Welcome to St Mary’s Bay!

Please note that we are currently updating this site. To view the old site click HERE.

As a child, I spent many glorious Summer holidays in the charming seaside village of St. Mary’s Bay in Kent. Memories of it include the famous Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Light Railway, the Holiday Camp (or School Journey Centre as it became), the Dymchurch Funfair and the Sands Holiday Motel.

Sands Holiday Motel, St Mary's Bay, August 1982

Sands Holiday Motel, St Mary’s Bay, August 1982

Neither the Holiday Camp nor the Motel still stand. I have many memories of the School Journey Centre as my parents, both teachers, took parties of children there for many years during the Sixties and Seventies. I have even more memories of the Motel, where as a child I stayed on many occasions in the Seventies and early Eighties.

Over time, this site will be populated with pictures, documents and other records of this village in a gentler, bygone age.

I will start off with some photos from my own collection (like the one above) … but you can help!

Please send me your memories, photos, scans of postcards or other ephemera, stories and recollections of St Mary’s Bay Village, the Light Railway, the Holiday Camp, the beach, shops – anything in fact, including surrounding villages all the way from Dungeness to Hythe. All of your contributions will be gratefully acknowledged.

Did you stay at the School Journey Centre? At the Motel? Have you taken the RHDR to Hythe and back? Climbed the lighthouse at Dungeness? Built sandcastles on the beautiful beaches?

If so, I would love to hear from you!

Help me make this a suitable tribute to a place that gave me, and I’m sure many others, so much pleasure.

Thank you! – Simon

8 thoughts on “Welcome to St Mary’s Bay!

  1. alan carpenter

    Best holidays i ever had at st marys bay 1970s. My mum used to rent bungalows for our holidays best memories of my life. Ide love to move there and die there.

  2. Robert

    Back in about 1952 we started taking our 2 week holidays at St Marys bay . I was 7 at the time and we used to stay at a private chalet behind a small cafe run by the Smithson family .This stood where the road called Gazedown is now.
    At the time our family comprised mum dad and 2 younger brothers 3 and 5. We had a tiny Morris car that some how got us and our luggage and the family dog to our holiday . It is still a mystery how we got us and all the stuff in that tiny car of which I am reminded when I see that model at vintage car rallies
    Traveling from Chelsfield Kent to St Marys seemed to take endless hours but was probably about 3 as we didnt go more than about 40 mph and because there were no fast roads then you had to go through towns like Sevenoaks and Ashford adding to the journey time.
    The holiday for those couple of weeks seemed always to be hot and sunny and hours spent on the beach I vividly remember together with the Raiiway and lighthouse – all wonderful memories.
    I still visit this area in the summer for a bike ride and try and remember those much slower and gentle times – oh for a time machine !!!

  3. Lesley Williams

    Nan and Grandad, Flo & Bill Long, used to live in Willowbank Close and together with Mum and Dad, Joy & Roy Jones, we went down every month for a weekend, and of course our two week summer holiday. Loved the winters – when there were no ‘visitors’ , we “weren’t visitors” in our eyes, the Bay was ‘ours’. Sadly those days are long gone, and parents and grandparents no longer enjoy The Bay. But there is a newly installed Bench, just up from the slip-way, where we would love you to ‘join us’ and sit and recall your happy memories. You’ll see the Bench – it’s Joy & Roy’s.

  4. Guillermo Cano

    Hi, I was a Spanish exchange student who spent about one month in St. Mary’s Bay, in the Summer of 1977. I lived with the Harts, a lovely couple with two small kids, Christian (about 1 y/o) and a little girl (about3) whose name escapes me now. I turned 13 there and I have wonderful memories! Let me known if you’d like me to share some of them!

  5. Amanda Way

    I went on school journey to St Mary’s Bay back in 1973 and had a great time. I have such fond memories of that part of the world and especially going on the Dymchurch railway. Planning on going back with my husband this year to show him where I stayed as I have never forgotten the place and the lovely memories I have of it.

  6. Martin Smith

    I recall visiting in the early 1960s on school trips organised by Mr Maurice Capper, headmaster of Benwick School in the Fens. Memories are blurred, I can see the dorm clearly in my mind and the dining hall and trips on the railway. I remember the Beatles’ song “She Loves You” was No 1 one year. Anyone else out there?

  7. Anne Martin

    I went for 2 weeks with my primary school, Manor Lane, Sunbury-on-Thames in 1967. I remember sleeping in the dormitories and having 5s pocket money. The Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway was a particular high spot. In th evenings we had hot chocolate and biscuits and Dr Syn stories were read to us, over the intercom I think. I do remember huge trays of scrambled eggs at breakfast, full of large lumps and slightly green for some reason. It was a really magical holiday never to be forgotten.

  8. Dai Williams

    I recall we had a school holiday trip from Luton probably summer 1958. The camp was a collection of low single story buildings and dormitories like a military barracks. There was a pretty girl from another school who looked like she was always crying. I wonder why and what happened to her? The light railway was amazing. We went to the lighthouse on Dungeness. Think I drew a picture of it. This was before the power station. My first seaside holiday.


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