Littlestone - The Tubbs - online

The Fifth Continent

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.

Beyond the Littlestone and Romney Warren golf clubs the most important institutions have been

  • the Coastguards - The old lifeboat station can be seen top right in the above picture. The present coastguard station is towards Greatstone
  • The Railway
  • The Grand Hotel The Hotels' business was heavily dependent on the golf trade.

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 on.

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 Grand Parade.

Link to Kettles Yard

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.

The constant 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.

Perks and Tubbs

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.

Link to Wikipedia

The Littlestone Estate

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.

The Mulberry Harbour

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 fiasco.

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.

The Littlestone Water Company

The Littlestone water tower is dated 1890. The water proved to be unsatisactory.

According to, 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 coke.

The Great Train Robbery

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 school.

There were 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 properties.

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 around.

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.

The Red House

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.

The Red House


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.

Herbert Gladstone by Benjamin Stone

Sandcroft and Sandbanks were not occupied at the time of the 1939 register.

The Watch House

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!

The Watch House in 2020

Sea Defences

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.