The team behind a project to create a community arts club at the Granville Bars have launched a fundraising appeal.
Heritage Lab CIC hopes to raise £25,000 from public donations which will be matched pound for pound by the Architectural Heritage Fund.
The aim is to create refurbished spaces at the ‘Pugin Studios’ site for exhibitions, community events, shared working and conferences. Currently unused and in a state of disrepair, the building forms part of the Historic England at Risk Conservation area and part of Ramsgate’s Heritage Action Zone.
The original hotel bedrooms at the property have long been converted for private residential use and do not form part of the project.
Heritage Lab had agreed to buy the 999-year leasehold to the seafront Granville Bars in 2019 but the COVID crisis thwarted their attempts to secure the necessary funding.
However, work was resumed after being granted £300,000 from the Government’s Community Ownership Fund in May. This was followed by a grant of £77,300 from the Architectural Heritage Fund in August.
Heritage Lab says it now needs the public’s help to get its flagship project open for next year.
The venue in Victoria Parade has been closed for 30 years. Heritage Lab says the project will reopen the former ballroom, bar and restaurant for uses such as hospitality, exhibitions, performances, interpretation space, community events and conferences. The lower ground floor will be for studios and co-working spaces for professional artists. The scheme is predicted to create 100 jobs and apprenticeships.
The former hotel building forms part of the Historic England at Risk Conservation area and Ramsgate’s Heritage Action Zone. The Grade II listed property was built in 1867 by EW Pugin and was previously the country’s premier health spa hotel, serviced by its own private train.
Regularly visited by princes and princesses, grand dukes, lords and ladies, writers, actors and the rich and famous from all over Europe, the Granville Hotel guest list represented a “who’s who” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
With 26 spas and baths, a marble skating ring, theatre, and ballroom, it was the premier destination of its day, with guests arriving on the privately chartered first class ‘Granville Express’ train from London.
It was commandeered as a military hospital for the Canadian Government in the first World War, and medical officers who served there include the first Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross and a future Nobel laureate.
Later in the 20th century it was more widely known as a ballroom dancing venue and the Cave jazz club. Its public bar closed for the final time in 1991.
Matthew Mckeague, CEO of the Architectural Heritage Fund, said: “AHF is very glad to be offering match funding for Heritage Lab’s Pugin Studios crowdfunding campaign. We hope that this funding, along with the generous support of the public, will help Heritage Lab to fulfill their vision of reopening The Granville as a thriving community and arts hub.”
Rob Kenyon, CEO & Founder, Heritage Lab, CIC, added: “We are delighted about the ongoing generous support of the Architectural Heritage Fund. The more we raise from this crowd funding campaign, the less we will need to borrow and the cheaper space will be for artists and the community.”