RAMSGATE Autumn 2019
Modern-day Seaside Stories
THE MUSIC MAKERS
LIGHT & SHADE
Historical crimes revisited
Inside the magical studio of Fiona Gall
Puginâ€™s other masterpiece
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Autumn News and Openings the latest goings on around town
Gemma’s Jaunts - our columnist goes bowling
Autumn Hotlist - the mustsee events of the season
Addington Street Revival Fair a day of fun, food and music
10 Music News - we chat to the Lunatraktors and Mike McEvoy shares his playlist 13 The Music Makers - the artisans who make musical instruments by hand 20 Open for Business - the latest store openings in Ramsgate 22 Rotten Ramsgate - a tour of the crimes of Ramsgate past 24 Light and Shade - we meet designer and maker Fiona Gall 27 A Restoring Stay - inside the beautifully restored Pugin home 33 Ramsgate: A Masterwork a history of the harbour and ongoing maritime development 37 Unsung Heroes - Josephine Canty tells us the importance of our local bee population 38 Give Something Back to Ramsgate how you can get involved with important local causes
@ramsgaterecorder ramsgaterecorder.com Issue Four, Autumn 2019 (August to October) Editor Helen Pipins Founder & Publisher Clare Freeman Co-Founder and Advertising Director Jen Brammer Design Lizzy Tweedale Sub-editor Ros Anderson Intern Georgie Hurst Print Mortons Print Advertising and distribution enquiries email@example.com Front cover Claire Dugué and Kai Tönjes by Joshua Atkins
Welcome to our autumn issue!
From the Editor Helen Pipins
o here we are at issue four, which essentially means we are a year old. It was August last year that Clare, our glorious publisher, said we were ready to go with the Ramsgate version of the Margate Mercury. We only had a few months to put it together before we launched in November - and what a year it has been. Hopefully you have been following us all the way and if you haven’t, welcome to our wonderful community! So many people to thank and not enough of a word count to do so. There is always so much on offer in Ramsgate and I have been privileged to have met so many of the wonderful creatives and heroes. This issue is no exception. Our lead story (page 13) looks at the incredible craftsmen and women making instruments by hand. On the historic front, we have another Brian Daubney gem about Ramsgate's art past and ongoing maritime developments (page 33), while Dale Shaw (page 22) takes us on a walk through Rotten Ramsgate, reminding us that every street has a story here, even if they might be a little spooky! We also take a peek into The Grange (page 27), a masterpiece of a building by Pugin, now open for all to enjoy. Our unsung hero is the incredibly talented, pinnacle of all things good, Josephine Canty (page 37), talking to us about bees and the absolute need for their existence. Finally, I would like to thank you all dear readers for jumping on board and to all the people that have made this a wonderful town to live in. A celebration indeed. ` Helen x
Contributors Writers Anna Bang Gemma Dempsey Brian Daubney Dale Shaw Georgie Hurst Ros Anderson Sean Farrell
27 - 33
22 - 23
33 - 35
Published by Ramsgate Recorder Ltd. Suzanne Martin Zoe Davies
Photographers Adrian Davies Joshua Atkins Kent Mathews
Illustrators Emma Falconer Jade Spranklen
© All rights reserved Copyright 2019 Ramsgate Recorder Ltd.
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Join us for spectacular love in this year. September 2019 we will be sharing fun, food, stalls and entertainment, there really is something for everyone. Addington Street Community fair is a beautiful day for kids and adults alike. Music, entertainment as well as arts, crafts and historical activities. All taking place in Addinton Street, Nelson Crescent and Spencer Square.
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Gallery 98 is an exciting new gallery in Ramsgate showing original paintings, prints, photography, ceramics and silver jewellery.
Gallery 98 is at 98 High Street Ramsgate CT119RX Tel: 07580 572869 Facebook: Gallery98ramsgate Email: email@example.com Instagram: gallery_98_ramsgate We welcome inquiries about exhibitions Open: Thurs- Sat 11-5pm
Autumn News and Openings Writer
A dose of Ramsgate life from a lady about town
ong ago, British coastal towns were referred to as ‘sleepy’, ‘ boring’, ‘retirement villages’ or, heaven forbid, ‘God’s Waiting Room’ (‘GWR’ in polite circles). Jump to Ramsgate 2019 and I can confirm that this town is far from being any of the aforementioned. For people such as myself, moving to a place where you know no one and work from home, getting involved in local groups is a no-brainer. Living on a square meant I was soon invited to help with the gardening. No green fingers
s we cool down from a fiery festival season, the roaring success of the Festival of Sound and International Film and TV Festival proving the vast creativity of this town, locals continue to grow the prospects for Ramsgate’s future. In July, volunteers at the Winterstoke Gardens raised an incredible £3255 for their ‘Sponsored 12-hour Slogathon’, working from 7am to 7pm to radically improve the Sun Shelter and Chine. The volunteers oversee and attempt to maintain the Ramsgate East Cliff, with its gorgeous Grade II listed Winterstoke Gardens & Sun Shelter (facebook.com/pg/ ramsgateeastcliff). Likewise, locals have been coming together to conserve the wildlife of Ramsgate, which is increasingly under threat. A new organisation named Street Trees for Ramsgate are setting out to plant trees around town and protect existing flora from being eradicated (facebook. com/streettreesforramsgate/). In September, Newington Big Local are teaming up with Paines Plough, who will bring an exciting ‘pop-up’ theatre to the green behind the Newington Community Centre with performances from 11 to 15 September, as well as a community café and a licenced bar (facebook.com/NewingtonBigLocal). You can get the scoop on the latest addition
to the high street, homestore Potters, along with Addington Street’s new body, beauty and lifestyle brand Anatomicals over on page 20. Music-heads in Ramsgate unite for this year’s ContraPop Festival, hosted on 17-18 August by Extra Normal Records. The event is dedicated to showcasing exciting experimental pop music, with acts such as Ramsgate resident Adrian Sherwood and Margate group Poor Clares performing. Hear the hypnotic sounds of local duo Liotia, a collaboration between singer/songwriter Abigail Hubbard and producer Matt Smyth, on their recent debut EP So Close/ Yours Tonight. The pair began working together while Abigail was on work experience for Pie Factory Music, where Matt engineered the studio facility. Look out for Ramsgate artists taking part in the East Kent Open Houses, running over the last three weekends in October as part of the Canterbury Festival. Participating artists include Pat Makinson, Joanna Hyslop and Sarah Stokes at Gallery98, Paul Brown and Tony Caroli. And discover the hidden histories of Ramsgate in Andy Bull’s latest book Secret Ramsgate, exploring the lesserknown tales of this seaside town through a fascinating selection of stories, unusual facts and photographs.
required, but I recommend you check before you weed. I got yelled at on my first day as I’d unwittingly strayed onto a rockery that was the domain of one particular resident. Duly chastened, I lowered my trowel and bagged up garden waste instead. Refreshments are supplied, turning it into a social occasion. Cost? Time and a few quid towards garden maintenance and nosh. Value? Priceless. While walking along the West Cliff I noticed both a bowling and a croquet club, their members clad in brilliant white set against vivid green lawns. Happy days! My previous experience of the latter had been bashing balls around the back garden with my dad, taking care to avoid a mossy area, the croquet equivalent of a bunker in golf. Keen for fresh blood, these Ramsgate clubs are adapting membership fees to make joining more accessible, and offer free taster sessions. Ramsgate Bowls proudly proclaims it’s medically proven to improve your health and strengthen your immune system. A win-win with balls. If you’re artistically inclined, but think gouache is yet another variety of avocado spread, how about Thanet Rock Hunters? Set up in 2018, it now boasts almost 9,000 members, its popularity due to its simple ethos - random acts of kindness created by sharing a piece of art with a total
stranger, sending out positive energy without expecting something in return. All you need is a rock (not from the beach as that would be stealing), paints and varnish. Hide your decorated rock and once discovered, a photo is taken, posted on social media and then the stone rehidden. Easy, inexpensive and makes the creator and finder happy – a rocking win-win! Want to keep fit but Coastal Striders or the Military Fitness Academy sound about as much fun as having a root canal? How about dance instead? I am a proud member of They Don’t Care, the in-house troupe of Screaming Alley Cabaret (in itself a perfect reason to move to Ramsgate). Having attended the show, I went to the They Don’t Care audition as ‘dance curious’, keen to support the idea rather than take part. Well that didn’t last long. The wonderful Maggi Swallow choreographs our motley crew into fun routines set to brilliant music, and we perform for hundreds of punters. Dancing not your thing? Then take your pick of the following: Addington Street Fair, Crafty Poppies, Ramsgate Costumed Walks, Thanet Electronic Organ and Keyboard Club plus a plethora of community choirs, ukulele classes, sailing and surfing. Even the WI has become hip. Who said coastal living was boring? These days I visit London for a rest!
“Ramsgate Bowls proudly proclaims it’s medically proven to improve your health and strengthen your immune system. A win-win with balls”
Mencap Street Party
Free entry for this bimonthly night for jungle drum & bass lovers in Thanet. Get there early for a production workshop in collaboration with Waves Audio
Addington Street Revival Fair
A day of live music from local bands, food outlets and stalls selling festival merchandise, as well as circus skills workshops. Carers go free!
Ramsgate Music Hall
A carnival of civic pride spread across Addington Street, Spencer Square, Nelson Crescent and Vale Square
25 August 5-11pm
2 August, 10am-4pm Forester’s Hall, Ramsgate facebook.com/ eastkentmencap
Summer Fair A miscellany of family fun, from craft stalls to face painting, raffles and kids’ activities, vintage goods, plus a huge bouncy castle 4 August, 9am-3pm
Circus Berlin Continental Circus Berlin combine circus acts, music and youthful energy, incorporating fantastic performers from all over the world
17-19 August Ramsgate Beach extranormal.org.uk
Cider Fest Four glorious nights of free live music, plus more varieties of cider than you’ve ever dreamed of 23-26 August, 8-11pm Elephant and Castle, Ramsgate facebook.com/ 2drunkpunkpromotions
5 September, 7-10pm
An educational day for children to identify bees, learn about their role in the ecosystem and take part in bee-themed crafts 29 August, 10.30am2.30pm Monkton Nature Reserve facebook.com/ monktonreserve
RNLI Junior Fishing Competition A sponsored junior fishing competition in aid of Ramsgate RNLI
Ramsgate artist Fiona Stewart exhibits her fine art prints and oil paintings steeped in storytelling traditions alongside Shaun Caton 23-27 August Pie Factory, Margate piefactorymargate.co.uk/ exhibition
Ramsgate Lifeboat Station facebook.com/ NewingtonBigLocal
Simian Mobile Disco Set over two intimate floors, don’t miss this dj set of the best in electro, house and techno music 30 August, 9.30pm-2am Ramsgate Music Hall ramsgatemusichall.com
21 September, 7.30pmmidnight Ramsgate Music Hall
The Harmony Massage Course
Archive Homestore and Kitchen
A three-day massage training course to complement existing therapies or as a standalone business
23-25 Septemmber 9am-6pm
29 August, 9.30am-5.30pm
Dreamed Revisions: Fiona Stewart & Shaun Caton
Theatre Network Thanet
Former frontman of kraturock-kings Can. Support comes from Canterbury’s ludicrously brilliant Lapis Lazuli
Making Waves, Looping the Loop Making Waves will showcase the region’s best theatre, dance, comedy, cabaret and music, offering a chance for everyone involved in creating live performance to pitch their work to an audience of industry professionals 27-29 September Multiple venues loopingtheloopfestival.org. uk/makingwaves
A monthly meet up for locally-based actors, artists, writers and theatremakers
Contra Pop Festival Extra Normal Records presents the fourth edition of Contra Pop Festival, a two-day event with live performances
Government Acre, Ramsgate
25-28 August, times vary
Ramsgate Leisure Centre facebook.com/RamsgateLC
Addington Street, Ramsgate
Are you a writer who sometimes gets stuck? Writers’ Gremlins is a monthly meet-up for those looking for a fun and social way to get rid of pesky writers’ gremlins 7 September, 3-6pm Townley’s, Albion House facebook.com/thanetwriters
The Goddess Rooms, Ramsgate
OCT Job Club A free regular event to help you find the job you want and apply for it. No need to book, just turn up 2 October, 9am - noon Thanet Trust, Hereson Family & Community Centre
Soul by the Sea Join Soul Train Sounds for their regular soul and funk night! Bring your dancing shoes... 28 September, 8pm-midnight
The Kingsdown Band
The Kingsdown Band is one of Kent’s longest serving bands, originally formed in 1989
Sticky Acoustic Jam
A new monthly night playing the finest oldschool reggae classics, all on original vinyl 4 October, 8pm-midnight
14 October 7.30-11.30pm Ramsgate Music Hall ramsgatemusichall.com
Conservation Fridays A chance to volunteer and gain practical experiences in nature conservation, such as habitat management, maintenance and species monitoring. No experience necessary 18 October, 10am-3pm Monkton Nature Reserve facebook.com/ monktonreserve
A performance from one of the UK’s most exciting and inspiring jazz artists, who has collaborated with Shabaka Hutchings
Oak Hotel, Ramsgate
24 October, 7.30pmmidnight
Ramsgate Music Hall ramsgatemusichall.com
Yoga Teacher Mentoring
Meridian 5.41 Monthly exhibition for local artists to present experimental ideas and works in progress 25 October, 7.30-11pm Archive Homestore and Kitchen
Roundabout on Newington Green
The true masters of psychedelic krautrock, the Japanese group return
Ramsgate Reggae Night
The Belle Vue Tavern, Pegwell Bay
Newington Roundabout, Ramsgate
Acid Mothers Temple
8 September, 4-7pm
12-22 September, 2-5pm
Oak Hotel, Ramsgate
Roundabout will host a varied programme of community events over the weekend, and three plays from Paines Plough
Compiled & written by
Kent’s acoustic party night hits Ramsgate. Sticky acoustic jams that will have you grabbing at the mic!
A monthly group for yoga teachers in Kent who want to have a focus session and connect with others
28 September, 9.30pm
11 October, 1-3pm
Coco Latino, Ramsgate
Anetai Yoga Studio and Wellness, Ramsgate
Funke and the Two Tone Baby The ‘One Man Electro Blues Band’ returns this October 26 October, 9.30pm-2am Ramsgate Music Hall ramsgatemusichall.com
T S A O C R E L L O R L A V I T S E F N U F Y L I M A F F O R E M r e b SUM m e t ep
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Seasonal seafood & vegetarian dishes Thursday to Saturday lunch & dinner, Sunday lunch. Reservations at
Recommended by the 2019 Edition of the MICHELIN Guide for Great Britain and Ireland.
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Cozi Van Tutti is for the community providing Creative Events, Cinema,Theatre, Entertainment Education and Urban Projects for Thanet
Bar plates Thursday to Sunday evenings from 6.30pm No reservations
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Addington Street Revival Fair Writer
Photography Courtesy of Denis Smith
A highlight of Ramsgate’s carnival calendar, we spoke to Addington Street Revival Fair organiser Becky Wing to find out more about reviving the community and their plans for this year’s festivities
highlight of Ramsgate’s carnival calendar, we spoke to Addington Street Revival Fair organiser Becky Wing to find out more about reviving the community and their plans for this year’s festivities There are a handful of dedicated Ramsgate residents whose time and energy is poured into transforming the local community. Becky Wing, chair of the Addington Street Revival Fair, is one of them. A newly-elected Green Party Councillor, and mentor for young people at the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Becky was struck by how the emergence of UKIP in Thanet divided the community. “It seemed like there were just two groups of people shouting at each other,” she says. When the beloved Addington Street Revival Fair dropped into her lap several years ago, she saw it as an opportunity “to find common ground and bring the community together.” With the help of generous locals, including the Nelson Crescent resident’s group, and musicians offering to play for reduced fees, the small committee managed to do a lot with what little budget they initially had. The following year, their AGM attracted dozens more people offering help. “It really spurred things forward,” Becky tells me, “we’re lucky now because the committee we have are really creative and talented people. In Ramsgate people tend to be unassuming with their talents, and they’re really community-minded, so we have a fabulous team.” Building on her vision for a more united Ramsgate, this year’s fair is themed ‘All You Need is Love’. “There are two reasons,” she explains, firstly to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first album, and also to “send the message that anybody is welcome,” as a result of a homophobic
“We have these little gems dotted across Thanet... they just need to be utilised more” incident that was brought to her attention by a local store owner earlier this year. At this year’s Revival Fair you can find Marcello, Addington Street's hairdresser extraordinaire, who will be cutting hair for donations to the Pilgrims Hospice, having raised £800 for Oasis in a previous year. Over at Eats ’n’ Beats there will be a Ugandan band performing, alternative cabaret superstars Screaming Alley will showcase local talent at Spencer Square, and theatre group Looping the Loop will provide everything from the comic to the tragic. Alongside its buskers and food and drinks stalls, the fair features - in true revival style - vinyl stalls, vintage clothing, antiques and classic cars. “There’s something for everybody,” says Becky. The community group is increasingly conscious of improving the local environment, many being part of the initiative to litter pick every Friday. Becky is encouraging all the stalls to reduce their plastic as much as possible. At last year’s Revival Fair, the group put together a float “literally made of rubbish” they had collected in town, wanting to do something productive with what they collect on their regular litter picking walks. A feature event this year will be Cozi Van Tutti, a project that Becky and other
volunteers have been tirelessly working on over the past year. Fashioned out of a repurposed caravan, it will house performances at the event, but the quirky space will also become a mainstay in the town as a community hub for entertainment and education. At last year’s fair, the van’s designer Denis Smith crafted a miniature Cozi Van Tutti to present to locals and asked what they might want it to be. On school holidays, the group plans to “get Cozi out onto the clifftop and have free pop-up kids’ activities.” The community surrounding the Addington Street Revival Fair is now one of many local groups seeking to rebuild civic pride in Ramsgate. The spirit has spread, as Becky points out, to groups at the East Cliff, who have just set up their own event in the Winterstoke Gardens. “We have these little gems dotted across Thanet,” Becky beams with pride, “they just need to be utilised more.” the East Cliff, who have just set up their own event in the Winterstoke Gardens. “We have these little gems dotted across Thanet,” Becky beams with pride, “they just need to be utilised more.” Addington Street Revival Fair, 1 September
Photographer Peter Campbell Saunders
The Lunatraktors have garnered an almost cult-status in Thanet since forming in 2017, their mesmerising ‘broken-folk’ blending traditional and contemporary folk songs with a beat-driven style of percussion and singing. We spoke to Carli and Clair about recording their debut album, This is Broken Folk, at Arco Barco, a creative workspace in Ramsgate, and how the act has been shaped by the Thanet community What’s the idea behind Lunatrakors? Carli: We were really interested in what happens when we take everything away and reduce it back to the forms we really know. And in the most stripped form it’s about voice and percussion, which can also be body percussion and tap dance - my background is as a dancer and clown. What do you have if everything else is gone, without technology, what do you do without any other aids? How did you find recording in Arco Barco? Clair: I think that space is so resonant in multiple ways, in its historic resonance, the situation of it right by the water and its relationship to colonial trade. We recorded live and tried to really capture energetically what each song was on that day, as well as what was going on outside, because we sampled the sounds of the harbour in the track ‘Jim Jones’. We were incredibly lucky because Raphael Mann, producer and studio engineer at Arco Barco, co-produced the record with us. He came in as a sound engineer, but ended up being so much more than that, and everything about that recording is dependent on him putting multiple microphones in the space to record what sounds we’re making on the body as well as singing and footwork. Carli: Having recorded body percussion, step and tap dance before, I have never had it sound like there was a body behind it. It’s always sounded like a tiny mouse on a stairwell, with a tiny pair of clogs on! This is the first time I’ve really felt like there’s my body behind it, and so I think that comes across in the recordings. Why do the folk songs you perform still resonate today, and particularly with Thanet? Clair: They weren’t folk music at the time, they were news, they were protest songs, and the same families are in charge. You
“People are very emotionally expressive. There’s something a bit wild about Thanet still” have to sing about it, you have to transform that emotion into something you share. The songs are all very relevant to Ramsgate, these deeply entrenched social divisions and a populous that has been stepped on for a really long time. We’re in a place that is part of a really long old story. Has the Thanet influenced Lunatraktors? Carli: Yes, particularly Lara Clifton, who puts on Screaming Alley cabaret. She’s really supported us from when we started. We met her when we did our first show at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate. Clair: It’s one of the spaces that has allowed us to become what we are. That weird budget cabaret with its sparkly plastic streamers has allowed a kind of freedom for us, it’s always an experimental
space for us, and there’s something very Ramsgate about it. We also toured in France recently because the singer Marianne Dissard, who lives in Ramsgate, said “yeah I’ll sort you out some dates in Paris”, just because she wanted to. Carli: It’s like building a very small tribe of people you trust, and who are there because they want to be. Clair: It sounds ridiculous, but people genuinely care and do stuff for the love of it. There’s a matey-ness around here, where people are very emotionally expressive. There’s something a bit wild about Thanet still.
Dates Broadstairs Folk Week 14/08 Sailing Club, 2.30pm
Smugglers Festival 29/08 7pm
First Friday 06/09 Marine Studios, 6.30pm
This Is Broken Folk 20/10 The Gulbenkian, 8pm
Nature Boy (In Flight - 1977)
George Benson’s version of this classic, also recorded beautifully by Nat King Cole in the 1950s, has a gorgeous groove by drummer Harvey Mason and a sublime strings by Claus Ogerman. I love the message of this song, a class standard written by Eden Ahbez. 7
Strawberry Letter 23 (Right On Time - 1977)
The Brothers Johnson were the bassist and guitarist of choice for Quincy Jones on many of his 70s and 80s productions. It such a liltingly solid funk groove, with ‘thunder thumbs’ Louis Johnson’s incredible bass playing holding it all down.
Mike is an award winning composer, musician and songwriter with many film, television and pop music credits to his name 1 Frankenstein (They Only Come Out At Night - 1972)
bi t.l y/M ikeM
FOLK WEEK 9-16/08 (Broadstairs) Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough (1979 - Off The Wall) 8
The Edgar Winter Group
During the early 1970s I was living in Worcester, MA and in my first band. This was the first 45RPM single I bought and hearing this jazz rock track blew my little mind. I had to buy this record twice as I left it on a radiator and it melted. This was the beginning of my education in the joys of vinyl. 2 Long Distance Love (The Last Record Album - 1975)
My family moved to the UK in 1973 and my musical taste was getting more sophisticated. When I first heard Little Feat I was instantly hooked. ‘Long Distance Love’ speaks to the softer side of this - southern rock band with funky roots and soulful blues, topped off with the languid vocals and slide guitar of Lowell George. 3
Peg (AJA - 1977)
Punk had just exploded on the scene, but I wanted to express more than rage and frustration, so when I discovered ‘The Dan’ I was smitten. This track from the phenomenal album Aja lit me up! Its fusion of jazz-funk-rock and oddball lyrics demonstrates what intelligent musicianship can bring to pop music. 4
Babylon Sister (1979)
A lot of people think The Dan are too smooth, but I say ‘listen without prejudice’ to the modulations, the harmonic arrangements and the great lyrics. This song beautifully conjures up the decadence of 1970s Los Angeles. 5
By André Dack from Ramsgate Music Hall
In the Market Place (Interlude) / Jupiter
Earth Wind and Fire (All ’N All - 1977)
My love of ‘body’ music and the message of universal spirituality went to a different level when I heard this band. This album is the moment when the balance between excellent writing, incredible arrangements and orchestrations, well-judged and executed production by Maurice White and fantastic individual contributions from each band member were fully aligned.
Off The Wall came out the summer I turned 18. It’s so funky, upbeat, and fresh - one of my all time benchmarks for production and arranging. Every instrument is live; no sequencing, quantize or autotune. Just incredible musicianship and songs under the guidance of the master, Q, and some of the best sonics ever put to tape by Bruce Swedien. 9
Little Sunflower (The Love Connection - 1979)
Freddie Hubbard (featuring Al Jarreau)
In the early 2000s I refocused from pop towards jazz and film scoring. This track featuring Al Jarreau and a luscious orchestration by Claus Ogerman, is a jazz-funk extravaganza. It travels through so many moods, from mellow and soulful, to intense solos by Freddie and Chick Correa, and back again. 10
Capricorn (Faces in Reflection - 1974)
This is deep, rootsy raw jazz-funk. George’s keyboard set up is basic; a Mini Moog, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer and an echoplex tape delay, but what he does with it all is incredible. Driving the groove is bassist, John Heard, on upright and Ngugu Chancler on drums. You can feel the intense connection between these musicians. 11
Foreign Correspondent (Politics - 1995)
This band have been one of my favourites ever since discovering them in the 1990s. In particular, I am drawn to the recordings by the line up featuring the relaxed, flowing rhythms of drummer, Will Kennedy. The sensitive compositions of Russell Ferrante always touch my heart and excite my mind. Arguably one of the best ever jazz-funk bands. 12 Anna’s Theme, Cremona (Main Title), (from the film ‘The Red Violin’ - 1998)
The Broadstairs-based Folk Week has plenty of acts to look forward to this year. Make sure to see Tim Edey, Ben Walker and Thomas Abrahams at at Queens Road Baptist Church (15/08).
ANNIQUE 16/08 (Eats ‘n’ Beats) Singer-songwriter Annique’s style is born from a synthesis of jazz, pop, and soul. This will be a treat.
IT CAME FROM THE SEA II 23-25/08 (Elsewhere, Margate) A truly terrific weekend of noisy rock acts, psychedelic krautrock, sludge metal, and instrumental post-rock. Friday night headliners Mugstar are simply unmissable.
AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE 27/08 (Ramsgate Music Hall) Psychedelic dub pioneers African Head Charge return to RMH, with the main man Adrian Sherwood back at the controls. An intoxicating soundscape of reggae-inflected drumming, visceral vocals, and bottomless basslines.
THE DRIFTERS 05/09 (Margate Winter Gardens) The longest running singing group in pop history that still perform live, playing doo-wop and R&B classics. Perfect music to conclude the summer.
REEMA 20/09 (Eats ‘n’ Beats) A major coup! Reema is a unique singersongwriter, achieving a special blend of neo-folk music that is minimal, honest, and celestial.
DAMO SUZUKI 21/09 (Ramsgate Music Hall) The former frontman of krautrock kings Can is back. The ludicrously brilliant Lapis Lazuli are his sound-carriers this time.
BIG COUNTRY 19/10 (Dreamland, Margate) Scottish rock band Big Country bring their multimillion selling album Steeltown to Margate, in honour of its 35th anniversary.
John Corigliano (violin - Joshua Bell)
SARATHY KORWAR 24/10 (Ramsgate Music Hall)
I’m ending my list with the opening music from the film ‘The Red Violin’. For my money this is one of most beautifully poignant film scores ever composed. The music is a totally honest and original response to the narrative from a composer of mainly serious classical music. There is a soulful anguish and quiet horror in the music that reminds me that fate can surprise us at any time and death is never far away.
One of the UK’s most exciting and inspiring jazz artists, Sarathy Korwar blends Indian folk with jazz and hip hop. Prepare for a spiritual masterclass.
FEET 25/10 (Ramsgate Music Hall) Fans of The Strokes, The Smiths and The Sex Pistols must make it a priority to see these young lads. A headline slot at Glastonbury 2029 awaits them.
LUNCH - DINNER - DRINKS - SNACKS Open Wed - Sun, check website for opening hours CAFEBARLETTA.CO.UK • @CAFE_BARLETTA 49-51 MARINE TERRACE, MARGATE, CT9 1XJ
3 The Broadway, Addington Street, Ramsgate, CT11 9JN
COFFEE, CAKE, FOOD, COCKTAILS, LIVE MUSIC
Seafront Pub & Restaurant OPEN DAILY 50 Marine Terrace, Margate CT9 1XJ • 01843 269 431 www.cinqueports.co.uk
The Music Makers
Photographer Joshua Atkins
Hurdy-gurdies, ukes and viola Ramsgate is a hot-bed of artisans hand-making instruments. We meet four talented locals hitting the high notes with their craft
Rod Arthur The ukulele has had a remarkable revival over the past decade or so and it’s no surprise that there’s a thriving scene in Ramsgate. Gaddzukes at the Montefiore Arms and Thanet Ukulele Club at the Racing Greyhound are just two of the groups that meet up regularly to strum what Beatle George Harrison described as “a machine that kills sadness”. Rod Arthur started making ukes “for fun” out of reclaimed hardwoods in 2013, after playing for decades and teaching the instrument to blind and partially sighted children. His advanced City & Guilds qualification in furniture making also helps. Oh, and Rod’s been a professional actor for 40 years, spending five years with the Royal Shakespeare Company and appearing in Dr Who, Bleak House and Coronation Street. “I wouldn’t describe myself as a luthier but once I realised I could make ukuleles and I got better at it I started to sell them,” he says, standing in his back-garden workshop. So far he’s sold about 30 ukes just through word of mouth. Rod’s signature instrument is the Minimus – a smaller ‘piccolo’ uke. He’s also started making a square-bodied version called the Bo Tiddley – named after Bo Diddley’s
square guitar. “I thought there was a bit of a gap in the market because lots of people were making larger sizes,” Rod says. “It’s also easier to find smaller pieces of reclaimed wood and that means I can keep the price down.” Rod uses wood from skips and bits of old furniture. A builder gave him the mahogany bar top from what was the Ellington Arms pub and his nuts and saddles are made from German pipe organ keys he bought on eBay. “I’m a bit of a tree hugger. Reclaimed wood keeps the cost down and I like the story behind it,” Rod explains. The basic Minimus sells for £150 but there are more ornate versions available. A beerinspired conversation led to Rod enlisting local artists such as Robert Onion and David Smith into decorating 20 ukes that are on show at the Ravensgate Arms. He plans to show off his instruments at the Margate Ukulele Festival in September. Originally from Morpeth in Northumberland, Rod moved to Ramsgate from Walthamstow, east London, 12 years ago. He quickly became part of the town’s social scene and is recovering from his 63rd birthday celebration when we meet. “I knew the town was within easy reach of London for acting jobs and the fast rail link was coming,” he says. “It was the best thing I’ve done in my life.”
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Shem Mackey Shem Mackey has been making viola da gamba in Ramsgate since 2001 when he got fed up with being “chased around London by property developers. A bunch of weird people would find a space but then it would become trendy and we’d have to move on,” he says. From his workshop in central Ramsgate, Shem is one of the world’s top makers of viola da gamba as well as being a scholar of the instrument’s history and construction. There’s one thing Shem has to get straight at the outset: “It’s not a violin or a viola – it’s a completely different animal.” The gamba’s origins lie in Spain and it is related to the guitar, with no links to the violin family. It is played between the legs like a cello but is fretted with more strings and its tuning is similar to a guitar. At the gamba’s peak in the 17th and early 18th centuries it was the most played instrument in Britain. “Samuel Pepys was a player and described it many times in his diaries,” Shem says. But the gamba went out of fashion in around 1720 and very few were made until the late 19th century when interest in early instruments revived. The instrument’s revival started in the late 19th century as interest in early instruments increased. Shem made about eight gambas last year. A small, straightforward instrument takes three or four weeks but depending on the level of decoration that time can extend as far as three months. Instruments start at about £6,000 and can cost as much as £16,000. It was only by chance that Shem, the son of an Irish farmer, decided to make musical instruments. After “bumming around” in his 20s he visited the London College of Furniture in the early 80s intending to become a furniture maker. “I walked into the early fretted instruments workshop and I immediately thought: ‘This is what I want to do’,” he says.
Shem teaches at West Dean College in Chichester. His research into the construction of a famous viola won him the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) award for excellence in British craftsmanship in 2014. Current projects include a recent commission from a woman in New Zealand who wants an instrument to play music written for a nine-string viola. Shem is also halfway through making four violas doing the practical work for a student’s PhD at Goldsmiths London. His research takes him to France, Germany and, most recently, Milan and Cremona in Italy where Shem believes the architecture inspired the cities’ craftsmen. “I would say the same thing about somewhere like Ramsgate where we have got this beautiful Georgian, Edwardian and Regency architecture – and the sea. It all influences me and it keeps the creativity going.”
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Claire Dugué and Kai Tönjes Claire Dugué and Kai Tönjes moved to Ramsgate in 2001 and have shared a workshop in the town since. Claire makes hurdy-gurdies and Kai makes guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis and “almost anything with strings”. “We had some friends who had moved to Ramsgate who were instrument makers as well,” Claire says. “They said ‘Come and have a look’ and we fell for the place. House prices were part of it but it wasn’t only that. There was the architecture, the harbour, the beach.” They started off with a workshop in their first house in Grange Road but soon outgrew it and now work from a site in St Lawrence. The workshop is bright and roomy with tools and pieces of instruments hanging from the walls and stashes of wood everywhere. The married couple met while studying at the former London College of Furniture in the mid-1990s. Now they produce custom-made instruments from Ramsgate, where they are part of the musical and artistic scene. Claire is one of only about 30 professional hurdy-gurdy makers in the world and was the first woman to make the instrument. A hurdygurdy is a stringed instrument whose origins date back to the 9th century. It sounds a little like a violin but with a characteristic drone that accompanies the melody. The original instruments were so big they took two people to operate – one to turn the handle and one to press the keys. Now they are smaller than a guitar and one person can do both. The instrument’s appeal has broadened from early music enthusiasts to feature in pop and experimental music and interest is booming. “I’ve sold a lot to film companies
“The original instruments were so big they took two people to operate” lately so I expect to hear them in film soundtracks,” Claire says. She makes hurdygurdies for people all around the world and particularly in Germany, France, Belgium and Scandinavia where there are thriving scenes. There is less demand in the UK but there are customers here, including Richard Thompson, the acclaimed guitarist, who owns one of Claire’s instruments. Claire says she makes between 12 and 15 instruments a year with half a dozen in production at the moment. A small hurdy-gurdy takes “a solid two weeks” to make but a top-of-the-range instrument could take two or three months. Prices start at £2,000 and can stretch to about £10,000. ►
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ramsgate recorder Claire, who is from Normandy, started off wanting to make flamenco guitars and spent the first three years of her course in London making lutes and guitars. In 1997 she switched to the hurdy-gurdy and had to teach herself a great deal. She has been busy ever since but interest has hotted up as the scene has grown, and Claire has honed her designs to get a richer tone and respond to innovative players. “The hurdy-gurdy world moves on every year,” Claire says. “It seems like there are no boundaries.” Kai made his first instruments during his school holidays in Oldenburg, Germany, and worked with a harp maker in Scotland before studying in London. He started his business at London’s Hackney City Farm in 1998 before making the move to Ramsgate. He makes about 10 instruments a year – and no year is the same. “At the moment I’m making a lot of custom-made mandolins and mandolas,” he says. “One year everybody asks for a particular instrument and the next year it’s different.” Mandolins have taken off partly because of the folk boom and also because cheap, playable versions arrived from China. When players who had caught the bug wanted an upgrade they had to go handmade – hence the jump in demand. Kai typically takes three or four weeks to make a guitar costing around £3,000. You can buy a serviceable factorymade guitar for a couple of hundred pounds
but Kai says his handmade instruments are precisely built to customers’ specifications for the playing style and tone they want, with maximum resonance and playability. His customers are a mix of amateurs and professionals, including Ben Mandelson, a former member of punk band Magazine and co-founder of the Womex music festival. Kai also teaches evening classes, guiding a rolling group of six students to build their own guitar for about £2,000. When Claire is swamped he also helps her. Like Claire, Kai sells plenty of instruments outside the UK with about half his customers in Europe. With Dover a short drive away, Ramsgate has been the perfect base. With so much of their business across the Channel, Brexit is a worry but Kai and Claire are waiting to see what happens. For now, business is good and they couldn’t be in a better place.
Open for business
Potters Ceramics, textiles, gifts and houseplants Nestled next to Island Vintage and smack bang opposite Shakey Shakey, Potters opened earlier this summer. Owners Wednesday and Ali had been day-tripping to the area for a while and first thought about setting up shop in Margate. Five years ago, Wednesday made the break for full-time seaside living. She landed in Ramsgate, and it wasn’t long before Ali packed her bags and followed her to the coast.
We meet the people behind two different businesses that have recently set up shop in Ramsgate
Commuting back to London for the first few years soon lost its appeal. In the pursuit of a kinder and more inclusive lifestyle, and feeling the pull of the local community, both gave up their jobs. “We love the local community, all these people cracking on with these amazing things and supporting one another,” says Ali. Having scouted out the perfect location, and landing a prime spot in the new ‘artistic quarter,’ which is blossoming at the north end of the high street, Potters sells plants, homewares, textiles, books, art and much more. Many of the pieces stocked come from local artists/ makers, and they have plans for a gallery space in the same location. Chatting to the team in store, we can honestly say it is one of the most peaceful places in the heart of town. Potters is the retail version of a hug they have gone to great lengths to make sure that they are offering quality and affordability.
While they still sell online, we suggest you head to their store to see their legacy pieces, the rugs, textiles and ceramics. Prices start as low as £2. There has been another recent addition to the Potters’ family: Wednesday had her first baby shortly before they opened the doors. And just as we are winding up our interview he arrives beaming, with his dad, straight from the beach. “Sometimes my little boy just wakes up and he just wants to go out. So at seven or eight in the morning, I just go and take him down to the beach and he’s absolutely mesmerised,” he says. ”He is seven months old, but just imagine being able to do that every day. What a gift that is.”
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Lifting the Lid on Rotten Ramsgate Writer
Images courtesy of Rotten Ramsgate
Do historical crimes and their victims haunt the alleys and inns of our ancient town? One woman takes us on a tour of Ramsgate’s dark past
urder does seem to be in the air at the moment. From true crime podcasts surveying the antics of various serial killers to crime novels dominating the bestseller lists, our fascination for all things unseemly appears to be unstoppable. Perhaps it’s the slightly dystopian feel of the climate we’re living in that’s led to this prurience, or an instinctive drive to seek some kind of understanding of human nature gone horribly wrong, but it does feel like deviance is so hot right now. And there’s something in particular about seaside towns that appears to propagate the seedy, the murky and the mildly demonic. That thin line between decadence and devilry. The notion that it’s all fun and games until somebody loses a life. Ramsgate, of course, is no exception. As a harbour town, it’s teeming with tales of smuggling, piracy and desperate escape. An atmosphere of people fleeing and hiding and trying to start life anew - all with secrets to hide. Alongside these desperate episodes is a plethora of gruesome and compelling historical crimes, echoing through the dank alleys and gothic frontages. “I have had a morbid fascination with violent death since I was a teenager,” Johanne Edgington tells me. Johanne is on a mission to research and reveal Ramsgate’s dark historical underbelly. To facilitate this, she has set up Rotten Ramsgate walking tours, exploring the scenes of a number of gruesome deaths and unexplained crimes going back for centuries. Every week she takes groups of crime fans, history buffs and homicide aficionados around Ramsgate’s dark recesses, investigating deaths with dates ranging from 1651 to 1930 and split
The mysterious murder of Mrs Noel on 14 May 1893
“But what about the Ripper? How was he connected to the town? In numerous ways, it turns out” between the East and West cliffs of the town. But where did this fascination with the macabre spring from? “It was reading about the Yorkshire Ripper and subsequently finding out about Jack the Ripper,” she says. “Jack the Ripper is my specialist serial killer. I grew up in Canterbury and then moved to London where I was able to indulge in my fascination with Jack.” Johanne has travelled the world sharing her knowledge and interest in the infamous Whitechapel murderer, before discovering that there were Ripper connections a lot closer to home. “I moved to Ramsgate 15 years ago. Then in 2008 a gentleman called Christopher Scott wrote a book called The Ripper In Ramsgate. I found this book and thought ‘the Ripper in Ramsgate, what’s that about?’” With the Ripper as her entry point, Johanne started to research other terrible crimes that had been inflicted upon the town. “All I had to go on was a list of names and dates,” she says. “I’ve done all the research. Read books and looked through the old newspaper reports. And back then the newspaper would report the inquest verbatim, so reading it was just like being in the coroner’s court. Even back then the newspapers liked to sensationalise things a bit.” Rather than simply sharing this research online or in book form, Johanne decided
to bring history to life and show likeminded souls the actual spots where various dastardly deeds were committed. And so, last Halloween, Rotten Ramsgate was launched. Among the crimes covered are a random shooting and a subsequent siege in Duncan Road from 1888. There’s a brutal murder in Ellington Park, all the way back in 1651, featuring a possible ghostly connection and the mysterious body of a giant buried in a Ramsgate church. Plus a tragic tale of forbidden love gone wrong in Seafield Road. Then there’s a total mystery that intrigued the penny dreadfuls back in 1883, featuring a butcher’s shop (now a Chinese takeaway) in Grange Road, the dead body of a woman and the family dog, Nip, who was a possible witness to the crime. And the story of a truly gruesome parcel sent from a Post Office in Addington Street in 1922. But are the current residents of these infamous locations aware of their connection to local history? Johanne is always careful not to unnerve any unwitting Ramsgate residents. “I don’t stand right outside a particular place, only because the people might not know and they might not be very happy.” But what about the Ripper? How was he connected to the town? In numerous ways, it turns out. The perpetrator of the tour’s 1888 random Ramsgate shooting was assessed by a psychiatrist. “This was a Dr. Winslow who later became famous as a Home Office psychiatrist involved with the Ripper case,” Johanne explains. Suspects, detectives and victims rooted to the Ripper case have connections to the town. Perhaps most notably, a plaque to Sir Charles Warren sits on his former home on Wellington Crescent. Warren is known as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner who failed to catch the Ripper. Those with a fascination for crime, history and the frailties of human nature should join Johanne and witness the sinister, compelling stories that lurk on the streets of Rotten Ramsgate. Just don’t have nightmares. rottenramsgate.weebly.com
ART & CULTURE
Light and Shade Writer
Photography Kent Mathews
Meet Fiona Gall, the talented designer and maker behind the lighting and accessories company Emerald Faerie
iona Gall describes herself as a designer-maker rather than an artist. Her company Emerald Faerie creates large-scale, breathtakingly beautiful chandeliers (the most recent piece weighed in at a hefty 115kg and it took more than two days to wrap up the many delicate glass tubes before it was shipped to the US), as well as charming pieces of jewellery and accessories, using found and recast pieces. A dab hand at welding, she is assisted by her husband, Paul, a trained electrical engineer, who helps with the large chandelier metal frames and problem solving on the engineering front, besides doing most of the electrical wiring installation work. Fiona generously agreed to meet up in her studio where I could have spent hours touching and looking at everything; to any self-confessed magpie this was a veritable candy shop of curios. There are boxes spilling over with delicate glass tubes, brass chains of various thickness hanging from the ceiling, piles of vintage jewellery sourced from antique markets and car boot sales, next to trays of the pieces sheâ€™s working on and oxidised light fittings. There is her collection of Triffid table lamps inside Victorian glass domes, which look delicate and poisonous all at the same time, as if the dome has been put on to contain rather than protect them. Fiona is clearly a driven worker who actively likes the making part of designing. Her transition from finishing a degree in Design Craft at Hereford College of Arts to supplying clients worldwide appears effortless. When pressed, she admits to a cautious start making candlesticks for an art gallery which quickly snowballed into open studio days, trade shows in New York, collaborations with other designers such as shoe genius Terry
de Havilland and in-house installations reusing items from their visual merchandising department for Lane Crawford, the Libertyâ€™s of Hong Kong. Despite these wow-inducing credentials, sheâ€™s more keen to show me a piece she did recently for an exhibition at her beloved local, The Ravensgate Arms. She was one of 18 local artists and regulars chosen to each customise a piccolo-sized ukulele, handmade from reclaimed hardwoods by actor and ukulele enthusiast Rod Arthur. Her design featured metal spikes set in the glossy sides of the uke so it looked like they were floating in their own reflection, a vintage
ART & CULTURE
diamante collar at the base of the fret board and diamante stones cleverly set in scorched and burned inserts in the wood of the ukulele body, to creating a sumptuously padded and leather-like look. As always, she stuck to her mantra of making the familiar look strange and her passion for using reclaimed objects. She’s inspired by Agatha Christie period pieces on TV, the bar carriage on the Orient Express, stately homes and their gardens, the secret garden at Quex Park especially, churches and graveyards - anywhere where nature meets architecture and starts to take over. Both her and her husband love long walks bird spotting. Tim Burton films are another passion, especially Dark Shadows with Johnny Depp. Yet when I ask if she’s ever done any set design for films, she shakes her head. “I’ve never met anyone within that industry, but I’d love to do it!” Asked about the dichotomy between working on such large scale pieces as the chandeliers and on much daintier jewellery, she tells me the jewellery feeds off details she wants to explore when making the lighting. Details that are pretty and turn into jewellery quite naturally. “I like it because it’s not overly engineered,” she says. Fiona and Paul previously lived in London. “We got married and had enough money for a place outside London. A friend
“To any selfconfessed magpie this was a veritable candy shop of curio” had moved to Margate so we started looking.” Ramsgate won out and they moved down a year ago. “We’re five minutes from the sea,” she tells me. “We go for walks along the coast every morning. I love all the little alleyways, there’s a real vibe to it. Spaces such as Liverpool Lawn, the beautiful squares and the Ramsgate architecture in general. The way the houses go up by the cliffs, it’s very majestic. And there’s a community here. You’re overloaded in London in comparison.” emeraldfaerie.com
Photography: Sterling Chandler Model: Lily Breuer
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PROPERTY & INTERIORS
A Restoring Stay Writer
All courtesy of The Landmark Trust
Sleep in a slice of British – and Ramsgate – architectural history at beautifully restored The Grange, the Pugin home brought back to life
rchitect of the Houses of Parliament, Augustus Pugin, ranks among Ramsgate’s most famous residents. As a prolific designer not just of buildings but also furniture, interiors and decor, Pugin’s style of Gothic Revival was a huge presence in Britain during the 19th century. He came to Ramsgate in the 1840s in search of “the delight of the sea,” seeking a place on which to build his dream home, to create an ideal of family life in the Middle Ages, a period he saw as superior to the increasingly mechanised, secular society of his own time. His vision was not just for a home, but also for a church and monastery. In 1841 he purchased the plot of land on Ramsgate’s West Cliff and constructed a home for his family based on his own principals of
form following function. The Grange is the result, a comfortable house that, with its then-unusual layout of rooms and focus on flow, was quietly revolutionary when it was built. Today, tucked away in a quiet corner of town, the house is restored to its former glory and available as one of the most unusual holiday rentals imaginable. Pugin died at 40, only two years after The Grange was completed – the nearby St Edwards’ Presbytery and St Augustine’s Church were completed by his son. In the late 20th century, after decades of deterioration, it was bought and painstakingly restored by The Landmark Trust, a charity which saves buildings of architectural interest which might otherwise be lost. Far from freezing the houses they work on as museums, the trust rent out their properties as holiday lets, allowing visitors to experience ‘history to live in’. Staying at The Grange today is not just a retreat, but a chance to enjoy the inspiring, intricate interiors that Pugin created for himself and his family. Set in its own private garden, and with steps down to a small beach below, guests can entertain in the dining room where Pugin welcomed illustrious visitors from Ramsgate and London, relax in the library where he conducted his work, and even watch passing ships from the roof of the tower, just as Pugin did while here. ►
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The Landmark Trust carried out a detailed analysis of the house and of documentary evidence left by Pugin himself, restoring the building to its original 1840s appearance. The results, far from being the sober historic house one might imagine, are alive with vibrant colour and pattern. The entrance hall and staircase are papered with the red and green En Avant design which Pugin designed for himself, the floor tiled with Pugin’s monogrammed AWP family emblem. In Pugin’s day this hallway also contained a chest of clothes to be given
“‘A door once made is bound to be opened and slammed,’ Pugin said, a sound he hated” as charity, and a rack of sou’westers and telescopes for guests. The dining room features the same print in thrillingly bright pink, red and white. The dining room leads to the library, where a curtain rather than a door separates the two spaces. “A door once made is bound to be opened and slammed,” Pugin said, a sound he hated. The library is in many ways the heart of the house, the place where Pugin designed the interiors for The House of Lords, seated at a desk in the bay window. This room was created with inspiration in mind. The main cornice frieze contains the names of Pugin’s favourite places and people, intended to
PROPERTY & INTERIORS
motivate him in his work. But The Grange was as much a family home as a place of work, and the library was also a place to relax and entertain his friends, family and children. The religious foundations of Pugin’s life and work are also visible throughout the house. A large stained glass window depicts St Peter, the Isle of Thanet and the Blessed Virgin. The house also contains a private chapel, where more stained glass windows depict his family alongside saints – today it is a place for quiet reflection for people staying at The Grange. Upstairs in the house are four bedrooms, each beautifully decorated in Pugin’s wallpapers. The Grange would make an utterly compelling and life-affirming holiday stay for anyone, but for those particularly interested in Pugin’s life and work it is also an incredible springboard for exploring this wider influence on Ramsgate. From the marble bust of his son Edward, also an architect, situated in front of the Granville Hotel which he designed, to the harbour where Pugin’s lugger Caroline was moored, the whole town retains traces of this great architect.
The Grange sleeps 8 guests and can be rented from £750 for 4 nights. You can also visit for FREE, by arrangement, during open days held 13 to 17 September. For more information see landmarktrust.org.uk
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Historical images courtesy of the author
Ramsgate’s story of on-going maritime development, architecture, art, landscape and sea-scapes gives the town a unique position among Britain’s coastal communities
t was a national reaction to a natural disaster, a catastrophic storm and pending war that caused the creation of the Ramsgate Harbour and new town. There was no masterplan, no single creative genius at work, and no one authority behind the development. The town spread from a bare clifftop to meet challenges from the environment, war in the Age of Enlightenment, industrial
Ramsgate: A Masterwork
revolution and new technologies. After delays and frustrated construction attempts, a successful design for Ramsgate Harbour was delivered by John Smeaton. He was a pioneering engineer who embodied the Age of Enlightenment. Smeaton’s model was nature: an oak tree suggested his concept for the Eddystone Lighthouse while a study of wave patterns and currents led him to the site of the harbour where a boat could be carried naturally towards its arms. Harbour structures in classical style matched the Georgian, Regency and Victorian buildings that can be seen on the surrounding cliffs. Broad quays served fishing fleets and wide approach roads were constructed to allow regiments to march and board ships directly, loading efficiently in the Napoleonic Wars. The Clock House metamorphosed like a butterfly from a single tower with no clock, to a building with four clock faces marking Ramsgate’s
▲ Plan of the harbour by John Smeaton, 1791
own official Mean Time: 5 minutes and 41 seconds ahead of Greenwich. Wings, windows, space for loading, landing and observation rooms, are long gone, but not the fireproof underground store excavated later, almost in defiance of any logical plan. Used by the Royal Navy, the Harbour Board, Trinity House, the RNLI, navigation, ferries and fisheries, the Clock House has been described as a Georgian Doric Temple. The Enlightenment also saw the construction, in the Venetian style, of what was effectively an orphanage for fishing apprentices - the Smack Boys’ Home. Beside it a Seamen’s Church and hostel now commemorates rescues, disasters, maintains its religious function and presents concerts, talks and exhibitions. The sanitary provision of an ice house, built to keep fish fresh, was matched by practical and humanitarian ideas like erecting a reinforced powder store on the quay for safer movement of explosives for warships. The harbour lighthouse was moved back and lowered to allow vessels to pass close without losing spars or damaging it. More unusual, but ever-practical, the lighthouse became a depth indicator, echoing the huge tidal ball on the cliff above the harbour and signalling the depth of water in the harbour to waiting ships. It welcomes arrivals in Latin. The inscription ‘Perfugium Miseris’ meant this harbour was to be a refuge from distress and misery. Before the arrival of Cleopatra’s Needle, which the government owned but declined to pay to be transported from Egypt, an obelisk made from Dublin granite was erected by public subscription after a grateful George IV made Ramsgate the only Royal Harbour. He had been welcomed here twice, which was unusual as he was generally rather unpopular and crowds were often abusive. This unobtrusive monument stands in slender contrast to the spectacularly expansive Pavilion, now the nation’s largest Wetherspoons,
ARCHITECTURE ramsgate recorder
commemorating Queen Victoria and her long relationship with Ramsgate. At beach level and the first floor promenade deck, there are dawn-to-dusk views of sand and the skies over the North Sea and the channel, described by Turner as Europe’s finest, excepting Venice. Turner lashed himself to a mast to record a storm off the mouth of the harbour, the Tempest. The Pavilion and town also overlook the Downs and Goodwin Sands. These were the reason for building the Harbour as a port of refuge: named the Gateway as early as 700, this bay saw the birth of Britain as we know it. It became the main arrival point for the next two thousand years: Caesar, Claudius, Augustine, Hengist, Horsa, Crusaders against and from Britain, fleets for Crecy, Agincourt, Field of Cloth of Gold, the Armada, Trafalgar, The Little Ships and millions of unknown vessels and thousands of shipwrecks. The Goodwins are a graveyard and ironically a very unsafe occasional cricket pitch...
Turner’s prints of the Tempest created a market for popular art before colour printing. Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder and President of the Royal Academy, painted a formal portrait of John Barker the Harbour Master who was in charge of construction with his new harbour behind him and the original is now in New York. William Dyce recorded an almost bucolic picture of Pegwell Bay with women and children beachcombing. It became famous as Darwin revolutionised the world’s view of evolution and the chalk cliffs were recognised as millennia of fossilised sea shells. The most popular painter of his time William Powell Frith, painted ‘Ramsgate Sands.’ He revolutionised what was considered an acceptable subject: real people in crowds. He won royal approval when the Queen bought it and created the mass market for colour reproductions that still goes on. Ramsgate made crowd pictures fashionable but in contrast, Tissot’s ‘Room Overlooking the Harbour’ is a tender, intimate portrait of his mistress sitting in front of a window of the former Castle Hotel. Today artists still abound but Turner would not have to lash himself to a mast to paint a storm. He could stroll to the harbour arm and record the double
An 1854 etching of cricket match on Goodwin Sands
“Today artists still abound but Turner would not have to lash himself to a mast to paint a storm” corniche and amphitheatre-like harbour from a comfortable bar and restaurant. As Ramsgate moved into the twentieth century, an enlightened and imaginative town council commissioned the dramatic arches above Military Road and the Pulhamite artificial rock landscape that links East and West cliffs. They unify the townscape and enhance the harbour. There are similarities and it could be an unwitting or even a witty echo of Pieter Breugel the Elder’s dramatic painting, The Tower of Babel (1563). The probable first harbour pub, now The Royal, was originally a base for customs officers. Another nearby pub, The Royal Oak, carries an unobtrusive war memorial that does not mention being part of the World War II secretive establishment, HMS Fervent, but commemorates the RAF Air Sea Rescue Service saving 13,000 allied and enemy lives. Historic boats now moor alongside oceangoing sailing and cruising craft. Pilot cutters slip out to guide huge numbers of vessels using
'Room Overlooking the Harbour' by James Tissot
the Channel, the world’s busiest sea-lane, in and out from the Thames Estuary. Almost as busy are boats servicing one of the world’s largest offshore wind energy arrays, visible from the cliffs. Along with fishing boats, lifeboat, coastguard and border control vessels, Harbour traffic reflects the life and trade of the country in a constant flow of working vessels.
Two thousand years of history, two centuries of remarkable structures, built and used by engineers, architects, feminists, artists, writers and visitors include a watery setting for thousands of heroes, victims and a rediscovered landscape of imagination: Ramsgate is not just a seaside town, it is a masterwork.
Thanet Loop 240mm x 320mm.pdf
Unsung Heroes: Josephine Canty Writer
Photography Adrian Davies
A Ramsgate beekeeper brings a lifetime of experience to her passion for nature - and the planet
If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
This quote, often attributed to Einstein, is a poignant reminder that we need to take care of the environment around us. Scientists claim that in recent years the number of bees has declined by a third, a fact that will have devastating results on the ecosystem if we do nothing to stop it. Ten years ago Josephine Canty became a beekeeper, having previously joked that when she retired she would take up beekeeping and bowls. Since then it has become a bit of a family hobby, with Josphine completing numerous courses and becoming a member of the Canterbury Beekeepers. She now has eight hives and works with honey bees in colonies of over 60,000. She has inspired others in her family to follow in her footsteps, with her son in Vermont working to create a hive that is the perfect shape and size for pollinators to thrive. Her grandson has 17 hives and her granddaughter has designed a beekeeper’s notebook, making and selling wax-based products under the name of Marmars, the nickname given to Josephine when they were children. However, speaking to Josephine there is so much more to her than her valuable hobby. Sitting in an armchair surrounded by the most beautiful artwork, she strokes the head of her best friend, a gorgeous three-year-old Labradoodle called Oskar, and starts to share her life story. She went to art school in the 1960s and points out that the much-admired paintings on her walls are her own work. Living on a houseboat, she raised two small children by herself while working as an antiques dealer in London. It was around this time that a chance
encounter shaped her future career, when it was suggested that she trained as a psychotherapist. With her portfolio and a background of voluntary work at Bexley Hospital she trained to become an art psychotherapist. Following this Josephine worked with the NHS, in drug rehabilitation and even set up art psychotherapy at HM Prison Belmarsh. Now that she has retired she still supervises three art practitioners. Her first encounters with Thanet were full of happy memories when she came on family holidays as a child. Many years later, when her son asked her to accompany him to look at a house in Ramsgate, it
was Josephine that ended up buying. “I love Ramsgate. It’s perfect, it’s wonderful,” she says. “There is whatever you might want. The port is a bit wild and tacky, the marina is beautiful and there are sweet little cafes on the front. The town is a real town. I like the fact that it is a little bit gritty and edgy here. I would get bored somewhere that was more ‘perfect’.” You rarely meet someone with such a zest for life. As our encounter came to an end Josephine was already on the way to her next engagement and left with a cheerful wave over her shoulder as she and Oskar went to plant some more flowers to help encourage the bees.
Guardian Angels Dog Rescue What they do: The charity are committed to finding forever homes in south east Kent for dogs that have been rescued from unfortunate circumstances. The rescue is purely run by dedicated volunteers who care for the dogs in their own homes, they do not have a rescue centre.
There are many ways to give back to the community and support local people and our environment. Here are some important causes you can give your time to this autumn
Newington Big Local What they do: Newington Big Local is an exciting opportunity for local residents to make a lasting and positive difference to our community and lives. Newington has been awarded ÂŁ1 million by the Lottery Fund for the residents to spend on projects that help families and young people in the area. How you can help: Get involved with the group by attending committee meetings at Newington Community Centre every third Monday of the month. Here they propose, discuss and approve community projects within the local area, such as their free creative sessions for families, and are open for all residents to attend. For more information visit renewington.com
Compiled by Georgie Hurst
East Kent Independent Dementia Support What they do: East Kent Independent Dementia Support was founded to support people living with dementia as well as their carers and their families, in East Kent. They facilitate a range of support groups, known as Memory Clubs with two meetings every month for those with dementia and their carers. Dementia care specialists, healthcare professionals and Social Services representatives are on hand at some of the group meetings to answer questions and give advice in a friendly, relaxed environment. How you can help: You can give your time by volunteering, the charity relies upon its volunteers who carry out a variety of roles such as undertaking fundraising activities, providing support at the monthly meetings and much-needed admin and back office support. In addition they also take donations and sponsorships from local businesses and groups, without which they would not be able to provide the level of support to those who need it most. For more information visit ekids.org.uk
How you can help: The charity are always looking for more foster carers to care for dogs until they find a permanent home, or if youâ€™d like to adopt, make a monetary donation, donate prizes for their raffles or tombolas or help fundraise, the charity are always grateful for any help received. For more information visit guardianangelsdogrescue.co.uk
Ramsgate Arts What they do: The organisation seeks to create high quality and multidisciplinary art events and opportunities, responding to and reflecting the interests and needs of the area. It aims to contribute to the growth and regeneration of the area and engender a sense of pride and aspiration in local people, producing and promoting the work of local artists through a variety of events year round. How you can help: The charity is funded by its events, such as Ramsgate Festival of Sound and Looping the Loop, which are organised by a core group of volunteers. The group is always looking for more people to help with running the organisation, its planning, administration and promotion; you can also join as a member, which means you will get voting rights at meetings and the AGM. For more information visit ramsgatearts.org
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The Ramsgate Recorder is a free, independent magazine about Ramsgate in Kent.