Sandwich Bay Estate
Sandwich Bay Estate


Sandwich Bay has featured in English history from very early times, due to its potential as an invasion site.  The first Roman landing took place at Deal two miles to the south and later at the Stour estuary.  In the 18th century it was a favourite haunt of smugglers.  The Coastguard cottages within their fortified compound were built to deter illicit landings.  


The land was part of the Guildford estate from the 19th century and was duneland and marsh.  The founding of then St. Georges Golf Club in 1885 brought the estate to the notice of property developers – The Guildford Hotel and Princes Golf Club were built in 1903 with a narrow gauge railway from a wharf on the Stour to carry the building materials.  It was later used to carry coal and guests.   A major development scheme to create a new resort town was drawn up around 1908, including an esplanade with shops and restaurants.  The development was planned to extend as far as Royal Cinque Ports golf course to the south.  In the event only Kings Avenue, North Road, Princes Drive and Waldershare Avenue were laid out before World War I prevented the scheme being implemented.  Some properties were completed, The Hazard, Middle Cottage and Fourth Green in 1906 and a farmhouse which was expanded to become Beadles.  In 1910, Lord and Lady Astor built Rest Harrow as a summer home followed by Whiitehall, The Dunes, Fairways, and Small Downs House, the original name of Kentlands.  As a private estate, in 1923 the owner applied for and was granted the right to charge a toll for access to the beach and to pass through to Deal.


The 1920s saw Sandwich Bay become fashionable.  The then Prince of Wales rented various houses, including Small Downs House, while his mistress Mrs Freda Dudley Ward rented Fourth Green every summer from 1920 to 1934.  A number of titled families acquired large summer homes, now converted into flats.  Most of the larger houses in the Bay were completed by 1939 and the outbreak of World War II.  


Once again Sandwich Bay was a likely invasion site.  Civilians were evacuated, the beach and the bridges mined.  The Guilford Hotel was used by both RAF and Luftwaffe as a navigation point.  To save fuel, German bombers returning from raids would drop their remaining bombs as they flew over the coast which took a heavy toll on the properties in the Bay, causing the destruction of Slazengers, the large property on the north corner of Kings Avenue.  This has never been rebuilt.  There was a heavy human cost as well.   Lord North, the heir to the Guilford estate, was allowed access to the property.  While walking on the seafront, his dog ran in to the minefield and both he and his sister were killed.


Post-war, the estate was sold to Sir Aynsley Bridgeland, an Australian property magnate and passionate golfer.  He lived at Kentlands and also rebuilt Princes golf course following severe war damage. Up to his death in 1966 he was a major benefactor to both the Bay, Princes and the game of golf.  The estate then passed to Broadlands Properties, who sold most of the remaining plots to Lyon Homes for development.  The Lyon homes in Kings Avenue and Waldershare Avenue were built in 1971-3.  Another developer built houses along the east side of North Road at this period.  The loss-making Guilford Hotel was demolished in 1974 but plans to replace it faltered in the property crash of the same year.  To prevent development, the site was bought by neighbouring residents.


Tidal surges in 1953 and 1978 causes flood damage to many Bay properties.  A seawall was constructed in 1983-4, raising the level of Princes Drive, since when the sea has not overtopped the defences.


With most of the available plots now sold, Broadlands Properties put the estate back on the market in 1976.  The residents were determined that the estate would not be bought by another developer.  Sandwich Bay (Residents) Ltd was created and the purchase achieved by means of debenture stock. The company owns the roads and the foreshore down to the high water mark.  The foreshore south of Kings Avenue has always been reserved for residents.  Sandwich Bay (Residents) Ltd has a board of directors who are residents and volunteers.  Currently it employs four staff to manage the toll and the maintenance of the estate.

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© Sandwich Bay (Residents) Ltd