Full of kiss-me-quick nostalgia and seafaring tales
It had been years since I’d last visited the seaside town of Ramsgate in Kent. You’d think that as I’m a Kent dweller, I’d be visiting a bit more frequently. But so often is the way that we head further afield and miss those special treats on our doorstep.
Ramsgate Royal Harbour
With Ramsgate’s location being just a baguettes throw from France, it has some fascinating history, particularly around its nautical past. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Dunkirk evacuations during Operation Dynamo. Then mix that with a hearty helping of ice-cream and fish and chips, and you have a winning combination.
East Cliff Lift in Ramsgate was built in 1910
Our recent visit to Ramsgate was on a bright December day, it didn’t quite include the ice-cream; however, fish and chips were certainly ‘catch of the day’.
The Royal Harbour
A little fact that makes Ramsgate unique is that it is the only Royal Harbour in the UK. It was granted this honour by King George IV in 1821.
Royal Temple Yacht Club
Prior to this in 1483 Ramsgate became part of the Cinque Ports confederation and was a limb of Sandwich. The Cinque Ports charter was established pre-Royal Navy in 13th-century, to recruit mariners. Ramsgate townsfolk would have been enlisted to fulfil Sandwich’s quota for the Crown.
Cinque Ports emblem
Around the harbour
I love it that Ramsgate is still a working harbour and the smaller modern-day yachts that are moored in the marina respect this fact. It’s a bustling harbour with locals coming and going, scrubbing decks and giving their boats an overhaul.
Ramsgate Harbour and SSMV Starbuck
One of the eye-catching aspects of Ramsgate is the sweeping red brick harbour wall and arches that lead up to the clifftop walk. The arches now form part of the community and are lovingly maintained. They provide a charming location to stop and enjoy the surroundings and perhaps even grab a cheeky beer.
Arches around Ramsgate Royal Harbour
We took a stroll around the harbour as there are so many noteworthy buildings and historical references. It reminds you just how much of a significant role Ramsgate has played in history.
The Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission in Ramsgate
The Sailors’ Church and Harbour Mission that was built into the front of the cliff, was constructed in 1878. This place of worship was to provide rest to the men and boys who worked tirelessly in harsh conditions in the English Channel. So often risking their lives.
Visit some of Kent’s coastal towns?
During Operation Dynamo in 1940, flotillas of small boats headed over to France for the Dunkirk evacuations. Ramsgate was one of the main harbour towns that thousands of soldiers would have been so grateful to see.
‘Sundowner’ used in the Dunkirk Evacuations in 1940
In Ramsgate harbour today you can see the ‘Sundowner’ one of the ‘little ships’ that crossed the Channel. This boat, in particular, was sailed by Charles Lightoller, the senior surviving officer of the Titanic. He managed to repatriate 130 British Servicemen on a boat licensed to carry 21.
Strolling along Ramsgate’s award-winning golden sandy beach, you’ll come across Ramsgate Tunnels.
In 1863 a mile-long railway tunnel was built allowing the trains to reach the harbour.
Then as WWII approached this tunnel was extended to a two-and-a-half-mile network of Deep Shelter tunnels. Entrances were dotted around the town, and the air raid shelters provide protection for around 60,000 people.
There are stories of these tunnels becoming a permanent residence for some folk, to find out a little, come and pay a visit.
Good to know!
Stroll around the lanes
Now, I have to be honest here, although Ramsgate is going through a process of rejuvenation, it hasn’t quite made it to the heart of the town centre. However, it is incredible that you only have to wander one or two streets back and you are surrounded by beautiful Regency, Victorian and Georgian buildings.
All along the cliff walk and promenade are attractive homes with wide bay windows and wrought-iron balconies. All with far-reaching views across the English Channel.
Visiting Ramsgate, you really understand why these English seaside towns were such an attraction during the 19th-century. Sweeping, majestic crescents where once ladies and gents would have promenaded.
The Falstaff along Addington Street
I just love strolling around the residential streets discovering the tiny lanes and finding those little reminders of eras gone by.
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Style and grandeur
Heading north around Ramsgate bay and the elegance continues, with more attractive homes and striking architecture. All around Albion Place, Wellington Crescent and Victoria Parade, there are some stunning buildings.
Wellington Crescent and bandstand
Ramsgate can also boast architectural designs by A W Pugin and his sons. St. Augustine’s Church and Granville House are wonderful examples of their work. A W Pugin designed many buildings around the UK, none more famous than the Palace of Westminster and Big Ben.
So many Blue Plaques
Ramsgate certainly has its fair share of Blue Plaques, two of which relate to Vincent Van Gogh. He moved to Ramsgate in April 1876 and was a supply teacher in a small boarding school in Royal Road.
Vincent Van Gogh’s residence
Vincent Van Gogh’s taught here
I do love how tenuous some of the plaques can be. Charles Darwin stayed in Ramsgate in 1850, also Wilkie Collins, the novelist in the 1870s and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the English poet in 1830s.
Although possibly the most famous of them all is HRH Princess Victoria who resided in Albion Place between September 1835 to January 1836.
HRH Princess Victoria resided in Ramsgate
Find out more
Only one way to finish
Gary and I had a lovely day strolling around Ramsgate and as we headed back along the seafront who couldn’t help ourselves and popped into Peter’s Fish Factory.
Peter’s Fish Factory
If you’re nearby Ramsgate at Christmas time head to the Royal Harbour, as lots of the little boats are decorated for the festive season.
Ramsgate Royal Harbour at Christmas
Inspired to visit Ramsgate?
Why not stay at the Royal Harbour Hotel and enjoy the fantastic clifftop views across the bay.
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