Ramsgate’s newest pub managers Chris Whitbourn and Charlotte Mason are overseeing the final preparations for the opening of the Royal Victoria Pavilion this month.
The couple, who have moved to the isle from Lincolnshire, took possession of the keys on Tuesday and delivery of stock took place yesterday (August 16).
Staff training is in progress and workman are finishing up the breathtaking £4.5million renovation.
The result is a stunning building, both inside and out, that has been designed to incorporate historical features discovered in the original plans for the site.
These include the upstairs panelling and balustrades which resemble those in place when the Pavilion served as a theatrical venue and the sweeping bar in the downstairs area of the UK’s biggest Wetherspoon pub.
The colour scheme and other details resemble those in place during the 1950s.
At the entrance there are images of the original plans, architect Stanley Davenport Adshead and HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, who performed the official opening on 29 June 1904.
Inside there are photos and details of some of the isle’s many famous residents including actors Frank Muir and John Le Mesurier and work by isle artists including a limited edition print by Leise Wilson, original collagraph prints by Dawn Cole and original paintings by Dave Mullet.
There are practical additions too, including a lift to make the building accessible to all and a changing places toilet for people with disabilities.
The lift means the upstairs terrace area is accessible for everyone to enjoy the fabulous views and the landscaped areas which include 200-year-old Olive trees.
The upper floor terrace also extends to the front of the building in an addition to the original plans, giving an area that offers shelter from the sometimes blustery coast winds.
Around a third of the building – the former Peggy Sues area – will be leased out to other tenants.
Gabion (stone) tables for the ground floor rear beer garden are also due for delivery.
Customers will have full view of cooking process with the front of the kitchen on show through an open gantry or they might prefer to settle in the huge couches with full views of the beach through the giant arched windows.
The venue features a bar both downstairs and upstairs, which offers seating, a vista of the coastline and possibly the largest ladies toilets you’ll ever see!
A new zinc roof has been installed on the large main roof, in keeping with the original building. The new pub design also includes the reinstatement of the pavilion’s classic dormer oriel windows.
This afternoon queues formed as (August 17 ) a number of complimentary tickets were given away for a pre-opening between Friday, August 25 to Sunday, August 27. This softer opening will give staff the opportunity to bed in before the pub officially opens its doors on August 29.
Official opening and hours
The Royal Victoria Pavilion opens at 8am on August 29 in a ceremony with Mayor Trevor Shonk and Mayoress Mandy Shonk.
It will be open from 8am until 12 midnight Sunday to Wednesday and 8am until 1am Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Food will be served throughout the day, from opening until 11pm, every day.
A step back in time
The grade II listed building was designed by notable architect Stanley Davenport Adshead and originally completed in 1903. The cost was said to be in the region of £40,000.
It was built as a concert hall and assembly rooms, on the site of an old stone yard. It is said to have been built in six weeks. The opening ceremony was performed by HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, on 29 June 1904.
She was greeted at the railway station by large crowds and given a golden key to open the grand Pavilion. It was named in memory of her mother, Queen Victoria, who had spent several summers in Ramsgate as a young princess, a name which continues in the name of the new pub.
In later years the Pavilion became a dance hall, Peggy Sues nightclub and a casino.
Rank Leisure casino moved to Westwood Cross in 2008 and the Pavilion had been empty since then until work started on the Wetherspoon renovations last September.
Video by Adam Dark