The World was
created in six days. On the sixth day God created the fifth
Continent, The Romney Marsh. He spent the seventh day throwing stones
at it. Hence the names of Greatstone and Littlestone. Within the
context of this account, which is the involvement of Henry Thomas
Tubbs and family, we can joyfully add:- the name of Gladstone . Two
members of that tribe built houses in Littlestone; a Benjamin Stone,
and some foundation stones.
Littlestone and Romney Warren golf clubs the most important
institutions have been
But for an
insignificant and slightly isolated spot there is plenty to discuss
without mentioning Lyddite, Doctor Syn, Derek Jarman or the Dungeness
Nuclear Power Station. New Romney, of which Littlestone is the marine
quarter, has been in the news of late as the landing point of various
migrants from the EU... and then there's Hedda Hopper! Who she? Read
The 1921 OS Map of
the area shows the Golf Links at Greatstone, which was briefly Romney
Sands Golf Club, and the gravel pits in the approximate area of the
Sound Mirrors (see below). This predates the Romney Hythe and
Dymchurch (RH&D) railway, The re-alignment of the standard gauge
track, the line going all the way to Dungeness which was much used
for gravel extraction, much of it by the Railway companies. It also
shows the site of the second water tower, the Coastguard's Watch
House and the Lifeboat station at Littlestone. The Grand Hotel can be
seen on the aerial view on the postcard.
The Sketch map
shows: The defensive Royal Military Canal; the later alignment of the
standard gauge line with the same terminus at New Romney; The RH&D
route in its entirety including the spur to the military site at
Greatstone; the disc system (see Sound Mirrors below).
About 7,890 years
after the seventh day in Biblical terms, ie 1884, HT Tubbs and others
started to develop property and the golf courses at Littlestone.
The fine view by
John Piper shows the Dungeness lighthouse in the distance and the
Victoria water fountain as well as a suggestion of the properties on
The photograph below
shows the contrast between the grand corner property which has had
several names, the single bay houses in the terrace and the modern
replacements for those damaged by fire.
renaming of properties and the fact that many properties were
unoccupied, at the time of the 1901 and 1911 census means it is
difficult to identify positively which is which across the different
censuses. The single bay houses had 12 rooms, The college had 24,
suggesting it was the double bay residence, sometime Downey House
Hotel, now rebuilt. Perks' Claverley had 30 Rooms. Madeira House had
23 or possibly 33, Haslemere had 22. Probably one of the last two is
also known as Littlestone House at one time the property of Walter
Burnell Tubbs, and all the larger properties except perhaps the
college must be a corner site, all of which survive.
The two key names in
the emergence of Littlestone as a populous community are those of Sir
Robert Perks and Henry Thomas Tubbs. His major role was to bring in
the railway and persuade Tubbs to fund the golf course. He also built
the grandest house on the sea front, Claverley, a name shared with
his estate in Chislehurst, Kent where, maybe by coincidence, HTT's
father was born in 1791.
In the history of the Littlestone Golf Club Perks is described as a railway developer, but that is only a part of the story. He began his career as a solicitor, was a prominent Methodist who raised the financing of London's Central Methodist Hall, a Liberal MP and also director of several railway companies.
At what point the
affairs of HT Tubbs, the late Joseph Lewis and possibly others became
the Littlestone Estate is not known. It would appear that the
remaining assets of the estate were sold in 1926.
Probably the most
astounding civil engineering feat of World War 2. The origins of the
Mulberry Harbour were from the fertile mind of Winston Churchill
whose claim to fame would be solid if it rested only on that and the
suggestion of the military tank. The preparation of two temporary
ports for the Normandy beaches were one of the many factors that
enabled the Allies to deceive the Germans over the site of the
invasion. Only when Cherboourg had been captured and repaired did the
Allies have a working permanent port. The capture and safe use of
Antwerp were delayed - in Monty's view by the failure of the Allies
to make a single advance into Germany by the northern route, instead
of the divided effort of which the worst episode was the Arnhem
There were half a
dozen different elements of the harbour, including ancient ships
which were sunk to form a breakwater. A single caisson broke adrift
and is now visible offshore at Littlestone. Mulberry has given its
name to various local enterprises.
The delay in the use
of PLUTO (see below) and the destruction of the American Mulberry in
a gale was mitigated by the continued use of LST's (Landing Ship
Tanks, mostly built in America in Indiana) to bring supplies in,
especially to UTAH beach. The Americans had skimped on the
installation instructionsl The British Mulberry survived.
water tower is dated 1890. The water proved to be unsatisactory.
RomneyMarsh.net, In 1902 the Littlestone and District Water Company
built a tower at Dungeness to supply all of New Romney, Littlestone,
Greatstone and Lydd. The tower at Littlestone fell into disuse, but
now serves as a residence.
While this accords
with DB Tubbs’ version, their assertion that HTT’s intentions to
build a pier at Littlestone were foiled so that he had one built at
Eastbourne instead does not sound probable. Agreed, without a pier
pleasure steamers from Eastbourne would not have been able to call,
but the Eastbourne pier opened in the 1860s.
There was also a Gas
company with a site near the railway, necessary for the delivery of
An historian of the
robbery claims the Met made a monumental mistake by revealing the
names of all their suspects shortly after the robbery. Some of them
had been under close surveillance. The robbers dispersed, which at
least avoided a shoot-out. One of the main team Jimmy White took a
flat in Claverley Mansions, formerly Perks' residence. The Met
decided it could not carry out one of its normal surveillance
operations because in its own words, the presence of a car there
would have doubled the local population. Unkind, but we know what
they mean. White was arrested and got 18 years.
The Government made
a manpower survey in 1939 which is fortunate for historians as the
1931 census was destroyed by bombing and therefore there is nothing
else between 1921 and 1951. The latter will remain closed until 2051,
and the release of 1921 is delayed. Some records in the 1939 register
are blacked out online, either because the person is still alive or
the date of their death is not certain.
The entries for New
Romney show that:-
Lilian Maddieson was
resident in New Romney and was a secretary at the Holiday Camp, which
confirms the camp was open pre-war.
The residents at
Pope's Grand Hotel were Arthur and Lucy Pope, Directors,_ and Charles
and Daisy Stevens Proprietors.
The Matron at the
Convalescent Home was Edith Phillips. Florence Phillips (probably
Matron's sister) was engaged in Mission Work, The Lord be praised.
Blanche L Catt was
resident proprietor of The Station Hotel.
The resident of
Sunnyside was David Mason, ex Member of Parliament (retired).
The Golf Club
Steward was Harold G Cheater. Happily their son was a Cheater at
Bonham-Carters at The Cottage.
Muriel Ida Whitaker
was dealer and photographer at The Studio
Coast Drive Cafe was
occupied by James Edward Mills.
Mary Horne, then
aged about 89 was still at Marlborough on Marine Parade.
The identity of the
next residence is blanked out on the register, but it was the hotel
which was run by John and possibly Mary Inman, but she may also have
lived somewhere else. Its 40 odd residents included Diana M
Buttenshaw, authoress. Her “Patrick” describes a fantasy island
off Scotland. The location of this hotel is uncertain, but I suggest
it is the site of the rebuilt terraced properties on Marine Parade,
originally two bays but possibly expanded into neighbouring
The occupant of
Littlestone House was Baron Mark L_ Romer, Lord of Appeal in
Ordinary. I think Littlestone House is the one on the Greatstone side
of the corner of Queens Road at its junction with the Grand Parade. I
failed to observe the house name on my recent visit and I can't read
it on my picture. Evidently the slide into disrepair had not really
begun before WW2, as there were other prosperous sounding occupants
There were houses in
New Romney called Dingley Dell, Nil Desperandum and Rookery Nook. I
kid you not. Gable Cots is not even kitsch compared to them.
Thirlmere is one of
the few houses on Marine Parade to have kept its name throughout. It
is in the middle of the easternmost block and it was leased to Louisa
Tubbs, Aunt Lettie.
In 1939 The Red
House was still occupied by Max Teichmann-Derville. It is the large
house he built on the Green. He was "Mr Romney Marsh" and
an expert on the Cinque Ports. In local folk memory he is much more
prominent as a developer in Littlestone than Perks or Tubbs.
Pipeline under the
Ocean. So secret its codename was not encrypted. Several properties
in Greatstone were carefully disguised pumping stations. All but one
of these has now been demolished. The last one is a cafe, allegedly.
The system was not as effective in the early post-invasion months as
hoped, despite some extensive testing. There are several YouPipe
videos on YouKnowWhere.
DB Tubbs was not
quite correct in stating that Mr Gladstone built at Littlestone. Two
of his sons built adjacent residences. By a happy coincidence my
research into colour photography this year also produced a black and
white photograph of Sir Herbert Gladstone (later Baron Gladstone)
made by Sir Benjamin Stone, a fellow Member of Parliament who made a
massive photographic survey of the House and its members. The Society
of Colour Photographers was a member of the association of which
Stone was President.
Sandbanks were not occupied at the time of the 1939 register.
One of the very few
buildings which predate Perks and HTT. It is now much modernised. A
chance conversation with its owner revealed an interesting problem
which exercises him. He and the Council believe that the land on the
foreshore was never sold as part of the disposal of the Estate. This
means that ownership is uncertain and the coast road is unadopted.
Stake your claims boys and girls!
In 1903 residents of
Littlestone in 1903 included William Horne, foreman of Littlestone
estate. Aged 56 at the 1911 census, he was born in Northamptonshire.
While his 1911 job title was Estate Manager he described his role as
Sea Defence and he lived at Marlborough House (on Marine Parade),
where he was 1911 head of household. His wife Mary Anne and daughter
described themselves as Boarding House keeper and assistant. This
seems to have been a pattern for several of the larger houses, with
the lady of the family keeping the boarding house while the husband
worked elsewhere. Mary was still there in 1939.
Known to DBT as
Gable Cot the present name is Sandleas. The cottage has been enlarged
and modernised. It is not known if PBT designed or owned Gable Cot,
or leased it. It is not mentioned in the 1926 sale, which implies it
had already been sold by then.