Plaque unveiled to mark £2.5 million Dalby Square heritage and renovation scheme

The unveiling Photo TDC

A plaque marking the £2.5million Dalby Square Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) in Cliftonville has been unveiled today (May 26).

The scheme began in January 2013 and will run until September this year.  It is dedicated to preserving the unique heritage of Dalby Square, the historic heart of Cliftonville West.  Funding was made available from the National Lottery Heritage Lottery Fund and Thanet District Council.

Under the scheme, properties and communal gardens have been renovated and improved.

In all 22 properties have been renovated; 12 Arthur Road, 12A and 30 Dalby Square have been brought back into use; a property has been retrofitted to adapt to climate change and sustain multi-generational living and the square has been reinstated as a garden.

Heritage lighting has also been installed and community activities take place.

Dalby Square

Today’s plaque unveiling was hosted by community group A Better Cliftonville with council chairman Cllr Jason Savage doing the honours.

The plaque has been attached to the historic red telephone box which was bought and restored by volunteers.

Photo ABC

Cllr Savage said: “It was an honour to unveil a new Dalby Square plaque marking the Townscape Heritage Initiative.. The plaque celebrates the rich and varied pedigree of Dalby Square and its gardens and is a way of thanking the many volunteers who have put in so much hard work supporting this scheme and promoting community involvement and pride in their local area.

Photo TDC

“The THI, which commenced in 2013, has been a huge success bringing £2.5million of public funding to the area, seen 22 properties renovated; 3 empty buildings brought back into use; heritage lighting installed and a multi-generational house retrofitted to sustain climate change.”

History of the Square

1860s Thomas Dalby Reeve, Mayor of Margate (1873-75) and founder of Reeves Mineral Water Manufacturers acquires 2.5ha of arable land and began the large-scale development of Cliftonville, including the 0.3ha enclosure of Dalby Square and surrounding buildings.

1863 Restrictions placed on the use of the enclosed land of Dalby Sq: “The enclosure should remain an ornamental garden”, and “no buildings of any kind should be erected save for a boundary fence not exceeding five feet in height”.


1872 First illustrative recording of the garden, laid almost entirely to lawn with vertical open paling forming a boundary

1880s and 1890s Evidence that the majority of the area was laid as lawn tennis courts.

Early 1900s Maps and Photographs show tennis courts to the south and a croquet lawn to the north.

1907 Land sold at auction, described as tennis courts and croquet lawn for public and private use.

Dalby Square in 1910

1911 Photos show a mature boundary hedge alongside the boundary palings.

1919 Land sold to John Henry Iles.

1923 Five formal hard tennis courts with high wire fencing, with a small pavilion towards the north east.

1934 Land sold to Margate Estates Company Ltd,(to become, in 1975, Associated Leisure Company Ltd).

1960s Northern end of the Gardens turned to car park, following planning application in 1956.

1976 Sold to Thanet District Council.

Mid 1970s Southern and central areas had reverted from tennis courts to ornamental garden.

2003 The Dalby Project (residents’ association) successfully bid for money to develop the southern and central areas as an ornamental garden and children’s playground, which was carried out in 2005

2012 Thanet District Council secure £1.9 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund through their Townscape Heritage Initiative for a restoration project in the square and surrounding buildings, aimed at improving and re-enforcing the historic character.

2013 Kent Gardens Trust recommend that the square is included in the local list of heritage assets.

2015/16 Some of the THI fund was used to erect new railings around the perimeter of the southern and central areas of the garden

2016/17 Some of the THI fund was allocated towards improving the northern (car park) end, resulting in this planning application.

April 2018 Work starts to convert the car park back into gardens

May 2019 Plaque unveiling