The Brutalist tower block that marked the start of 1960s redevelopment in Margate

Arlington House in Margate Photo John Horton

Some describe Arlington House flats in Margate as ‘ugly’ and may find it difficult to see any beauty in the 1960s block.

But when it was first completed in 1964 the site was advertised as “Britain’s first ‘park and buy’ shopping centre with luxury flats,” and marked the beginning of Margate’s redevelopment.

Arlington was designed by Russell Diplock Associates and built by Bernard Sunley and Sons, Originally the site was made up of 52 shops, a pub, a supermarket, a coach station, a filling station, a multi-storey car park and the 18-storey, 142-flat block.

Built with white concrete cladding that had shiny flecks of mica, Arlington House was literally a sparkling example of the modern architectural style known as Brutalism. (Béton-brut is a French term that means “raw concrete”).

The crinkled facades of the building reflect the breaking waves of the Margate Sands and the flats have both beach and countryside views.

Inside the ground floor lift lobby is detailed in Carrara marble, there is frameless glass to concrete fenestration and the double wood and glass entrance doors have brass fittings.

A teak and brass concierge lodge greets residents at the end of the substantial corridor style entrance hall.

The original scheme included a theatre, terraced restaurant and rooftop swimming pool with a glass floor.

Photo John Cripps

Arlington Square shopping arcade, and stores on All Saints Avenue and Marine Terrace, sat alongside parking for 500 vehicles and petrol filling and taxi rank facilities.

The  luxury flats in Arlington House were originally rented with lease terms of 3,5,or 7 years.
A 1965 advertisement for Arlington House highlights services including high-speed lifts, refuse disposal, 24 hour porterage and car parking facilities.

Rental costs, (exclusive of rates) were:

  • 1 bedroom from  £295 per year
  • 2 bedrooms from £325 per year
  • 3 bedrooms from £345 per year
The view

The Hawkwind song High Rise, released in 1979, is said to have been written by band member  Robert Calvert when he lived at Arlington. Calvert died of a heart attack in 1988, aged 43, in Ramsgate, and was buried in Minster Cemetery.

Following a fatal fire on the 16th floor in 2001, gas supply within the block was removed. Electricity (and solar) are now used.

Plans for a Tesco superstore at the site, which were vehemently opposed by residents, were ditched in 2014 due to trading conditions.

Photo Stephen Todd

The car park was fenced off until Dreamland/Arrowgrass brought it back into use earlier this year following an agreement with lease holders Freshwater.

The shops moved from the arcade many years ago, the last being the famous Joke Shop and the Bong Shop which moved into the town in around 2011 (check out The Joke Shop here). In 2016 demolition workers were on-site and the iconic arch of the arcade entrance removed.

Photo John Cripps

The lease for the block is currently held by Freshwater but day-to-day management is in the hands of Trinity (Estates) Property Management Limited.

But Arrowgrass, which last year pumped £25 million into the refurbishment of Dreamland, is now looking at “significant” investment in the site as part of a masterplan for Dreamland and Arlington.

Flats in the block have recently been marketed at around £110-120,000.

Information with thanks to Arlington Margate and Arlington House Residents Association websites

12 Comments

  1. And as a thank to Margate Council for granting planning permission Bernard Sunley-was never known as & son – built and gave Margate council the circular information Bureau this being part of the land where the Promenade low cost lodge/ eaterie is now.

    • . . . and who has allowed it to become derelict ? Would that be the freehold owners or the head leaseholders – or both ?

  2. Sort Arlington house out and around the ground floor paint it clean it because it’s the first thing you see when you enter Margate sea front . if the people who live in Arlington house don’t like it tell them it’s going to happen don’t keep letting they have control over TDC and and freshwater .

    • Those of us that live here have no control over TDC, Freshwater or Trinity – it is they who have allowed the ground floor and surrounding area to decline through lack of maintenance (contrary to the lease) and our requests for action are ignored !

  3. Freshwater have a very bad name in London. They were infamous for trying to evict people from their homes, because the property values skyrocketed. I used to live in Morpeth Mansions, Morpeth Terrace (opposite Westminster Cathedral), controlled by Freshwater. I personally was unaffected, but people who lived in other parts of the same road experienced harassment. One elderly woman wouldn’t budge. I cannot say whether the two are connected, but mysteriously, a bomb exploded in the foyer of the flats she was occupying. She left soon afterwards and died about a year later.

  4. Arlington House is a fabulous building to live in. The flats provide spacious accommodation along with spectacular views. Architecturally it exhibits many interesting design elements.
    It is not the residents who are a problem but TDC in collusion with the freeholders that should be held to account. Despite their neglect, it is a testimony to the architects, designers and builders that flats built nearly 70 years ago are still cutting edge and once again sought after as a great home for many people.

  5. If my memory serves me right, I took my step daughter to Matassa’s ice cream parlour, (which fronts the former Arlington shopping area), on Margate seafront when she was about 5 years old. It closed not long after. She is 37 this year, and it has been boarded up ever since. Shocking.

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