Seaside magic at Ramsgate, Kent
PUBLISHED: 00:46 03 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:29 20 February 2013
Favourite of writers, actors and artists, Ramsgate was one of the first holiday havens two centuries ago, and it's still got that same allure, with an award-winning harbour and beaches
Seaside magic at Ramsgate, Kent
Favourite of writers, actors and artists, Ramsgate was one of the first holiday havens two centuries ago, and its still got that same allure, with an award-winning harbour and beaches
Boats bob up and down in Ramsgates sun-drenched harbour beside cosy seaside cafs and bars, while dramatic red cliffs tower over the sweeping coastal road above. There are famously glorious golden sands and the town itself is packed with small, interesting shops, splendid Regency terraces and squares and solidly magnificent Victorian buildings.
There are seven car parks, plus some on-street parking on Harbour Parade. The most scenic part of town is the harbour area, which has a relaxed caf-culture ambience. Note the Victorian pavilion and obelisk and the grand Clock House building, home of Ramsgate Maritime Museum (currently closed).
Victoria Parade dominates one side of the harbour, and here you can find the original Granville Hotel building, built by Edward Pugin, in its day the most luxurious hotel in England but now converted to flats.
Road names around here commemorate the period when officers in the Napoleonic Wars lived in fine houses, for instance Wellington Crescent and the Plains of Waterloo. Behind the West Cliff is St Augustines Road, with Augustus Pugins home, The Grange, next door to St Augustines Catholic church..
Italianate Greenhouse (01843 585588), an 1830s greenhouse built on the land of what was once East Cliff Lodge
St Georges church its Dunkirk window shows ships sailing from the harbour and troops leaving Dunkirk beach
The Grange (01628 825925) Now owned by the Landmark Trust, this was the home and workplace of Victorian architect Augustus Pugin, who spearheaded the gothic revival style of building. Open only occasionally, but available for holiday lets
St Augustines catholic church, built by Pugin, with a beautiful churchyard on the cliff-top looking out to sea and the ferryport
Royal harbour, inner harbour and marina
Ramsgate Maritime Museum (currently closed) in the old Clock House building
Sailors church, (01843 589848) has a collection of model ships and paintings and holds regular services
Granville Theatre and cinema (01843 591750)
Ramsgate Sports Centre (01843 585111)
Boating Pool (01843 581999) has arcade amusements, boating pool, art gallery and restaurant
Bandstand (0870 2646111) regular concerts all year
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Bon Appetit (01843 852750) offers French, international and modern British dishes. For modern excellent British food and great wines try Age and Sons (01843 851515), housed in a converted Victorian warehouse. The Churchill Tavern (01843 587862) has won CAMRA awards for its range of real ales, as has the Montefiore Arms (01843 593265), another real ale supporter. The Queens Head (01843 853888) is a pub with real charisma on the seafront.
WHERE TO SHOP
Ramsgate has mainly small independent shops, including art galleries and antique emporiums, plus the usual chain stores. On Fridays and Saturdays theres a big market in the pedestrianised part of town, just behind the seafront: High Street, Queen Street, King Street and Cavendish Street. Westwood Cross Shopping Centre is nearby.
With the beautiful 13th-century church of St Mary Magdalene and a Victorian school, Monkton is most famous for the Monkton Nature Reserve, an abandoned chalk quarry thats been reclaimed by nature with rare orchids, a pond and interesting geology. Also is home to Thanet Astronomical Observatory, and to the UKs first artificial bat cave.
Otherwise known as Minster, this was an important village in Roman times, when it was considered to be the ancient capital of Thanet, when the Isle actually was a separate island. Minster (Benedictine) Abbey (01843 821254), is still used as nunneries today and incorporates the remains of a 7th-century Saxon abbey.
Positioned where the old island road from Margate to Canterbury crossed the Wantsum Channel by a bridge, it has just one pub, The Crown Inn, known as Cherry Brandy House, because a special recipe of Cherry Brandy can be bought here. Sarre Windmill (01843 847573) has been fully restored and has a tea room and shop.
One of the smallest settlements in Kent, important because a drainage ditch in the village is all that remains of the Wantsum Channel, which once separated Thanet from the mainland. The original Acol was burnt down after the Black Death killed most of its inhabitants, the remainder of whom established a new village nearby.
Just a few old flint cottages remain of the old village. The bay is part of Kents largest National Nature Reserve, renowned for wildfowl and migrant waders. Note the full-size replica Viking longboat Hugin beside the main road. Pegwell Bay had important invaders: first the Romans, followed by Vikings Hengist and Horsa; St Augustine arrived at the bay in AD 597 and brought Christianity to Britain.
This shop has been here 70 years, but apart from some kiosks on the beach, Im the last bucket-and-spade shop in Ramsgate, says Derek Rhodes of Gifts Galore (01843 589160), which faces the harbour. Round here its like a suntrap, and business has been looking up: Ive been selling sunglasses in January and February, and believe me thats a first! Ill never retire, because the harbour really is so lovely, working here is just like one long holiday.
Barry Carthew has run jewellery shops in the area for 20 years. B M Carthew (01843 583057) is a traditional jewellers whereas Design 29 (01843 594831), also in Queen Street, specialises in selling fashionable items from prestigious design houses. Ramsgates certainly got a lot going for it, more so Id say than many other seaside towns, Barry says. Were lucky here, with the harbour, associated caf culture and the weather. The recession hasnt affected us as much as it has others, but everybody has to work a lot harder nowadays.
FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
23 - 24 July Ramsgate Carnival weekend
Two-day fair with stalls, carnival parade starting on Sunday at 4pm, plus the crowning of Miss Ramsgate.
8-10 July Ramsgates Seaside shuffle
Three days of jazz at various venues around town.
30-31 July 1940s Thanet at War and Armed Forces Day
Military and civilian vehicles, 1940s displays, fashion show, exhibitions, entertainment, food stalls.
25-30 July Ramsgate Week at Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Marina
International regatta, with mariners from the UK, France, Holland and Belgium, hosted by the Royal Temple Yacht Club.
26-29 August Ramsgate Art Festival
At the time of writing still in the planning stage, but therell be art exhibitions, artist workshops, street theatre and market stalls in association with Margate and Broadstairs societies and individuals.
CONSIDERING A MOVE?
Theres an excellent station for London commuters, however its an hours drive to the link with the M25; there are good schools (St Lawrences College in town, plus others nearby). House prices are extremely reasonable, and much of the property is either of the solid Victorian type or quality Georgian some older houses may be listed. A one- and two-bedroom flat can be yours for approx 83,000 and 128,000 respectively, a three-bedroom semi might be around 248,000 and a four-bedroom detached property upwards of just 270,000.
HOW TO GET THERE
An hours drive from junction 2 of M25, via the A2, M2, then finally the A299. Approx. 20 minutes drive from Dover and Canterbury. The station is in the north of town, with regular services to London, as well as good bus services.
Satnav postcode: CT11 8LS
Robert Brown, Marine Operations Manager and Harbour Master for the Port of Ramsgate
What does your job involve?
My role is to provide the varied services demanded of a Competent Port Authority for both our customers and stakeholders.
What are you responsible for?
The Port of Ramsgate is a municipal port and I liaise between our operational teams at Ramsgate, our stakeholders and our corporate body, which is Thanet District Council. I also plan and oversee day-to-day activities as well as running the pilotage services for the Port Authority.
What do you like about your job?
The variety afforded by the large diverse customer and stakeholder base, and the opportunity to bring improvement to our fabulous harbour.
Tell us about the harbour and annual Regatta
The Royal Harbour and its marina is a fantastic place to visit, offering a fabulous range of facilities and great sailing right outside the harbour. Ramsgate Week requires a substantial amount of planning, as it is a large and popular regatta. It is predominantly organised by the royal Temple Yacht Club from their fine facilities overlooking the Royal Harbour, which we then facilitate.
What do you like about Ramsgate?
Due to the fine harbour, Ramsgate benefits from a fine architectural backdrop, most notably Pugins Home, The Grange.
Your favourite view?
The Royal Harbour viewed from the west: the same view Van Gogh must have enjoyed when he was a teacher at a school that overlooked the harbour from that direction.
Ramsgate in a sentence?
Ramsgate is serviced by excellent road, rail, air and ferry connectivity theres an easy commute to London in little over an hour. Thanet is a great place to either bring up a family, or retire to, and is complimented by 22 miles of safe, sandy coastline.
TELL US YOUR VIEWS!
What do you think about Ramsgate? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know!