In 2018 The Friends of the Leas Pavilion (FLP) took the decision to compile an archive of the history of the Leas Pavilion from the time that it was purpose built as a high class tea rooms, through the more than 50 years it was home to repertory theatre to its last incarnation as The Leas Club, before its doors were finally closed in 2010. To fund the project FLP submitted an application to the government funded Coastal Revival Fund. We were supported in this by the Town Mayor (Cllr Ann Berry) and the Coastal Communities Team. In December 2018 we learned that we had been awarded £20000. FLP feels that it can be justifiably proud of this, as ours was one of only 25 successful bids from a field of 123 applications.
FLP was set up in March 2015 in response to concerns expressed by locals and visitors alike about the increasing dilapidation of this unique, Grade II listed building. The aim was, and four years later remains, to urge the developer, who now has a lease on the site, and the District Council to restore the building as a heritage asset and return it to community use.
Meanwhile, the establishment of a permanent archive and oral history will preserve and make available to the public the long history of a building which was a centre for social gatherings for over 100 years. A website with a searchable catalogue is under development and there are plans for an exhibition to be held Folkestone shortly. The physical archive will be stored safely and, in time, we would hope to be able to have a permanent home for it – maybe in the Pavilion itself.
FLP has already held its first ‘Memory Cafe’, a drop-in event which attracted a good number of local residents who had memories of visiting or working at the Pavilion over the years. One of our first donations was a bagful of programmes, posters and newspaper clippings found in someone’s attic, about to be thrown away! Who knows how many such treasure troves there may around Folkestone or, indeed, further afield.
An archive is an ongoing project so, if you have memories you would like to share or memorabilia you would be prepared to loan for scanning please come to our next ‘Memory Cafe’ which will be some time in March (date to be arranged) or contact firstname.lastname@example.org who will be delighted to hear from you.
Pat Fincham (FLP Committee).