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northerly eastern tip of Kent is a fascinating but largely forgotten area. Its most recent history makes for depressing reading as it is one of the poorest regions of the South of England and is home to the most socially deprived ward in the South East. It was not always thus as can be testified by the fact that despite being only the fifth of the size of Ashford it has the largest concentration of listed buildings in Kent - 2,500. From the late 18th-century until the early 20th century its three towns, Broadstairs, Margate and Ramsgate, were fashionable seaside resorts. The bathing machine was invented in Margate in the late 18th-century. Margate can also claim the first Georgian square built at a seaside resort (Cecil Square). The conventional view is that Broadstairs is ‘the jewel of Thanet’ but it has relatively few listed buildings compared with Margate and Ramsgate: Broadstairs 132 Ramsgate 980 Margate 600 (this includes Cliftonville, a planned extension of the town to provide a ‘select’ residential area, akin to the relationship of St. Leonard’s to Hastings or Hove to Brighton. There are 20 Conservation Areas including in Ramsgate the biggest Conservation Area in Kent (150 hectares). Surprisingly Cliftonville is not in a conservation area: this is because of the dire social problems inherent in the area which ironically can be partly explained by the unusual layout. Cliftonville’s streets are very long with no cross roads making it easier for gangs to maraud up and down. The poverty eclipses any acknowledgement of Cliftonville’s architectural merit. ‘Here must be the largest stretches of undiscovered late-Georgian terrace and crescent in any English urban complex’ writes Roy Strong about Ramsgate in Country Life in April 2005. The advent of the high speed rail links from Ramsgate to St. Pancras from 16th December 2009 and the opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate in 2011 will undoubtedly have an impact on the area. Indeed, initial signs of gentrification are already in evidence but there is still a very long way to go. Several of the ‘buildings at risk’ were originally built for mass entertainment - for example Margate has the greatest number of listed cinemas outside London including a 2,200 seater Grade II* in the Dreamland complex by Julian Leathart (it remains intact but much of the decorative detail is covered up by Formica panels). The Lido (1927) is now derelict but built over the unique thermal Clifton Baths of 1820. Many of the problems of listed buildings in Thanet, apart from the obvious social ones, stem from dodgy developers and numerous mysterious fires. Among the victims of the recession and a bankrupt developer are the re-development of the Sea Bathing Hospital (built 1792-6 to provide sea-bathing facilities for patients with scrofula) which remains half-converted into flats. The hospital’s 1872 French Gothic chapel is at risk. It is unusual in that there are no pews in the front of the church as patients used to be
There is a recent history of poor design quality in Thanet.wheeled in lying in their beds. This was to be converted into flats with a glass tower but the developer has gone bust. See following email for her idea of a ‘Green Isle. ___________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ A SAVE Report on the Isle of Thanet would be very timely as the area is on the brink of re-generation and recognition. The Grange is in Ramsgate) only industrial building.Pugin. recently elected Chairman of the All Amenity Societies in Kent and the Conservative Candidate for South Thanet (will almost certainly win the seat at the General Election). President of the Ramsgate Society – at one time he was going to draw up a Master Plan for the Marina in Ramsgate Tim Brittain-Caitlin Nick Dermot.5 million to the restoration of Dreamland. Laura Sandys. The plus sides are that English Heritage is giving money to the Shell Grotto in Margate and the government has just announced a grant of £3. Another case is Edward Pugin’s (son of A. His prodigious knowledge of the area and his enthusiasm is wonderful. the Heritage Development Officer of Thanet District Council. There are only 4 registered architects (one of them being Tim Brittain-Caitlin).W. a part time resident of Ramsgate Laura Sandys had the idea of commissioning a photographic student at Thanet College to take the photographs for the report which could then be the subject of an exhibition. whose own house.N. The following could contribute in some way: Sir Terry Farrell. . Clive Aslet. a flour mill.