The Ramsgate Heritage Action Zone has received a financial boost from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help fund much needed repairs to the town’s Grade II listed Pulhamite rock gardens.
Thanet District Council has received a grant of almost £25,000, awarded by Historic England, to fund specialist works to the Pulhamite at Madeira Walk and Albion Gardens. This grant is from a part of the Culture Recovery Fund called the Heritage Stimulus Fund. As well as rescuing precious heritage buildings in need, the injection of cash will protect livelihoods for some of the most vulnerable heritage specialists and contractors working in the sector.
Previous work of the Heritage Action Zone
The achievement of this award is thanks to a large amount of work carried out by the Heritage Action Zone programme’s partners including the Coastal Community Team, the Ramsgate Society, Ramsgate Town Council, Thanet District Council and a dedicated group of volunteers. A Pulhamite condition survey, funded by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Coastal Community Fund, was carried out in 2019 to identify the areas most in need of repair. In addition, a full planting survey was undertaken to look at the types of plants that should be used to best fit with the original planned landscape, and to ensure sustainability today.
Repairs are planned at three key sites. The area in most urgent need of repair is near to the Madeira Walk waterfall where the Pulhamite is secured with a steel cable, with a second site on the opposite side of Madeira Walk. The third site is at the Harbour Street end of Madeira Walk where a sycamore tree has caused some damage.
Specialist conservators Taylor Pearce have been commissioned to carry out the repairs, having recently completed repairs to the facade of the Natural History Museum in Kensington and to the Grade I listed Megalosaurus in Crystal Palace Park.
The repairs will be undertaken in order of priority and works are scheduled to take place between Tuesday 1 September 2021 and Friday 17 September 2021. The repairs, once completed, will help to preserve a key feature of Ramsgate’s heritage landscape for future generations.
Councillor Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Thanet District Council said:
“We are delighted to receive funding for repairs and restoration to the Pulhamite in Ramsgate from the Culture Recovery Fund. These works are vital to supporting a cherished historic structure, which is used regularly by the local community for walking and relaxation and is a focus for wellbeing and volunteer engagement. Preserving and championing our heritage brings people together, creates joy and supports jobs and we are committed to preserving the Pulhamite legacy for generations to come.”
Tom Bardwell, Senior Conservator, Taylor Pearce Restoration said; “James Pulham & Son have created a lasting legacy of works throughout the UK which exhibits their innovative craftsmanship. The examples at Ramsgate are some of the most significant. It’s a privilege to contribute to the preservation of these unique landscapes for future generations, using both current conservation knowledge and traditional craftsmanship techniques.”
Margarita Moscoso, gardening volunteer, said; “The gardens on the Madeira Walk side are wrapped in Pulhamite which gives the area its very distinctive look, together with a much loved waterfall. The Pulhamite is now showing its age so it is good news that it is going to receive the attention it needs.
A group of local volunteers has been looking after the gardens since 2018. During lockdown our volunteer numbers increased as so many people were furloughed and spending more time at home.”
Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive commented:
“Historic places across the country are being supported by the Government’s grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kick-starting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of COVID-19.
“It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”
Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities. We’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it’s there for future generations to enjoy.”
What is Pulhamite?
Pulhamite is a patented artificial rock material which was invented by the firm James Pulham and Son to join natural rocks together or to simulate natural stone features. It was an extremely sought after architectural feature during the Victorian era, right up until the 1920s and 1930s, and was used extensively in the development of Ramsgate’s iconic seafront at that time. Ramsgate’s fine collection of Pulhamite can be seen at the Royal Parade, Westcliff Underpass, Madeira Walk and Winterstoke Gardens where it sets the character for the town’s wonderful cliff-top promenades and gardens.