Growing up, Folkestone was the ultimate family day out. Chips and stone skipping on the beach, a pocket full of tokens for the amusement park, and then a pot of prawns and vinegar from the seafood van. Life was good! Now 20 years later I wanted to return there to photograph the seaside town that holds these many fond memories. The experience though, was not as expected. A whole lot had changed. A place that was once filled with fun and activity, now seemed to be quite the opposite. The amusement park and arcade were no longer there, roads had been redirected, large areas gated off for building work where the beachside cafes used to take pride of place, and cranes loomed over the old pebbled shore like steel giants.
As I walked along what was left of the promenade (past where the old wooden roller coaster stood years ago), and up towards the Harbour, I started to get a better feel for this town once again. Locals walked along the beach alone, migrant workers piled out of vans awaiting rooms at the Grand Burstin Hotel, a drunk man and his dog looked for his phone, and some brave individuals had decided to go for a surf down on 'Sunny Sands' beach. Looking around, watching this place I once loved so much, it was difficult to separate between what had been the effects of time, and what were recent effects of the pandemic. Either way, it was clear there were some stories to be told here.
As I continued to observe the sad changes to this area, alongside the current uncertain reality on a grey December day, I too acknowledged the things that were unchanged. The Harbour itself, the fish bar and seafood vans and of course the beach. I concluded that although the nostalgic excitement for this seaside town was now no longer present, it would be wrong for me to label this place as neglected or lost. It is indeed a different place 20 years on, but not one that is without personality or without hope.
- Working Titles for this series: "What It Once Was" / "Time & Change" / "Darker Days" -