Ramsgate has a Royal Harbour. So the story goes that King George IV, not liking his wife very much, used Ramsgate as his port to avoid meeting up with her at Dover. Finding that Ramsgate was such a hospitable town, he decreed a harbour be built, hence the claim. I can see his point, and so could the Dutch who, grateful for his patronage, erected an obelisk in his memory which is proudly displayed on the waterfront. The inscription, in Latin was a bit difficult to read, but it more or less offered their thanks. Note that the point appears to be too sharp for seagulls to land on it and perch.
However, the decision to go to Ramsgate was a good one having meandered around Margate a couple of weeks previously. It was one of those days when the forecast promised precipitation, and so we went prepared, only to be pleasantly surprised by the clemency of the weather for the whole day. The other surprise was that when we went to pay for our parking we we told that it was free on Saturday. Now there is a thing. We will likely call again.
We parked in the multi story at Leopold Street and from there we walked on the terrace and viewed the crowded harbour. The sails on the slightly choppy sea looked good as boats came in to complete a race. Sister Daffers remarked on the greenness of the sea and the likelihood of her being a similar colour if she was out on one of the boats. On my part I declared, hopefully correct, that I would enjoy sailing on one of them. I had the district feeling the comment would have been ‘idiot’ – I can understand that.
The harbour is an attractive place to walk and from there Ramsgate looks beautiful. It is an attractive place with the advantage of being set into a cleft in the cliffs, not so much a cove as on the end of a wide bay that includes Margate and Broadstairs. However, with the harbour, the town is most attractive.
We visited the Sailors Church where there was an art exhibition, and admired the walls and the Smack Boys buildings. The wonderful dark brickwork of the arches which on the quayside has spaces for traders and creates a decorative facade on the road levels above. We loved the Terrace with its cafes with the tables outside, and later when we returned to the water front it was good to see the same retail chaos repeated.
We wandered around the harbour until eventually our need to find a Loo took over. We found one just a little way up from the pedestrianised shopping centre. Ramsgate, you stand accused of having one of the worst we have come across in a Kent town. Smelly, dirty and decidedly damp, the men’s Loo was disgusting. Sister Daffers declared the damsel’s domain equally disgusting. Tut, tut, tut.
The shopping centre, and parts of the town we saw were seaside scruffy with that sort of shabbiness expected in a coastal town. But for all that the centre was busy, there are plenty of places to snack, a good variety of shops not all given over to the usual rubbish and there was plenty of people shopping. We walked around a little and decided to go and see St George’s Church with its magnificent lantern topped tower on the way back down to the seafront.
The church was a good idea. We stopped at a small shop to chat with the owner, she was running an animal sanctuary, and make a donation. I note now that I have loaned one of my cameras to Daffers that she too will stop and take pictures, and I now have to wait for her her to snap piccies too. At that rate we will never get around the place! But it makes for a better observation and adds to the enjoyment.
The streets are clean, in places but it is obvious that the cleaning does not extend beyond the seafront, and there is evidence of a lack of care, the cans and bottles left on windowsills, takeaway boxes in odd corners, clothing discarded on steps in the area behind the shops. In contrast as we moved closer to the seafront the place showed much less of that. We will return to have a further look and maybe walk from the cliffs, or even along the seafront to Broadstairs and back again.
But strolling along the cliff top we looked down on the beach and the harbour. The lift is no longer operating so it was pleasant walk past gardens to the steps leading down to the pavilion. Feeling a little peckish we stopped at Peter’s Cafe and sharing a portion of chips with a portion of fish each and a hot drink, we sat and relaxed. It was an experience to sit looking out on the activity and sadly to see how many people are obese, sometimes it is a whole family. Some of them could not get into the seat I was sitting in without
experiencing extreme difficulty.
After that it was off along the seafront to where there was the Ramsgate Wall – a boarded barrier hiding the construction of a new project – covered in paintings. It was most interesting. The proposed construction will be expensive apartments and a boulevard of shops. New and ghastly looking fifties futuristic/Benidorm style buildings that will hide the blank cliff wall but maybe a boring expression of assumed affluence.
The contrast is the back streets and the odd places where buildings have been boarded up. The old Police Station looks in line for demolition but nearby there are buildings and dwellings that are delightfully attractive. A mixture it seems. However, none of this detracted from the grandeur of the seafront buildings, or even, shall we admit it, the tower blocks that dominate the old town.
We will visit again and have another walk around – look closer at the gardens – experience the walk along to Pegwell Bay.
We walked back to go home and on the way had an Italian ice-cream cone each which was delicious, enjoyed a short chat with a pleasant 81 year old lady from Margate and said a fond farewell to Ramsgate for the time being. I think we will be back.