The Royal Harbour, Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside resort and port town on the Isle of Thanet in eastern Kent. Long before it became a great seaside town in the 19th century it was a busy port and remains so. Ramsgate is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports.
Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main industries are tourism and fishing. The town has one of the largest marinas on the south coast of Britain and the Port of Ramsgate has provided cross channel ferries for many years.
The town today is now the amalgamation of two settlements. One is the fishing community based on the coast in the shallow valley between two chalk cliffs and the other a farming community inland that is now the Parish of St Lawrence. The cliffs are now known as the East Cliff and the West Cliff and are predominantly residential areas. There are promenades along both cliff tops with parks at either end and sand beaches on the coast.
Ramsgate emerged into the light of history as a fishing and farming hamlet. Ramsgate as a name has its earliest reference as Hræfn's geat, or "Raven's cliff gap", later to be rendered 'Ramisgate' or 'Remmesgate' around 1225 and 'Ramesgate' from 1357. The legendary mercenary kings Hengest and Horsa, who founded the Kingdom of Kent, landed on Thanet in around 450 AD to herald the coming of the English to Britain, and it may have been to this "raven's gap" in the cliffs to which their ships came. The Christian missionary Saint Augustine landed in Ramsgate in 597 to begin the conversion of the English to Christianity.
Ramsgate's harbour is a defining characteristic of the town. The construction of Ramsgate Harbour began in 1749 and was completed in about 1850. The Harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the United Kingdom honoured with the title Royal Harbour. Because of its proximity to Europe, Ramsgate was a chief embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.
In 1901, the Isle of Thanet saw the introduction of an electric tram service which was one of the few inter-urban tramways in Britain. The towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs were linked by 11 miles of track.
In 1915-1916 early aircraft began to use the open farmlands at Manston as a site for emergency landings. The location near the Kent coast gave Manston some advantages over the other previously established aerodromes. During the first World War, Ramsgate was the target of bombing raids by Zeppelin airships. By 1917 the Royal Flying Corps was well established and taking an active part in the defence of Britain's shores. As RAF Manston the aerodrome played an important role in the Second World War and is now called Kent International Airport.
The town has a number of notable churches.
- Church of England:
- St Laurence-in-Thanet was built in 1062 and rebuilt during the following centuries with the most significant changes being in the 16th century.
- St George The Martyr, the town's Parish Church, stands just off the town's High Street. Its lantern tower was added at the request of Trinity House as a navigational aid to passing ships and looks over the town. The ground was consecrated on 23 October 1827.
- Christ Church, built in 1847
- Roman Catholic: St Augustine's is a Roman Catholic church, standing on the town's westcliff. It was designed by Augustus Pugin in 1847 in the neo-Gothic style.
Sights of the town
The Hugin is a reconstructed Viking longship located at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate. It was a gift from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the arrival of Hengest and Horsa in Kent in 449.
Many buildings in Ramsgate are of Regency and Victorian architecture. There are 900 listed buildings in the town with more than 200 surrounding the Marina. One of the town's most notable buildings is the 18th century Townley House designed by Mary Townley.
Ramsgate library was originally built and paid for by Andrew Carnegie in 1904. On the evening of Friday 13 August 2004 a fire destroyed Ramsgate library just two months short of its 100th anniversary. Though suspicions were raised as to what started the fire due to a similarly timed fire at the town's registry office, an investigation concluded that the blaze was too intense to pinpoint where and how the fire started.
Shortly after the blaze, planning permission was granted for a new library. The library has now been fully restored, and was officially re-opened on 20 February 2009.
Port of Ramsgate
The Port of Ramsgate has a 700 berth marina, Royal Harbour Marina, and a ferry terminal built on reclaimed land. The harbour provides shelter from the effect of storms. The Goodwin Sands are nearby. In 2005, the marina had 12,000 visiting boats. Transeuropa Ferries passenger (with vehicle only) and freight ferries now sail to the Port of Ostend in Ostend, Belgium. The Port of Ramsgate has its own road access tunnel from outside of the town, avoiding town centre congestion. The RNLI Ramsgate Lifeboat Station is based in Ramsgate Harbour.
Ramsgate's main industries are tourism and fishing. The town has a thriving marina with over 800 moorings and a range of marine-related businesses that operate in premises in the renovated arches under Royal Parade. The town caters for students of EFL (English as a foreign language) at its colleges.
Although Ramsgate has the most valuable fish landings in Kent (~£700,000 in 2003), the fishing industry is in decline.
The Port of Ramsgate has provided cross channel ferries for many years. Currently a service of freight and car is provided to Ostend by the company Transeuropa Ferries.
There is some light industry in the town. An emerging industry is power generation, with 800 jobs expected to be created by the Thanet Offshore Wind Project just off the coast.
Ramsgate Market is held in High Street, King Street and Queen Street every Friday and Saturday between 8 am and 4 pm.
Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline, particularly Ramsgate Main Sands. The old prime seafront site which was Ramsgate pleasure park is currently undergoing major redevelopment.
There is an annual Powerboat Grand Prix event based out of the harbour of Ramsgate during the summer.
Ramsgate carnival is an annual parade also during the summer. Other events include the annual Addington Street Fair and the French Market.
Arts and local media
The Gallery IOTA (Isle Of Thanet Arts) was based on the towns west cliff but is now on the harbour front.
Ramsgate Maritime Museum near the harbour quayside has exhibits showing the evolution of Ramsgate Harbour and East Kent maritime history. One of Ramsgate's cinema and theatre is Granville Cinema, situated on Victoria Parade, in the town's Eastcliff area. There is also the Kings Theatre situated near the town centre offering shows, community events and Seniors Club every Monday. Old Ramsgate Talk are frenquently held there.
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- ↑ Concise Dictonary World place names, Oxford Uni. Press: 2005
- ↑ A Dictonary of British Place names 2003: A.D Mills
- ↑ encyclopedia.com: OED etymology of "raven"
- ↑ Ramsgate History - Zepplin raids
- ↑ Ramsgate Focus
- ↑ Paul Nettleingham, "Townley House in Ramsgate", Michaels Bookshop Ramsgate. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
- ↑ Library News – The Ramsgate Society
- ↑ CoastalKent.net - Fisheries
- ↑ http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/thanet_fact_file/markets.aspx thanet.gov.uk
- ↑ Ramsgate Carnival
- ↑ Gallery IOTA
- Martin Easdown, A Fateful Finger of Iron: The Story of the Ill-fated Ramsgate Promenade Pier Within a Resort History of the Town, Michaels Bookshop (Jul 2006), ISBN 1-905477-65-1
- Bob Simmonds, Ramsgate From the Ground: An Alternative Look at the Town and Its History, Michaels Bookshop (April 2006), ISBN 1-905477-47-3