Sandgate Resident Linda Renè-Martin died on 17th August 2017
David Cowell, of the Sandgate Community Trust and the compiler of the Sentinel, has researched and written a fitting tribute and celebration of her life.
Back in the 80’s Linda was a driving force in the campaign to save our village landmark, The Old Fire Station, for posterity. She always supported the continued work that the Sandgate Heritage Trust do to maintain and preserve this iconic and much loved building. She maintained interest and continued to voice her suggestions for improvements right up to her passing. The Trust and the Sandgate Community are indebted to her for her fortitude in her campaigning and for the generosity she always showed the Sandgate Heritage Trust.
This is the history behind her connection to the SHT and the Old Fire Station,
Linda René-Martin, whose family have occupied a Coastguard cottage since 1932, was a a founding member of The Sandgate Society (1962). With Sandgate’s interests at heart, her wide knowledge of local history has often been turned to practical use in village campaigns, and Public Inquiries. She also helped to defeat a Private Bill to construct an environmentally damaging marina complex on Sandgate’s borders, put to a Select Committee of the House of Commons (1990). The eastern end of the historic Royal Military Canal was incidentally saved, and the Princes Parade area thus remains fully accessible to the public.
On behalf of The Sandgate Society, Linda was solely responsible for an extensive written and photographic survey, SANDGATE-A VILLAGE which, with KCC’s support, overcame Folkestone Council’s opposition and finally won two large Conservation Areas, designated 1972. In 1978, after years of combined research and pressure with Alex Todd of Encombe, the Local Authority made partial attempts (under a Coast Protection Scheme) to stabilise that area – in 1992 a comprehensive scheme took place. As a petitioner at the Channel Tunnel Select Committee hearings (September 1986), she aroused interest in possible pollution and flooding in Sandgate.
When, in 1982, the landmark Volunteer Fire Station with Public Library on the upper floor became surplus to the needs of KCC, Linda, as first Chairman of the specially formed Sandgate Heritage Trust Ltd (Reg.Charity) helped to promote and ensure its survival for community use. The Sandgate Society was thus able to maintain its HQ in the old Engine Room. Less known is Linda’s considerable input into the Society’s local history display, funded by the UK Carnegie Trust, and imaginatively conceived jointly with Ann Nevill.
She also contributed articles on Sandgate to Country Life, Kent Life, the Daily Telegraph, and Coastguard magazine, among others, and gave illustrated talks on local history.
Linda’s book ‘Sandgate Rise and Progress of a Village’, was a carefully researched and concise history of Sandgate and in a sense, Linda’s further legacy to Sandgate. It does not aim to be exhaustive but is intended to be of reference both for old-timers and newcomers to Sandgate, and to stimulate detailed studies of Sandgate’s many-sided history.