31 March, 2023

Ramsgate gallery gains Historic England grant for heritage shop front restoration

A new art gallery opening on Ramsgate’s Harbour Street has had its recently rediscovered original lead glass shopfront freshly restored, thanks to funding from Historic England.

In 2021, Thanet District Council was awarded government funding to help revitalise Ramsgate’s town centre through the High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme. Part of the winning bid included funding specifically reserved for the transformation of historic buildings on Harbour Street.

Gallery owner, Jo Smith secured the premises at 27 Harbour Street, Ramsgate in June 2022 with a view to creating a space to honour the memory and display the work of Dave Smith, Jo’s late father.

Renovation of the property began in January 2023. When the previous modern signage was removed an earlier shopfront with an historic Art Nouveau fascia was discovered. The decorative leaded glass gives a tantalising glimpse to the turn of the 20th century when the building was operating as Rose Jewellers. It was decided immediately that the newly uncovered historic features would remain in place and would need to be restored.

Thanet District Council became aware of the planned heritage restoration works and contacted Jo Smith to see how an Historic England grant could help restore the shopfront to its former glory.

Louise Askew, responsible for Regeneration and Growth at Thanet District Council said: “We are delighted to see one of Ramsgate’s Harbour Street new businesses, ASWASISNOW, benefit from a High Streets Heritage Action Zone shop front improvement grant. 

“The discovery and restoration of the heritage shop front at 27 Harbour Street has further enhanced the streetscape, complementing Celandine Hall, another recipient of the scheme’s funding, and demonstrates the benefits of heritage shop fronts in our town centres.”

David English, Head of Region for London and South East at Historic England, said: “It was a very special and unexpected moment when the earlier shopfront was uncovered.

“Someone in the past thought it was important to preserve this element of the shop’s history rather than remove it and it’s fantastic that the new owner felt the same. That Thanet District Council were able to offer support at just the right time and these original features have now been restored for everyone to see is a great outcome of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone.”

ASWASISNOW is set to open on Saturday 1 April 2023 and will set the standard for further projects taking place in Harbour Street over the coming months.

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