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.