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Spotlight on Broadstairs

PUBLISHED: 14:46 30 July 2014

Royal Albion Hotel, Broadstairs

Royal Albion Hotel, Broadstairs

Archant

With its Blue Flag sandy beaches and clifftop walks, literary, culinary and musical festivals, plus great independent shopping, Broadstairs is simply gorgeous

Stagecoach and rail

Crampton Tower (01843 871133) housed the town’s first public water supply, and was built by the famous Victorian engineer, Thomas Russell Crampton. These three buildings are now a museum where you can see an original stagecoach, six working model railway layouts, diagrams of his inventions and the Broadstairs gallery of images and information. This local man was the first to lay an effective telegraph cable under the channel.

Music and fun

Broadstairs annual Folk Week runs from 8 -15 August (box office: 01843 604080, and camping is available), and takes place in pubs and other venues all over town. There are workshops (including spoon orchestra, clog dance, blues guitar), Morris dancing in the streets and the Big Parade on 10 August. Some of the headline acts are: Gigspanner, Seth Lakeman, The April Verch Band and Tim Edey.

Baywatch

Viking Bay, directly below the Promenade, is the largest of the town’s seven bays, with a harbour and sailing club. Botany Bay has memorable chalk features, Joss Bay is especially popular with surfers and Kingsgate Bay has some of best sea caves in the country. Stone Bay is long and shallow, while Louisa Bay is sandy, with a promenade and children’s activities. Dumpton Gap is the most southerly of the bays with a low-tide walking route to Ramsgate.

Dickens’ inspiration

Dickens House Museum (01843 863453, CT10 1QS) is where you can see the great writer’s personal items in the house that belonged to his friend Miss Mary Pearson Strong and was his inspiration for Betsy Trotwood’s home in David Copperfield. See Dickens memorabilia, such as his writing box, sideboard and letters, plus costumes, an authentic parlour, and a display of prints by Dickens’s principal illustrator, H K Browne. There’s also a gift shop if you fancy a souvenir.

Food and drink

Here are some good places to eat: atop the cliff at Kingsgate, The Botany Bay Hotel (01843 868641, CT10 3LG); fellow Shepherd Neame jewel The Royal Albion Hotel, which is in the middle of the town, yet also on the seafront, with rear gardens leading onto the promenade with direct access to sandy beaches (01843 868 071, CT10 1AN). There’s also the Tartar Frigate (01843 862013, CT10 1EU), which is a pub on the ground floor and a seafood restaurant upstairs. Good pubs to try include: The Pavilion Restaurant and Bar (01843 600999, CT10 1EU), right on the beach above Viking Bay, the White Swan (01843 863051, CT10 3AZ), the Dolphin Inn (01843 861056, CT10 1NE) and The Charles Dickens (01843 603040, CT10 1QS).

St Peter’s Village

This ancient settlement housed the original seat of local government for the area, and has some of the oldest buildings in Thanet, with regular guided village tours. St Peter’s church has a vast churchyard with the graves of famous local people and many of the dead from both World Wars, and there are regular guided tours of this too. The flint-built church dates back to 1128 and is listed Grade II*.

See a show

The Sarah Thorne Theatre Company, Memorial Theatre, (01843 863701, CT10 2JW) was inspired by the eponymous famous Victorian actress and theatre manager, and is a professional theatre group, open all year round, formed to present quality plays, music and theatre. Shows for August are: 31 July-3 August, The Philanderers, by Bernard Shaw, 6-9 August Fallen Angels, by Noel Coward, 14-17 August Relatively Speaking, by Alan Ayckbourn, 21-24 August Same Time Next Year, by Bernard Slade.

Climb and skate

Revolutions Skatepark (01843 866706, CT10 3JJ) is an indoor skatepark and climbing centre, catering for skateboarders, BMXers, rollerbladers, as well as all types of indoor climbing, catering for all levels from beginners to experts: the walls have many different climbing surfaces and textures. There’s a shop for all the accessories you’re likely to need, including surfing equipment, plus there’s free parking, a snack bar, spectator and viewing areas and a Games Room.

Greenery and scenery

Nuckells Gardens is small Regency garden near to the Dickens House in front of town and has 1800s-style layouts of flowers and shrubs, whereas Balmoral Gardens has been a formal landscaped area since 1824. The bandstand area, built in 1951, has concerts and firework displays. Near to the bandstand is Chandos Gardens, with landscaping styles suited to the 1890s. Victoria Gardens has rustic paths, a pergola and an arbour.

On the streets

The Promenade fronts the town, and below here are the excellent sands of Viking Bay. The very steep High Street is at right angles to the coast road, turning into The Parade further along. Notable roads include Albion Street, with its small welcoming individual style shops, and Harbour Street, which has art galleries and a square of old cottages beside a wishing well, in addition to the famous York Gate.

Getting there

Broadstairs is on the eastern side of the Isle of Thanet, approximately halfway between Margate and Ramsgate, on the A255. Go to Ramsgate and drive north from here; get to Ramsgate by following the A299, linked to junction 7 of the M2, which meets the M25 at junctions 3 or 5. There’s a station with links to London.

Satnav postcode: CT10 1QS

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