A planning application is due to be submitted for change of use at Ramsgate’s former fire station in Effingham Street.
Ramsgate Town Council bought the building last year following a bequeathed estate from resident Mr Radford.
The building has been renamed Radford House. It consists of three floors – the ground area was used for the fire engines before KFRS moved to a purpose built site in Newington Road, a second floor with a kitchen and the upper floor which was sleeping quarters.
The aim, says town clerk Richard Styles, is to create a main area on the ground floor for markets and art events -two of which have already been held at the site – with partitions so two events could be carried out at the same time. Audio/visual equipment will be installed meaning it could also be used as cinema space. There will be a reception area with a glass partition separating it from the event space but with accessibility for the stairs to the upper floors.
On the first floor the kitchens will be modified and the four rooms will be knocked into one. On the second floor there will be an archive containing documents including the detailed report on the town’s pulhamite rocks.
A new entrance and a lift will be created. Original features, such as a large fireplace on the upper floor, will be retained.
An ambitious part of the plan is to create a climbing wall up the former escape tower (pictured below) at the rear of the 18th century property and to install solar panels.
The estimated cost of the plans is £740,000. Ramsgate Town Council has some of this and will go to other funders to make up the difference.
Town clerk Richard Styles said: “The idea is for it to become a community hub with independent artists, local community groups, hot desking and wifi and downstairs for markets, exhibitions and events.”
Mr Styles said the hub would be just one of the additional services the town council is providing using the annual precept income.
The building is currently being used by town council staff as a central point for holding food bank stock and then taking those out to delivery to Thanet charities and community sites.
The Effingham Street property was originally a private house belonging to Rear Admiral William Fox. In 1905 Ramsgate Corporation bought the property and converted it into a fire station and the town library and Clarendon House girl’s school were built in the grounds. The station was opened in October 1905 by the Mayor.