More Train Information

More Railway information has been added to the website. A track of the old South Eastern Railway's line has been added to Google Earth including a detailed plan of the Town Station in 1872 and a plan of the Margate Station of 1896. Also now shown is the acurate location of St Lawrence loop.

The London, Chatham and Dover Railway line is also show together with a plan of their Margate Station in 1896, and their Ramsgate Harbour Station in 1872.

In 1926 Southern Railway amalgamated and joined these two rival routes at the same time as building a new Ramsgate Station, a plan of which which is also shown.

The track of Manston Military Railway is shown as is the Isle of Thanet Light Railway Tram network and plan of their main depot at St Peters.

The station plans and tracks are acurately located over current satellite images and can be made transparent to see exactly where they were located.

The Google Earth files can be found at:

Interactive Ramsgate

For those that have Google Earth installed, I've created image overlays using old maps of Ramsgate. These are particularly useful when used in conjuction with Google Earth's built in opacity slider which allows you to see Googles imagery through the map. These are surprisingly accurate and provide excellent research tools.

Currently available are:
1735 Plan of Ramsgate (not very accurate but gives a good idea of how the town was)
1822 Collard & Hurst map
1882 Ordnance Survey
1919 Richborough Port plan
Liberty Boundary track
South Eastern, London Chatham & Dover and Southern Railway lines

The link takes you to a kmz file which should automatically start your Google Earth. When prompted follow on screen instructions to open the file. Locate the "Interactive Ramsgate" file in the Temporary Places window and expand it by clicking on the small + sign. Tick the box next to the item you want to view and wait for it to load (be patient, some are quite big files). When ready you can adjust the opacity of the map by using the slider bar just below the Places window (make sure you still have the map highlighted in the Places window). Click on the object's title in the Places window to see information on the object selected. With the tracks you can "fly" the route by highlighting it and clicking on the play tour icon below the Places window.

Central Government Policies Protect Our Heritage

As I understand it the Heritage Policies of the now expired Local Plan definately no longer apply. Until a new Local Development Framework is in force the only guidance now comes from the Communities and Local Government section of central government, and in particular Planning Policy Statement 5: "Planning for the Historic Environment" which can be found HERE.

Having had a quick look at this it appears far less specific in its policies and doesn't appear to offer anywhere near as much protection as the now expired Local Plan. The period for submitting comments relating to the slipway development ends next week.

Local Plan no longer protects our Heritage?

Whilst researching my response to the application for Listed Building Consent at the Ramsgate Harbour slipways, I’ve realised that the heritage aspect of this site may not have the protection I thought. As part of the transitional arrangements from the old Local Plan to a new Local Development Framework (LDF), the Local Plan expired on 17th June 2009 and only those policies that have been saved by the Secretary of State's direction will continue to be part of TDC’s Development Plan.

The policies relating to Heritage that HAVE NOT BEEN SAVED include the following:


The Local Plan (as amended) can be read here:

It appears the ability of the Council to consider this application from a Heritage point of view has become extremely limited as a result of deleting these policies. If this is the case, this will not have been lost on the developers and other interested parties, which in my opinion makes it even more imperative to have your say. To voice your opinion, go to the UK Planning website at and then select Search Applications from the left hand menu. When the new screen appears enter 10/0736 as the Application Number. You will then be given the chance to comment from the Summary section.

Plans to Enhance or Degrade our Royal Harbour

Thanet District Council has received a planning application for a restaurant complex to be built between the Clock House and Slipways at Ramsgate Harbour, and close to the Royal Victoria Pavilion. The Clock House is a Grade II* Listed building and I understand the slipways have some form of protection, although I can’t find them on the online register. I would urge you to take a look at these plans and have your say through the UK Planning website or any other effective means. This is a development at the heart of Ramsgate which will either greatly enhance or degrade one of our most important assets.
Links to the application and more info. can be found HERE

Engravings and Stylised Photos of Ramsgate

A couple of small albums have been added to the website. The first shows 30 views of Ramsgate published by Rock & Co. of London around 1870. Click HERE to view.

The second album is by Charles, Reynolds & Co., of London. The views are in a hard back album with fold out leaves. Click HERE to view the album.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

Report on State of Works at Ramsgate Harbour by Sir William Cubitt 1856

In 1853 Sir William Cubitt prepared an estimate for structural repairs to Ramsgate Harbour. In May 1855 Sir William was instructed by the Board of Trade to prepare a further report on the state of these works. This 6 page report details the state of works, reasons for cost overrun, progress made and expected future costs. Click HERE to read it.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

Report on the Royal Harbour of Ramsgate 1869

A report on the Ramsgate's Royal Harbour has been added to the website. The report was made to The Board of Trade by Captain Tyler, R.E., Captain W.H. Walker, and H.R. Williams, Esq. on the 5th June 1869

This fascinating document is in 24 pages and details a complete picture of the harbour at that time, including a brief history, condition and workings of the harbour, buildings & equipment, staff responsibilities, rates of pay, living accomodation, income, expenditure, schedule of rates, dues and charges levied, recommendations for cost improvements etc. etc. This is one of the most fascinating documents I have read on Ramsgate. Click HERE to read it.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

Royal Masonic Institution for Girls

Does anyone know of a Ramsgate significance for the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls? This 1930 Steward's badge is believed to have belonged to someone who lived and worked in Ramsgate.
For more of old Ramsgate visit

Ramsgate Sprint

For anyone interested in motorcycles, we're publishing photos of the Sunbeam Motorcycle Club's quarter mile sprint that was held on Ramsgate's western undercliff in conjunction with the Invicta MCC Ramsgate. This is an ongoing project and new photos will be added as they are scanned. Please email us if you can help identify any of the riders or machines.
The album can be found HERE

Can you identify this pub?

Can you identify this pub? The photo is believed to have been taken in Ramsgate in the late fifties or early sixties. The "Bob & Phil" sign says they appeared twice daily which may give a clue, and the large "shelf" is quite distinctive.
The lady playing the piano accordion wasn't a regular member of the band as she mainly played in Canterbury.,143.0.html

Invicta Motor Cycle Club Photos

Whilst looking through the Invicta Motor Cycle Club’s paperwork I came across an envelope addressed to the Club with a London postmark of November 1972 which contained the following photos. Can anyone help with identifying the riders or venue? Does anyone have any more pictures or stories of the Club?

More on the Invicta Club can be found HERE

Submarine Telegraph Office

Was Ramsgate at the forefront of technology? The 1872 map of Ramsgate shows a Submarine Telegraph Office in Shah Place. Do you have any information on this. More details HERE

More Pictures of Ramsgate Fire Brigade

The following pictures have been added to our Photo Album with captions at Any information will gratefully received. Do you have any photos of fires or brigade personel?

Ramsgate Fire Brigade

It wasn't until 1938 that local authorities were required to provide a Fire Brigade. Prior to this many towns formed their own volunteer forces. Ramsgate's brigade can be traced back to the mid 1800's when it was under the control of the Borough Police Force. For a more detailed history and pictures dating back over 100 years, click HERE 

Lord Winterstoke, Ramsgate's first mechanically propelled Fire Engine donated by Dame Janet Stancmb-Wills in 1915

Doomsday - Cold War Bunkers

Having just visited the "Cold War" Civil Defence Control Centre in Gravesend, I find it almost inconceivable that there wasn't such a structure in the Ramsgate area. The Gravesend bunker (operational 1954-1968) was supplemented by a subsidiary counterpart in nearby Northfleet, which would indicate that Government planning called for one in each town.

Does anyone know of such an establishment in or around Ramsgate?

This topic is also running at the Ramsgate History Forum

Who Owns History?

Since starting this blog and its associated website I have come to learn that local history is a very contentious subject. Initially I expected there may be some fierce debate about interpretation of facts, but I didn’t realise there would be problems over the ownership of our history. I recently published a post relating to John Todd, or “Donkey John” as he was known. This took the form of an interview with the Mayor of Ramsgate around 1932 and was given to me by the great grandson of John Todd, with his permission to publish it. The paper didn’t contain any reference to its source, and as the interview didn’t contain anything other than the words spoken by John and the Mayor I saw no reason for not publishing it. I have since been chastised for not asking permission and crediting its source, which I assume refers to who typed up the spoken word.

This begs the question, who owns the interview, and who owns local history? Copyright laws vary depending on the type of information, when and by whom it was produced, and sometimes how it will be used. For example, Ordnance Survey maps have a 50 year copyright but for other types of work created after January 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. My concern is not so much about copyright, but who owns the historical facts that are copied.

Most local history is taken from the written word which then becomes subject to interpretation. Clearly any interpretation belongs to the interpreter, but what happens when two people arrive at the same conclusion? Do I need permission to publish my own conclusions just because they may coincide with those of someone else? Another point of interest, most of my local knowledge must have come from the writings of others as I've only been around for 60 years. Does this mean I cannot publish my knowledge because someone else may own its written origin?

My own view is that however painstakingly historians research their subject, most local history is in fact a series of conclusions drawn from the writings of others that may or may not be correct. Debating these conclusions in public can only serve to enhance their accuracy, and therefore should not be stifled. This point of view can be born out by recent posts on the Thanet Online Blog relating to Tissot's painting.

Of course, if someone has painstakingly researched a subject and subsequently published it, he or she is more than entitled to a financial reward which should be protected by law. But does the author own the subject and subsequent conclusions that he or she has arrived at? Which brings me back to my original point, who owns local history?

Ghost Adverts and More Pictures

We've started a new project to collect Ramsgate's Ghost Adverts. If you know of any could you let us know on the Forum at We've also added around twenty new photos to the Picture Album

Unidentified Picture

Can anyone help with identifying this picture from an old Ramsgate collection?

Ramsgate References for Genealogists

A document of Ramsgate references contained in newspapers and other publications has been added to our main website research section, courtesy of Kathleen Hollingsbee. The collection is in searchable PDF format alphabetically listed in name order:

EXAMPLE: George BATH, fisherman:"Ramsgate: Smuggling case - "the 2nd and final examination of Edward Lowther, Daniel Gardener and George BATH, all fishermen belonging to the "May Flower" fishing smack, property of John COOK, on board of which vessel was found a quantity of smuggled tobacco snuff and cigars, took place last week. It appeared that there were 3,225 lbs tobacco, 1,213 lbs snuff and 412 tobacco stalks or cigars. They all pleaded guilty and were sentenced to pay £100 each, and in default of payment to be imprisoned until fine is paid in the Sandwich house of correction. The boys belonging to the vessel were discharged, it being supposed they acted under the influence and orders of the master and the men." no more information. (Dover Telegraph 10 Jan 1846 p.8 col.2)

Mayor of Ramsgate interviews "Donkey John"

An interview by: His Worship the Mayor of Ramsgate

'To-night we have with us Old John Todd of Ramsgate, The Veteran Donkey King of Ramsgate Sands.'

Mayor - Well, John, you've been on Ramsgate Sands with your donkeys for a very long time?
John - Yes, Sir, for over sixty years, I've had my donkeys and my boys helping me.

Mayor - Let me see, you've got five sons in the donkey business?
John - Yes, Sir, five sons.

Mayor - There's quite a big family of you altogether?
John - Five sons, two daughters, 35 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild born this week, Sir.

Mayor - And during the war all your sons were in the Army?
John - Yes, all five of them and two sons-in-law, and they all came back safe. And I had the donkeys myself for four years of the War when they were away. They help me now, Sir, all of them.

Mayor - I believe all your sons have names out of the Bible – haven’t they?
John - Yes. John, Moses, Abraham, Jacob and Aaron.

Mayor - How many donkeys have you?
John - 14 at present, Sir. One died last week. They're out in the country at Wingham. I used to have 20.

Mayor - Where do you get your donkeys from?
John - From Ireland. I buy them in London. The last time I was in London was eight years ago and I walked back all the way to Ramsgate, driving the donkeys.

Mayor - Quite a long walk. How long did it take you?
John - Two days. I set off at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.

Mayor - You've seen a lot of changes on the Sands in your time?
John - Yes, I remember the old bathing vans and Mrs. Penny, the old bathing woman, before we had any motor cars. We had good days then. When the Sons of Phoenix came to Ramsgate they rode on my donkeys and it was better than a Bank Holiday. And now we having a big new bathing pool.

Mayor - And if I remember right your sons have rescued several bathers from drowning?
John - Yes, and once they brought a dead boy back to life.

Mayor - A dead boy?
John - Well, nearly dead, Sir. The doctor said he was dead but they revived him with rubbing him with hot water.

Mayor - I suppose now, John, you re very proud you're still Donkey King of Ramsgate Sands?
John - I feel twenty years younger. Thanks to the kindness of the Council who've let me carry on. I'll be at Ramsgate Sands this summer and I hope all the ladies and gentlemen will come and ride on my donkeys.

Interview conducted by His Worship the Mayor of Ramsgate, Alderman E.E. Dye, J.P. (1933/4)

John Todd - Ramsgate Donkey King - died 2nd March 1939. R.I.P.

"Donkey" John Todd is on the left

For more on Old Ramsgate visit:

St Lawrence Caves

This picture is of St Lawrence Smugglers Caves, but the name St Lawrence has been used all over the town, including the railway station along the seafront, which was once known as St Lawrence by the Sea Station. Ramsgate is riddled with tunnels and caves, do you know where the Smugglers Caves are?

A further 30 photos have been added to the album at the Ramsgate History website plus some interesting reading in the Forum section about Ramsgate's airfields at Nethercourt, Pyson's Road and Manston. 

Memories of St George's School

My memories of my days at St: George’s School.

In 1936 some of us boys were told to attend at this school to sit an examination. Those who obtained the necessary marks were then selected to attend at either Chatham House, St George’s or Ellington to continue their schooling when the next term started the following September. I passed for St: George’s and that was at that time in School Road, it was a long building with the boys at one end and the girls the other. It extended through to School Lane at the rear with no form of entrance or exit in the high wall there. Another high wall separated the two yards at the back but there was a communal Hall between the two schools inside with a door at each end to allow each school to use the Hall, at different times of course, for morning assembly and P T classes. I think there were even curtains on the inside of each door.

The first day there, we found ourselves with other lads from other parts of the town and we were then selected to be part of either A or B streams .... 

Smugglers at Ramsgate

I'm not sure if this event is about Ramsgate of old or current activities, but it sounds interesting:

Smugglers and Spirits at Belgian Cafe

Wrap up warm for some spine-tingling tales as you join storyteller, Emily Parrish, on this spooky storytelling walk.

Saturday 10th April 7pm

Meet outside the Belgium Cafe, Harbour Parade, Ramsgate

Tickets £3 on arrival
Duration approx 45mins. Not suitable for very young children

Contact or call Emily on 07890 112 574 for further details

Your Town Needs YOU



How well do you know King Street? Alleged to have had thirteen pubs at one time, King Street was obviously one of Ramsgate's more lively areas. Take a walk up the street with us and see what you can remember.

We've only found twelve of the pubs, perhaps you can help find the missing den of iniquity.

Click HERE to take the tour

Historical Pageant in Ellington Park

Ramsgate received its Royal Charter on the 2nd of April 1884. 50 years later in 1934 the town celebrated its Jubilee of Incorporation with a Historical Pageant in Ellington Park. Many of our older residents will remember this event, and many took part in it.

From the local paper:


From Our Special Correspondent:

On a lawn in Ramsgate, within sound of the sea, 3,000 people are recapturing the spirit of England. This town has been a borough for 50 years, and its historical pageant, the full dress rehearsal of which took place today, is being performed as part of the Charter Jubilee celebrations next week.
But, with its intimate setting in Ellington Park, it might more truly be the Pageant of "All the Great Little Cities of this Country and the Sturdy Characters That made Them"
The setting is small enough for the dialogue to be audible-a great achievement on the part of the director, Mr. Edward Baring, and the producer, Mr. Nugent Monck, of the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich.
Immediately, good acting becomes possible and when Hengist, in the person of Councillor A. B. C. Kempe (but lately re¬proved by the Mayor for appearing in the Council Chamber in the full uniform of a Saxon warrior), waves his sword and cries, "We'll take thy service, Sire, and utterly destroy thine enemies!" it is the eternal Englishman who speaks and not merely a puppet in the midst of a vast field.
There is room, also, for the music to be heard clearly. English history has always marched to it, and many contemporary tunes, from the famous "Summer is icumen in" to the stately pavan "The Earl of Salisbury," and the sprightly mid-Victorian polka, "Ramsgate Sands," are included in the eight episodes.
The pageant will be formally opened next Monday by the Lord Mayor of London, and fifteen Mayors of Kent will accompany him. On the five succeeding days it will be opened by other famous personalities, including the Archbishop of Canterbury on Friday, Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby on Thursday, and by the Marquess of Reading, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, on the final day. Saturday.

Councillor (later Mayor) A.B.C. Kempe took any opportunity to publicise the event.
Here he's dressed as Hengist

From the St Georges School Centenary Booklet in 1964:

In July, 1934, the town presented a historical pageant in Ellington Park as part of its Charter Jubilee Celebrations.
St. George's took its full share in this, all the Staff being in the Victorian Episode and many girls remember helping to form the crowds in most episodes and in the Prologue procession. Mrs. Bullock also played an Ancient Briton and had to dash home (fortunately near the Park), remove all her woad and stain and be back in crinoline and poker bonnet for Episode 7.
For months beforehand the Needlework room was a hive of activity, the young performers making their own costumes under the direction of Mrs. Clamp, who was Costume Mistress for the Saxon Episode.
Miss Armstrong was on the Pageant, Lecture and Entertainment Committees and Miss Alexander arranged the Folk dancing display during the week.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of London and 17 Kentish Mayors came to the first performance of the pageant, of which the press notice said, "Everyone from the principals to the most remote and youngest members of the massed performers gave of their best and gave it willingly ".

Do you, your parents, or even your grandparents have any pictures or memories of this event. Do you know what the story line was? We would love to hear from you if you can help.

For more on old Ramsgate visit

Do you remember Henekeys?

Do you remember Henekeys? Positioned in the centre of town this must have been a favourite watering hole of many until it was destroyed by fire in the 1960's. Do you have any recollections of the pub or any photos? Do you know anything about Nethercourt Airfield, or the Cannon Inn at St. Lawrence? These topics and many others would benefit from your input on the new Forum at

We’ve tried to make the Forum as easy as possible to use and you don’t need to register to reply or set up new topics. Please help us to preserve your knowledge of our town by sharing your recollections, and we’ll try to help solve any mysteries you have.

There’s much more at the website including nearly 400 photos of old Ramsgate, links to over 40 videos, maps and online research aids. Please pay us a visit at

Mysterious Local Business

This Old Ramsgate photo (click on it to enlarge) is a mystery as I can't find the business listed in any of the directories published by Michael's Book Shop. Can anyone help out with the date, location and any other info?

For more of old Ramsgate visit

More on A.B.C. Kempe

A bit more information and some pictures of A.B.C. Kempe and his time as Mayor have been added to our webiste. Click HERE to view.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

Ramsgate's Mayor is Appreciated

Mr. A. B. C. Kempe

(from a newspaper article by Eddie Butcher
Mayor 1953-54)

ARTHUR Bloomfield Courtenay Kempe, popularly known as A.B.C. will surely rank as one of the most outstanding figures of Ramsgate's public life.

He entered the Council shortly after taking up a professional appointment here in the early 1930s, when efforts were being made to revive the town's prestige and popularity after years of nationwide depression. It became quickly apparent that A.B.C. had a tremendous flair for publicity and an intense enthusiasm for every job to which he set his hand.

Many will remember his part as Hengist in the brilliant Ramsgate Pageant of 1934, his top-hatted tea party for thousands of visitors on Ramsgate's sands and his tours to promote the Ramsgate - Coventry holiday plan.

After notable service as Chairman of the Entertainments and Publicity Committees, he was elected Mayor of the borough at a time when the town's prosperity was at its peak and an era of success seemed assured. He was quick to turn every possible opportunity for publicity to advantage, and Ramsgate's top-hatted Mayor was pictured in many countries. He was almost ebullient in the way he went about his civic work and for that found his critics, but his one desire was to serve the town to which he had been sent in the way that fitted him best.

Within little more than a year after election to the mayoralty. A.B.C. found himself Ramsgate's war-time leader, a position which he held for four anxious and exacting years. In those days A.B.C. revealed quite another side to his character. His resolution, forthrightness of approach and determination, amounting almost to obstinacy, were just the qualities needed in those dark days. Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Morrison and Sir Eric Geddes were but a few of the national figures who came to Ramsgate in the early years of the war to hear in no uncertain terms from A.B.C. of the trials and tribulations to which the area was sub¬jected.

He was authorised by the Ministry of Information to visit Guildford and other areas to further local needs, and his air raid distress fund brought support from the U.S.A. His war-time memoirs "Midst Bands and Bombs" had a wide sale.

Appointed military welfare officer for the forces billeted in and about the town, A.B.C. received the honorary rank of captain for those services. He worked tirelessly to bring entertainment to the service camps throughout 'Hell Fire Corner,' journeying with his concert party night after night when bombing and shelling was not infrequent. Nothing daunted Arthur Kempe in those days for on top of all that social work he was a most able first citizen, leading the Council well in its deliberations during war and for the rehabilitation afterwards.

With the war over, the strain of those years quickly began to show in the man despite his strong physique, and in the early post-war period it became apparent that after some 15 years of devoted work in numerous spheres A.B.C.'s health was failing. It was typical of the man that, realising the restrictions placed upon him by indifferent health, he decided to quit public life, since nothing was good enough for A.B.C. but the best and he could no longer give it.

His outstanding public work was recognised by the Council in 1950 when they conferred upon him the Honorary Freedom of the Borough. But even then A.B.C, could not sit back and watch life go by. He revived with considerable success Ramsgate's Sports Week, took a great interest in sport and the development of youth welfare, and in fact continued to take a very keen interest in the town's affairs. still doing what he could in the promotion of anything likely to add to its welfare.

Arthur Kempe died as he hoped he would, in a quiet corner of the town which he loved, removed from the turbulence of the life that had been his. So passes a grand old man whose friendship and fellowship were enjoyed by thousands.



For more about Ramsgate visit

Riots at Ramsgate

"This town was on Monday thrown into a considerable state of excitement, in consequence of the conviction of several fishermen for hawking fish about the streets. John BUCKLEY, Henry RIGDEN, William SOLLY, William NAIRNE, James BUZZY, William GOLDSMITH, Charles KENDALL and two others (some of whom had been before convicted) were brought before the sitting Magistrates charged by Sergeant CLARK and Police Constables BILLINGS, BRADSHAW and JENKINS, with hawking fish within the streets within the parish. Each defendant admitted the charge, was convicted in the mitigated penalty of 1s. and costs or imprisonment, varying from 8 to 16 days.

After the public business was disposed of, and while the commitments for the prisoners were being made out, large numbers of persons, principally consisting of Torbay fishermen and women continued to assemble before Hubbard's room, the building appropriated for the use of the Magistrates and the commissioners during the erection of the new town-hall where the prisoners were confined. Every minute brought an accession of the numbers, until at about 3 o'clock the mob had increased to nearly 1,000.

At this time a pair-horse fish van had arrived for conveying the prisoners to Sandwich gaol, when a rush was made at the vehicle, and its progress immediately arrested. The prisoners then made their appearance at the windows, and called upon the mob to rescue them, to which they were energetically urged by the concourse of women assembled. This was the signal for action. The mob surrounded the van, and literally carried it some yards from the building. This was followed by uproarious huzzas, and cheering with the destruction of every window in the building. The police, comprising 7 or 8 men in all, now made their appearance outside and endeavoured to disperse the mob, when they were assailed with showers of stones and other missiles and were soon compelled to retreat within the building. A simultaneous rush then took place at the doors, which soon gave way to the superior force arrayed against them, and the above prisoners, accompanied with three others names BUCKLEY, BISHOP and SIMMONDS (committed for an assault on Maria ATKINS) made their escape amid the most deafening cheers of the mob. They then proceeded, followed by an immense concourse of persons, through Harbor Street, towards the Pier, and in their route, halted at several of the commissioners houses and commenced groaning, hissing, etc. and using the most opprobious epithets towards them.

A sad destruction of window glass has been made at Ellis's in High Street and Karn's house in King Street has been nearly demolished. How far this violent conduct will go cannot be surmised, as the mob increases, and several of the new "popularly elected" commissioners are dreading their threatened visit.

As yet the rioters are not in custody, nor does it appear that any steps are taken by the Justices, with the exception of one, for haranguing the populace, from several corners of the streets this evening, which has caused considerable excitement and alarm. The shops in Queen Street are closed and great is the fear that some very serious affray may occur. The police, with the special constables, are on duty without intermission, assisted by the police from the Royal Harbour and the Coast Guard Force.

On Thursday, a detachment of the 11th Dragoons arrived from Canterbury. A meeting of the inhabitants was held at Hubbard's Rooms when it was agreed to request the commissioners under the Ramsgate Act not to lay any further information, and a majority of the commissioners being present, who concurred in this resolution, a requisition for a special meeting was signed to forward such object, which it is to be hoped will prevent a recurrence of such disgraceful proceedings."

(Dover Telegraph 13 July 1838 page 8 col.4, at top)

For more Old Ramsgate visit

Happy Memories of a Secret Tunnel

From an article in a local paper published in the 1980’s

Sixty years ago, with other village children, I spent many happy hours playing inside the Cliff Path tunnel at Chilton. It ran from bottom meadow under cliff path and came out in the old pleasure gardens. It was also a short cut to get a swim or paddle.

The meadow was farmed by the late William and Albert Anstey and I went to work for them on leaving school. We started to fill the tunnel in from the meadow end after a cow got in and we had hell's own job getting it back out. We began putting in all the old rubbish, cabbage and sprout stumps and all the half-burnt straw from the Chilton farm fire. I also tipped, with the aid of my pal, who still lives in Ramsgate, a cart-full of broken farm tools and broken horse harness. How I would like to have those old brasses now.

The Ansteys moved back to Devon in 1940 and the tunnel entrance was further covered by a later farmer by levelling off a bank and bushes that ran from Pegwell Road almost to Coast Guard Cottages some time after the war.

Regarding the seaweed for the Convent field (now Goodwin, Minster and St. Lawrence Avenue, we used to bring this up by cart using two heavy horses at two shill¬ings and sixpence a load through the Little Cliffs End farm tunnel also farmed by the late Anstey Brothers. The convent only had one light cob, not strong enough to haul seaweed through either tunnel.

Not many of the original villagers remain, but there are still a handful who have never been away except for war service. These remember the old tunnel well - and a lot more folk living in the town remember as children being brought by parents on the old horse brakes of Gore, Wackett and Haskings, etc. to Pegwell and having a picnic by the old Cliff Path tunnel entrance.

A CHILTON VILLAGER (name and address supplied to the Editor).

For more of Old Ramsgate visit

A Lost Jewel from Ramsgate's Crown

Following the Granville Marina Restaurant debacle of recent years, I've received a short article about the Marina's heyday as remembered by a former Marina resident, who also worked in the area for many years. Click HERE for the full article and pictures of what was once a jewel in Ramsgate's crown.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

Big Parade in Ramsgate

Here are a few pictures of a big parade in Ramsgate which were taken during Alderman A.B.C. Kempe's time as Mayor (1938-1942). St George's Church features in the parade and also Royal Parade. Can anyone help out with the date, and what the occasion was?

Please leave a comment below or email:

For more of old Ramsgate visit

1872 Ordnance Survey Map now online

An 1872 Ordnance Survey map of Ramsgate Town is now available online. The map is from a survey by Lieutenent R. Hill R.E. and is scaled at 41.66 feet to 1 inch or 1:500. This is a very detailed map and was surveyed at a time when Ramsgate was undergoing major expansion. It's a fascinating insight into old Ramsgate and also a very useful research tool. Click HERE to view the map.

For more of old Ramsgate visit

New Website Launched

A very big THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to this blog. Thanks to your help several mysteries have been solved, mistakes corrected and new material added.

Whilst a blog is a very easy way of communicating, it's not so good when it comes to archiving. With this in mind a new website has been created at where everything is being archived in what is hopefully an easy to find manner. The site is searchable and includes a new photo album which should be easier and quicker to access than the previous Picasa album.

The new photo album now includes an additional 95 pictures that have been scanned or sent in by readers, making a total of 385 views.

All links that were in the side bar of this blog have been moved to the new website and others are being added all the time. If you have anything Old Ramsgate we'll be pleased to publish it or link to it from the new site. Just contact us at: or leave a comment here.

A Rail Slice of History

From the Daily Mail, Thursday March 11, 2010

QUESTION: As a child I used to holiday in Ramsgate and would travel by the small open train through a tunnel to the seafront. Is it still there?

KENT Coast Railway opened its branch from Herne Bay through Margate to Ramsgate Harbour in 1863, in competition with South Eastern Railway's line through Canterbury to Ramsgate Town. The latter was on top of the cliffs, about a mile from the seafront, and had opened in 1846.

The Harbour line was originally worked, and soon taken over, by London Chatham & Dover Railway. The LC&DR's advantage, however, was limited by the cramped location of Harbour station as well as the 1,124 yard tunnel on a down gradient of 1-in-75 into the station.

The twin arrangement remained after the LC&DR and SER amalgamated to become the South Eastern and Chatham Railway Management Committee, and when the Railways Act of 1921 came into force in 1923, the Southern Railway was formed. Southern rationalised the situation in Ramsgate and joined the ex-LC&DR line, north of the tunnel, to the SER tracks at Ramsgate Town, forming the present circuit of lines in East Kent. The tunnel and Harbour Station were abandoned.

The former station building was acquired by Thanet Amusements, who opened a funfair and zoo with refreshments. The company was later taken over by Ramsgate Olympia, which decided that the old tunnel should be opened to form a transport link between their facilities and the main line.

After an abortive proposal to re-lay standard gauge track, the decision was made to introduce a 2ft gauge electric tramway. Since it would not be possible to terminate at the north end of the tunnel, a short, smaller dimension tunnel - 8ft high and 6ft wide - was dug from about 344 yards short of the North portal and into a new station at Hereson Road, Dumpton Park. This tunnel was inclined at 1-in-15.

Two trains were bought from the English Electric Company in Pres¬ton. One, the ‘yellow set', comprised two four-wheel electric locomo¬tives, articulated onto a bogie coach, with one each end of two intermediate plain coaches, which had driving compartments so the set could be divided into two, two¬ coach units. The locomotives collected power through trolley poles from overhead wires. The second 'red' set was originally formed similarly. but without the Intermediate driving coaches, as a four-car train. It was later con¬verted to match the yellow train. Ramsgate Tunnel Railway opened on Friday, July 31, 1936. The larger, standard-gauge tunnel was equipped with illuminated tableaux scenes from around the world, to entertain passengers on their four ¬and-a-half minute journey.

Initially, there were two platform lines at each end, enabling a frequent service to be operated, while the main line was single track. In World War II, the line was closed down, and the tunnel was used as an air raid shelter. The line finally closed at the end of the 1965 season. Earlier that year, the only major accident on the railway had occurred, when a loaded train ran away down the line and crashed into the booking office at the harbour. The driver was injured as his cab was crushed between the locomotive and coach.

The owners. Pleasurama, decided not to open the following year, and the locomotives were scrapped. However, several of the coaches still exist at the Holycombe Collection, in Hampshire, hauled by steam locomotives. The sealed-up tunnel mouth by the harbour is all that remains of the railway.

Tim Sanderson,,
Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Walking Home from School c.1938

A walk home from St. George's School in Church Road around 1938:

"At the end of the school road there was Pig's Alley that connected to the High Street. There was a slaughter house at the top of the alley and the shop at the bottom was a pork butchers well known for its' sausages and chitterlings. I don't remember animals there but they must have been delivered during school hours. I have recently noticed that there is a large iron ring low down on the outside corner of the shop that must have served some useful purpose in days gone by, I thought at one time it was for tethering animals but now believe it more likely to have been put there for the brewers draymen to attach a pulley to while delivering to the cellar of the Free Mason’s Arms, the public house next door.

Sometimes I would walk home via Effingham St: just to gaze at the gleaming new Leyland Fire Engine at the Fire Station and at other times I would walk down to the harbour to see what was happening. Timber ships arrived and the loose timber was first stacked on the quayside. From there, it was taken on ‘limbers’ to the various Timber yards in the town and there were at least three. The limber was basically a long pole on two axles, with cross pieces to support the long lengths of rough sawn timber and drawn by teams of horses. As the wheels were steel rimmed, driving up through the town created a lot of noise and there was no need to warn people to keep out of the way.

Grain was unloaded from the holds of Thames sailing barges, initially with baskets and a crane but then they installed an electric powered hoist that lifted the grain with small buckets on a continual belt, tipped it into a storage container from where it dropped via a flexible hose into large closed trailers, the trailers would then be towed away by a three wheeled motor vehicle known as a mechanical horse. By this method they could move one trailer when it was full and leave an empty one in its place to be filled. The grain was taken to Hudson’s Mill at the top of Margate road. This Mill was still in use until a few years ago, but had been supplied with grain by road tankers instead of sea going barges, for very many years.

Coal was also unloaded by the basket and crane method and taken by open horse drawn carts to the various coal yards in the town. As soon as the coal boats left, men would be there with nets dredging for any coal that had fallen into the sea. If they were out of work this was one of the few perks that were available to them to help them to live and it was not unusual to have men singing in the streets, or playing a ‘Barrel Organ’ to earn a little extra money. Bulk salt came into the harbour by ship and was unloaded and taken to a water pumping station near the junction of Whitehall and Margate road, no longer there, to be used in the water softening plant.

There was also a very interesting ship repair service at the main slipway. It was here that I first saw a portable electric drill in use. It was being used to make holes in a sheet of steel prior to the sheet being riveted onto a ship’s side. The steel was on the quayside and supported on wooden planks, a bracket had been bolted to the sheet in such a way that when the drill was placed vertically between the bracket and the steel, the necessary pressure could be applied to drill through the steel plate. Riveting was a fascinating job to watch. There would be one man on the quayside operating a small portable forge, after heating the rivet to the correct temperature he would toss it to another man, or one or two other men depending on the distance from the forge to the position on the ship where it was needed, and here it would be placed into the prepared hole. The men would catch the rivet in long handled metal cups and insert it into the hole with tongs. It would then be held firmly in place with a heavy hammer whilst the riveter would attack the glowing end with a pneumatic hammer. To keep the plates tightly together the holes each side of the rivet hole were first drawn tight with nuts and bolts, these would then be removed for these holes to be to be riveted. Apart from these ships and a few fishing boats owned by local fish shop proprietors there was very little else in the harbour. My parents said that when they first came to Ramsgate it was virtually possible to walk across the inner harbour by stepping from deck to deck of the fishing fleet."

If you have any memories, pictures or documents about Old Ramsgate that you would like to share, please email us at:

Ramsgate Town Station

Here's one for the railway enthusiasts.

The above map shows the S.E.R. Railway and Town Station layout as it was in 1872. Click on the map to enlarge it. To help you get your bearings, Clarence Road shown parallel with the Margate & Ramsgate Branch is today known as Hillbrow Road. The Branch from Ashford runs from the sidings between the current Railway Station and Sorting Office in Wilfred Road to Chatham Court at the junction of Margate Road and Sation Approach Road..

Bombs Fall on Ramsgate

From an Old Ramsgateonian:

We as a family were very lucky to come through the war unharmed. We did have one incendiary bomb at the bottom of the garden and on another occasion, after an air battle overhead, we found damage to the roof and ceiling of my bedroom. This was due to the nose cone of a cannon shell. The incendiary bomb fell one night just as I arrived home from work. I heard an aeroplane but as it was after nightfall I didn’t see it. I heard a bomb coming down but there was no explosion, this was not unusual as a lot of them were delayed action and would explode later. Shortly after there were a series of ‘plops’, and we became aware that incendiary bombs were lighting up in the neighbourhood. The bomb that had dropped was one of a type nicknamed, ‘Molotov Breadbaskets’. It had fallen somewhere near the railway station and on bursting it had showered incendiaries over a large area. Throughout the war we had had two sand bags standing outside our front door for just such an emergency. I grabbed these to take them to put on the bomb but as I carried them through the house the sacks, that had become rotten due to standing wet for so long, fell apart and there was wet sand all over the floor. Fortunately the bomb had fallen on soft ground and was easily put out by covering it with earth. The cleaning up indoors took longer.

There were a number of raids that were quite alarming. The first was on August 12th 1940. I had just arrived home for dinner when all hell let loose. Just as the air raid sirens were sounding a fleet of German aeroplanes flew in from the sea low over Ramsgate to bomb and machine-gun Manston aerodrome. With anti aircraft guns of all calibres firing at them it was a taste of things to come. There was a big raid on Ramsgate town on Saturday morning August 24th 1940. I was in a house in Wilson’s Road at the time and, on hearing the noise of many aircraft, I looked out of a window to see a large number of planes flying in from the direction of the coast. As I watched bombs began falling from them and a very large area around our gasworks and the gas works itself were hit. Much damage was done and many people were killed and injured. The following morning I walked around the area with one of my brother in laws to view the damage. Shops in King Street had had windows blown out and had been boarded up with what he informed me were coffin boards. He was a carpenter so he knew about these things. We noticed a number of holes in the road way and pavements, about a foot in diameter, it was obvious that something heavy had made them and we later found out that they had been made by unexploded bombs. These were the early days of aerial bombardment and afterwards every effort was made to keep inquisitive people away until the U X bombs had been removed.

More information about the August Raid on Ramsgate can be found HERE in a book written by by D.T. Richards and available from Michael's Book Shop

1846 Train Arrives from Canterbury

Trains first arrived in Ramsgate in April 1846 courtesy of the South Eastern Railway (SER). The line terminated at the SER Station which later became known as the Town Station. This was situated at the junction of Margate Road and Station Approach Road. The site is currently occupied by a block of flats known as Chatham Court.


Later that same year the SER line was extended to Margate. The route of this line can still be traced along Hurst Grove, Ashley Close, Highfield Road, past Jackey Bakers Sport Field, parallel with Margate Road, Nash Road and on to Margate SER (later known as the Sands Station). Trains from Canterbury bound for Margate had to reverse out of Ramsgate Town Station before continuing on to Margate. In 1864 a small station was opened on this SER line at St Lawrence, situated alongside Newington Bridge in Newington Road, but this station closed in 1916.


In 1863 the Kent Coast Railway completed a line from Margate to Ramsgate via Broadstairs, which terminated at Ramsgate seafront. Initially known as Ramsgate & St Laurence-on-Sea it later became Ramsgate Harbour station. This section of line reached the sea front via a 1 in 75 gradient tunnel from just south of Broadstairs. At the station, engines were turned on a turntable for the return journey up the incline.



The various lines were rationalised in 1923 when taken over by Southern Railway. A new station was built for Ramsgate just east of the old St Lawrence Station and a new link line was constructed across a viaduct over Margate Road to join with the line from Broadstairs near where it entered the tunnel to Ramsgate Harbour. A new station was also built at Dumpton Park. The new line and stations opened in 1926 and Ramsgate Harbour station was closed at the same time. The line across Thanet from Ramsgate Town station was discontinued.


There were two notable incidents on the old lines, one at each of the old stations. On the 31st of August 1891 a train arriving at the Harbour station overrun the platform and crashed through a wall which enclosed the turntable. Details of this accident are scarce, but The Railways Archive records 1 fatality. Does anyone know more about this?



On the 11th on March 1913 a train from Margate bound for Ashford overrun the Town Station. collided with a brake van and crashed through the station wall. Nine passengers were slightly injured and a girl walking past the station was bruised by falling masonry. Click HERE to read the full report of the accident.

A Walk Through St Lawrence c.1930

An old Ramsgateonian takes a walk through St Lawrence c.1930

My mother took me for my first day at, “St: Lawrence Infant’s School”. It stood opposite to the entrance to the recreation ground in, Newington Road, where the swimming pool is now. The Girl’s school was next to the infant's school and the Boy's school was across the road below the entrance to the recreation ground. At that time my youngest sister was attending the girl’s school and for a while she took me to and from the school, thereafter I went with friends or on my own.

Walking from Southwood Road towards St Lawrence, this was before the bungalows were built on the left hand side of Ashburnham road and there was just a tall flint wall surrounding the grounds of Southwood House. On the right hand side after the row of houses in line with the coal yard, -now a small housing estate-, and ‘The Australian Arms’ public house there was a tall fence known to the locals as the ‘black boards’. It was made from boards that had been coated in tar, a common preservative in those days. Inside this fence there were the ruins of a large house that had been badly damaged by fire and then neglected.

St Lawrence High Street was a narrow thoroughfare with a number of small shops on each side. On the left hand side was a row of farm cottages belonging to Nethercourt Farm, Brett's sweet shop, a shoemakers and a building that is still there housing the Fire Escape machine. This was simply a large wooden rope operated extension ladder, mounted on an axle with two large wheels that enabled it to be moved easily by being pushed, to wherever it was needed in the locality. Then there was the old St Lawrence Parish Hall, -since rebuilt-, a few more houses and then The Red Rose public house. This pub was demolished in the 1950's.

Next to the pub was, Morris and Simons Garage. It no longer exists but was where they sold and repaired cars and had a number of petrol pumps. We would always look at any cars that were there and one day I saw my first Gully Emptying machine there. It was probably a demonstration model as it was painted red. It was a large tank on a Dennis lorry and the lorry had what was known as a ‘pig snout bonnet’. This was quite a popular model at the time and the East Kent Road Car Company ran a number of small coaches of this design. Before the arrival of this gully emptier, two men did this job with the aid of a horse that pulled a wide, wheel mounted narrow tank that had a heavy lid. The men lifted the drain covers and removed debris from the bottom with long handled scoops and emptied them into the tank. (It was interesting to note that when the war started in 1939, these horse drawn tanks came back into use. Latrine buckets from the deep air raid tunnels under Ramsgate town were carried up to the surface and emptied into them for disposal elsewhere). Finally there was St: Lawrence Church itself.

On the right hand side of St: Lawrence high street there were some cottages, one was used by a boot and shoe repairer where I remember having new studs fitted to my football boots, then came ‘Lawrence the bakers’, Tyrell's the post office, a slaughterhouse where sometimes live animals were being delivered as we came out from school to go home in the afternoons, a ‘Forge’ where we could sometimes watch horses being shoed or other forging works taking place. There was a large circular steel plate in front of the forge. We were told that it was used when iron rims were fitted to cart wheels, but we never saw this done. I will always remember seeing one old lady, a Mrs Pring. She and her only son, who came to our school, lived just round the corner from the forge in Chapel Road. It was obvious to us all that they were poor and on this occasion she was trying to persuade the blacksmith to repair the ash can from her Kitchener a common fireplace come oven that was to be found in many homes in those days. Apart from the front that was made of cast iron the sides and back had almost burnt way. I didn’t see the outcome, as I had to hurry on to school. Finally on that side as far as we were concerned, because we then turned off in the direction of school, there was Mrs Morlin's sweet shop where we spent our pocket money. I think we had a penny each Tuesday and Thursday and a penny from dad on Saturday, our ‘penny days’. We didn't go to school on Saturday so we spent that money nearer home.

Tram Crash on the Broadstairs Line

This post has been updated with comments from Michael's Book Shop

On the 4th of April 1901 the Electric Tramways & Lighting Co. Ltd opened a new electric tram service which linked Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate.

The Ramsgate terminus was at the town's railway station which was at the junction of Margate Road and today's Station Approach Road. From here it ran along its own private track to Park Road then followed Grange Road, St Augustines Road, The Paragon and down Royal Parade to the Harbour. The route to Broadstairs took it up Madeira Walk, along Wellington Crescent, Plains of Waterloo, Belle Vue Road and then on a private track (now Dumpton Park Drive) to Broadstairs and on to Margate.

On the 3rd of August 1905, whilst descending Madeira Walk towards the Harbour car number 41 jumped the tracks, careered over the cliff and crashed some 30 feet below. Miraculously there were only a few passengers on board at the time and they all escaped unharmed, the driver being the only person to sustain injury.

Although tram accidents were rare, there was another accident prior to the Madeira Walk incident. On the 26th of May 1905 a tram no.47 jumped the tracks and crashed into Vyes Grocers at the junction of Belle Vue Road and Plains of Waterloo. The shop manager’s daughter, tram driver and conductor were all badly injured. This line was known as the "Loop Line" linking Broadstairs Town and Ramsgate Harbour.

The tram system finally gave way to buses which were introduced by East Kent Road Car Company in 1937. Much of the privately owned track later became public roads.