The new Ramsgate Fire Station starts to take shape with completion of steel frame

How Ramsgate Fire Station will look (artists impression)

The steel frame for the new Ramsgate Fire Station in Newington Road is complete

Groundworks for the station yard and forecourt of the £8million site are now underway.

The building, on the site of the former Ramsgate Swimming Pool, will replace the current station in Effingham Street which has been in operation for more than a century and was designed for horse-drawn fire engines.

The proposal to sell that site was originally agreed by Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority in 2011, at the same time as the closure of the station at Westwood was rubber-stamped.

The new HQ will be a whole-time fire station which means six to eight firefighters will be there round the clock. It will also be the base for a fire engine which is crewed by on-call firefighters when they are needed to attend an incident. There will be training on the site for firefighters.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service says the Newington Road building is close to better road networks so crews can reach fires and other incidents as quickly as possible. It also has the advantage that it is close enough to the current site to mean the service does not lose experienced on-call firefighters who must be able to get to the station from home within five minutes to respond to fires and other emergencies.

Demolition work on the site was completed in 2016, with building work from early 2017.

A KFRS spokesman said: “If all goes to schedule our completion date for the construction phase is August 2018 and we aim to have moved in and be operational by January 2019.”

Warre Recreation Ground and the Red Arrows Social Club are not part of the site and will not be affected.

A petition was raised in 2014 against the proposal with residents and Ramsgate mayor Trevor Shonk saying it would put added pressure on traffic, especially due to the close vicinity of two schools. With the opening of Ramsgate Arts Primary School at the former Piper Windows site that now means three schools close by. Residents also said the site should remain for leisure use. Thanet council agreed the disposal of the site in November 2012 and demolition of the pool took place in 2016.

But KFRS say they believe there will be less traffic than when the pool was in operation. A spokesman added: “Data over past years indicates that fire engines are likely to go in and out of the station to operational incidents less than once a week during school start and finish times.”

A century in Effingham Street

In 1905 Ramsgate Corporation bought a house which had been built in the 18th century and grounds in Effingham Street which belonged to Rear Admiral William Fox. The house was converted into a fire station and the town library and Clarendon House girl’s school were built in the grounds.
The station was opened in October 1905 by the Mayor.

In 1915 the Brigade received their first mechanically propelled Fire Engine, Lord Winterstoke (pictured with Ramsgate fire crew above). The appliance was donated to the brigade by Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills who was a member of the town council and a major benefactor of the town. Later, Dame Janet presented a second engine to the Brigade known appropriately as “Dame Janet”.

On June 17, 1917 a Zeppelin raid on Ramsgate harbour destroyed the fish market which was being used as an ammunition store for locally based vessels of the Dover Patrol. For his services on this and other occasions during the war, Chief Officer Johnson was awarded the King’s Police and Fire Service Medal. Sixteen members of the Ramsgate Brigade were awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire.

In 1938 with war looming the Auxiliary Fire Service (A.F.S.) was formed, initially as a volunteer force but also under control of the local authority. Ramsgate’s Auxiliaries were based in the ‘Top Garage’ at the top of Effingham Street and a tunnel was dug which linked the A.F.S. base with a building at the rear of the fire station yard.

On August 18, 1941 both the town brigades and auxiliary brigades were merged into the National Fire Service (N.F.S.).
In April 1948, control of the NFS was handed back to the 146 counties of the day. Ramsgate passed to the control of Kent Fire Brigade, which became known as the Kent Fire and Rescue Service in October 2003.
History with thanks to the Sussex History Forum