Green light for Ramsgate Arts Barge permanent mooring – and barge directors to host Big Draw Festival event

Idea for the Ramsgate Arts Barge (Image: del Renzio & del Renzio)

Ramsgate Arts Barge will be hosting an art event on Saturday (October 30) as part of the world-wide Big Draw Festival.

The Ramsgate event will take place on Ramsgate Main Sands, by the East Pier wall, from 2pm to 4pm.

‘The Big Draw Festival’ is the world’s biggest drawing festival and has encouraged some four million people back to the drawing board since 2000. It has notched up two world records – for the longest drawing in the world (one kilometre) and the greatest number of people drawing simultaneously (over 7,000).

The first ‘Big Draw Festival’ was held in 2000 and attracted 180 partner organisations. Since then, the number has risen to more than 1,000, with over 500,000 people participating each year.

The festival is made up of thousands of creative events, activities and workshops across the globe hosted by arts organisations across the globe.

Ramsgate Arts Barge CIC, headed up by directors and town residents Kevin O’Connor and Natasha De Samarkandi, says the town’s event will focus on participants drawing their message with chalk along the Ramsgate Main Sands East Pier Wall, and sharing how they would like to #MakeTheChange in our seas for a cleaner and safer world.

The event will come on the heels of a demonstration against Southern Water pumping station discharges and combined sewer outfalls. That demo, organised by Ramsgate swimmers and residents, takes place at the Western Undercliff from noon-1pm the same day.

Planning permission has just been granted by Thanet council for the 130-year-old barge to have a permanent mooring in Ramsgate Royal Harbour, with the vessel to be used for mixed use including exhibition, event, performance and community space, artist studios, bar and kitchen and a top deck garden seated area.

There will also be a private gangway which will attach from the harbour wall to the top deck of the Ramsgate Arts Barge for entry/exit.

The plan is for the exterior of the hull to be painted in a ‘Dazzle Camouflage’ pattern to make the boat hard to distinguish. The current proposal  is for a black and  white version but other coloured  patterns could be used.

Ideas for the Ramsgate Arts Barge (Image: del Renzio & del

Planning documents say company profits will be used to help disadvantaged children (2-16 years of age) living in the district through complimentary multidisciplinary arts classes, courses, workshops and programmes.

Directors Kevin and Natasha say they will be working with the EKC Group to provide learning opportunities throughout the project and creating valuable ‘hands on’ work experience for students.

They say it will also provide complimentary community studio hire to schools, colleges, charities and not-for-profit organisations within Thanet.

Ten full-time jobs, and a number of part-time posts, are also promised.

The Ramsgate Arts Barge Photo Mark Stanford

The Vriedschap – meaning friendship in Dutch – is a 50-metre, 200-tonne, former cargo barge which spent 80 years working the waterways across Holland by three generations of the Van der Veen family, before arriving in the UK in the early 1990s to be used residentially.

It was denied mooring in Barking, where the plan was to convert her into a community centre, and faced the possibility of being scrapped by the Port of London Authority (PLA).

The vessel then made its journey to Ramsgate.

Ramsgate Arts Barge CIC was formed in 2020.


  1. why dont they get some of the millions that has allocated , and tow it out to sea and sink the rusting wreck – thats probably where it was going anyway before some mug bought ti.

  2. Cheery soul aren’t you, realist. Feel free to insult anything and anyone that doesn’t accord with your tiny picture. I’m sure you’d have a happier life if you looked positively on things, and maybe even supported Ramsgate and its multitude of different projects whether they meant something to you or not.

  3. After some extended tlc it will be an asset and think about the mooring fees tdc can charge.
    Mooring fees are important for tdc, the long term resident jack up barge has been sold to Red7Marine (facebook video) and may be leaving ramsgate.


  4. As a measure of the enthusiasm for which the folk in Ramsgate have taken this project to heart, consider:

    Arts barge crowdfunding to date: £14,500
    Manston JR crowdfunding to date:£110,000

    You may make your own conclusions.

  5. Got rid of little ships and pt boat. Replaced with ugly barge that will do nothing for town or harbour. Priorities all wrong with this council

  6. i totally agree with the above posting , i also wonder what the upkeep would be on a static iron shipwreck ? who will cover that , and also for the experts – how will they maintain it below the watermark ?

    • Hopefully the plan will include putting it up on the slipway for sand blasting and painting and installing some chunky anodes or the electrics in the marine will waste the hull in quick time.

  7. mind you i suppose it will have a companion with the cervia – the rusty old tug that no one visits or talks about ?

  8. Is there a time limit by when the project has to be finished in order for it to stay there? Why not moor it somewhere less eyesore until then?

    I’d feel more supportive if there was some actual progress. Fundraising looks small, and this may indicate lack of support.

    Is this a pet project waiting for a grant?

  9. I don’t really care much about the boat but do care that it’s horrific ‘dazzle’ pattern will be quite out of keeping with our historic Royal harbour. Why does it have to look like that? Is it to satisfy some ‘arty’ thing? I’m also surprised the planning dept was ok with it after they objected so strongly to the seaside pale blue and white striped scheme on a house in London Road. They rejected that out of hand.

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