Ramsgate will receive £50,000 from a £1million government fund to conserve its pulhamite rocks.
The project – under the heading Rescuing Ramsgate’s Rock Gardens – aims to use the cash for work on the pulhamite rocks at the Madeira Walk fountain and Albion Gardens, and possibly at the ‘Sun Palace’ rock garden at the Winterstoke if funding allows.
The bid was made by the Ramsgate Coastal Community Team – made up of Ramsgate Town Council, Ramsgate Neighbourhood Plan Group, Ramsgate Regeneration Alliance, The Ramsgate Society and Ramsgate Town Team with Thanet District Council as the accountable body.
The bid says the cash will help: “conserve and enhance an important link in Ramsgate’s townscape that adds to the experience of visitors and local people and to maximise its potential for contributing to Ramsgate’s economic and social regeneration.
“The project also aims to secure the responsible conservation, and embed within the community the skills for long-term care and maintenance.”
It is hoped the scheme will also create a training programme.
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: ““There can be few other better known Ramsgate landmarks than the iconic Pulhamite Rock Garden.
“Thousands of people pass it each day in cars, buses or on foot and the colourful gardens have become a favourite with photographers and visitors alike.
“This funding is, therefore, really important and demonstrates the Government’s support for Ramsgate.”
A Thanet council spokesperson added: “We are very pleased to hear that the Ramsgate Coastal Community Team has been successful in its bid for funding. The £50,000 from the Coastal Revival Fund is a significant sum and will go a long way towards their plans to repair and restore the Pulhamite rock gardens at Albion Gardens/Madeira Walk.”
However, the news came as a surprise to the volunteers of the Friends of Ramsgate Seafront (FoRS) who plant, clear and maintain both Albion Gardens and Winterstoke Gardens.
The group said they were unaware of a bid and had not been included in discussions. A spokesman added: “We are pleased that funding has been secured and hope that it is spent wisely on areas that need restoration and not on pointless feasibility studies and ‘consultants’.”
The revival fund
The Coastal Revival Funding has been awarded to 25 projects.
The fund, now in its third year, provides grants to coastal heritage sites to fund repairs and restoration. It also supports large scale projects which are important to local communities but have not yet reached their full economic potential or are facing neglect.
Six of the winning projects include grants for sites which are classed as ‘at risk’ by Historic England including the Ramsgate rocks.
The Madeira Walk waterfall site was created when, in 1894, the Borough Council of Ramsgate decided to welcome new visitors to the town by changing its appearance from that of a busy fishing port to one with picturesque gardens and promenades. One of the first stages of the plan was to create a new road to wind up from the harbour to the East Cliff, to be called Madeira Walk.
James Pulham and Son carried out the work, making it look as if it had been cut through a steep gorge, with rocky ‘cliffs’ on either side.
They built the Pulhamite ‘rocks’ shoring up the steep banks of the gorge, including the artificial cascade of the waterfall.
The site was Grade II listed in 1988.
The rock garden at Winterstoke Gardens and ‘Sun Palace’ in Victoria Parade were laid out and presented to the Borough of Ramsgate by Dame Janet Stancomb-Wills in 1920. They were opened to the public in June 1923 by the Mayor of Ramsgate, Alderman A. W. Larkin. They were also Grade II listed in 1988.
The gardens were designed by the architects Sir John Burnet & Partners, and constructed by Pulham and Son. The main feature of the gardens, is a semi-circular shaped colonnade carved into the pulhamite recess.
Work will be carried out here if any funding remains after the main project at Albion Gardens.