Relaunch of Margate’s oldest (probably) pub – The Northern Belle

Neville and Lee have invested in the Northern Belle to bring it back as a pub

The Northern Belle has gone back to its roots as a pub after a short spell in use as a Cambodian kitchen, which shut in October last year.

It had been run by landlords Ray and Sharon Summers for some five years before they handed the keys back to brewer Shepherd Neame in April 2021. The couple now run The Princess of Wales in Tivoli Road.

Now the Northern Belle, which is thought to be Margate’s oldest pub dating from 1680, is back thanks to investment from Neville and his partner Lee,  who have been in Thanet since 2014 and have both been coming to Margate since they were children.

Neville said: “Me and Lee came to Ramsgate in 2014 and had a little holiday home. A few years later we moved there permanently as we love it down here. We’ve been in Margate since 2020 and it’s a great little community!”

(Image Northern Belle on instagram)

Neville and Lee, who are involved in project management and property management in Kent and London, have invested in the building with some friends, to reopen the pub, upstairs accommodation and kitchen area. They also previously completed a project on a conservation building in Ramsgate High Street, transforming the derelict building that had been empty for more than 15 years and brought back all the original features.

Neville said: “We have spent four months renovating the Northern Belle bar and four upstairs bedrooms. We have brought the bar back to life and kept the original features and are quite proud of it. We thought the mural on the outside was great too and fits the local streets. This was done by our friend @thisisaliceskinner.

“We are thinking about having live music and karaoke, trying different things to see what works. We are also thinking about renting the space out for pop up bars with a theme. The pub will also be available for private hire, with or without the bedrooms upstairs.

“We’d like it to be an important place in the Margate community. After our trial openings on Soul Fest weekend, and Margate Pride, it definitely feels like people would like the pub to be open again.”

Photo Jonathon Turner

The Northern Belle is open now but the official relaunch takes place on September 15, at 6.30pm with singer Karl Dawson providing music for the evening from 8.30pm.

The bar team includes former 5 Star SOS Filthy House co-presenter Jonathon Turner and the Penny Leitch, who worked at the pub under its previous ownership.

The Northern Belle is at 4 Mansion Street, Margate. Current opening hours are Tues-Weds 3pm-9pm, Thursday 2pm-11pm, Friday and Saturday noon-midnight and Sunday 2pm-11pm.

Rescue of the crew of the Northern Belle from the Illustrated Times

The Northern Belle is thought to be the oldest standing pub in Margate and the bar area and building incorporates timber from the wreck of the American Merchant Ship that it takes its name from.

It came about through combining two fishermen’s cottages, built about 1680, which stood right on the water’s edge, and was known as the Waterman’s Arms and, before that, the Aurora Borealis.

Its current name comes from the ship which ran aground off North Foreland in 1857. It is said that as the crew were put up at the venue (then closed) the management decided to reopen the pub with its topical name.

To contact the team at Northern Belle:

Instagram: @northernbellemargate


Thanet history with Martin Charlton: The Wreck of the Northern Belle, 1857


  1. My My, a pub in Thanet dating Back to the 1680’s that hasn’t been’ re arranged ” for housing. I wish them good luck, but please check the insurance policy.

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