Vote for Ramsgate Tunnels Heritage Project

Currently the Ramsgate Tunnel Group are in the running for a £53,000 grant via the Jubilee People's Millions fund from The Big Lottery which will provide a kick start to the project. The project will be filmed for Meridian Tonight on Monday 27th June and will go head to head against another local project in a telephone vote between 9.00 am and midnight on that day. We're seeking as much support as possible and ask that you visit our website at for more information on how you can help.

Having suffered extensively during The Great War of 1914-18 Ramsgate was acutely aware of the dangers of attack as World War II approached. Despite initial government attempts to prevent construction, the spirit of the town won through when construction and adaption of over 3 miles of tunnels took place in 1939. Thousands took refuge in the tunnels and hundreds of lives were saved. They were so popular that in 1940 there were over 300 families living below ground. Having once formed the heart of Ramsgate, the tunnels and memories of the few who are still with us from the period are now the only remaining links to this important period in the town’s history. It is now vital to preserve both the memories and the tunnels for generations to come.

The tunnels are generally still in good condition. Chalk cut sections and concrete lined entrances are still hidden below ground and will provide a perfect setting for reconstructions, displays and tours depicting life through this most important part of the town’s history. The former main line railway tunnel, built in 1863, is over half a mile long and will be the perfect venue to preserve and present the town’s history. The coming of the railways to Ramsgate was another very important time as it brought wealth and prosperity to the town. Exhibitions, displays and themed rides will celebrate the evolution of the town from the arrival of Christianity to its time as a retreat for Royalty, a playground for the rich and famous, its time as one of England’s greatest seaside resorts and its contributions during two World Wars.

The undeniable decline of Ramsgate in recent years can be attributed to a variety of causes such as the economy, changes in social trends, package holidays and not least being absorbed into a District Council. The abolition of Ramsgate Borough Council in 1974 took with it much of the spirit and identity of the town as its future was no longer decided in isolation but alongside that of other towns. We now have a new Town Council and along with it comes the opportunity to rebuild the spirit of the town for which it was so famous. Ramsgate Tunnels Project is focused on helping to rebuild this identity by researching, collating, archiving and presenting the history of the tunnels. This will probably be our last chance to record oral histories of those who used the tunnels during World War II. Most of Ramsgate’s surviving wartime residents are now in their 80’s and 90’s and their numbers are dwindling. Official records are one thing, but living memories are essential to bring the tunnels and the town back to life. An important aspect of this element of the project is that funding will be made available to train volunteer members of the community in researching, interviewing, recording, cataloguing and archiving all aspects of the tunnels history. This will have the added benefit of bringing together different age groups and different sections of the community to create mutual understanding and respect. The final part of this will be to create an accurate and detailed educational resource as a legacy for future generations.

At this stage we need money - not yours but from the Big Lottery Fund via the Jubilee People’s Millions. Interest in this project has been overwhelming with offers of help from builders, electricians, researchers, archivists, archaeologists, tunnel engineers and architects. There can be no doubt that the project is popular, but we all need to act on Monday the 27th June. At 9.00 am the number to call will be announced and lines will be open for voting until midnight. We will publish this on our website at as soon as it’s announced and email it to all our Friends.

What you can do now is contact everyone you know and enlist their support. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network please give us a mention and help create a snowball effect. You can download a printable poster which we would like you to display in your workplace, local shops, clubs, pubs etc. If you live in Ramsgate and don’t have a working printer we’ll try and get a poster to you. Posters and details are at Please encourage everyone to join the Friends of Ramsgate Tunnels
to ensure they receive the voting telephone number as soon as it's announced.