Your views wanted on night time economy and future options for Margate Winter Gardens

Margate Winter Gardens Photo Mike Nichols

Since bookings were paused at the Winter Gardens last Summer, Thanet council has completed structural survey work and searches and studies needed to help make decisions about the venue’s future.

Consultants Counterculture have also been appointed to help deliver a night time economy review and strategy for the district, and explore options for the future of the Winter Gardens.

As part of that review local businesses, community organisations and residents are being asked to share their views on Thanet’s night time economy.

A series of in person sessions for members of the public and local businesses are being held.

For members of the public:

Margate – Wednesday 26 April, 10am to 12pm, at Thanet Gateway Plus, Cecil Street, Margate

Wednesday 26 April, 5pm to 7pm at Selina, 21-27 Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville

Broadstairs – Wednesday 26 April 2pm to 4pm at Queens Road Baptist Church, Queens Road, Broadstairs

Ramsgate – Thursday 27 April 10am to 12pm at Discovery Planet, 47 High Street, Ramsgate

For businesses:

Margate – Wednesday 26 April 5pm to 7pm and Thursday 27 April 2pm-4pm at Selina, 21-27 Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville

Broadstairs – Thursday 27 April 2pm to 4pm at Royal Albion Hotel, 6-12 Albion Street Broadstairs

Ramsgate – Thursday 27 April 2pm to 4pm at Travellers in Italy, 52 Harbour Parade, Ramsgate

All options for either lease arrangements, operator agreement or sale for Margate Winter Gardens are being kept open.

At a Cabinet members meeting in March a proposal to take the first steps to appoint a specialist to launch a marketing campaign was agreed.

A report to councillors said an immediate cost of £2.5m is needed for structural , building and mechanical and electrical works with a further £3.5m estimated over the next 10 years and total costs estimated at £6.25m.

The detailed marketing pack will be aimed at securing an organisation to refurbish, improve, maintain and operate the venue for uses that could include a concert hall, theatre, event spaces or leisure and tourism uses.

The Grade II listed building hosted its last performance on August 7 last year during the Margate Soul Festival before the lease was returned to Thanet council and the doors were shut in readiness for an appraisal report on the venue and its future uses.

Some £300,000 has been allocated from the £22.2million Margate Town Deal fund for the appraisal work.

The council has so far spent or committed £97,635 of the £300,000 funding, completing survey work and estimates that a further £90,000 will be required for marketing activity, leaving £112,000 for further legal costs and any other requirements

Currently, the site is boarded up with security measures including screening and fencing in place on and around the building.


  1. Yes give it a makeover and reopen it-Dont let the council have silly ideas about converting it in to flats or knocked down for flats.

  2. This £6.25 M, is grossly ‘over-estimated’ (as with Margate’s Old Town Hall estimates).
    Possibly/Probably, could be done for half that figure (using ‘common sense’ instead of bulls**t!)
    My opinion only…

    • Really? They spent 2 million just upgrading the turner centre and that was only about 10 years old at the time , went in there and hard to see where the money went, the door mat is stuck down with gaffa tape and the plastic panels by the stair handrails are still brocken and patched up with sellotape.
      Wintergardens would be a 10 million plus project to do properly and that would’nt include the running costs. 6 million would only bodge it and leave it needing another complete rebuild at the end of the 10 years.

  3. Thanet’s Winter Gardens should have been kept open. It attracted much needed trade into the town, plus it always made money.
    It doesn’t take rocket science to relise that, closing good attractions kills the town.

    • I imagine that the reason that it closed was that it *wasn’t* making money. Even a completely bonkers council would hesitate to shut down a source of revenue.
      More likely it closed because it was hemorrhaging away cash.

  4. Stop wasting precious time and re-open the venue and generate much needed income for the whole area. I often visited shows at the Winter Gardens when living in Rochester.
    Can’t wait for venue to come alive again.

  5. Thanet Council hates theatres,with a vengence,and rather see them closed or sold off,If it was possible they would love to get rid of, the seafront areas ,around Thanet ,as, it ,costs money for upkeep of them.Or they would love o charge a fee ,to use ,the ,beaches ,I believe ,in the past ,they have looked at ,the charging option for the beaches

    • They can’t charge for the beaches, because (generally speaking) the but between low and high water is Crown Estate.

      • Yes I know that ,but they thought ,about changing a fee to enter the beach ,which they can/could, but after thinking about how to go about it and the loss of trade ,they changed their minds ,I think this was in the late 70s early 80s, so a good few years ago now if I am correct

      • The foreshore (the bit between low and high water) for Ramsgate main sands and the artificial beach (western undercliff) belong to Thanet District Council. Ramsgate Council acquired this when they took over the Harbour from the Board of Trade. I presume the harbour trustees (who ran the harbour before the board of trade) were granted the foreshore here and parts of the sea bed to enable them to build the harbour.

      • Because they keep trying to close them down ,no maintenance of up keep ,are they open now ,NO!!!!!

        • Why would TDC hate theatres so much that “they keep trying to close them down”? And is that actually what they are trying to do? Perhaps one or more of the TDC counsellors would like to put us straight about this.

  6. Convert it into an art gallery and community hub. Then park a rusting and filthy old bus outside, and put an over-priced cafe in it.

  7. If that bar at the same level as the promenade had been opened commercially. It would have made money.

  8. I would love to see it re-opened, but in reality the truth is, Margate, and Thanet, is not a tourist destination now. So to be honest it is much cheaper, as a family, to travel abroad for your holidays, whereas in the 70/80S people were more likely to stay in the U.K for holidays, and big named artists would be booked for such venues as the Winter Gardens. Alas, I, in all honesty, cannot see those days returning. I know it doesn’t solve the problem as to what happens to the venue, but, are there enough opportunities for it to remain viable ?

  9. Does anyone out there know the capacity of the Winter Gardens compared to Dreamland. I can only guess Dreamland is bigger? If not, couldn’t it be used for the acts that seem to be coming this season? Obviously not for the next couple of years as it needs major renovation. Anyone who worked or performed there will remember having to dodge bits of falling masonry!

    • Winter Gardens was 2,200 in Main Hall, plus 600 in Queen’s Hall.
      Dreamland Ballroom is 1,200, but the outside area is much bigger, 15,000, I think.

  10. I would like to see a development to include a good quality hotel, a seaside bar and a 2k capacity standing/1500 seating venue incorporated.
    Its a big bit of land there, and if its means knocking it all down to get a modern multi purpose venue and hotel, then so be it. Given that it often sold out on 1500 seat performances, plus the local events, pantomines, weddings, beer festival etc etc someone should be able to get a return on that — if a hotel can abe added even better.

    • I agree, not so much the hotel, don’t think people want to stay but definitely covered multi purpose venue as you said.
      Don’t know who would prefer to stand in the rain. The area on the prom should be levelled and turned into good quality eating venue. Just need some very wealthy philanthropist please.

  11. In answer to previous questions , Margate Winter Gardens had a seating capacity of 1400 , standing concert capacity of 1900 and cabaret show seating capacity of 1200 .
    I’m assuming that if/ when it reopens again that new seats will need to be bought after Granville theatre have got the WG seats on loan …. ?

  12. Until a later bus service from Margate to Canterbury is started, as the 2230 last bus from Margate is way too early and affects the night time economy. Taxi’s are at a sparse, premium and way too expensive.

    • Agreed. It’s impossible to get a bus/train even to Westgate & Birchington after 10:30pm, yet it is possible to get home from Herne Bay neyond midnight.

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