Beachside At the Harbour Arm
Beachside at The Harbour Arm in Folkestone is the name of the area to the west of the Arm. Its stony beach has always been a quiet respite from the mayhem of Sunny Sands. Now, on the site of the old Pilot Station, there’s the opportunity to relax in the world’s best beer garden – The Pilot Bar. They serve hot and cold drinks, freshly baked pastries and snacks from the Rocksalt kitchen. The team have just opened their sister restaurant Little Rock to add to the Harbour Arm offering. Diane Dever, curator of the Harbour Arm, spoke to Folkelife about creating new destinations for visitors to Folkestone.
“What’s happening on this side of the Arm is super exciting. It’s a real privilege to be at the heart of naming locations on the Harbour Arm that you know people are going to come to and enjoy themselves. We had lots of ideas for the area to the west of the station, but in the end Beachside won. Not only because that’s exactly what it is, we’ve created our very own beach on the site of the old Pilot Station, but for all that entails too. It’s a really relaxed area with its own vibe, you can enjoy the scenery on a deck chair, surrounded by palm trees!
“The place, the vibe, the setting really suits being near the Sol Calero’s Casa Anacaona from the 2017 Folkestone Triennial. You get to see what Folkestone is about; the art, the regeneration, the sea, food and drink.”
your next destination
“This area never used to be a destination in its own right. However, with the access of the Boardwalk, and the walkway from the station, it’s gone from a quiet backwater, to a real destination. The vibe is quite ‘club tropicana’ there and the bar and restaurant are only the start of it. You can see how that area will grow over the years; there’s space, there’s landscaping, and there’s potential.
“We have four clear zones in the Harbour Arm; the Arm itself, East Yard, The Goods Yard and now Beachside. Each has its own identity and offers a destination for locals and visitors alike. Everyone owns this space. Locals have the opportunity to be here during the week, and visitors tend to come at weekends, but it’s a space for everyone.”
success of the town
“What I find extraordinary is that the majority of our traders are in their 40s or younger. If you look at who is going to make a success of our local economy, town, future, it’s those that are investing in new ventures in Folkestone. We’ve got such an exciting collection of people, doing amazing things, that I think we’ll be known for our independent retailers. I don’t think we realise just how extraordinary it is to have a young and powerful workforce. For a town the size of Folkestone, this is amazing for our economic development.
“If you look at the traders we’ve got here, what we’re doing is incubating businesses to be at a point where they can trade all year round. They can then support retail space and we can grow new businesses. We will support them in anyway we can to make that transition to longer business hours and larger premises. There’s certainly a loyalty in customers for the businesses we have already. Look at Dockers Bakery and Brewery, The Harbour Coffee Company, Bobbies… Dr Legumes… the list goes on.”
The new fish restaurant on Beachside is run by Josh De Haan and the Rocksalt team. Josh is excited by the new venture.
“People think that Rocksalt is a fish restaurant, and yes, we cook a lot of fish, but you can get other stuff too. We’re going to be offering the fresh catch of the day, working with Folkestone Trawlers for the finest, freshest fish you could find.
“There will be a wet bar there where you can choose your fish, tell us how you want it cooked – grilled, baked, fried, poached – and along with some mash or chips, plus a decent pudding like a chocolate mousse or cheesecake. Then, sit on the beach and eat fish freshly cooked straight from the sea. It doesn’t get better than that!
“There will be prawns, scallops, oysters, mussels and clams, so you could stop with us for a snack before carrying on on the Arm for the rest of your visit. Sitting by the sea, eating freshly caught and cooked fish, it’s definitely a date!”