Steps at The Dip in Minnis Bay have been demolished

Demolition of the steps at The Dip Photos Phil Fellows

Steps at The Dip in Minnis Bay have been demolished after complaints that they needed maintenance work.

The steps, on The Parade, were deemed to have no historical value despite being shown on maps dating back to 1898.

Photo Phil Fellows

They have now been removed and a slope will be put in their place.

According to an article by Colin Cordine for the Birchington Heritage Trust, in the 1880s The Dip was the site of “tennis courts, a small exhibition hall, tea pavilion and greenhouses, within a sunken garden.

“The perimeter was planted with hedges to provide protection from the winds. Unfortunately these hedges did little to prevent the destruction of the buildings in the great storm of 29th November 1897.

Photo via Phil Fellows

“Rebuilding of the greenhouses followed and the gardens were restored to their former glory. A ‘Tea Garden’ was created amongst the plants. Run by the Johnson family (owners of the Minnis Bay Post Office), this proved be a popular attraction between the wars.

“The Second World War curtailed all these activities and by its end, all that remained of the sunken gardens were the perimeter hedges and a small concrete base which supported the Tea Garden kitchens.  A part of this can still be seen today beneath the grassy slope into the Dip opposite Viking Close.

Photo Phil Fellows

“In the storm of January 31, 1953, the exceptionally high spring tide, coupled with north-westerly gales and heavy rain, flooded across the road and into the surrounding low-lying land, including the Dip, filling it to the level of the road surface.  It took many weeks for the waters to subside and even longer for the grass to recover from its salty soaking.”

Photo Phil Fellows

The Dip is now a grassed area.

Photo Phil Fellows

The demolition has caused outrage amongst residents, including Birchington parish councillor Phil Fellows.

Cllr Fellows said: “It’s a travesty that an iconic landmark such as the Minnis Bay Steps have been reduced to rubble.”

Cllr Suzanne Brimm said she requested the removal because the steps were unsafe.

She said: “The steps were unsafe and were not repairable. There is also the issue of accessibility. They will be replaced with a gentle slope which will be accessible to everyone, including those using mobility scooter or wheelchairs and mums with prams.

“If people have concerns they should contact their ward councillors.”

Cllr Lin Fairbrass, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for Community Safety and Environmental Services at TDC, said: “Protecting public safety is incredibly important. The steps were structurally unsafe and fenced off for some time.

“It was decided that the steps would therefore be replaced with a slope, so that the dip could be accessed again safely. The new slope will also enable grass on either side of the Dip to be more regularly maintained as it will allow better access for grass cutting equipment.

“Repairing the steps would have required a complete rebuild and a significant amount of investment which we simply don’t have.”