Photos: Inside the Granville Bars and the amazing features of the ballroom

The former Granville Hotel Photo Frank Leppard

The former Granville Bars in Ramsgate was sold at auction this month for £310,000 – and these photos by Frank Leppard show some of the amazing detail inside the Victoria Parade building.

The bars are part of the former Granville Hotel designed by Edward Welby Pugin, son of Augustus Pugin. The Granville was a hotel between 1869 and 1946. It is now Granville House, containing 48 self-contained flats and the recently sold former bar. The property was Grade II listed in October 1973.

When the Granville was a hotel it had more than 25 different kinds of baths. The baths opened in December, 1871 and were demolished in 1980.

In the years after 1873 the hotel was owned by bankers Coutts, a new hall was designed and completed in July 1874 by the architect J T Wimperis. This was demolished in 1982.

In 1877 the property was bought by solicitor Edmund Francis Davis, who developed the Granville Marina below the east cliff, and launched the Granville Express – a daily train service from Charing Cross to Westgate and Ramsgate Sands.

Image via Barry James

Davis also laid a marble skating rink in the Granville Gardens and completed a tunnel begun by Pugin from the gardens to the sands. The tunnel exits at number 3 Granville Marina.

Spiers & Pond Ltd bought the property in December 1898 and carried out remodelling works.

In January 1915, the Granville was requisitioned by the Government and became The Granville Canadian Special Hospital. It treated patients suffering from shell shock, nerve injuries and injuries to bones and joints. In April 1917 the hospital accommodated 809 wounded Canadian soldiers. It hospital closed later that year and the building reopened in 1920 after a £60,000 refurb. It was leased to the Empire Hotels Group in the 1930s.

A corner of the hotel was destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War. The bomb damaged corner was rebuilt in 2004 and became Granville Court. In 1947, the hotel was converted into flats and renamed Granville House. For the next 30 years, the building was managed and then owned by William and Florence Hamilton.

The Granville was a popular venue for ballroom dancing in the 1950s and 1960s as William Hamilton had installed a sprung floor. This hall, demolished in 1982, was also used as a count during elections and to host private and civic functions. In February 1956, the basement became a jazz club called The Cave. From 1974 until the 1990s, the building passed to a number of different owners.

There was a fire in April 1985 that destroyed the staircase, which was later restored in a £1.5 million overhaul.

The building includes the former Granville Bars on the seafront corner – which went under the hammer this month with Clive Emson. The bar closed around 1991. Adjoining the bar is the banqueting hall – completed in October 1869 by Edward Pugin.

The centre-piece of the hall is a huge fireplace inscribed with the motto ‘pile on the logs to make the fire great’. The fireplace cost some £250 in 1869.

The property sold at auction includes the main bar, ballroom, cloakroom leading to kitchen, foyer, toilets and the banqueting hall to rear on the ground floor and a number of rooms and the tunnel leading to seafront on the lower ground level.

Photos by Frank Leppard


  1. Fantastic photos it would do well as a smart members club. I was at the auction but the price was beyond my limit.
    Had I got it, in would have sought permission to turn it into a women’s only club. Well done to the buyer good luck to you, I am sure it will be successful in whatever you do with it.

  2. Women only? If it was proposed as men only, what a stink that would cause.
    Beautiful architecture that needs a sympathetic new use found for I will agree.
    Let’s hope the new owners honour the original designer it whatever they do there.

  3. As a child I used to go to the Granville Ballroom with my parents when they attended elegant dinner and dances. The place was amazing and very posh then and I loved dancing and listening to the dance bands.

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