KentOnline: Folkestone's former Debenhams store gets a new name

KentOnline: Folkestone's former Debenhams store gets a new name

Article by Sam Williams for KentOnline - published 9 October 2020

A new name - steeped in history - has been given to a former Debenhams store.

competition was launched in July to find a fitting new moniker for the now empty shop in Folkestone town centre, which has housed department stores for decades - first Bobby's and then Debenhams.

Now, it has been revealed the building will be known as Folca, inspired by ‘Folca’s stone’ which is said to have once stood marking a meeting place for local people and is the origin of the name Folkestone.

Although who Folca was and where his stone was remains a mystery.

Two residents, Brenda McKirdy and Karen Capell, submitted Folca for the competition, which had more than 200 entries.

They were judged by MP for the district Damian Collins, leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) Cllr David Monk, its chief executive Susan Priest and the authority’s lead communications officer, who selected Folca as the winning name.

In turn, the two winners won a £50 voucher each to spend in a Folkestone town centre store of their choice.

Debenhams, in Sandgate Road, Folkestone, was one of four in Kent to shut in January as part of the chain's downsizing plans.

The others that closed were in Ashford, Canterbury and Chatham.

In March, FHDC revealed its intentions to purchase the unit, with the sale going through in May for just over £2 million.

Initially FHDC unveiled plans to transform it into a mixed use development, which could include a health centre, leisure facilities, flexible work space and residential properties.

But the future of the store is yet to be decided, with the council now working behind the scenes. Ideas include using it for community facilities and workspace.

During a council meeting earlier this year, Cllr Monk revealed it could temporarily be turned into a souk, an Arab market or marketplace.

Cllr Monk (Con) added however that this idea "has not been necessarily well received by the existing traders of the town".

And while the building still remains empty, a vinyl 'window wrap' designed to promote the struggling town centre was installed in the shop in May.

Leader of FHDC, Cllr David Monk, said: "We were delighted by the response to the competition and to see so many people engaged in finding a suitable name.

"Folca reflects Folkestone’s history, but can also be applied to the building’s future as a space used by local people.

"We are committed to Folkestone’s continued regeneration, and Folca is a significant part of this activity.

"Whilst the plans for Folca are currently being prepared, residents and visitors can be assured that Folca will benefit all, and the building will continue to be part of the very fabric that Folkestone was founded on - creativity and community."

Copyright 2019 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Russell Tillson for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP

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