The festoon lights are now down from Margate seafront

Coming down Photo Frank Leppard

The festoon lights installed by the Empire of Light film production team are now down from the seafront.

The lights have been in place while scenes were being filmed for the 1980s-based love story, starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Tom Brooke, Hannah Onslow, Tanya Moodie and Crystal Clarke.

A public plea for the lights to stay in place after filming prompted the Neal Street Production team to gift them to the town but sadly Thanet council said issues with the lights, including a manufacturing fault and the inability to dim them, meant they would not be staying in place.

Removal of the lights began yesterday (May 27) just one day after filming wrapped.

Photo Frank Leppard

However, the tensioned wires that the lights hung from currently remain following a request by Margate Charter Trustees and it is hoped these could be used if replacement lights can be acquired.

Cllr Rob Yates

Ward councillor and deputy mayor Rob Yates said: “I share the frustration with the people of Margate that this situation has not been resolved by Thanet District Council.

“Having spoken to the lighting technicians who maintained the lights it does seem that they had serious maintenance issues, and were not as waterproof as intended. The Margate Charter Trustees are now in discussion with the film company to keep the tensioned wires up, which the lights hang from, which would allow for the infrastructure to remain in place, for a time where sustainable lighting can be acquired.

Photo Frank Leppard

“One thing the public can do to take control of local Margate infrastructure is to sign up for a Margate Town Council, so if you live in one of the seven wards of Margate (Cliftonville East, Cliftonville West, Margate Central, Salmestone, Garlinge, Westbrook and Dane Valley), please sign at “

Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council says its officers, in consultation with the Kent County Council Highways team, conducted an investigation into the likely running costs, ongoing energy and maintenance costs and fees for testing and licensing that would be incurred, should the lights be taken on by Thanet District Council.

A Thanet council statement says: “During the course of the investigation, we were informed by Neal Street Productions that they were experiencing ongoing technical issues with the lights, which had been installed as all-weather equipment, but which were in fact suffering from water ingress during wet weather due to a manufacturing fault.

“On this basis, these lights are not considered to be suitably resilient for long term use in the seafront location, and would not withstand the ongoing impact of the weather that they would inevitably be subjected to.”

Cllr Barry Lewis

County Councillor Barry Lewis said he was “annoyed and frustrated” that Kent County Council had declined to fund the lights.

He said: “They said it was to expensive to maintain, despite investing money in other areas. Once again Margate misses out on KCC funding.”

Photo Frank Leppard

Thanet council says there were additional concerns that the lights could not be dimmed.

A spokesperson said: “The existing lights do not have controls installed to allow them to be timer activated, and cannot easily be dimmed. Currently, the lights are too bright to pass a road safety assessment and add to light pollution in the area, with potential impacts on the environment and biodiversity.”

The replica Dreamland filming set is also now being dismantled.


  1. That was quick, they were still up on Friday afternoon! Goes to show TDC are as tight as a Ducks arse!!

  2. Which only goes to show that between them TDC & KCC couldn’t organise a party in a brewery, even when they had been given free beer.

  3. So no one has heard of Solar Led lights or solar panels at TDC or KCC HQ, although Kent Highways have. Look at the flashing signs when you exceed a 30mph speed limit.
    Q:- How soon will it be before the salt water rusts through the unprotected steel wire. Of course no body has heard of SS plastic coated wire.

  4. The lights were put up for a completely different purpose than seafront illumination, intended only as part of a film set they’d never have been specced for long term use , to be dimmed or have anything but on off switching. The tensioned catenary wires if not marine grade stainless will also be unsuitable for longterm use.
    Whilst it may have been nice to have alternative seafront lighting , it’s not a small undertaking to do properly, just look at the endless failures of the dreamland sign over the years, hopefully when reinstated this time it will prove more reliable than those of the last 20 years.

  5. Haha light pollution. Good old KCC & tdc who gave planning permission for Thanet Earth that can be seen from Herne Bay and space Road safety Problem at 20mph. Fine while filming was happening. What a joke No time switch, put one in? Never heard such a crock of s***ty excuses.

  6. If only a councillor had thought to ring Blackpool for a heads up on their lights. For generations, children and adults alike have been entranced by the spellbinding seafront spectacle which bathes the promenade with more than a million magical bulbs in a shimmering sea of light. The greatest free light show on earth has been a major part of Blackpool’s attraction scene since 1879 when they were described as ‘artificial sunshine’.
    You could describe Thanet Earth’s 24 hour lighting as massively adding to light pollution in the area, with potential impacts on the environment and biodiversity. Any views Councillor ?

  7. They were nice while they lasted, The lights could have been left up for the Queens platinum jubilee celebrations and as welcome to the many visitors over the jubilee bank holidays.

    While many parts of the uk are lighting beacons, doing light shows as part of the jubilee celebrations. Tdc pulls the plug.

  8. For once I agree with TDC. Maintenance nightmare, high energy consumption as they are not LED bulbs. Costs will fall on the taxpayer to keep them working.

  9. I honestly think that they could have at least been left up for the summer season regardless of all the reasons being stated by TDC. The lights looked great whilst they lasted. Surely its not beyond the wit of man to invest in some low energy, low maintenance lighting for the future? We are supposed to be a welcoming seaside resort after all??

    • Agree. I never understood why they took the light away the lights in the first place Margate and Cliftonville looked great all the time. I use to collect the money on a raffle in Arthur Road for their lights. Bring back the good old days get rid of TDC go back to a Bourgh Council!.

  10. TDC didn’t remove them, the film company did. Read the article in full Peter. Please keep up.

  11. Hope they recycle the lights … save the planet .. at least less light pollution now a confused ! A small victory … yay

  12. TDC so light pollution was a concern.

    What action will TDC be taking our thanet earth light pollution or do they grease the palms allegedly

  13. Oh here come the experts and the “run down the council” at any opportunity!

    How about you all pay towards them if you want to keep them?

    How about council tax going up higher to pay for these lights??

    Maybe the film company said they could stay so it saved them taking them down!

    As it’s been stated, they are not fit for purpose. They are a film prop. Not everything given to you is FREE!

    How about all these experts moaning about everything wrong with the council or Thanet in general get off your backsides and run to be a councillor and make a difference that way!

    No one will because you’re all Keyboard Warriors!

    • Not hard to run down tdc nonmotivated and uninterested workers. Sadly our council has always been backwards thinking

      • Exactly Noddy.

        Those who state that people should stand as cllrs themselves if disatisfied are being totally ridiculous of course. We are PAYING for TDC’s services, therefore, we have every right to criticise (I’m a writer, and if someone buys one of my books and dislike it, they have every right to do so – I don’t turn around and tell them to become writers themselves! In fact I’ve learnt a lot by constructive criticism and polite suggestions).

        • Let’s get facts right …..You’re an amateur writer , so stop your constant and perpetual self promotion and get your over inflated ego back in check .
          Btw. I notice that you forgot to mention that you haven’t always lived in Thanet
          Why let the facts get in the way of a good story, eh Peter ! Lol

  14. Typical Thanet Council, they get gifted something for the whole of the community and they think they can just get rid of them.

  15. TDC are a useless bunch .. they have a very low skill set and I’ve said before would never get a job in the real world .. we have to live with what we’ve been given .. which is not much .. they show little empathy and use No as a default answer because they have no expertise in anything apart from answering the phone…

  16. Peter checksfield ,could please state in which town or city you live so everyone can take the fun out of your home town ,you obviously hate margate

  17. The lights would have been a nice seafront attraction for Margate. Obviously TDC don’t want to do anything that’s good and attracts visitors to bring in revenue. The excuses given are rubbish.

  18. What has happened to the £40.000 worth of decorative lighting that was purchased by the then mayor cllr Thomlinson on behalf of the Charter Trustees approximately 8 years ago and has never been installed? It included enough festoon lighting to go from the Neyland Rock to the harbour. Is it still in boxes in the attic of the mayor’s parlour? I sometimes despair!!!

  19. Having sat here and read all the remarks Re:- Margate lighting – It would appear Margate Council must be one of the most disliked in the Country – We originate from North London – Our Local Resort was Southend! They had a beautiful shopping centre, a busy Airport – A famous Pier a fabulous “Front” with plenty of food Pubs & Amusements with adequate car parking !! BUT -Following our Honeymoon in Cliftonville we moved to KENT!! After sixty years we still do not know why!! Southend is still streets in front of THANET and it will NEVER catch up !! The fault lies squarely with THANET COUNCIL ! Margate & Ramsgate Killed off by lack of or expensive Parking forcing you to the badly designed Open Wind Tunnel Westwood !!

  20. As somebody who grew up in Thanet and has happy memories of the area it It’s sad to see the same discussions we have had over the last 40 years or more. It seems the opportunities to do something for Thanet has been missed time and time again. I look at Margate and Cliftonville now and feel great sadness. I can remember how vibrant it was. My father used to appear at the Lido Theatre (now demolished) and the Golden Garter at the Lido (now boarded up). There does not seem to have been any vision shown by TDC or previous councils to continually improve Margate to keep up with the changing world. It just seems to have been left to decay. Yes we have the Turner centre but that was not due to any grand master plan by TDC nor was Dreamland. I really don’t know what can be done but the lights fiasco seems another sign of a lack of willing to do anything good.

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