Stones on a beach

Second wolrld war sound mirror at Greatstone by Kerrin Malone

Littlestone-on-Sea and Greatstone-on-Sea are just around the corner – in the Marsh and on your way to Folkestone – and once upon a time there were huge plans for their development – and some big buildings and hotels arrived – but somehow the long term plans died.

And the same might be also said for nearby Lydd Airport which was often in the news post war in the 1950s as film stars like Diana Dors and politicians came and went in luxury cars using the air ferry service across the Channel.

But roll on/roll off ferries arrived and Lydd instead became a departure point for the new package holidays – and now it has no regular services at all.

Greatstone and Littlestone have had their same ups and downs chronicled in a careful and loving history just published by local author Keith Swallow.

It includes the war years of the last century, 1914-18 and 1939-45, and the period in between when aircraft came into their own and sound mirrors were invented to track invading aircraft – though they were soon replaced by early versions of radar which helped win the Battle of Britain in the 1940s.

Keith, who currently lives in Guestling, has done previous books on Russell Thorndike and Dr Syn, local pubs and breweries, and “Nanny Goat Island” aka Dungeness – and some of these are stocked, Covid-19 permitting, at Adams and the town hall information centre in Rye, I understand, as well as at the Romney Marsh visitor centre and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.

You can also contact him at and he will send you a copy for £15, post free. He knows the area well as he spent childhood holidays at his grandparents’ bungalow at Greatstone – once described as the “The New Playground of Kent”, the book’s title. So what went wrong?

Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .


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