Spotlight on Ramsgate

PUBLISHED: 07:19 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 07:22 25 July 2014

Ramsgate Royal Harbour

Ramsgate Royal Harbour

Manu Palomeque

The harbour and marina may be Ramsgate’s shop window but there’s plenty more to attract you: listed buildings galore, fine sands, coastal walks and wonderful sea views

Ramsgate was a tiny fishing 
and farming settlement until around 1780 when it became 
a tourist attraction, boosted more when the harbour and marina were completed by the 1790s.

The Napoleonic Wars enhanced its fortunes, when stately homes were 
built for English officers and it became 
a garrison town for departing troops.

In the late 1960s the overseas holiday trade boomed, presaging a period of stagnation. But since the turn of the new century Ramsgate has been on the up, the seafront’s massive regeneration being a major factor in the town’s renaissance.

Walkaround

The Inner Harbour, behind the Royal Harbour Marina, is a great place to enjoy coffee or a drink in one of the many harbourside establishments.

Near here is the fascinating Sailors’ Church (01843 589848, CT11 9LG), with collections of model ships and paintings.

Beyond the Inner harbour is Clock House, now home to Ramsgate Maritime Museum: four galleries of exhibits telling the seafaring history of the area.

Also in the harbour you’ll see the restored 1940’s steam tug Cervia, which can be viewed at weekends.

Fans of architecture will appreciate the houses in Guildford Lawn, Wellington Crescent, Westcliffe Terrace and Madeira Walk. England’s iconic gothic revival architect, Augustus Pugin, also lived and worked in the town and his house The Grange (01628 825925, CT11 9LJ) is open 
on some Wednesday afternoons.

Next door is St Augustine’s Abbey Church, also built by Pugin, with a 
scenic clifftop churchyard.

Children will love the Boating Pool (01843 581999, CT11 0HE), which also 
has arcade amusements, a restaurant 
and mini-bike track, boating pool, 
within Westcliffe Leisure Park.

For the active there’s Ramsgate Sports Centre (01843 585111, CT11 9TT), while for entertainment check out the Granville Theatre and Cinema (01843 591750, CT11 8DG). And make sure you don’t miss the Italianate Greenhouse, within the George V1 Memorial Park (CT11 8BD).

Shop then dine

The shops are mainly small, interesting independents and on Fridays and Saturdays there’s also a market in 
the pedestrianised part of town.

Westwood Cross is the local ‘out of town’ main shopping centre, with 53 stores, restaurants, a cinema and bingo hall.

Excellent restaurants include Age and Sons (01843 851515, CT11 8HE), The Royal Harbour Brasserie (01843 599059, CT11 9RN) and The Empire Room at The Royal Harbour Hotel (01843 591514, CT11 9JF: 
see also July Kent Life) and Bon Appetit (01843 852750, CT11 8LH).

Good pubs include Churchill Tavern (01843 587862, CT11 9JX), The Montefiore Arms (01843 593265, CT11 7HJ) and The Queen’s Head (01843 853888, CT11 8LP).

Topical talk: tombstones and trouble

On the seafront there is a large area, originally occupied by a 1960’s amusement centre called Pleasurama, which burnt down in 1998.

A locally unpopular plan for a major redevelopment was envisaged and permission granted by Thanet District Council. TDC signed an agreement with developer SFP in 2006, but little was 
done, except in 2011, when upright strip foundations were erected, sticking up 
out of the ground like tombstones.

Ramsgate townsfolk were not amused.

Uncovering the past

During the Second World War, a network 
of air-raid shelter tunnels was dug under Ramsgate’s pavements, linking up with disused Victorian subterranean railway tunnels. These were recently opened to 
the public, marking a three-year project of excavation, of which only part is complete.

Pugin Appeal

The Landmark Trust has launched an appeal to raise £671,000 to restore the architect’s Grade I listed St Edward’s Presbytery, part of Pugin’s famous masterpiece at St. Augustine’s in 
Ramsgate. The pretty, twin-gabled 
house of brick and flint will then 
be let out to the public for holidays.

Landmark has already restored 
The Grange, Pugin’s own neo-Gothic 
home, which is successfully let out.

This is the final piece in the restoration and adds to the general plans which 
are underway to restore the church and open a new visitor centre.

Donations to the appeal can be made 
via the charity’s website: 
www.landmarktrust.org.uk

Ramsgate Maritime Museum

This is now run by the Steam Museum Trust and is open Tuesday to Sundays, during the daytime.

The Trust also runs a supper club called ‘A night at the museum’ on the evenings of 8, 22 and 23 August when for just £22 you can enjoy the cuisine of talented local chef Simon Chipperfield. The monies raised will go towards support ongoing costs

Food is served in an upstairs gallery lit by candlelight, where you can see all kinds of exhibits while enjoying views out across the harbour. To book call 07810 358 135.

The Museum and Pier Yard have been the subject of regeneration plans and 
The Steam Museum Trust envisages a new café and a restaurant, renovations of the clock house building’s façade, including 
a makeover with colourful awnings, a memorial wall and improved exhibits.

The Cervia steam tug is also to be moved, so as to be the focal point of Pier Yard.

Art in town

The Updown Gallery (01843 588181, 
CT11 9BW) is a privately run art gallery based in Satis House, once a home, now converted to a large exhibition space.

The gallery has hosted exhibitions featuring the best of modern and contemporary British, European and American art, and past shows featured Bridget Riley, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Howard Hodgkin and Piers Secunda.

Curator and director Kate Smith (above)has extensive experience across the art world, and sees Updown as building on 
the massive success of the nearby Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate.

Kate, who lives with her husband Guy in Pegwell Bay, also offers an art consultancy service, covering aspects such as starting a collection to investing in art for the future.

“We have Kent connections that helped when starting the gallery: I grew up in Canterbury and Guy’s family have farmed down here for two centuries,” Kate says.

“This house had a great sense of space that we instantly fell in love with. Collecting art for me is a passion and an addiction, and the idea of the gallery is to bring top-quality exhibitions to Ramsgate.

“We were also involved with the Summer Squall last year and organised an Open Art competition, something we’re doing again this year – but this time we’re hoping to include the whole of Kent, not just Thanet.

“The people of Ramsgate are some of 
the nicest I have ever met.

“I love the beach with its magnificent white cliffs, and the full moon’s reflections on the sea. I like the slower pace of life, as compared to London or New York.

“I love walking our dogs on Pegwell Bay and Ramsgate beach in the early morning at low tide, with the possibility of a swim when the water warms up.

“Age and Sons is a favourite restaurant of ours, and I always spend lots of money in the gift shop Nice Things (07939 542990).

“I am a true Ramsgate convert – I really should work for the tourist board – but I do think that Ramsgate is a real gem.” n

More from Out & About

As the world slows down, we turn our eyes to the skies in search of the best places to watch some celestial wonders this summer

Read more

Here are 12 places that may have flown under your radar before but are well worth seeking out

Read more

Kent is blessed with fine and indeed famous country houses, but over the decades has lost as many of its grander houses as it retains. A new book by Martin Easdown reveals 120 examples that have simply disappeared

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Take our quiz to see if you can decipher the town or place in Kent from the emojis

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Enjoy three of Kent’s best and most loved cycle rides which take in lots of the county’s beautiful coastlines

Read more

We look ahead to the end of lockdown and to a quiet seaside resort we can’t wait to visit again – Herne Bay

Read more

Hythe and New Romney, with their peaceful marshes, abundant wildlife and beautiful coastline, are the perfect places to explore when we’re allowed to travel again

Read more
Friday, June 12, 2020

We’ve gathered six of the best dog-friendly pubs in Kent to enjoy a bite to eat after a scenic stroll

Read more

Try these Kent-themed ideas for the ultimate ‘stay-cation’ – without having to move further away from home than the garden gate

Read more
Monday, June 8, 2020

Picnic baskets at the ready because we have gathered 10 of the best places to enjoy a picnic in stunning rural Kent

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life