With evidence of the town dating back as far as 1500 BC, Ashford is a town awash with history.
Ashford has been marked as a place for expansion since the 60’s and continues to change and develop before our very eyes. As these changes take place, Love Ashford takes a look at the historical relics, locations and buildings we are lucky to have known; some of which still reside with us today, proudly standing amongst our modernizing world.
The well known Mark IV WWI tank in St George’s Square, just off of New Street, has stood in the town centre for almost a hundred years. Passing this iconic artifact when you’re heading to and from the town centre, it’s easy to take for granted just how special it really is.
Little known by many Ashford residents, the tank was presented to the town of Ashford on August 1st 1919 in recognition for its fundraising efforts to the National War Savings appeal. It arrived by train at Ashford station and much to the delight of the gathering crowds, was driven down Ashford High Street to the Square where it still sits proudly today.
The tank was one of 1,220 others built for combat during WWI; it is now one of the remaining few in existence and is the last of its kind to be on public outdoor display in a Town. Many of the other female Mark IV’s, originally gifted to other Kent towns including Maidstone, Folkestone and Canterbury, were reclaimed as scrap metal during WWII. It’s thought that Ashford’s tank was spared after its mechanics were removed and replaced with an electricity sub station in 1929.
Although thought to have never seen combat, this remarkable piece of machinery would have carried a crew of eight men and crossed trenches of up to 10ft at a maximum speed of 7mph. In today’s world, it seems that even Second World War armory and memorabilia is going up in price as it becomes rarer, making our beloved Mark IV ever more significant.
The tank went though some refurbishments during 2005, when it was painted back to its original colours of green red and white. It then became an official war memorial in November 2006.
So the next time you are passing through this part of town, stop by and take a closer look. It’s amazing how a little bit of history can change your perspective on something you might have otherwise passed by without much recognition.