The Sportsman pub at Cliffsend has now been razed to the ground

The last piece of The Sportsman before it was demolished Photo Sarah Emily Wormsley

Since 1750 at least part of the building that was The Sportsman pub at Cliffsend stood at the site on Sandwich Road.

But on April 2, 2017, the doors of the village pub shut with landlords Teresa Kirk and Ronnie Mark, calling last orders after the site was put on the market by Shepherd Neame with a guide price of £250,000 plus VAT.

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According to Dover Kent Archives, which catalogues the history of the county’s pubs, The pub used to be a halfway house for stagecoaches travelling between Ramsgate and Sandwich. Smugglers are believed to have used its cellar, connected to the area extensive network of tunnels, to bring in contraband from France.

The 1851 census addressed this as a Hamlet of Great Cliffs End.

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Former landlords included ex-footballer Tommy Robinson and his wife Eva who took the helm in 1950 and remained for more than 14 years.

East Kent developer Future Homes is now creating seven homes at the site after planning permission for a revised scheme was granted in February this year. An initial application had been rejected in 2019 with a number of objections including concerns about building height and traffic increases.

The Sportsman Inn shut in 2017.

The amended plan is for a new three-storey building with three apartments on the upper floors and commercial space for a cycle café on the ground floor. There will also be four semi-detached, three-bedroom houses. The Government’s Help to Buy Scheme will be available to first-time buyers of the apartments.

Photo Sarah Emily Wormsley

Part of that plan meant the demolition of the old pub building which was razed this month.

Resident Sarah Emily Wormsley caught the last piece of the demolition on camera, with just the door standing before the building was finally demolished.

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She said: “The last thing to be taken down was the door. Seconds after I took these, it was all gone – to make way for flats and a cycle cafe. It was so sad to see something so historical being flattened.”

Work began on June 28 with a target completion date of July 2022.

How the homes will look

f you’d like to find out more about the development visit or call 01843 604504.

To find some fascinating snippets of Sportsman pub history visit


  1. What a pity, to be replaced by more charmless boxes sold under the spurious auspices of being contemporary living. Heartless.

    • Charmless boxes that will be underwater in 25 years if climate change predictions are remotely accurate.

  2. Probably not viable as a pub but nevertheless another piece of Thanet heritage gone forever thanks to the clueless morons in the TDC planning department.

    • The pub went out of business not because of anything TDC did. It went bust because not enough local people patronized the place.
      Blame Cliffsend residents. Use it, or lose it.

      • See my comment below. Would you go to a place that was poorly run/had mediocre food/grubby/etc? I wouldn’t. Anyone can make a place “unviable” if they want to. There are far more remote pubs in Kent that survive due to building up a good reputation.

  3. Interesting to see so much negativity when, having read the article, I am pleased to see existing built spaces being utilised for housing, something which, if more of this were undertaken, would negate the need for farmland to be built upon.

    It wasn’t viable as a pub, hence it closed. So why the objection to redeveloping the site? I note Clare refers to ‘charmless boxes’, which I don’t disagree with. But, for many people wishing to get on the property ladder, these ‘charmless boxes’ are the only option. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the money or choice if affords when looking for a property.

    • It is well known that unscrupulous “landlords” take over pubs, run them badly, then claim their “unviability”. Almost certainly the case here.

      • Clearly you know nothing about this pub or the people who ran it in recent years. Yes it had become unviable like many others but the decision to close it was made by the bean counters at the owners of the pub, Shepherd Neame & was no reflection on the landlords who did their best. Perhaps you should just comment about goings on around Westgate because you don’t seem very well informed about the other side of Thanet.

        • I DO know that I went in there a year or so before it closed – and it was horrible. If my experience was typical, then it is little wonder that others ignored it too.

    • If you have the money!! These are not even ‘affordable’ let alone social housing but for those with fat bank accounts.

  4. Yet another nail in the coffin of Heritage. The only planning TDC do is planning to destroy. I wonder how much the developer had to bung TDC to build these gormless looking sheds.

  5. Ugly, characterless, and devoid of any merit. The architect should have been obliged to have some regard to the fact that this area is prone to flooding, at the very least. How could this get past officers and elected members?

  6. i think some of the above comments cover how the mysteries of planning works around thanet , a large bung is the term that comes to mind. i hope one day all of this is uncovered and the people involved are brought to book. if you do your homework its always the same people behind it.

    • What? The same people like the planning department and committee?
      Goodness. Who’d have thought it.

  7. To be a fly-on-the-wall in the TDC Planning department would be something. All the terrible decisions for Thanet is incredible.
    To bulldoze a lovely historical home and drinking establishment just to get enough space for border to border flats is an appalling planning decision but one that is repeated over and over in Thanet due to the couldn’t care less attitude. We should be looking after the history of Thanet just as much, if not more than all these cramped in developments.
    Another one recent to be bulldozed for even more flats is the early establishment Crown & Sceptre on the Ramsgate Road in Margate. This is insane.

  8. Yes let’s get a judicial review up to look at the faceless wonders in the planning department of TDC who are responsible for this vandalism of Thanet. Not once but time and time again. Perhaps Ms Dawes will have a collection so she can jump up and down to stop developers doing damage, on no I’ve got that wrong she wants many hundreds of houses to be built on Manston Airport.

    • Your suggestion, Ann: you launch the crowd funding for a JR.
      It won’t go anywhere, though. Unlike Manston, the planning process for the Sportsman site was correctly followed.
      As far as I can see, Ms Dawes’ campaign has nothing to do with houses being built at Manston, and all to do with challenging the SoS’s (demonstrably) flawed decision.

    • Better to build housing on brownfield sites than in the countryside. Manston ex-airport would be a good place to build a mixture of homes and workplaces…oh, hang on…

  9. The second Thanet pub to be demolished in Thanet in the last few months to make way for houses that many in Thanet cannot afford to buy or rent.
    The Sportsman, along with the Orb in Margate, were both historically old sites and are a sad loss. They should have both been converted to accommodation at the very least, but not enough profit in that one, was there?!

  10. Pubs usually close because they aren’t making enough profit because not enough people drink in them.
    Do your bit.
    Drink for England!

  11. phyllis quot – when i said the same people are behind it , i meant developers and builders, there was no need to be sarcastic.

    • But why shouldn’t the same developers and builders be “behind” various developments in Kent? If a company has the money to spend, and sites become available?
      I didn’t mean to be sarcastic. I just get weary of some of the unreasoned postings that get on here.

  12. I supped my first legal pint there back in the early 70s it was a typical 2 bar pub, darts and bar billiards in the spit and sawdust bar and the snug with its adjoining childrens room.
    Not enough local people using it plus it lost the passing trade when the bypass opened.
    Im sure though if a good landlord had it they could have built the trade up on good eating people will travel if the food is good.

    • Presumably a “good landlord” could have bought the place when it was on the market. Maybe people looked at it, did the sums, and moved on.

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