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Kent Life

Kent: The County in Colour

Gregory Holyoake has been our foremost contributor in both words and pictures over the years of my editorship and we have featured his books, most memorably the delightful 'The Prefab Kid - A Postwar Childhood in Kent'.

More recently he has been working for national publications from Country Life to This England and on this splendid book which is richly endowed with his characteristic photographs capturing the moods of places and people so magically.

He has a fine eye for a photograph, but also takes more infinite care with his work than anyone I have known. And with our hero confining himself to his cameras on this occasion, who better to provide the informative caption descriptions that the ubiquitous historian John E Vigar who has written, lectures and broadcast with erudition and authority about so many aspects of the county since he first wrote for Kent Life in the early 1980s.

We are featuring this book in a picture spreading our New Year issue but it would be criminal not to include a review in time for Christmas when it would make such a splendid present for anyone living in the county - or even those of us who have sneaked just across the border.

Byegone Kent

Deal & Walmer - A Celebration

This attractive and impressive large-format book has been compiled by two well-known Deal residents. The artist, Tom Burnham, is also a sportsman and boatman, and Gregory Holyoake is an actor and teacher as well as a prolific local historian.

They have selected 16 historic locations in Deal and Walmer, devoting a double page spread to each: a page of text interspersed with very attractive line drawings and facing it a full page watercolour. The text by Gregory Holyoake is unfailingly interesting. He has unearthed lots of fascinating information; for instance, how many people know that whenever the Mayor of Deal boards a Royal Navy ship in The Downs he automatically assumes the rank of Admiral? How many of us living in Deal can identify the old Paragon Music Hall on the corner of Middle Street and Brewer Street? And how many residents know that the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII) visited a house in Archery Square at a time when he was 'crazy keen' on golf and wanted to be near the links at Sandwich Bay?

Every single page is filled with fascinating information, some familiar and some much less so, but all conveyed in an engaging and vivid way. Gregory Holyoake is a natural communicator and Tom Burnham's watercolours are very attractive, detailed and accurate. He uses subtle colours with meticulous attention to detail, portraying the atmosphere and charm of the 16 unique and historic views.

This is a book that will delight local residents as well as visitors who will enjoy a unique and immensely attractive souvenir of Deal and Walmer.