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Harbour tales

PUBLISHED: 16:05 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 20 February 2013

Ramsgate

Ramsgate

Home to the UK's only Royal Harbour, Ramsgate has a sparkling marina, award-winning sands and a thriving café culture

What's in a name?


The earliest reference is to Hraefn's gate, or cliff gap, changing to Remmesgate or Ramisgate in 1225, a century later metamorphosing to Ramesgate.


What's it got going for it?


A beautiful South-of-France-like harbour with a thriving café culture, sensational Georgian and Victorian architecture, excellent weather, seaside, and sands which won the European Blue Flag award in 2008. Ramsgate is only 20 minutes from Dover one way and Canterbury the other, and there's speedy access to France (a hydrofoil link to Boulogne is also coming soon) plus a ferry to Ostend.


The case against


Parking is a problem in both the town centre and on the seafront, plus there can be rowdiness around some fast-food outlets at night. ASBOS have been awarded to
a few anti-social seagulls for attacking black rubbish sacks: beware those who've taken to wearing hoodies to evade CCTV identification.


Highs and lows


Ramsgate emerged as a fashionable seaside resort around 1780, when the harbour and marina were completed, and in the early 1800s, it became a garrison town for Napoleonic-war-bound troops, whose officers lived in the grand new purpose-built homes. George IV gave the harbour its royal status, and during the Second World War, brave sailors left the harbour to rescue soldiers from the Dunkirk beaches.


Around 1968, the advent of cheap package holidays decimated the holiday trade but, 10 years ago, a new spirit of architectural resurgence and the seafront's regeneration paved the way for Ramsgate's renaissance, which continues. In 2006, the inner harbour won Four Gold Anchor status.


What to see and do


The town centre is largely pedestrianised, with a bustling market held on Fridays and Saturdays and a French market on bank holiday weekends. The Sailors' church on the marina has a collection of paintings and model ships. The main sands beach won the European blue flag award in 2008, and beside it is the bandstand (0870 264 6111), host to regular concerts throughout the year, plus there's the Granville Theatre and cinema (01843 591750).


Augustus Pugin's home, The Grange has open days, and pre-bookable tours. The Italianate Greenhouse (01843 585588) lies within the George IV memorial park, and Westcliffe Leisure park on the Royal esplanade is a leisure complex with a bowling green, crazy golf, a boating pool and an adventure playground.


You can take a boat trip from the harbour (07931 744788), and every second Saturday in summer there's a firework display there. Forthcoming events include Ramsgate Week (01843 591766), a regatta organised by the Royal Temple Yacht club (10-15 Aug), and Ramsgate Rocks (4-5 Jul), a harbour party for all ages with live bands, funfair, food/drink village, etc.


Where to eat and drink


Age and Sons (01843 851515) is a family-run restaurant offering delicious seasonal food, fine wines and cocktails. If seafood is your thing, the Atlantis Seafood Restaurant and Bar (01843 581582) has a variety of fishy dishes, alongside classic alternatives and daily specials. ROKKA (01843 599999) is an ultra-modern fusion of café, bar and restaurant with uninterrupted panoramic views of the harbour. Great pubs are The Queen's Head (01843 853888) on the seafront, The Port and Anchor (01843 850493) and the Horse and Groom (01843 587687).


Schools


St Lawrence's College, (01843 572900) is co-educational for juniors and seniors, while Haddon Dene Preparatory School (01843 861176) in nearby Broadstairs is for boys
and girls aged three to 11.


Hot property


A run-down, one-bedroomed flat can be yours for around £60,000, while a two-bedroomed terraced house is £85-100,000. For a three-bed semi, expect to pay around £120-130,000, while for a detached four-bedroomed house, you're looking at £300-350,000.


Fine value for money this month is this Victorian mid-terrace, three double bedroomed, three reception room house with cellar, large lounge and breakfast room, attractive garden, and no forward chain, at £144,995 (Milton Ashbury, 01843 583388).


Getting there


The A299 connects Ramsgate to the M2/A2 which leads to the M25, reached in approx. one hour. Rail enquiries 08457 48 49 50, bus enquiries Traveline 0871 200 2233.


Satnav for Royal Harbour: CT11 8LS


My town
Penny Perrott, tour guide for the Landmark Trust


How long have you lived here?


We bought a holiday home here in 1972 and moved to our Regency terraced house overlooking the harbour in 1989.


Why do you love Ramsgate?


It's a place where you soon feel part of a large circle of friends, and there's always something interesting happening. And we're within easy distance of London and France.


What's Ramsgate known for?


The Royal Harbour, which is still a working harbour. There are pleasure craft, fishing boats, the ferry and yacht marina, all in a wonderful Regency setting.


What are you favourite places?


The Grange is my favourite, but we're all very keen on the newly restored library - a wonderful facsimile of the original Victorian building, which burnt down three years ago. For children, there's the sandy Town Beach, which has a funfair, and Western Beach with its rock pools for crabbing.


Where do you like to shop?


I do love Alexon (01843 589860), a chic and friendly ladies' dress shop.


What would you show visitors?


If the Grange was open, I'd show them round, then enjoy a long walk along the beach from Ramsgate to Broadstairs, with the sea, the wild life and the towering cliffs above, then a return walk back along the clifftop. A quiet drink in the Yacht Club before dinner in Age and Son, or La Magnolia (01843 580477).

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