour, wide sweeping promenade with outstanding views, bandstand set amongst breathtaking flower arrangements and hosting regular outdoor concerts; a fine selection of restaurants, cafes, bistros, pubs, and old taverns. For those wanting to keep fit, there is a myriad of sports golf, windsurfing, skiing, sailing, badminton, volleyball, soccer, rugby, tennis, fishing, cricket, bowls, basketball, aerobics, karate, weight-training, swimming and cycling. There is a sports centre, swimming pool, bowling, ski centre and golf club. Charles Dickens said of Folkestone: "One of the prettiest watering places on the south coast. The situation is delightful, the air is delicious, and the breezy hills and downs, carpeted with wild thyme and decorated with millions of wild flowers are, on the faith of a pedestrian, perfect .
You should not miss Folkestone Museum with Folkestone's history on film, special exhibitions programme and hands on activities for children; Samphire Hoe: totally new area of land created from the EuroTunnel spoil at the base of Shakespeare Cliffs between Folkestone and Dover; Lower Leas Coastal Park: has had extensive works carried out to restore and develop the site which now includes the a cycle route (part of the Sustrans National Cycle Route), an amphitheatre and a large children's play area; Elham Valley Railway Museum: Local history, artifacts and memorabilia of the golden age of rail, pleasant gardens, ducks, doves and trains; Mcfarlane's Butterfly Centre: colourful butterflies from all over the world, flying free in their natural habitat of tropical greenhouse garden.
Folkestone Access by car. The Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone is located at Junction 11A on the M20. From London expect a journey time of around 90 minutes.