Letters to the Times

The Save Dreamland Campaign was launched by Joyland Books in January 2003 and is now supported by several thousand people. This is the place to discuss all aspects of saving Margate's famous amusement park and its iconic , Grade II listed Scenic Railway, Britain's oldest roller coaster.

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Letters to the Times

Postby EAS » 08 Aug 2008, 08:02

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 459818.ece

Victorian piers
Our seaside heritage needs investment

Sir, I agree with your report, “Victorian triumphs that turn to scrap metal by the sea” (July 29).

I am a recent migrant to Ramsgate, lured by the fine Victorian housing, sunny seaside weather and sandy blue-flagged beaches (of which ther are eight in the district). What I did not account for was the total disregard for the town’s heritage by its rulers, Thanet District Council (TDC, which encompasses Margate and Broadstairs among others).

The pier in Ramsgate is long gone, because of financial problems, a First Word War mine strike and a boat accident in 1930, but other elements of this picturesque seaside town are lost or on the road to ruin. Amusements such as Pleasurama have burnt down; the marina restaurant, with a Grade II listing, was pulled down; the pavilion, leased as a casino for 40 years but now empty, has been left to rot from the outside in; the lido has been converted into a car park with an EU grant. Take a look across the Isle of Thanet to Margate and you see equal measures of abandonment: Dreamland empty, its Grade II listed rollercoaster partly burnt down; the rest of the town obviously suffering from the void created by two million visitors not visiting Margate anymore.

Unfortunate as Weston-super-Mare’s fire is, I look on enviously at the fact that the owners have just overseen a multimillion-pound refit of the pier, and have vowed to do the same again. Compare that with Ramsgate and Margate’s missing or disappearing treasures, where little or no effort is being made by owners past or present to restore our seaside heritage to its past splendour.

Steve Higgins
Ramsgate, Kent

Have your say

As a local councillor and Margate Charter Trustee, I can assure readers that every effort is being made to preserve local heritage and local history.

The council can encourage development and new projects but it can't dictate what should take place on what is often privately owned property

Simon Moores, Margate, Kent

Responses (click link) include:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 473040.ece

From The TimesAugust 6, 2008

Sunnier prospects for Britain’s seaside towns?
Improvements are being made to Kent's coastal resorts
Sir, Contrary to Steve Higgins’s letter (August 5), there is a lot going on to improve Kent’s coastal towns — you only need to look at Whitstable as a successful example.

Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs have received heritage lottery funds to restore Victorian buildings to their former glory and Pugin’s Grange on the cliff top at Ramsgate has been renovated recently. We will soon be starting work on the building for Turner Contemporary, designed by the Stirling Prize-winner David Chipperfield. We have run a scheme with Thanet District Council to bring 85 empty homes back into use and we are now seeing migration from London into Thanet where purchasers are seizing the opportunity to buy elegant Victorian buildings at affordable prices.

We have no doubt that with the Channel Tunnel Rail Link domestic services coming to Folkestone, Dover and Margate the migration of wealth and prosperity into East Kent will gain momentum.

Sandy Ezekiel
Leader, Thanet Borough Council

Paul Carter
Leader, Kent County Council
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Postby Cheryl » 08 Aug 2008, 10:49

I notice there is not a mention of Dreamland in Sandy Ezekiel's response.

This is my opinion only and some may disagree with me, but I blame consecutive TDC administrations for majority of the problems in Margate. I remember as a child, when the town was thriving, they never invested and things were shabby even then.

They have never protected their assets and I realise there has been a decline in seaside towns across the country, but not as devastating as Margate. Most major seaside towns still boast some sort of tourism, I just have to pick up our local paper to find many seaside resorts advertising their hotels - never Margate!.

Why has this happened - look to TDC.
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Postby EAS » 08 Aug 2008, 12:54

The Grange (although not in Margate) did receive some funding from Thanet:


Not sure it's exactly 'renovation' though.
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Postby Nick Evans » 10 Aug 2008, 17:03

It's interesting to note that Sandy Ezekiel highlights Whitstable as a success - not a town in Thanet after all.

I've lived in Whitstable for 20 years and it has become successful because it hasn't changed too much. In other words it hasn't tried to become something it can't or shouldn't be.

It has attracted a lot of positive publicity for staying much as it is - bit do rememebr the town wasn't fashionable at all 10 or 15 years ago.

If Margate and other parts of Thanet weren't being pushed into things they'll never be - a centre for modern art for one - then perhaps there would be two million tourists flocking to Thanet.

Cheryl's remarks about Conservative cllrs not reinvesting in the place are very true - we only have to think back 26 years to all the furore over the Hoser affair for example.
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Postby EAS » 10 Aug 2008, 17:37

Oh come on - do expand... the Hoser affair?

However - what happened about this? I know a spot off topic but... it could happen in Margate...

Developers' plans thrown out but has it ended there?

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Postby Vince, Charlie and Sam » 15 Aug 2008, 19:36

EAS wrote:Oh come on - do expand... the Hoser affair?

There's so much we could tell you... and not just about Cyril Hoser.

The "Fake Sheikh" affair, the suitcases full of forged $100 bills thrown off of the back of the Sally Line ferry, the Thanet District Councillor exposed as a working prostitute two days running on the front page of The Sun, the owner of a Victorian railway engine shed-come-amusement arcade on Ramsgate seafront saying to an employee "If you want any of those carpet tiles, you'd better take them now" the afternoon before it burned down....

But you know, libel laws and all that... :wink: :wink: :wink:
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Postby EAS » 15 Aug 2008, 22:28

Some people lead so much more colourful lives than I do ... sigh.
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