6 Thanet sites that have gone up in flames

Fire at The Holly Tree pub Photo Frank Leppard

A blaze at the former Ramsgate home of 60s and 70s wrestling star Jackie Pallo seemed to be the latest in a string of empty isle properties going up in flames.

We take a look at six sites that have gone up in smoke.

Jackie Pallo’s house in Haine Road, Ramsgate

Kent Police is investigating the fire at the former Ramsgate home of 60s and 70s wrestler Jackie Pallo.

Officers were called to the property in Haine Road, at 4.27pm on Monday 12 March to assist Kent Fire and Rescue Service.

Ramsgate and Margate crews were called to the site with 16 firefighters and four fire engines at the scene during the height of the blaze.

Crews fought the fire wearing breathing apparatus and using fog spike and a main jet. A water shuttle was also in operation.

Photo Clare Benson

The property, set in extensive grounds, belonged to the famed  wrestling star until his death, aged 80, from cancer in 2006. It was in a serious state of disrepair.

Last august an open day was held for prospective buyers. Ozengell Farmhouse was on the market for £225,000. Bidding went far above the property estimate but the sale reportedly fell through.

The four-bed home, which was once known for the huge amount of rusting Saabs parked on its grounds, was being marketed by Miles & Barr.

The Holly Tree pub, Cliftonville

Photo by Roy Goldhawk

The cause of a fire at the Holly Tree pub in Northdown Road in April 2017 was also suspected to be arson..

Kent Police officers launched an investigation into the fire that happened between 8am and 9am on Sunday 16 April.

Photo Frank Leppard

Some 20 firefighters and six engines, including the specialist height vehicle, were used to tackle the blaze which was finally brought under control at 12.55pm.

The property was so badly damaged that DDS Demolition were on site in the early evening to take down some of the parts of the structure which had become dangerous.
Road closures were put in place on several junctions and remained in place until 9.25pm while the incident was dealt with.

Photo Frank Leppard

The boozer shut its doors in 2016, never fully getting back up to strength after a blaze in 2014 started in the kitchen and ripped through the building.

The pub, formerly Ye Olde Charles, was built in 1926 by Russell’s Brewery of Gravesend.

A typical 1920s roadside inn, it was aimed at motorists visiting nearby Margate. It was named after local architect, Charles Reeve.

Photo by Michael Hammocks

During World War II Ye Old Charles was used by pilots and ground crew of RAF Manston.

It is said that actor John LeMesurier used to drink in the pub when he was seeing Carry On actress Hatty Jacques, who used to live in Laleham Close.

In 2013 Ye Olde Charles became The Holly Tree until it shut for good in 2016.

Dane Valley Arms, Margate

Councillors Lin Fairbrass Gary Hillman and Rosamund Dixon at the demolition

Last September an application was submitted to build homes and a micropub on the site of the former Dane Valley Arms in Margate.

KSD Group Ltd & Coldunell Ltd want to create 10 flats, seven houses, ground floor micropub and associated parking at the site in Dane Valley Road.

The pub was demolished in December 2016 after Thanet council served notice due to its unsafe condition.

Fires and vandalism at the eyesore property had been a constant problem since its closure in 2012.

Thanet District Council served the demolition order in September 2016. Owners, Dane Valley Arms Limited, were given a period of eight weeks to carry out the work. They failed to carry that out so TDC stepped in and recharged the company for the work.

Laleham Gap (former site, Cliftonville)

Arson was again suspected in a fire at the former grounds of Laleham Gap school in Cliftonville last June.

Emergency services were called to the fire in the grounds in Northdown Park Road, at 1.39am on June 27.

The fire was in a disused portacabin on school grounds which was completely destroyed. The blaze had also spread, causing further damage to two further portacabins and an area of grass.

Fire crews wore breathing apparatus and used three main jets and a cold cut firefighting system to extinguish the blaze.

The incident was reduced to two fire engines just before 3am. They spent a further hour damping down and left the scene around 4.15am.


Yes, it was almost 20 years ago but the aftermath still blights Ramsgate’s seafront.

The site was destroyed by fire in May 1998, two years after then-owner Jimmy Godden took it over. Originally planning permission was given to Mr Godden, now deceased, for a shopping centre on the land but, in 2001, when it became clear this was not going to materialise Thanet council bought the site by compulsory purchase – a move they may have to repeat in the future.

In 2004 planning permission was granted for a 60-bed hotel, 107 residential apartments, leisure facilities and retail at the site.

The deal was headed by development company SFP Venture UK but work never got underway.

In April 2013, Thanet council rejected a bid for SFP to buy the freehold of the site before project completion.

SFP said it was unable to secure the necessary funds to complete the scheme under the existing development agreement.

In February 2014 cabinet members agreed to axe the development agreement with SFP, but were unable to reclaim the three 199-year leases for the site because they had no long stop date.

Talks with Cardy Construction to take over the project by buying out SFP were revealed in September 2014.

Contracts, which included a long-stop date, were signed with Cardy Ramsgate Ltd – an independent company created for the scheme.

Cardy Ramsgate Ltd completed a £3.515 million payment to Thanet council for the site freehold  in July 2016.

Cardy Construction went into administration the same month.

Image via The Friends of Ramsgate Seafront

Michael Stannard, then the sole director of Cardy Ramsgate Ltd, resigned his role in August 2016.

The company director is now Anthony Hollis. The firm has been renamed Ramsgate Development Company Ltd.

Mr Hollis is a director of Aldress Developments SE Ltd, formerly SFP Ventures (UK) Ltd until a change of name in 2016.

Shaun Keegan, one of the founder directors of SFP Ventures with Mr Hollis, resigned his directorship in 2014.

The contract states the project must be completed within three-and-a-half years. If it is not developed then the council has an option to buy it back.

Meanwhile, it still lies derelict.

Scenic Railway

In 2005 Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, (MTCRC) which had shareholders including Mr Godden, bought the Dreamland for £20 million. The park was closed to the public and all rides, apart from the Scenic Railway, were removed.

In 2007 ideas were put forward for the site by Thanet council which included a mixed scheme with the majority of the site kept as an amusement park, along with homes.

In 2008 The Scenic Railway was partially destroyed by fire after an arson attack on April 7. The owners pledged to rebuild. Thanet council threatened to compulsory purchase the site if it was not repaired.

The park was targeted again by arsonists in May 2014 although firefighters contained the blaze to a disused building close to the listed Scenic Railway.

(YouTube video by Paul Harris)


  1. Ramsgate library, Friday 13 August 2004. What a split-level modernist monstrosity it has turned out to be now. Why couldn’t the architects have rebuilt it to the beautiful original? Too traditional?

  2. I like Ramsgate library, apart from the open-plan nature of the interior. The general noise level makes it difficult to concentrate on choosing books, reading and studying. I think some areas should be enclosed.

  3. There’s alot more sites that could of been included in this list. The waltzer fire in Dreamland, the arcade on Margate seafront, the old bed store on margate high street that was nearing development completion completion almost 4 years ago or Ramsgate library.

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