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About Ashford

Ashford, Kent

 

 

 

Ashford is a town in the county of Kent, England. It lies on the River Great Stour at the south edge of the North Downs, about 61 miles (98 km) southeast of central London and 15.3 miles (24.6 km) northwest ofFolkestone by road. In the 2011 census, it had a population of 74,204. The name comes from the Old English æscet, indicating a ford near a clump ofash trees. It has been a market town since the 13th century, and a regular market continues to be held.

Ashford has been a communications hub and has stood at the centre of five railway lines since the 19th century. The arrival of the railways became a source of employment and contributed to the town's growth. With the opening of the international passenger station it is now a European communications centre, with new lines running between London and theChannel Tunnel (via High Speed 1). The M20 motorway also links Ashford to those two destinations for road traffic.

The town has been marked as a place for expansion since the 1960s and appeared on several Government plans for growth. Changes have included the County Square shopping centre, the redevelopment of the Templer Barracks at Repton Park, and the award winning Ashford Designer Outlet. In the 1970s, a controversial ring road scheme and construction of the multi storey Charter House building destroyed significant parts of the old town, though some areas were spared and preserved.

St Mary's Church in Ashford has been a local landmark since the 13th century, and expanded in the 15th. Today, the church functions in a dual role as a centre for worship and entertainment. A grammar school was founded here in the 17th century, which is now part of Norton Knatchbull School.


 

 

 

Ashford (Kent) Town Centre, High Street, February 2012 Snow.jpg
High Street, Ashford

 

 

 

 

History

 

 

Early developments


There has been evidence of human habitation around Ashford since the Iron Age, with a barrow on what is now Barrow Hill dating back to 1500 BC. During Roman Britain, iron ore was mined in the Weald and transported to Ashford where two ironworks processed the ore into a workable metal. Archaeological studies have revealed the existence of a Roman town to the north of the current centre, roughly at the junction of Albert Rd and Wall Rd.

The present town originates from an original settlement established in 893 AD by inhabitants escaping a Danish Viking raid, who were granted land by a Saxon Lord for their resistance. The name comes from the Old English æscet, indicating aford near a clump of ash trees. At the time of the Domesday Book of 1086 it was still known by its original Saxon name ofEssetesford (or EshetisfordEsselesfordAsshatisfordeEssheford). The manor was owned by Hugh de Montford, Constable of England, and had a church, two mills and a value of 150 shillings (£7.50) at the time.One of the earliest houses in the area still in existence is Lake House at Eastwell Park to the north of the town, which contains the grave of Richard Plantagenet.

 

 

 

Middle ages

Ashford's importance as an agricultural and market town grew in the 13th century, and in 1243, Henry III granted the town a charter to hold a market for livestock. The pottery industry expanded in the 13th and 14th centuries, with the main works based at what is now Potter's Corner, a few miles west of the town centre. Later evidence from examining waste suggests that production was on a large scale.  The Kent Archaeological society have discovered sandy ware at this location dating from around 1125 – 1250.

Jack Cade, who led the Cade's Rebellion against corrupt Royal officials in 1450, is believed to be from Ashford. In William Shakespeare's Henry VI, part 2, Cade is shown conversing with "Dick, the Butcher from Ashford".

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Ashford became known for nonconformism. A local resident, John Brown was executed for heresy in 1511, and may have inspired the later namesake of the song "John Brown's Body". Thomas Smythe acquired the manor of Ashford as dowry from Queen Elizabeth I in the mid 16th century and is buried in the parish church.

Dr John Wallis, the internationally recognised mathematician and one of Isaac Newton's main tutors was born in Ashford in 1616, but moved to Tenterden in 1625 to avoid the plague. He was a promising student, and subsequently graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge.


 

Modern developments


 

Ashford Market in 1975. A market had been based here since 1856.



 

By the 1780s, local farmers had begun to hold informal market days, and advertised the town's ideal location between London, Chatham and the Kent Coast. The market was held in the High Street until 1856 when local farmers and businessmen relocated to Elwick Rd and formed a market company that is the oldest surviving registered company in England and Wales. There is still a regular street market in the town, although the market company has had to be relocated outside of the town due to part of the 19th century site being demolished to make way for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. It is still used by around 5,000 farmers.

The Army first established a presence in Ashford in 1797 when it built a garrison on Barrow Hill, and storerooms along what is now Magazine Rd. The military presence was scaled back during the 19th century, though the town was still considered strategically important in the event of an invasion. The Territorial Army established a presence in Ashford in 1910.

During World War I, Ashford's importance as a transport hub and its location between the continent and London made it a target for aerial bombing. On 25 March 1917, a bomb targeted for the railway works fell on the town, killing 61 people. The town was targeted again during the Battle of Britain in World War II including an attack on 15 September 1940.

The Joint Services School of Intelligence was based at Templer Barracks to the west of town. Robert Runcie, later to become the Archbishop of Canterbury, was stationed at Ashford during the war  while Prince Andrew, Duke of Yorkattended a course here in 1982 while he was stationed in the Royal Navy. The barracks closed in 1997 to build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link,  and the site was sold to developers in 2002, Repton Manor House, in the centre of the barracks, is a Grade II listed building and remains intact.

Ashford has been associated with the German town Bad Munstereifel Rd since the 20th century. British forces occupied the town in 1919 under the command of Major J Goode, following the end of World War I. John Wiles, brother in law of Major Goode, later became mayor of New Romney in 1946, and subsequently arranged a visit to the Rhineland with Winston Churchill. Wiles was declared an honorary citizen of Bad Münstereifel in 1961, which led to the two towns being formally twinned in 1964.

During the early and mid 20th century, print and media became a noted industry in Ashford. The Headley Brothers, a printing services company, was founded in 1881 and by the mid-1950s were printing and exporting over 2 million books.  The Letraset company set up an arts material factory in Ashford in the 1960s. It closed in 2013, following the decline of Letraset and the company's decision to relocate works abroad.

Little is left of the old Ashford town centre, apart from a cluster of medieval half-timbered buildings in Middle Row and around the churchyard in the town centre. A number of old buildings were removed to make way for the controversial ring road around the centre, including four public houses. Further demolition was required to build Charter House, an eight-story office building for Charter Consolidated, that opened in 1975. Charter subsequently moved back to London in 1985, and the building is now being converted into flats, though progress was stalled due to the discovery of asbestos. Charter compensated for the demolition by funding a restoration scheme on North Street, preserving several historic buildings.

The motto of Ashford Borough Council is "With stronger faith", taken from, To Lucasta, Going to the Warres, a poem by the 17th-century poet Richard Lovelace from the borough. The relevant verse is :

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

The council's coat of arms uses gold to symbolise richness, three sprigs of ash tree representing former council areas, and a lion to commemorate nearby Tenterden as one of the Cinque Ports.


 

 

Education

 

 

Ashford has twelve primary schools  two grammar schools, two further secondary schools and a college. The Norton Knatchbull School was founded in Ashford around 1630 as a free grammar school by its namesake, Sir Norton Knatchbull. The school continued to be led and funded by Knatchbull's family due to a stipulation in his will in 1636. It was known simply as Ashford Grammar School until 1980.  The original school was based next to the church in the town centre, but has moved several times. By the 20th century it had moved to its present location on Hythe Road. The current school premises were built in the late 1990s. The corresponding grammar school for girls is Highworth Grammar School for Girls to the west of town. It opened as the County School for Girls in 1908, before moving to its current premises on Maidstone Road in 1928. There is also a private independent school, Ashford School on East Hill, which was founded in 1898. For much of its history, it has only allowed girls, though boys started to be admitted in 2006.

The most recent schools to open are the Repton Manor Primary School, built on the former Templar Barracks, which opened in September 2012 and the Goat Lees Community Primary School, which opened in September 2013. In addition to the grammar schools, there are two secondary schools, Towers School and North School. Ashford College is on Henwood, to the east of town.


 

Transport

 

 

Rail

Ashford Locomotive Depot in 1946


 

Ashford station was established when the South Eastern Railway's London to Dover line opened between 1842 and 1845, and the company established its locomotive works in the town. A line to Canterbury opened in 1846, followed by the Marshlink Line to Hastings and a line to Maidstone in 1884.The railway community had its own village containing shops, schools, pubs and bathhouse. It was first known as Alfred, but later renamed Newtown. By 1864, there were 3000 people living around the railway line.The railway works declined in use from the 1960 onwards, finally closing in 1982

 

 

 

 

 

The Ashford International station opened with the Channel Tunnel in 1994. It now serves Eurostar trains on High Speed 1, with trains to London, Lille, Brussels and Paris and connections to the rest of Europe. From 2007 to 2009, services to Brussels were withdrawn due to the opening of Ebbsfleet International railway station, but were restored after a petition. Since December 2009, domestic train services run along this route, reducing journey times to London from 88 to about 38 minutes.

 


Road

 

 

In Roman Britain, what is now Ashford was the meeting point of two main roads. One led from London to Lympne (Lemanis), the other from the Weald, through Canterbury (Durovernum) and ending at the port of Richborough (Rutupiae).[4] Ashford was one of the towns in Kent to become a hub when the roads were turnpiked in the second half of the 18th century.[136]

Ashford's first bypass was opened on 19 July 1957 by the then Minister of TransportHarold Watkinson.[137] The main road through Ashford is now the M20, which opened in stages between 1981 and 1991.[138] Junctions 9 and 10 serve the town. The other main roads are the A28 to Canterbury, the A2070 to Romney Marsh and Rye and the A251 to Faversham.[46]

Operation Stack causes HGVs to queue for channel crossings, and can result in the M20 around Ashford being closed eastbound


 

The Ashford Ring Road was completed in November 1974 around the town centre in an attempt to relieve congestion, though part of it involved demolition of existing properties  and part of the old market. It initially opened as one way, but was converted back into a two-way operation in 2007, at a total cost of £14m, so the town centre could expand and accommodate more people. The two-way route incorporates the first shared space scheme in the country. An art installation, Lost O, curated by the artist Michael Pinsky, was created as part of this redevelopment but confused drivers.

Operation Stack is a traffic management system on the M20 through and near Ashford, which allows HGVs to queue for the Channel Tunnel and the Port of Dover when there is bad weather or industrial action. The scheme is controversial as it involves closing the entire eastbound motorway to through traffic. In 2013, Kent County Council sought funding to build a dedicated lorry park in Ashford.


 

 

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashford,_Kent


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