Thanet council faces repair bill due to vandalism and fire damage at listed Nayland shelter

Fire damage at the Nayland shelter Photo Peter Hasted

Thanet council is facing a large repair bill due to damage from fire and vandalism at the  Nayland shelter, best known as the site where poet T S Eliot wrote part of The Waste Land.

The shelter is being used by around four people understood to be sleeping rough, although only one of the group is confirmed as receiving help from the council’s homelessness team RISE.

Photo John Horton

The structure has suffered damage from bonfires, seating set alight and ripped out arm rests. There have also be complaints of antisocial behaviour.

One angry resident, who asked not to be named, said: “It’ll end up being burned down, wrecked and totally destroyed never to be rebuilt. Why have the authorities permitted people to encamp there and cause such wilful damage to an artifact of the town?

“Those responsible should be made to do community service to repair it and learn a new skill in woodwork at the same time.”

The Nayland Rock Shelter, how it should look, Photo TDC

The shelter on Marine Terrace is grade II listed as a ‘good’ and ‘large’ example of a late-Victorian/Edwardian seaside structure and for its special literary association with TS Eliot and  ‘The Waste Land’ poem which was published in 1922. It was constructed in 1900 and restored in 1998, although the first shelter was recorded at the site between 1872 and 1896.

Photo John Horton

A Thanet council spokesperson said: “The council is aware of the situation at the listed Nayland Rock shelter, which recently sustained damage. The shelter will require repairs to make it safe. A notice has been put up at the site to advise caution ahead of the work being completed.

Photo Peter Hasted (flowers planted by Wildernesses to Wonderland)

“Our RISE team is working with an individual who has been staying in the shelter, to find suitable accommodation and to provide multi-agency support. The repair works will start when the individual is in alternative accommodation.”


The most recent rough sleeper count recorded 11 people on the streets and 45 people receiving assistance from the RISE homelessness team. Some 199 households are in temporary accommodation.

Thanet council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year. The council is landlord of 3034 properties but demand outstrips supply.

The Thanet Shelter, which provides accommodation and services for people who have been sleeping rough, had been based in the  Broadstairs English Centre property but had to move out at the end of last month so the language school could move back in.

The scheme has been based at the language school since November 2020 when the covid pandemic meant Public Health guidance restricting shared sleeping spaces ruled out the former method of using different churches in the district.

The language school was also hit by the pandemic with overseas students unable to travel to the UK for courses.

Since then the Shelter has been a 24/7 support hub rather than services only being offered between November and March.

The centre, which has 10 dormitories at its St Peters Park Road base, was leased to Thanet council but this agreement ended on February 28. Thanet council is looking for an alternative property.

Get advice

Shelter England

Citizens Advice

Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277

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