A tale of 300 years of Ramsgate history in new Historic England book

Ramsgate harbour and clock house Image HE Comms

Delve into the rich history of Ramsgate over the past 300 years with a new book from Historic England.

Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage, charts the changing face of the town and its transformation from quiet fishing village to a once prosperous port and popular seaside resort.

Once visited by a handful of intrepid sea bathers, improvements in passenger boats and the arrival of the railway in 1846 opened up Ramsgate to thousands of holidaymakers, requiring new bathing facilities and entertainment venues to be built.

A seaside guide of the time pronounced that “of the three watering places in the Isle of Thanet, Ramsgate is considered as the most fashionable, Margate as the most lively and bustling, Broadstairs as the most quiet and retired”.

Festival of Britain Fountain, Victoria Gardens, Image HE Comms

Ramsgate was patronised by royalty and boasted terraces, crescents and squares which were the height of fashion. The Victorian era brought with it many elegant civic buildings and new places of worship from the Montefiore synagogue, to St Augustine’s church designed by Augustus Pugin, renowned for his work on the Palace of Westminster.

The economic decline experienced by many seaside towns in the 20th century is also explored in the book, as is the creative way the town’s colourful past is now playing an important role in its future. It profiles the challenges and opportunities the town faces today in seeking to redefine itself as an attractive place to visit, live and work.

The much anticipated book is part of the Ramsgate’s Heritage Action Zone (HAZ), first launched in April 2017. The five-year HAZ initiative aims to encourage economic growth using the historic environment as a catalyst.

Teams within Historic England are working in partnership with Thanet District Council, Ramsgate Town Council, and local organisations to understand what makes Ramsgate’s heritage so special, to share the findings of new research, and to protect and improve important places.

Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage combines documentary research with insights from the town’s fascinating architectural legacy, illustrated with new and archival photographs.

Liverpool Lawn

Written by Historic England architectural historian Geraint Franklin, it features a foreword by writer, architectural historian and President of the Ramsgate Society Clive Aslet, and contributions from Nick Dermott, conservation architect and heritage advisor to Thanet District Council, and Allan Brodie architectural historian and seaside specialist at Historic England. New photography throughout is by Historic England photographer Chris Redgrave.

The study is the first publication to come from the Historic England and Liverpool University Press partnership, and is part of the Informed Conservation series.

Ellen Avenue (scheme completed in 1938) Image HE Comms

Emily Gee, Regional Director for London and the South East at Historic England, said: “Ramsgate’s fascinating historic development can be seen throughout its rich architectural legacy. We hope this book will provide insight and interest at a time when we’re enjoying our heritage from home.

“The historic environment has so much to offer us all and will patiently await our return when we can visit and enjoy Ramsgate’s wonderful character in person again.”

Heritage Action Zone. Ramsgate. Slipway and the Clock House. East Pier,

Cllr Ruth Duckworth, Cabinet Member for Estates and Economic Development at Thanet council, added: “The research and investment from Historic England, via the Heritage Action Zone initiative, has really helped us to better understand the unique character of Ramsgate and uncover so much more of its fascinating history.

“The book builds on the momentum of activity and interest in Ramsgate and we look forward to our continued engagement with the community to protect and promote the town’s heritage for future generations.”

Ramsgate: The Town and its Seaside Heritage is available from the Liverpool University Press website at a cost of £14.99.