Margate’s adult education centre has received Grade II listing

The Hawley Square building Photo Copyright Steve Daniels licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

The Kent Adult Education centre in Margate has been Grade II listed by Historic England.

The building, at 1-3, Hawley Square, was officially listed on Tuesday (July 10). The former Thanet School of Art property was built in 1931 in an austere Art Deco style by Major WH Robinson, Kent County Architect.

It has been listed due to architectural interest and its value as part of the surrounding listed buildings in Hawley square.

Historic England says the architectural merit is:

  • as a competent and well executed art college in an austere Art Deco style by a noted local architect;
  • for the unity of design both inside and outside the building;
  • for the survival of internal fixtures and fittings, and legibility of the original design;
  • for the survival of specialist functions, including studios, kiln and workshops.

The centre was designed in 1929 by Major WH Robinson and built by JE Elliman and Sons Ltd, of Beckenham. The building was opened as Thanet School of Art on 8 July 1931, by Lord Northbourne.

The School of Art had existed as an institution prior to this date, but without its own building. The first principal of the newly housed school was Mr A Moody.

The School of Art was equipped with several large drawing and work rooms, studios, a printing room, a library and a large exhibition hall. Courses were offered in drawing, design, handicraft, dress design and dressmaking, etching, lithography and typography.

The school also had a department of architecture, in conjunction with Canterbury College of Arts. The artist Walter Sickert lectured at the Thanet School of Art in 1934. The Canterbury branch of the Royal Institute of British Architects was based in the building.

The school is thought to have closed during the Second World War as it ceased to advertise courses. It reopened on 11 January 1945, offering additional courses in “Make Do and Mend”, fabric printing and weaving. Courses were offered free to members of the armed forces.

The School of Art was closed in 1974 and the building became an Adult Education Centre, run by Kent County Council. Since 1974, a number of minor alterations have occurred in the building, including the insertion of a floor over the entrance hall/central exhibition space, the installation of a lift and the replacement of the front steps with a set parallel to the building, matched by a disabled access.

Building history from Historic England


  1. The disabled access lift hasn’t worked for years, you have to go round the back in the narrow street and wait for someone to open the door which is not suitable. A friend had to stop coming to her lessons as no lift working. Fixing the front lift or putting a ramp in should be priority if they want disabled people to feel equal.

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