Jack Woolford

  Freemen of Dover

In 2010 Dover Town Council awarded the Freemanship of Dover to Jack Woolford

There are few people who have been as devoted to the town of Dover as Jack Woolford and it is appropriate that he has been recognised for his contribution to our town and is to receive the status of Honorary Freeman of Dover.

I know that many members of the Society have worked on committees or on other activities with Jack. It was as a Planning Committee member that I first saw Jack at work for the many causes that he has championed. Immediately I could see a man who epitomised the saying the pen is mightier than the sword as he tirelessly corresponded with councils etc. pressing home the cause for which he was fighting.

Jack, now 93 years old, was born in Hartlepool, gained a State Scholarship to Cambridge and graduated with First Class Honours in History. After spending six years in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War, he came to Kent and Dover, where he was an Adult Education Tutor in History for the Universities of Kent and Oxford until he retired.

He was passionate for Dover and became involved with many activities, in particular from 1964 as Chairman of the New Dover Group. In 1988 at the start of The Dover Society he became Chairman and remained so for ten years.

He achieved many successes a list which would be far too long for inclusion in this article, but the following are of significance: New Dover Group:

* Helped to preserve Kearsney Abbey from housing development.

* Initiated archaeological excavations in York Street, preserving the Roman remains of Dover for future generations.

* Pioneered the concept of the Riverside Walk.

* Forefront of the campaign for a Dover bypass (Jubilee Way )

* Dover History Exhibition in the Town Hall.

* Worked to promote higher standards of planning and safeguard buildings of quality within Dover.

* Successful appeal in 1990 to the Ombudsman condemning the action by the Home Office in breach of rules governing Listed Buildings (Western Heights ).

* Successful plea to Highways Agency to widen the road at junction of Crabble Hill.

* Attends Dover Town Council Planning Meetings. Where his wisdom and knowledge is accepted at planning application discussion.

* Supported fund raising for trees for Dover town centre.

Jack has also been active with the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies where again he has championed Dover. At one time, he was chairman and at present, he is the Honorary Secretary.

I am sure the above shows what a committed man Jack is and many would have achieved greatness if they had only delivered half of what Jack has achieved and so from all at the Dover Society.
( written by Pat Sherratt )

Jack Woolford, who for more than forty years fought to preserve the amenities of Dover, died in Canterbury hospital on Thursday last week at the age of 97. He was the oldest of Dover’s five surviving Honorary Freemen of Dover.
For over thirty years Jack, as chairman of the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies, represented and co-ordinated the activities of more than one hundred amenity groups in Kent. Yet he was not even a Kent man.
Born in Hartlepool (about which he authored books) in 1917 of humble parents he worked so hard at school he was able to get to Cambridge where he took a Double First in History just before the 1939-45 war broke out. He volunteered for the army and served in the Royal Artillery in which he was commissioned.
In 1946 Jack moved to Kent and decided to live in Dover while working as a history tutor for Oxford University WEA. He quickly fell in love with Dover and when then MP David Ennals set up the New Dover Group he became the first secretary and later chairman.
When the New Dover Group foundered and The Dover Society was born, Jack was elected its first chairman and remained in that post for at least ten years. In 1976 he was elected chairman of the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies.
What did Jack do for Dover? He helped to prevent a housing development in Kearsney Abbey, he pioneered the idea of a riverside walk along the Dour, he fought for the provision of the A2 Jubilee Way, he was proud of organising a history exhibition at the Town Hall, he mounted a successful appeal to the Ombudsman who condemned what the Home Office had done at the Western Heights, and more recently persuaded the highway authorities to improve the Crabble Hill road junction to improve traffic flow. He served on The Dover Society’s planning committee, and led efforts to get trees planted to improve the street scene in the town centre.
Dover Town Council honoured Jack, a widower, when four years ago he was elected one of a trio of the first Honorary Freemen of Dover. Jack leaves three children: John, Elizabeth and Cynthia, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. For the last few years Jack had been cared for at St Mary’s nursing home where he remained alert until his final days.

Terry Sutton MBE, Honorary Freeman of Dover, Vice President of the Dover Society