Ramsgate is a town with a wonderful blend of maritime heritage, architectural finery and cosmopolitan pizzazz.
Nestled between two cliffs, the East Cliff and the West Cliff, Ramsgate was formed from two settlements: a fishing community based on the coast in the shallow valley between the cliffs, and a farming community inland that is now the Parish of St. Lawrence.
Ramsgate has a beautiful sandy beach and the country's only Royal Harbour. The Royal Harbour Marina has a continental café style culture that has many bars and restaurants on its seafront parade.
Ramsgate has a long maritime history. The town played its part during the Napoleonic Wars as a busy garrison town with tens of thousands of troops leaving and arriving through the harbour. Indeed a number of streets are named to commemorate that time.
The harbour was given its status of ‘Royal Harbour’ by King George IV as a gift for the hospitality he received when visiting Ramsgate in 1820.
In 1940 thousands of soldiers disembarked at Ramsgate after escaping from the beaches of Dunkirk. Ramsgate is proud be part of the anniversary commemoration of that event and welcomes the ‘Little Ships’ when they make their pilgrimage across the channel to remember the courage of those who made that terrible journey during the Second World War.
The harbour is one of the finest Marinas in the south east and was awarded 4 Gold Anchors in 2012. One question that gets asked over and over again is “what was the Smack Boys home”? Nothing to do with any form of punishment The Smack Boy’s Home was built in 1881 of stock brick and is a Grade II listed building. The smack boys were apprenticed to the fishing smack skippers of Ramsgate (often the other 4 members of the crew besides the skipper himself were all smack boys), there were 50 registered smacks here in 1863 and 168 in 1906. The home was the result of pressure put on the Board of Trade by Canon Brenan, Vicar of Christ Church, Ramsgate. No other British fishing port appears to have copied this unique facility.
The town has stunning chalk cliffs on both the East and West Cliffs. Ramsgate has nearly 900 listed buildings and walking around Ramsgate it is easy to spot the elegant Victorian and Regency architecture. Architects Mary Townley, Augustus Pugin and Edward Pugin have all designed and built buildings in Ramsgate.
A number of famous people have lived in or visited Ramsgate over the years including: Duchess of Kent with Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria), Van Gogh, Wilkie Collins and in more recent times John Le Mesurier and Frank Muir both lived in Ramsgate. Today Ramsgate is proud to include Brenda Blethyn OBE and Janet Fielding as current inhabitants of the town. The Rolling Stones played a concert at the Westcliff ‘Motor Museum’ hall. Janet Fielding is currently raising funds to bring Westcliff ‘Motor Museum’ hall back into use.
Ramsgate’s rail links with London have improved with the HS1 to St Pancras International Station in London, and improved road links with the opening of the Thanet Way which makes it easy to travel to and from London via road or rail.
Places to visit include: the Grange, built by Augustus Pugin, the Maritime Museum, the Boating Pool, the Italianate Greenhouse and Ramsgate Town Centre with a mix of independent and high street shops, cafes and restaurants.