Wallace Harvey was a local historian and antiquarian who researched and developed a huge personal knowledge of the history of Whitstable in Kent. He collected together a huge amount of primary and secondary material which he amassed as an archive at his home in Whitstable. He was also a prolific writer and lecturer and regularly gave talks to local organisations and interest groups on many different angles of Whitstable history. He used the material he had gathered together in his home as a basis for his talks and books. He was also actively involved in the local community for most of his life and sat on the committees of over 20 local organisations as well as serving as a local councillor and chairman of Whitstable Urban District Council. His personal interests were wide ranging and covered sports, civic duty, charity work, historical records, all Whitstable history, shipping, religion, singing, horticulture and photography. The following list shows the organisations, many of which were voluntary, that he was known to have been involved with or had founded.
Whitstable Urban District Councillor 1953 to 1974;
Whitstable Urban District Vice-chairman 1970;
Chairman of the Whitstable Urban District Council 1971 to 1974. Justice of the peace;
Chairman of the Whitstable Non Ecclesiastical Charities;
Chairman of the Wynn Ellis Almshouses Trust;
Serving brother with Whitstable St. John Ambulance. President from 1955 for 40 years;
Founder member of the Whitstable Historical Society in 1947. Chairman at 1964 to 1982 and President 1982; Herne Bay Record Society 1959;
Member of Kent archaeological Society from 1948;
President of Whitstable and District Horticultural Society 1964;
Life member of the Association of the Men of Kent in Kentish Men;
President of the Whitstable Museum Trustees;
Steward of the Manor of Whitstable, from 1948 until his death;
Founder member of Whitstable Choral Society 1929;
President of Whitstable and District Horticultural Society 1964;
Whitstable and District Photographic Club 1963;
Founder member of the Swalecliffe Friendship Club and past President;
Life member of Whitstable Football Club. Vice President 1947, President 1953;
President of Canterbury and District Football League, 1968;
Member of Whitstable Bowling Club 1955;
Whitstable Excel Bowling Club 1963;
Whitstable Roller Hockey Club 1956;
Member of the Methodist church choir 1926 -1968;
Church of England lay reader 1968 -1971, licensed for life 1971;
Whitstable Urban District Ratepayers and Residents Association 1947;
Founder member of the Whitstable Rotary Club;
Member of the Whitstable Society 1975;
The Royal National Homing Union 1964;
The Whitstable Men's Fellowship 1938;
The Dickens Fellowship 1933;
Ancient Order of Foresters 1962;
Records and memorabilia of many of these organisations feature in this collection in the section called 'Local Organisations'. In many cases Wallace Harvey seems to have regarded himself as the custodian of the records of the societies with which he had been involved. In some cases he retained the records when he finished his term of office although it is unknown whether this was by prior agreement of the organisations. As a result official working documents of some local Whitstable organisations feature in this collection. This is most apparent for the Whitstable Charities and the Whitstable non Ecclesiastical Charities as well as for certain parish records relating to the parishes of St Alphege and All Saints.
Wallace Harvey was born in 1906 at number 8 Argyle Road in Whitstable. He recalled spending much of his childhood at Reeves Beach listening to the stories and reminiscences of the mariners there and having the tales of the history of Whitstable and its shipping trade impressed into his mind. He was educated at the Board School from the age of four and then went the Endowed School at the age of six, which was run by the Whitstable Non Ecclesiastical Charities. In 1917 his family moved to a farm at Paramour Street in Ash. It was here that Wallace Harvey joined the Congregational Church and started singing in the choir. He also became involved with the St. John Ambulance Brigade at a similar time. In 1927 the family returned to Whitstable after the death of Wallace's father. He started working for his grandfather Wallace Camburn who was a builder and undertaker. Later on he took over the undertaking side of the business and bought the business from his uncles in 1945. After his retirement he had more time to turn his research into the numerous publications listed here:
'Whitstable and the French Prisoners of War', 1971;
'Thomas Clark of Canterbury 1775 -1859', 1983;
'The Seasalter Company: A Smuggling Fraternity 1750 - 1854', 1983;
'Seasalter and the Mystery of Robinson Crusoe', 1989;
'The Merchant Ships of Whitstable', 1993;
He was awarded an honorary degree of Master of Arts from the University of Kent at Canterbury in 1995 on the basis of his contribution to the study of Whitstable.
The subject of this catalogue, Whitstable, used to comprise the three manorial centres of Swalecliffe, Seasalter and Northwood. The lands called Northwood comprised the area lying to the north of Blean Forest. The core of the modern town was called the Borough of Harwich. The name Whitstable comes from the name of the manorial hundred which stretched from the coast inland to Blean. The name of the manor increasingly took on the name of the hundred and subsequently became known as the Manor of Whitstable.
The town as we know it today grew from a small fishing settlement located roughly around modern day Harbour Street. Wallace Harvey's own research has found merchant ships both built in and trading from Whitstable from 1662 onwards. The industries which grew from this included ship building, global merchant trading, passenger sailings, fishing, oyster fishing, agriculture, copperas, diving, boat repair and salvage, smuggling and leisure. The first advertisement for bathing machines for visitors appeared in 1768. By 1840 Whitstable was still a village. Its centre was Harbour Street, which passed through the boundaries of the two parishes of Whitstable and Seasalter. Seasalter church was 2 miles away on Seasalter Marshes while All Saints was in the hamlet of Church Street.
More rapid development occurred in the 19th century. The first ever public railway was built in 1830 to link Whitstable and Canterbury, a proper harbour was constructed in 1832, a new town centre church was built in 1845 and after a Board of Health Report in 1849 which condemned the sanitary conditions of the town new public health measures and schools were introduced to serve the rapidly growing population.
The population growth was fuelled by the continuing success of local businesses. One example was the Oyster Stores which were built at the Horsebridge in 1883 as the headquarters of the successful Whitstable Oyster Company which had managed to send 60 million oysters to London in one year.
Whitstable has many strands to its survival and while, in the 20th century, some industries such as the oyster industry have declined others such as tourism and leisure have grown. Through this Whitstable has been transformed from a small fishing village to the cosmopolitan town that it is today with its new bars, famous residents, art galleries, specialist food shops, desirable properties and well developed sports and leisure facilities.
Many details about Whitstable and Wallace Harvey in this catalogue have been taken from Goodsall, Robert H. 'Whitstable, Seasalter and Swalecliffe: A History of Three Kent Parishes' (Canterbury, 1938), and 'Whitstable Remembered: A tribute to Wallace Harvey MA' by the Friends of Whitstable Museum (The Whitstable History Series: Number One)