Grant of £25k awarded for specialist repair works on Ramsgate’s Pulhamite rocks

Heritage Action Zone. Ramsgate. Madeira Walk rock gardens and cascade,

An award of just under £25,000 has been made to Thanet council to fund specialist works to the Grade II listed Pulhamite rocks at Madeira Walk and Albion Gardens.

The award, made through the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, is a boost the Ramsgate Heritage Action Zone area and is thanks to work carried out by the HAZ programme’s partners, including the Coastal Community Team, the Ramsgate Society, Ramsgate Town Council, Thanet District Council and a dedicated group of volunteers.

A Pulhamite condition survey, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Coastal Community Fund, was undertaken in 2019 to identify the areas most in need of repair. A full planting survey was also carried out to look at the types of plants that should be used to best fit with the original planned landscape, and to ensure sustainability today.

Photo Carole Adams

Repairs are planned at three key sites. The area in most urgent need of repair is near to the Madeira Walk waterfall where the Pulhamite is secured with a steel cable, with a second site on the opposite side of Madeira Walk. The third site is at the Harbour Street end of Madeira Walk where a sycamore tree has caused some damage.

Pulhamite is a patented artificial rock material which was invented by the firm James Pulham and Son to join natural rocks together or to simulate natural stone features. It was an extremely sought after architectural feature during the Victorian era, up until the 1920s and 1930s, and was used extensively in the development of Ramsgate’s seafront at that time.

Ramsgate’s fine collection of Pulhamite can be seen at the Royal Parade, Westcliff Underpass, Madeira Walk and Winterstoke Gardens.

Specialist conservators Taylor Pearce have been commissioned to carry out the repairs, having recently completed works to the facade of the Natural History Museum in Kensington and to the Grade I listed Megalosaurus in Crystal Palace Park.

The repairs will be undertaken in order of priority and works are scheduled to take place between Tuesday, September 1 and Friday, September 17.

Councillor Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Thanet District Council said:“We are delighted to receive funding for repairs and restoration to the Pulhamite in Ramsgate from the Culture Recovery Fund.

“These works are vital to supporting a cherished historic structure, which is used regularly by the local community for walking and relaxation and is a focus for wellbeing and volunteer engagement.

“Preserving and championing our heritage brings people together, creates joy and supports jobs and we are committed to preserving the Pulhamite legacy for generations to come.”

Tom Bardwell, Senior Conservator at Taylor Pearce Restoration, added; “James Pulham & Son have created a lasting legacy of works throughout the UK which exhibits their innovative craftsmanship. The examples at Ramsgate are some of the most significant. It’s a privilege to contribute to the preservation of these unique landscapes for future generations, using both current conservation knowledge and traditional craftsmanship techniques.”

Photo from thanetonline

Gardening volunteer Margarita Moscoso said; “The gardens on the Madeira Walk side are wrapped in Pulhamite which gives the area its very distinctive look, together with a much loved waterfall. The Pulhamite is now showing its age so it is good news that it is going to receive the attention it needs.

“A group of local volunteers has been looking after the gardens since 2018.  During lockdown our volunteer numbers increased as so many people were furloughed and spending more time at home.”