Margate Winter Gardens seating transferred to new home at Granville Theatre in Ramsgate

The Winter Garden seating has a new home at the Granville in Ramsgate

Ownership of 700 collapsible chairs from the Winter Gardens, Margate has been transferred to the Granville Cinema in Ramsgate.

Thanet council agreed the sale of the seating to the Granville owners, saying: “As the building is vacant, the chairs would be vulnerable to further deterioration due to damp and moisture exposure, as well as being a potential fire risk, and further damage during future restoration works.”

Photo Frank Leppard

The Winter Gardens was closed in August and the building secured shortly afterwards. Some £300,000 has been allocated from the £22.2million Margate Town Deal fund to pay for an appraisal study of the venue for its future use.

The new owners of the Granville are Westwood One Ltd, which also operates Under 1 Roof Thanet in Pysons Road and Under 1 Roof Canterbury.

Zahra, Parisa and Matt

The company is headed up by Ramsgate sisters Zahra and Parisa Tarjomani and Pyramid Martial Arts & Just Kids Parties owner Matt Milchard.

The plans for the building are to bring it back into use as a theatre and cinema with café and community arts space.

The trio are proposing to return the building to one auditorium – as was the case in the 1940s – with  a 600+ seater capacity, full regeneration of the theatre space, a sea view café and bar, exhibition space, co-working space, workshop and education space. The seating has been bought for use in the auditorium space. It is hoped the site will reopen in April.

Inside the Granville before the sale

Zahra said: “Works have begun on renovating the space and we are delighted that we are now in possession of a number of chairs that were previously used in the Margate Winter Gardens.

“The Winter Gardens is currently closed and unable to provide performance opportunities, so rather than the chairs being left to rot in an empty theatre, we have very gladly accepted the chance to re-use them in our new auditorium.

“We are so pleased that we get to recycle these amazing seats that we all have such fond memories of and make good use of them for the people of Thanet and our local performing arts groups.

“We are extremely grateful to the council, which also believes the seats are best served in a used space rather than left to deteriorate in a temporarily closed venue. Should anyone have any memorandum plaques on any of the chairs in our possession, we would like to also offer the opportunity for these to remain on the chairs so that the memory of your loved ones can continue in an operational theatre. Should anyone wish to retrieve their plaque however, please do email us and we will arrange returning this.”

Cllr Rob Yates

Labour councillor Rob Yates, who had raised a question about seats but at the Theatre Royal during a meeting in September, says he is confident the seats are in ‘good hands.’

He said: “Thanet residents have been asking for months where the Winter Gardens chairs (and the memorial plaques on them) have been going.

“A month and a half after the decision was taken it’s good to see transparency around these assets.

“Having spoken to the new Granville Theatre operators I’m confident that they’ll be in good hands and I think I speak for the community in wishing them luck in getting that venue back open.”

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40 Comments

  1. Is that £300,000 being allocated to buy chairs to replace those given to the Granville? No, of course not. The theatre is dead because the Council wants it that way. Roll on the May 2023 elections.

    If you stop heating the Winter Gardens then of course everything will rot and the only course will be to sell it off for redevelopment as flats.

    • Hopefully temporary, they are so uncomfortable, I would not want to sit watching a film for 2 hours or so on one of them. We recently went to a private cinema in Melton Mowbray and the seating was fantastic, you had standard, luxury and settee seating with your own ice buckets (should you buy bottle of wine), it was the best cinema experience we have ever had. I am dreading the Granville being a cheap skate project, although I am extremely happy that someone is keeping it open, as I was brought up on Wellington Crescent and saw my first film at the Granville. I wish them the best, but please don’t scrimp on the important things.

  2. £300,000 to the Winter Gardens and £500,000 to the group GRASS, both from the Margate Town Deal funding.
    Unbelieveable!

    • Hasn’t the winter gardens been offered to anyone that wants it to continue as it is once was ,? Or have the crook Council already offered it to the apartment builders . We all know what’s going to happen.

  3. so its going a little bit at a time then , perhaps they think we wont notice ? did you know the beatles once played there yaaaaaaaaaaaaawn

  4. I honestly think too that the council has plans for the Winter Gardens, It won’t reopen sadly, probably be expensive apartments. Hopefully The Theatre Royal will reopen and The Granville Theatre plans look good too.
    We’ve lost soo many things in Thanet over the the years , it’s very sad .

  5. What a meaningless comment from the councilor I can’t see what transparency there is yes we know the seats have been sold could we have details of what the intentions are for the winter gardens.

    Perhaps this Rob Yates bloke could consider, all any of us really know about the situation with Margate winter gardens is that the council have no clue what they’re going to do with it and are so lacking that the best that that can do is commission a report costing many thousands of pounds.

    Still what is transparent I guess is that local politicians have absolutely no policies no idea no ambition.

    Each and every local councillor ought to hang their heads in shame where is the passion or leadership.

  6. Meaningless comment indeed – the seats are ‘in good hands’! TDC might as well sell every last brick of the Winter Gardens to jolly nice people who’ll take care of them, that would result in considerable ‘transparency’ i.e. a completely vacant site ripe for the usual characterless, privately owned redevelopment.

  7. Will the Winter Gardens site be developed after being left to rot?
    Luxury flats for the rich Londoner that wants to be close to the magical ‘Turner Gallery’ or …..
    Made into much needed social housing for locals?
    Think we all know that answer 🙁

      • There needs to be some joined up thinking, with Theatre Royal and Wintergardens Closed, Dreamland with a very uncertain future ( the sell off at auction of the lighting and sound equipment etc hardly bodes well, for a busy season next year) not least is there going to be a new buyer and if not what the existing owners intentions.
        Thanet risks ending up very little in the way of theatre/ entertainement space, whilst at the same time leaving the council open to ever more desparate deals and convenient compriimises in an attempt to retain something.
        As ever it all looks a bit FUBAR
        Plus of course the debacle around Hartsdown pool, the westbrook beach building, motorhouse museum.

        • There is no joined up thinking at TDC – the politicians are content with silly games and their own interests, the officers (cosy working at home) don’t care.
          Can’t see that the new chief executive has made much difference.

  8. I trust the correct market price was paid and that funds raised will go towards the winter gardens funding or am I in fantasy land

  9. The £300,000 would be better spent on repairs to the winter gardens and then the chairs wouldn’t have got damp.
    The other thing is how is a pile of damp chairs a fire risk or are they going to go up in smoke when the ghost of JG strikes again?

  10. So selling the contents and fittings off already before any survey is taken.
    This is the end of the Winter Gardens as we know it. If they have £300,000 to do the survey then why didn’t they apply for a grant to do it up? This stinks like all the historical assets in Thanet sold off or left to rot. They had an agenda before shutting it down but are never transparent or honest with residents concerned about losing our heritage. In other areas they look after heritage and make sure maintenance is always there.

  11. If Rob Yates ever had any fire in his belly, it’s well and truly extinguished. Young labour councillor … some might expect him to be on our side i.e. fighting for the residents of Margate. Haha, this is the face of Labour hungry for power at national level, seeing it as a possibility at last. Time therefore to compromise, to act tactically, to manipulate the public more than ever in the belief that the sunlit uplands of a Labour government are just around the corner. But everyone who has posted on here, generally with considerable restraint, sees the sale of the seats for exactly what it is thereby making him look incredibly naive at best, manipulative at worst.
    I’m more angry with him than with any of ’em … he had the chance to call a spade a spade on our behalf and he blew it.

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