BBC Rewind archive shines a spotlight on Ashford’s history

Posted on 14 September 2022

To celebrate its centenary, the BBC has made a selection of its archive footage from across the country available on the BBC Rewind website. This marks the largest release of digital archive content in its history.

With over 30,000 audio-visual recordings, the content dates back as early as the 1940s. Speaking of the archive content, the corporation said: “They reflect the life and events of the UK spanning decades, telling the story of the nation through its people.”

Among the BBC Rewind collection is a selection of video content from Ashford in the 1950s and 1960s. Below is a snapshot summary of some of the footage:

Ashford By-Pass Official Opening, 19 July 1957

The news report shows the official opening for the Ashford By-Pass, known today as the A28 or Simon Weil Avenue, which took place in July 1957. The road was one of the first by-passes in Kent, which shows Ashford as having always championed and invested in good road connectivity. This is something that continues today with the opening of Junction 10a on the M20 in 2020, which provides access to important locations in the borough, including Waterbrook Park, the Inland Border Facility and Ashford Designer Outlet.

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Ashford School Celebrates Its Golden Jubilee, 6 July 1959

The 20 second clip shows Ashford School celebrating its Golden Jubilee in 1959 and Lady Brabourne laying a foundation stone for the new Jubilee building. With 650 students at the time of the recording, new buildings such as this were to address growing demand and the school has grown to encompass over 900 students today.

The borough is home to 49 ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ primary and secondary schools, including Ashford School. Ashford’s selection of education facilities plays an important role in local skills growth and providing an employment pool for local businesses.

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Smell Factory, 24 May 1965

In this feature, presenter Dorothy Williams visited a recently-opened smell factory in Ashford which was devoted to the creation of smells, from the everyday to the more unusual. At the time, the largest factory of its kind, it could produce up to 22 tonnes of scent in a session. Using essences collected from all over the world, the scientists were researching how to discover and create synthetic substitutes.

The legacy of the factory can still be seen in Ashford today, with international manufacturers of flavours, fragrances and active cosmetic ingredients, Givaudan based at the site of the former factory. A major local employer and supporter of the local economy, the company operates internationally from its hub in Ashford.

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The BBC Rewind archive footage shows how Ashford’s history and heritage can be seen in how its businesses and people exist today.