RAMSGATE Autumn / Winter 2020
Modern-day Seaside Stories
RAIN OR SHINE?
ALL THAT GLITTERS
Investigating the future of Ramsgate Market
Preparing for broadcast: Ramsgate’s new radio station
Dominic Grant’s sculpture of King George IV
Inside the studio of goldsmith Polly Gasston
Help is here
Find local mental health support at www.thanetsupport.co.uk/mentalhealth
Your mental health matters To discover simple steps to look after your mental health you can also search Every Mind Matters. This free NHS-approved online tool is full of expert advice and practical tips.
Editor Lila Allen
Autumn / winter news and openings -
Gemma’s jaunts - our columnist might just
Autumn / winter Hotlist - from exhibitions
Sub-editor John Murphy
Founder & Publisher
Welcome to our autumn / winter issue!
Design Lizzy Tweedale
Advertising Jen Brammer Emilia Fuller
Social media manager
t’s been a time of meetings on the beach, ideas discussed in the gardens of Ramsgate’s cafés, photoshoots planned out walking. Like most, the summer holiday was a staycation and, for several months, I’ve left the area only when I’ve really had to. Our great outdoors has been both my office and playground. Although it has been an enforced stillness, in many ways it has been welcome. I’ve seen my Ramsgate home, not just my house, with new eyes; exploring its different corners, walking its many ways, and taking the plunge with an almost daily sea swim. I feel lucky to have been in this place at this time. With the stillness, has come time to reflect on the lasting change the year has brought, to me personally and in the world around us. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about repair and renewal and realise this issue is full of stories of people doing just that.
Our cover story, and the uncertain future of Ramsgate Market, is a direct consequence of the times we are in, but it is also a story of optimism, the individuals involved looking for new solutions to emerge stronger. I’m inspired by the energy we see on our High Street with new businesses bringing new ideas, featured in our “New in town” round up. Ramsgate Radio is a project that only happened because lockdown created space for an idea to become reality. It promises to be an exciting station ready to inspire, challenge and entertain. Home repair and renewal have been healthily underway around town, if the number of scaffolds is anything to go by. DIY blogger and author Hester van Overbeek invites us into her beautiful “handmade” home. And goldsmith Polly Gasston takes us into her studio where traditional techniques are used to create timeless new pieces. Our food editor Laura Nickoll has been out picking the spoils of leftover harvests, giving new life to otherwise waste food. Her “gleaning” experience throws a light on the need to tackle food waste and food poverty, something that has been highlighted by the pandemic. It is also a reminder that with summer behind us, we can still spend time outside. I hope to see you out there soon, and perhaps even, like our columnist Gemma, attempting to keep up the sea swimming.
Autumn / Winter 2020 - 2021
(October to January)
Writers Sue Austen Russell Chater Gemma Dempsey Vanessa Fairley Laura Nickoll Emilia Ong Russ Pullen Keith Ross Christabel Smith Lynne Wallis Kate Walters
Photographers Jaron James Eleanor Marriott Storme Sabine Ed Thompson
Illustrators Molly Pickle Jade Spranklen
cover image Davinder Singh by Eleanor Marriott
Print Mortons Print
Social Media @ramsgaterecorder
Advertising and distribution enquiries
inspire you to take up sea swimming!
to events, Ramsgate is alive with activity
8 New in town - introducing businesses ready to welcome new customers 10 What’s in store for Ramsgate Market? examining the future of our much loved, historic High Street Market 14 Good morning Ramsgate! - as Ramsgate Radio prepares to launch we meet its creator Filipe Gomes
From the Editor
plenty of dates for the diary to end the year
16 Music News - Keith Wilkinson, former Squeeze bassist, shares his musical story, Jon Nickoll presents his vinyl playlist, and we catch up with the Ramsgate Music Hall on how they’re faring during a global pandemic 20 Sculpting a sovereign - King George IV is back, bigger and bronzed 23 All aboard the Arts Barge - a plan for a floating community hub and events space in the Harbour needs you 25 Let it glow! - meet the boat owners preparing to deck the boats with fairylights 26 A place of play - inside the “handmade” home of Ramsgate DIY blogger and author Hester van Overbeek 29 Goldfinger: Ramsgate’s treasured jeweller - goldsmith Polly Gasston shows us round her Ramsgate studio 31 All of Ramsgate’s a stage - how the town is featuring as a location in several films 34 Sharing the bounty - out and about with the seasonal gleaners 36 Calling all Thanetians - photographer Russ Pullen’s latest subject: actor Mason Antonio Fardowe 38 Unsung Heroes - meet Pat Castle, saviour of many of Ramsgate’s heritage buildings 39 Bird Watch - a surprise Harbour visitor: the kingfisher
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Autumn / winter news and openings
f there’s a silver lining to the year we’ve had, perhaps it’s that our town continues to bustle: businesses opening (see page 8), a festival, even a panto in the planning. It goes to show that Ramsgate really is great. In fact you might have noticed that message emblazoned across the Royal Harbour Car Park. Ramsgreat is the celebratory work of a mysterious Mr Tear Gas and happens to also be the name given to an upcoming festival. Ramsgreat Week will see a halfterm programme of events (24 October to 1 November), many online, including a Pumpkin Trail organised by Ange Martin, Looping the Loop’s End of the Pier Show at the Royal Harbour Brasserie, Kinetic Circus family workshops at Archive and South East Artists open studios (visitramsgate.co.uk).
Ramsgate Harbour had a new visitor in September when Kent Sail Cargo (@kentsailcargo) brought The Gallant into dock. Crewed by the Blue Schooner Company, working closely with New Dawn Traders, the ship used only the power of the wind to bring produce sourced from small family farms in the Caribbean, Portugal and France, making it all almost fossil fuel free! Little Ships still has some products in stock and a return voyage is planned for spring. Other news on the water, Ramsgate Arts Barge (@ramsgateartsbarge) is a new project for the Marina with plans to turn a 51-foot barge into a community hub and events space. A crowdfunding campaign has launched to get work started ready to open this time next year (more on page 23). How Ramsgate will look in the future is certainly up for discussion,
A dose of Ramsgate life from a lady about town
ike many of us, my jaunting was severely limited this year, but fortunately I’m part of the production team behind Ramsgate’s Festival of Sound, alongside Andrew Gibson and Darryn de la Soul. Despite the odds, we held an eight-day event crammed with fantastic artists and performers, crew and volunteers. It was attended by many enthusiastic visitors and more than
with various developments underway. Works in Ellington Park have begun, kicking off a regeneration project to last five years. The 110-year old bandstand has been dismantled and taken away for restoration. Look out for its return later this year Input on the future of the Port and Harbour is being sought by the council, following the publication of a feasibility study. Consultants WSP’s proposals include a hotel and conference centre, maritime village development, shops and leisure facilities. Find out more and have your say at thanet.gov. uk/info-pages/feasibility-study The Department of Transport has given Manston Airport the go-ahead, approving an application by RiverOak Strategic Partners to develop an air-freight hub, with passenger and business aviation capacity. A judicial
satisfied my passion for the arts and community. The other thing that has given me succour in this annus horribilis has been the sea. Slow-mo was the tempo of lockdown, and with so many mechanical movements on hold the sound of the sea was amplified. I answered her call. While the word “unprecedented” became an excuse for incompetence, and everything seemed filled with uncertainty, there was one thing we could all rely on - the tide! It’s daily ebb and flow provided a dependable and therapeutic counterweight to the chaos of the world. In this year of bubbles and rationed hugs, I’ve found the enforced solitude unwelcome, so I was delighted to be added to the Mermaids WhatsApp group. Set up by local artist Vivienne Yankah, the idea is simple - to provide a platform for local ladies to message one another as to whether, where and when they fancied a dip. While the powers that be seek to limit our movements, we swimmers can enjoy the marvellous sense of freedom the sea provides - albeit sticking to the relevant government guidelines. Floating on one’s back, listening to the waves interwoven with snippets of people’s conversations and gulls squawking as these sounds ricochet off the chalk cliffs, is simply sublime. Several of the mermaids have said that the group has made them more confident in the sea. Others have made new friends. Some have shared their paddle boards, and on one of those gorgeous days in mid-September, I finally jumped off the first groin on Western Undercliff with two of my aquatic amigas. Yippee! Another mermaid high point was swimming under a full moon with an illuminated balloon tied around my middle, alongside similarly attired mermaids. It was a great safety device for night time swimming and looked stunning - lots
review challenging the decision is in the pipeline, with a legal team in place and funds being raised through a Crowdfunder campaign. A new train station Thanet Parkway has been approved by Kent County Council, which will see a highspeed rail link from Cliffsend to London. Around the town several housing developments are springing up, notably Royal Sands on the old Pleasurama site. Plans have also been submitted to build a development of flats, including a café and cliff-top restaurant, on the Western Undercliff on the site of the former café. Ramsgate’s Christmas Lights are being illuminated on 29 November. Looping the Loop are putting on a pop-up panto experience of Jack and The Beanstalk, 20 December (loopingtheloopfestival.org.uk). Look out for the now annual late night opening of local independent shops to buy your Christmas gifts (visitramsgate.co.uk). And when it’s all over Union Yoga (@unionmargate) can offer a healthy start to 2021. The people behind the Margatebased studio are Ramsgate residents and plan to open a yoga studio, vegetarian café and treatment rooms, in the former Homebasics store on Queen Street in January.
of colourful orbs bobbing on the waves below the massive glowing circle in the sky. It also made us giggle. A lot. Something that is unique to those living by the sea, is that we get to see one another partially clad on a regular basis. I never saw any of my London neighbours in any state of deshabille, unless my gaze fell on next door’s garden on a hot day and then I’d feel embarrassed. Whereas here on the beach, no one cares. In fact I sometimes struggle to recognise mermaids in the supermarket with their clothes on!
“Another mermaid high point was swimming under a full moon with an illuminated balloon tied around my middle, alongside similarly attired mermaids” I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to swim throughout winter, but am already looking forward to, pandemic allowing, the mass beach swims over Christmas and New Year. Hope to see you there mermaids and mermans welcome! (If you missed the Festival of Sound or would like to relive some of the highlights, we’ve made a short film about it. See ramsgatefestival.org)
Autumn / Winter Hotlist OCT Martin Cheek & Margaret Foreman Cheeky Beasts and Still Life exhibition A shared show of glass fusion mosaics and fine oil paintings, with a collection of smaller beautiful and charming items made by the artists. Until 27 October Nice Things, 19-21 Harbour Street nice-things.co.uk
Ramsgate Arts School exhibition Art project led by Karen Vost. Inspired by the Turner Prize, Viking Academy Trust’s annual art competition asks, “What has 2020 meant to you?” This exhibition showcases the children’s creative responses. 19-25 October Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
Irina McGahan exhibition A Ramsgate-based artist, Irina’s exhibition has a distinctive Moroccan theme.
Artists Open House
See an array of artists’ works, buy unique artworks and meet the artist within their creative environment across East Kent and Ramsgate, including Jana Valencic, Eve Stickler, Michael O’Donoghue and Tony Caroli.
All houses are open on weekends, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 October. 11am-5pm (unless stated) ekoh.org.uk
Molly Pickle’s pop-up shop Ramsgate illustrator Molly brings her delightfully detailed depictions of the natural world, including prints, t-shirts and baby grows. 12-18 October Vinyl Head Gallery, 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
Mike and Linda Trim exhibition Linda is a textile artist and Mike famed for his sci-fi creations, having previously worked for Gerry Anderson on such productions as Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds. Mike now paints local land and seascapes in his unique multimedia style. 14-21 October York Street Gallery, 22 York Street yorkstreetgallery.co.uk
York Street Gallery, 22 York Street
Sarah Stokes & Melanie Tong exhibition Sarah is a musical artist who paints in an intuitive and improvisatory fashion. Melanie uses her photographs of the East Kent coastline as the starting point for her paintings working mostly with acrylics. 22 October - 3 November McGillan and Woodell, 43 Queen St mcgillanandwoodell.co.uk
Come and Try Days Ever thought of trying a new craft or just curious? Come and have a go at drawing, painting or making. Price £2.50. 23 October
Christopher Tipping prints and art exhibition Ramsgate artist Christopher works in both the public and private space. His projects focus on place and identity. 26 October - 1 November Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
NOV Laurent Delaye Gallery Winter Salon Laurent Delaye Gallery is opening a Winter Salon showing a wide range of artists who work with contemporary sculpture, photo-collage, prints and paintings. Discover the world of constructivist towers, ghosts, political posters and much more. 2-29 November Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street
Ramsgreat Week A programme of activities for half-term including: Seaside Towns online trail, Pumpkin Trail, Looping the Loop End of the Pier Show at the Royal Harbour Brasserie and Kinetic Circus family workshops at Archive. 24 October - 1 November visitramsgate.co.uk/ news-events
Through the Town Centre to St George’s Church. 8 November Parade at 10.40 am Service at 11am
Marian Padina exhibition Ramsgate artist displaying new work, following her highly successful show last year of atmospheric, detailed worked-in-to photographs. 11-24 November Nice Things, 19-21 Harbour Street nice-things.co.uk
Julie’s Journalling Write, for your eyes only, in response to Julie’s prompts. Allowing words to flow from your pen is a calming, almost meditative, experience giving you the freedom to be completely honest with the paper. 19 November (and monthly every third Thursday) AiR, 18 Harbour Street
Michael Terry exhibition
Peter Garrard Askew exhibition
Folkestone-born Michael studied graphic design and illustration at Folkestone Art School and has since worked as a designer/typographer and successful illustrator for over thirty years.
Peter is a Ramsgatebased artist who recently illustrated The Royal Harbour of Ramsgate by Janet Munslow to celebrate 200 years of the Royal Harbour. Images from the book form part of the exhibition. 4-11 November York Street Gallery, 22 York Street yorkstreetgallery.co.uk
Christine Jeffryes exhibition A Kent-based artist working with paint, printmaking, photography and glass. With a textile design background, the work reflects a passion for colour, texture and pattern. 5-17 November McGillan and Woodell, 43 Queen St mcgillanandwoodell.co.uk
Dawn Cole exhibition Cyanotype prints of flower arrangements. During lockdown, unable to visit her mum in care, Dawn took numerous photographs of arrangements that once adorned her mum’s home celebrating her mum’s love of flowers, design and a lifetime of flower-arranging. 25 November - 8 December Nice Things, 19-21 Harbour Street
19-24 November McGillan and Woodell, 43 Queen St mcgillanandwoodell.co.uk
Over 55 Silver Screen Film and Social Club
Ramsgate photographer Jaron James exhibits and sells new local images plus “How Lonely Are Your Branches”, just in time for Christmas. 7 - 13 December Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
David Ridgway exhibition
Winter Open Show
“I have rarely strayed from the figure; the figure that to varying degrees exists in my world, a world which with the rapid development of the Internet and news access has become even larger.” David runs the Peacocke Gallery in Rye, Sussex.
A winter show to discover artists both new and established in Thanet and East Kent. 9 December - 19 January Nice Things, 19-21 Harbour Street nice-things.co.uk
26 November - 8 December McGillan and Woodell, 43 Queen St mcgillanandwoodell.co.uk
Christmas Light Switch On Ramsgate Town Centre ramsgatetown.org
McGillan and Woodell Christmas shop Selling beautiful cushions, glassware, prints and linens, as well as their exclusive inhouse designed bone china and jewellery. From 10 December
Sophia SchorrKon exhibition Sophia’s work looks at the landscape of the erotic feminine through a surreal lens and invites the viewer closer to elements of themselves they perhaps desire to reconsider. 30 November - 6 December Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
The Kent Film Foundation presents the over 55 Silver Screen Film and Social Club.
23 November 10.30am - 12 noon
Annabelle Losa & Bob Connell exhibition
The Old Chapel, 10 Cliff Street
Jaron James pop-up exhibition
AiR, 18 Harbour Street artsinramsgate.co.uk
Remembrance Day Parade and Service
McGillan and Woodell, 43 Queen St mcgillanandwoodell.co.uk
Push Designs pop-up shop Sustainable and locally made children’s textiles and gifts. A selection of colourful, organic baby clothes, gift sets, cushions and homeware. 14-20 December Vinyl Head Gallery 1 The Broadway, Addington Street facebook.com/ vinylheadgallery
Ramsgate pop-up Panto
Margate-based artists, Annabelle is a painter who operates Squirrel Arts at Westwood, Bob prefers to use pastels for his paintings.
A wonder-fuelled promenade panto experience as Jack & The Beanstalk pops up around Ramsgate town centre, taking small groups on a tour through this popular pantomime story.
25 November - 2 December
York Street Gallery, 22 York Street yorkstreetgallery.co.uk
York Street Gallery, 22 York Street
Stephen Beech exhibition Ramsgate-based illustrator, portrait artist and painter.
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New in town PERFECT POSIES
LITTLE SEASIDE TOWN
You can’t fail to spot the new florist, dazzling in pink on Turner Street. Lucy Wood, 22, is the creator of Perfect Posies, and started her business from home, setting up an online shop two years ago after she completed a floristry qualification at Canterbury College. She is “so excited” to be welcoming her loyal online shoppers and new customers to the shop now open in Ramsgate, the town where she grew up. Alongside personalised flowers and bouquets, Lucy creates forever bears, year-lasting rose hat boxes, artificial flower arrangements and flower wall displays for homes, businesses, weddings, events and photo-shoots. “I like to personalise flowers and create bouquets, arrangements and funeral wreaths that suit the person they are intended for,” she says. “I enjoy chatting to people, designing, being creative and discussing ideas and I am always up for a floral challenge.”
A miniature town on the High Street has opened ready to welcome our littlest people. Little Seaside Town is based on imaginative role play and invites children to play make believe in a realistic town, albeit scaled down, complete with hospital, police station, Grandma’s house and hair salon. With no upper age limit for children, it is a place for all the family with an onsite café offering hot and cold food and drinks. The family run business is the brainchild of mother Tracy Harris and daughters Jade and Leonie. The centre has been fully designed and built by the family, fortunate enough to count several trades among them. Both Tracy and Jade have a background in education and social work, and Leonie brings catering and experience front of house from travels across Australia and New Zealand. Little Seaside Town opened its doors in September and is adhering to all Covid-19 government guidance. Three sessions run daily and can be booked through the website.
Perfect Posies, 4 Turner Street perfectposiesflorist.co.uk
Little Seaside Town, 23 High Street littleseasidetown.co.uk
HARBOUR ACTIVE The sea is a hive of activity, from swimmers to surfers, sunbathers to seafarers, and requires its own fashion. Introducing Harbour Active, a new shop offering stylish swim and beachwear, as well as a range of waterproofs, capes, coats, jackets and bags. Situated above Harbour Bikes at Arch 20 on the Harbour, the shop opened in August stocking the brand Animal, with everything from hoodies to swimwear and flip flops, and Rains, which specialises in waterproofs. As the season changes French clothing company Saint James is on offer with its range of seaside clothing and next year London based tailors Buttress and Snatch are on board to offer hand made bespoke swimwear made from recycled eco fabric. A range of Bloc sunglasses for cycling and casual wear are in stock. Harbour Active is the collective idea of Michael and Toby, who run Harbour Bikes, along with artist Alice Moore (muralarts.co.uk) resident at the arch for five years. Harbour Active, 20 Military Road Instagram @harbouractive and on Facebook
JEROME PURE CURATED HAIR As hairdressers across the country flung open their doors post lockdown, Ramsgate welcomed Jerome Pure Curated Hair, a new sustainable salon. Everything is sourced ethically, plastic-free, and as locally as possible. Jerome uses high end biodynamic hair treatments and colours, taking pride in offering clients the best nature can give. Every session includes a complimentary ayurvedic head massage or customised scalp purifier. With 25 years experience in hairdressing, Jerome won British Avant Garde Hairdresser of the Year in 2005, before opening his first salon in Spitalfields, London. He has worked on projects taking him from New York to Berlin, backstage at London and Stockholm Fashion Week and taught colouring for four years at Schwarzkopf Academy. Six years ago he made the move to Ramsgate with husband Steve, and ran a salon in Cliftonville’s Walpole Bay Hotel. It wasn’t long before the beauty of Ramsgate inspired him to open here. “We have great talent here. It’s happening here right now so I am very grateful and optimistic that we all will carry on putting Ramsgate on the creative map,” he says. The salon is open Tuesday to Saturday. Jerome Pure Curated Hair, 189a High Street jeromehair.co.uk
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR RAMSGATE MARKET?
Ramsgate Market has been trading for half a century, but could a relocation due to social distancing measures spell the end for this much loved mainstay of life on our High Street? Kate Walters investigates Photographer
mong many distractions during lockdown, I became seriously interested in the fate of our High Street market. It started when I discovered a small pocket of traders selling their wares at Staffordshire Street Car Park - a temporary move from the High Street by Thanet District Council due to concerns around social distancing on Ramsgate’s main shopping streets. It was a surprise to find our subsequent Recorder Facebook post announcing the change of location was shared 68 times reaching upwards of 12,000 followers. People cared. Shortly after, the magazine was approached by Gurpreet Singh who owns a popular mobile phone stall, Phone Care, and has traded on the market for 20 years. “We desperately
From left to right: Davinder, women’s clothing; Tony, key-cutting; Richard, market manager; Dave, bedding and household items; Rosy, fruit & veg; Gurpreet, mobile phone services; Alan, driver
need support. Business is at about 2% of what it was pre-Covid,” he wrote. Soon after Gurpreet’s email, the market dropped its Saturday offer and we later learned the remaining traders were making a financial loss, but still turning up to “keep the market alive”. When I started to investigate the matter further, the picture was far from clear. A District Council trying to meet government guidance, and a Town Council struggling to promote the market on a day to day basis. The traders wanted one thing: to trade on the High Street again. But among all the indecision surrounding this, they were seriously falling through the cracks. As I visited the market and heard the cry “two pillows a fiver!” I was reminded of what makes a market
special - the patter of traders, shouting out to passers-by, unabashed and proud, hustling for business. It is a tradition which dates back 800 years to the UK’s first markets. As it happens, Richard Lumby, the man behind the yell, is Ramsgate Market’s manager and founder. If anyone knows how to keep business churning, he does. His Ramsgate story began almost 60 years ago. Aged 15, Richard ran a successful fruit and veg stall in Sittingbourne, but in 1964 he was threatened with closure when his proprietor, Ernie Lea, decided to set up a new market nearby. Richard’s early business instincts shone through and he offered to work for Mr Lea. Over the course of the next decade, Richard established multiple markets across
“Traders travelled from as far as Manchester, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, and customers came in their coachloads”
This brings us up to date where, fifty years later, today just four or five traders remain. It turns out the stallholders today helping to keep the market alive owned some of the most successful businesses at Dumpton Park Stadium. One trader, Davinder Singh, lives in Grays, Essex, and has operated a women’s clothing stall at Ramsgate Market for almost fifty years. “I forget how long,” he laughs. Davinder, who also goes by the name of Joel, is hard to interview even now, as devoted customers keep interrupting. John Beaneys from Sittingbourne was also one of the first at Dumpton. His father, who started the fruit and veg stall, was an old school friend of Richard’s, and today it’s staffed by younger members of the family. Alan Reynolds, a driver, who directly reports to the market’s owner and licensee Lew Hughes (of the company HughMark Continental Ltd), has worked on the site every week for 30 years. He tells me there was an awful moment the morning of our interview, when Davinder hadn’t yet turned up and they nearly all went
the south of England, as far as Oxfordshire, but Ramsgate was special - in his own words his “baby”. He discovered the first Ramsgate Market site on an ill-fated trip to a concert at Dreamland, Margate. The band didn’t show, so Richard and a friend tried the greyhound races at Dumpton Park Stadium. “I couldn’t really focus on the dogs because all I could think about was the great potential of the site for a new market, from the large car park to the nearby train station, it had everything,” he says. As it happens, the owner of the greyhound tracks was John Isles (also the founder of Dreamland.) Richard remembers going to sign the contract at Mr Isles’ office in the heart of Margate’s famous amusement park.
“We sat there surrounded by cages of lions and tigers,” he chuckles. Once the Town Council approved it, Ramsgate Market hit the tracks in 1959. At its height, Richard tells me, he hosted as many as 600 stalls at Dumpton and always had two or three times the number of enquiries per available pitch. Traders travelled from as far as Manchester, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, and customers came in their coachloads. In an interesting twist, when the stadium went into liquidation overnight during the recession of the 1980s, Ramsgate Market was briefly relocated to Staffordshire Street Car Park, where I now found it. According to Richard, “it never worked then” and he secured a new location along Ramsgate High Street.
home. They operate more now as a family unit. Tony Humphreys, who runs a key cutting stall, lost his mother just over a week before, but still turned up to support the market. This family spirit they all speak of is another enduring charm of market life. Leaving for work so early in the morning and returning late at night, has meant that Richard and many of his colleagues missed out on their children’s early upbringing. Meanwhile, they have watched punters in Ramsgate grow up from “babies in the pram to seven foot giants”. Despite the sacrifice, it is clear that the markettraders love their job, praising the freedom of being your own boss, the open-air, or turning up to work with your best friends. Through tough economic times, the market has prevailed. “The last influx of traders came during the last recession,” Richard tells me. “People needed to find a cheap way to put food on the table.” One shining success story is Dougie Chapman, who ran a stall on the market 41 years ago and went on to open Ramsgate’s highly successful Haberdashery Shop on ►
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King Street. “Ramsgate needs the market,” Doug tells me. “It helps my shop get business, but it must return to the High Street.” The biggest threat to Ramsgate Market has been Covid-19 and social-distancing measures, which means the Council has not currently granted it permission to trade on the High Street. Traders have proposed setting up in front of empty shops on Ramsgate’s main shopping streets to ease concerns, but a representative from TDC has stated that this is not an option commenting “there is not enough evidence to confirm social distancing guidance can be followed.” The Council also stressed the need to find a more permanent solution. In the meantime Ramsgate town promoter, Rebekah Smith of Ramsgate Town Council, is proposing a “hyperlocal market” at Charlotte Court, collaborating with talented local makers to offer a weekly programme of stalls and street entertainment. RTC have recently acquired Charlotte Court, installing new iron gates, festoon lighting and security cameras to create a welcoming, safe environment. In August, London-based architects MATA conducted a piece of research focusing on high streets shortlisted for the government’s £1bn Future High Streets Fund. Director Taylan Tahir reimagined Ramsgate market, proposing an indoor-outdoor space to house a changing programme of mixed activity, showcasing local talent and independent businesses. “High Streets can be anti-social
after the shops close,” he explained. “Incorporating evening activity helps to keep town centres animated and less desolate, while maximising income streams for existing retail spaces.” At the time of publication, Ramsgate Market has ceased trading. Richard, Gurpreet and the other traders are in talks with Thanet District Council and Ramsgate Town Council to establish a safe way to resume business. A spokesperson from TDC said: “The council remains determined to restore a market in Ramsgate and the leader has therefore instructed officers to report to the October cabinet meeting with draft proposals.” Like so many things we took for granted before the pandemic, the future of Ramsgate Market is uncertain. However I sign off feeling reassured that community support for Ramsgate Market is unquestionable, and that so many are determined to continue the Market’s legacy into the next decade.
To support the traders from Ramsgate Market contact Gurpreet Singh via: facebook.com/Gravesend26 ADDITIONAL USEFUL LINKS: Ramsgate Market facebook.com/ramsgatemarket Rebekah Smith, Ramsgate Town Promoter visitramsgate.co.uk MATA architects mata-architects.co.uk
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Preparing for broadcast: (from left to right) Jon Nickoll, Rachel Mills, Filipe Gomes, Mark Bandola, Charlie Anson, Laura Nickoll, Lydia Laitung and Bettina Ji
Good morning Ramsgate! Interview Lila Allen
Photographer Ed Thompson
Ramsgate Radio is a new station taking to the air to offer music, debate, food, travel and most importantly a sense of local identity. We speak to its creator Filipe Gomes as he prepares for launch
What can listeners expect from the new station? Ramsgate Radio is a mix of nonmusic and music content. Our ambition is to create audio output that truly represents the identity of Ramsgate.
Where did the idea for Ramsgate Radio come from? Lockdown shook up my life. Work, as I had known it, was pretty much over for the foreseeable future. But I felt this overwhelming sense of freedom to explore and build something else. I’m inspired by the celebrated chef and writer writer, the late Anthony Bourdain. I admire the way in which he explored stories through food, often using the simple act of eating to initiate deeper conversations. Like him, I’m interested in the impact gentrification has on a locality, particularly on those excluded by it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m for a place developing, or redeveloping, I’m just
Filipe Gomes by Dean Scutt
challenged by the fact that so many people living in Ramsgate don’t feel they are a part of it. I see the radio station as a way to engage with these issues whilst also offering valuable entertainment.
What do you hope it will bring to Ramsgate? My biggest ambition for the station is to bridge divides, to include, celebrate and listen to one another. I accept that’s much easier said than done, just know this mission runs in the DNA of the work we produce. We’re working with incredible content makers whose values are echoed in the ethos of the station. Our music programming will support and amplify Ramsgate’s amazing music scene. We’ll feature dedicated local music segments on shows like The Bandcamp Show, and tap into the musical tastes of the people that so often flood our local music venues. We’re fortunate to be working with inspiring presenters and DJs,
Ramsgate Radio's Shows AWARENESS
Presenter: Bettina Ji An 11-minute daily morning meditation setting listeners up for the day.
JAMMING THE PHANTOM FREQUENCY
Presenter: Mark Bandola (The Ramsgate Hovercraft and formerly The Lucy Show) Charting the incline and decline of both accessible and challenging genres, each show will be asking what (exactly) becomes progressive music?
THE BANDCAMP SHOW
Presenter: Filipe Gomes Diving into the world of Bandcamp - a platform for artists and labels to share and earn money from their music - to deliver eclectic sounds, and a dedicated slot to music created in Ramsgate.
THE VINYL VOYAGE
Presenter: Jon Nickoll (musician and resident singer and pianist in The Savoy Hotel American Bar) Playing nothing but original, wondrous, sometimes dusty vinyl from Jon’s collection which he started at just eight years old. Expect treasured sounds from the early 20th century right up to brand new releases.
The Vinyl Voyage presenter Jon Nickoll
including Jon Nickoll, DJ Hooch and Mark Bandola. However, expect our music output to grow and diversify as we continue to connect with the Ramsgate community. Our non-music, story output will aim to amplify what it means to be part of Ramsgate. We’ll look at the things we love about this place and the things that divide us, we’ll champion our local heroes and share the hard to pallet realities. I don’t feel we’re fully representing this incredibly diverse community yet, so we also need people to come to us: whether you’re a fisherman willing to take us out to sea, want to pitch a music show, or have been inspired by our concept. Please help us be a reflection of this place we live in and build content that deserves to be heard.
Tell us about you and your Ramsgate story. I’m pretty much a lifelong resident and moved here when I was seven. At first
I didn’t speak a word of English so, as you can imagine, it was pretty tricky fitting in. But I found music could protect me and help me make friends. Like so many kids then, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. I’d learn every song and, move for move, the choreography for every track. I started to build a reputation and became known as Michael Jackson Junior! I’ve always worked with music in some form, I honestly don’t know what it’s like to not have it at the very core of my life. In the noughties I was in a touring band and worked as a youth worker trying to engage young people through creativity, particularly music. These were often hard to reach kids, but it was so rewarding to see a young person go from not playing any music to actually improvising in a couple of weeks. The confidence they found, and the level of trust they placed in me, was humbling. I want the radio station to bring some of that inclusiveness; we’ll be telling the stories of people who often go unheard, and hope this will present
an honest picture of this complex and beautiful place we all call home. We’re also gearing up to mentor people in the area in the different elements of radio production. Look out for that if it sounds like something for you. Over the last ten years I’ve worked as a lecturer in Kent, and a sound designer and sound artist conceiving new interactions with the “sonic world” in galleries and theatres across the UK and Europe. In 2015 my partner Lydia and I obtained the lease for an old maritime arch in Ramsgate Harbour which was transformed into Arco Barco, a coworking space, recording studio and now the headquarters of Ramsgate Radio.
How and when can people tune in? We launch 9am Saturday 31 October on ramsgateradio.com and will be running a fortnightly programming schedule.
Presenter: Filipe Gomes Shining a light on individuals living in Ramsgate, this series focuses on Symone, an artist and lifelong resident of Ramsgate. Recorded over the course of a day, some very difficult topics, including self-harm and abuse, are candidly discussed, but ultimately this is an inspirational story of transformation.
STORIES ON OUR PLATE
Presenter: Laura Nickoll (Guild of Food Writers member, Great Taste Awards judge, The Vegan Kitchen co-author and Ramsgate Recorder Food Editor) Capturing the sounds and stories of the most passionate local chefs, food producers, authors, home cooks and growers dedicated to food in Thanet’s diverse culinary culture.
Presenter: Rachel Mills (Rough Guides writer) An exciting and upbeat travel series showcasing a town, city or region. The first season focuses on Ramsgate’s marina and the people making a living here.
WALK WITH ME
An interactive series of sonic excursions guiding the listener through Ramsgate to hear what it means to someone else. Available “off line” to allow you to physically follow the guide’s directions around town.
Presenter: DJ Hooch Hooch is the man when it comes to Funk & Soul, and you can expect a lot of that from the man that ran the Funkin’ P club in the heart of London’s Covent Garden for 15 years, has DJ’d all over the globe and was one of the chief instigators of the Funk resurgence in the early ’90s.
MEET THE MUSICIAN: KEITH
WILKINSON Squeeze’s longest-serving bass player, and proprietor of Ramsgate’s much-loved café and music venue Eats’n’Beats, shares his musical journey, from going round the world on tour, to current recording plans Can you tell us about your musical upbringing, who and what inspired you to follow a career in the music industry? When I was a kid (in about 1963-64) one of the highlights of monochrome TV was a show called Sunday Night at the London Palladium - a variety show broadcast live (rare) on a Sunday night around 7.30pm. I believe it was Bruce Forsyth’s big break as host. One night the Beatles were headlining and an imaginative TV director took the opportunity to include a couple of shots from behind the band, looking out into the auditorium. I saw that and thought, “Wow, what must that be like?” Then about three years later as I
approached my teens Jimi Hendrix turned up on Top of the Pops playing “Hey Joe” and that was it - I knew exactly what I was going to do with my life. But try telling that to the careers people at school.
How did you get involved with Squeeze? Squeeze have broken up and reformed more times than a terminator - 1982 was the first. At that time I was doing session work and a drummer I often worked with pulled me in for an audition for Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook’s solo album (sic). We hit it off and I stayed with them for the next 13 years and eight albums.
What were the highlights of your time in Squeeze? Being in a successful band like Squeeze is a proverbial roller-coaster. The highs are high the lows are low. You get to play Madison Square Garden, the Royal Albert Hall, Giants Stadium, and so on, meet interesting people, celebrities, play with some amazing musicians - but it also takes up a big chunk of your life. And once you have kids, it may not necessarily
hold the attraction it once did. On the other hand...
Can you tell us about your current band The Jar Family. The Jar Family are an interesting kettle of fish. When we started the age range of the band was anywhere between 20 and very old indeed. There is no front person, much to the bemusement of management and record label, and it’s one of the best live bands I have ever had the privilege to be part of - stylistically a cross between Lindisfarne and the Clash. We are currently in a hiatus and plans for a reunion are subject to the restrictions of the pandemic. We are also somewhat of an enigma. Although we have recorded three albums there is currently nothing available to hear online, except for “Debt”, our last single - an unfortunate and bizarre managerial decision. However, check out any of the official videos, especially “Broken Minded” for a flavour of what the band is about.
What brought you to Ramsgate, and is there anyone local you’d like to collaborate with?
I believe what brought my wife Meredith and I to Ramsgate was the A299 and a trusty Volvo (Latin for “I roll” - I guess after 20 years in Buckinghamshire it was time to roll). Meredith put the pin in Ramsgate as the resurgent and creative place to be, and it hasn’t disappointed. Since coming here we have taken over a café/music venue called Eats’n’Beats and have met many fine artistes, actors, painters, potters, writers, sculptors - you name it. I am currently working with the very talented Sarah Head, who has been chosen for the role of Dusty Springfield in the West End production - also unfortunately on hold because of pandemic restrictions - but watch this space.
Where can people hear you play? It’s bit tricky putting on gigs at the moment, although Sarah and I recently took part in and closed the Ramsgate Festival of Sound - a fabulous event, well worth checking out next year, hopefully Covid-free. We’ll be heading into the studio shortly too - lots to record. Onward and upwards.
This space should be filled with a banging gig list. But with the pandemic putting a stop to so many live music events, and small venues unable to open, the column was looking depressingly sparse. So we asked André Dack, Director of the Ramsgate Music Hall, to fill us in on the picture What has been the impact of the pandemic on RMH? It’s had a devastating impact on venues across the country, particularly grassroots. It’s been over half a year since our last show, and there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel. We are expected to pay our outgoings without receiving any of the usual income. There’s a real chance that we may never open again, but we are fighting until the very end.
Has there been any help and where has it come from? There has been very little financial support from the government. Thankfully, we have developed a good relationship with Arts Council England over the past year or so, and we are awaiting a response some time in October on our recent application. That would be a serious boost.
H O U LD B E T
T IDLES at Ramsgate Music Hall
The support we’ve received from the RMH community, and the general public at large, has been phenomenal. It’s kept us going. Not just financially, but mentally too. We feel very lucky in that sense.
What has been the response from musicians whose gigs you’ve had to postpone or cancel? Artists are absolutely gutted. This is their livelihood. To perform their craft means everything. As an industry, we do our best to rally together and support each other. If there’s one potential positive to come out of this wretched situation, it’s the sense of unity that has developed over the past few months.
You’ve come up with some creative ways to raise funds. Can you tell readers how they can support RMH through this time? We made a decision not to set up a crowd-funder campaign. We feel far more comfortable with people donating their money in exchange for goods. And there are lots of ways in which they can do that. There’s plenty of merchandise available online: t-shirts, mugs, beanies etc. We also have a collection of live recordings from historic shows that people can download, including IDLES and Jungle Brothers. Then there’s our membership scheme. Without our
Ramsgate resident Jon Nickoll has been the singer-pianist in The Savoy’s American Bar for the last 17 years. He is also about to take his recordcollecting obsession to the airwaves on Ramsgate Radio, with his show The Vinyl Voyage. Here is his playlist, perfect for some autumn Ramsgate sunshine bit.ly/jonnickollplaylist
wonderful members, RMH would have been gone long ago.
Are there any gigs on the horizon we can get excited about? There are so many shows to get excited about, some of which are already announced (and have been postponed for the umpteenth time) and others that are in the pipeline. I’ll be heartbroken if we can’t deliver on those. I’m particularly stoked for the return of Bo Ningen, providing live music has properly returned by Easter 2021.
What would be your dream lineup when you are finally able to reopen? Where to start! I’d love to curate a small festival for the occasion, though it’d probably be a logistical nightmare. Kelly Lee Owens, Laura Marling, Moses Sumney, Protomartyr and Nadine Shah have all released amazing records this year. Any of them would be a dream. Ramsgate rockers OHHMS were one of the last bands to play here before lockdown, so it’d only be right if they were the first to return! There are so many local heroes that I miss seeing here: BABii, Liotia, Lunatraktors, Lapis Lazuli and of course Mr Adrian Sherwood. I can only imagine the euphoria of that first show back. It’s going to be emotional, that’s for sure.
Pacific Ocean Blue
Artist: Dennis Wilson Album: Pacific Ocean Blue, 1977
This is basically the greatest Beach Boys song you’ve probably never heard. Dennis Wilson was of course the band’s drummer, and this is the opening track from his only solo album, from 1977. With glorious rolling piano, dynamic drumming (of course) and gospel-inspired vocals, the track ebbs and flows with all the mood changes of a movie, with Dennis’s soulful, gruff vocals right in the centre of the action. I’m a glutton for pretty much anything Beach Boys related, and this corker is no exception. 2 Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Artist: Mark Murphy Album: Rah, 1962
I count myself supremely lucky to have caught Mark Murphy live at the now defunct jazz venue Pizza On The Park in London, just a few years before his death. It was as dazzling and free-wheeling as I’d hoped it would be. He was the coolest jazz singer ever, and Ella Fitzgerald herself was a fan. This sublime cut is off just one of his essential albums - Rah, from 1961 - and everything about it just aches melancholy, cool and style. Although the subject matter may be spring, to my maverick ears this sounds perfect in the Ramsgate autumnal sunshine. Dive in and have a cocktail on me. ►
PLAYLIST CONTINUED 3
Artist: The Coral Album: Butterfly House, 2010
This was the first LP I treated myself to when I’d become a dad for the first time, and I have clear recollections of holding my son in my arms and listening to this brilliant album, as the sleep deprivation caused me to hallucinate and almost fall over. “Sandhills” is one of my favourite offerings from this particular LP, with its 1960s-inspired bass, Phil Spectorstyle percussion and Hollies/ Beatlesesque harmonies. A heady brew of introspection with a groovy beat. 4
It’ll Never Happen Again
Artist: Tim Hardin Album: Tim Hardin 1, 1966
Tim was one of those extraordinary singer-songwriter miracles that seem so specifically related to the mid to late 1960s. Poetry and soul oozed out of his short haiku-like songs with a supernatural ease. I have every record he made on vinyl, and I inherited the first couple from my late mum’s own small box of records. This particular track features piano, strings and Tim’s mournful lead vocal. It’s a genuine treasure. 5
I Contain Multitudes
Artist: Bob Dylan Album: Rough And Rowdy Ways, 2020
What a privilege it is to be alive and able to buy the latest Bob Dylan record! It’s like picking up a copy of Dickens’s latest novel hot off the press - our ancestors will be green with envy to consider the thrill of it all. This album has only been out for a few months and it really does feel and sound like an instant classic to me. Put this on and you’ll feel like you’re reading a novel, but with your eyes closed. 6
Don’t Be Scared
Artist: Yoko Ono Album: Milk And Honey, 1984
I vividly remember my dad saying over breakfast in 1980 (I was two-anda-half), “They’ve shot John Lennon,” and the sadness and shocked outrage in his voice was registered by me, even then, as a good day for the devil and a serious loss for the good-guy team. Lennon’s last album, Double Fantasy, was on heavy rotation in my household in the early ’80s and both the Lennon and Yoko tracks are part of my musical DNA I suppose. A few years ago I finally got hold of the 1984 record Milk and Honey, which features many of the songs John and his wife were intending for the follow-up LP. This Yoko track (which I’m almost 100 per cent sure features John on
background harmonies) is a standout for me, the reggae groove and zen message feels a perfect tonic to help us traverse 2020. 7
Just A Little Bit
Artist: Elvis Presley Album: Raised On Rock, 1973
Well, I couldn’t submit any kind of playlist without an offering from the Memphis Flash himself. This latenight slice of Memphis funk/soul was recorded at Stax studios in Memphis, Tennessee, a mere Cadillac cruise from the King’s Graceland mansion. The year is 1973, the band is cooking and Elvis barely works up a sweat; he just swaggers through the number like the otherworldly supercool being he was. There are some stone-cold classics buried on the 1970s Elvis albums. Be warned, once you start digging deep into the King’s canon, before you know it you’ll be requiring more shelving for all the books, CDs and records you’ll be having to buy. 8
Artist: Marvin Gaye Album: In Our Lifetime, 1981
It’s remarkable how, despite the turmoil and chaos of Marvin’s latter years, he still managed to produce such inspired music. This cut is from one of his final sets, and the spiritually conflicted and contradictory Marvin is to the fore, with sexy groove and party vibe, yet a lyric full of Marvin’s quasiphilosophical observations. Anyway, the song is a corker, and the male vocals on the choruses are some of my favourite moments of recorded music anywhere in the known universe… 9
Underneath The Weeping Willow
Artist: Grandaddy Album: The Sophtware Slump, 2000
A gentle plea to escape, take refuge underneath a benevolent tree; to sleep, then wake, then be happy again. I think we all need a bit of that, don’t we? Jason Lytle’s vocals are beyond perfect here, and this is a song that haunts and blesses in equal measure. 10
I Am The Cosmos
Artist: Chris Bell Where to find it: I Am The Cosmos, 1992
A song I can listen to on a loop. A beguiling, mysterious, deep well of electric guitars, hand claps and a vocal that could make a computer get emotional. Chris Bell was a former member of fabled band Big Star, and this piece of inspired work came from his only solo record, only released in its entirety posthumously. “Every night I tell myself I am the Cosmos.” It’s an overused word, but “genius” might be the only one that’ll do here.
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to achieve more, to learn new skills, and to develop their knowledge.” Ofsted, May 2019
We cannot physically welcome you through our doors this Autumn, but we absolutely understand that you want to choose the best possible secondary school for your child. We will do everything that we can to help you in that decision.
Happy in our safe and caring environment Open-minded and ready to learn Literate, numerate and independent thinkers Determined to achieve the best they can
You may not be able to visit our fabulous facilities or see our staff and students at their daily best, but a wealth of information is available on the STS website and we are here to answer your questions.
Forward thinking and full of aspiration Active members of the community Self-confident and inspired to succeed Tolerant and respectful of diversity
We would love to hear from you! Tracey Savage, Headteacher
Hold fast that which is good
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ART & HISTORY
Sculpting a sovereign Two hundred years after Ramsgate became a Royal Harbour, the King who made it so is making a return. Vanessa Fairley meets sculptor Dominic Grant as his clay figure of King George IV takes form, ready for bronzing Images courtesy of Russ Pullen
culptor, musician and Ramsgate local Dominic Grant has wanted to draw attention to the rich and royal history of Ramsgate’s magnificent harbour for some time. When we meet he has been sculpting a clay figure of George IV for eighteen months. “This is the only Royal Harbour in the country and people don’t know about it!” Grant wants to change that and hopes to attract more visitors and investment to the area. “Coastal towns need it,” he says. It will be cast in bronze for the 2021 bicentenary of Ramsgate’s ascension to Royal Harbour status. In 1821 George IV commanded Ramsgate should have the status of Royal Harbour after passing through the town on his way back from Hanover. He obviously had a good time here. It would seem he enjoyed the company of local beauties, and also relished the chance to rebuff the people of Dover, who had misguidedly welcomed and celebrated the King’s estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, a wife he would not allow to attend his own coronation. And so Ramsgate benefited from this typically “regal” behaviour and became the only Royal Harbour in the country. Grant is under no illusions as to the character of this particular Ramsgate supporter. He is quick to talk about his passion for history, and how there is a story for everyone to get excited about: “Everyone at school should watch Waterloo.” He delights in the layers of debauchery and hypocrisy that were the fat underbelly of Regency
England. It is an era that we so often assume to be Jane Austen’s domain: a time of delicacy and decoration. But it was also an era of political and social upheaval. These were the early days of consumerism and rampant capitalism. Reformists fought for an end to kingship and for greater democracy, universal suffrage, and an end to slavery. The United Kingdom was a place of extravagance, scandal and lawlessness. Grant’s own life is as varied and surprising as I’ve come to expect of the souls that seem to lay anchor on this isle. He was the lead singer of the hugely successful ’70s group Guys’n’ Dolls, and now performs with his wife Julie Forsyth as Grant and Forsyth. “I’ve had an extraordinary life,” he reflects. While living in Rome in the early ’70s, he built on his lifelong love of sketching, studying the great Renaissance sculptors, and began to learn his craft. Mostly self-taught, he began to experiment making clay sculptures of his family, before an artist friend introduced him to a foundry in Holland, and the methods of casting sculptures in bronze using the traditional lost wax method, a process he continues to use today. He has exhibited bronzes in Amsterdam, Marbella, Mayfair, Monte Carlo and Portofino, and has worked on commissions from the USA and Europe. Now we have his attention turned to our own Royal Harbour and the King who made it so. Grant admits he has made George “prettier”
ART & HISTORY
by focusing on his image from earlier years. Working from portrait paintings he has brought the two-dimensional image of a king to life, though with a slightly more chiselled appearance. George’s signature look is on show here: a wing collar to help disguise his increasing chins, and he wears Garter robes that billow to the ground where his shoes are adorned with bows. Working to a larger scale than usual, Grant has depicted King George IV in all the pomp and embellishment the man himself would have expected. The figure is larger than life-size, and will stand on a five-foot plinth. Grant tells me onlookers will be able to look up between the royal legs and he will need to decide what to put there. There are still a few months worth of work left to do before the figure is transported to a local foundry at the Spacer Studio, where a huge plaster cast will be built up over it. The cast will be removed in sections and rejoined for the bronze pouring. The bronze will cost £60,000, and a further £20,000 will pay for the plinth. Grant is so obviously enthusiastic about the project and is generously giving his time for free to work on it, that I cannot help press him on his thoughts on the man he has spent so long building into a clay reality. In this day and age, making a bronze figure of
a king is positively alternative. Grant refuses to be drawn down this route. At any hint of passing judgement on this King, or condemning the morality of his alleged behaviour, Grant laughs and says, “I forgive him.” And I’m happy to leave the moralising there. For Grant’s intentions are clear: it’s about elevating the history of Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour and letting the people of this town enjoy it and revel in the events and characters that formed the place where we live. He hopes the young people in this town will learn about their history and feel they own it. Grant seems a fitting character to be reminding us all of Thanet’s rich and surprising past. The boy who grew up playing in the old bomb sites of London, “mucking about with bits of shrapnel”, is now manipulating clay to recreate a king. A flawed, pompous, wasteful, extravagant, lustful, hedonistic, libertine king soon to be looking down on the intrigues of this particularly lively, eccentric and ever so Royal Harbour. To support the project visit ramsgate 2021.co.uk and follow plans for next year’s celebrations, including details of a new book published to mark the bicentenary: The Royal Harbour of Ramsgate by Janet Munslow
Put the fun back into shopping! Handmade by independent makers Jewellery, pottery, glass, textiles and art Local books and beautiful cards Online shopping with free local delivery Pop in to see our Nice Things at Ramsgate's royal harbour !
Nice Things and The Gallery 19 -21 Harbour Street, Ramsgate CT11 8HA www.nice-things.co.uk (online shop) 07939 542990 Fb: Nice Things, Ramsgate Insta: Nicethingsramsgate
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All aboard the Arts Barge Plans are afoot for a floating community hub in the heart of Ramsgate Harbour and it needs your help
trolling along Harbour Parade you can’t fail to notice a new summer arrival, a 51-metre Dutch barge that took up her permanent mooring right by the harbour wall. The 130-year-old vessel Vriendschap, Dutch for friendship, plans to stay there. A social enterprise, not-for-profit organisation, Ramsgate Arts Barge community interest company became Vriendschap’s new owners in August. They plan to turn her into a community-centric creative arts hub, encompassing multiple affordable artist studios, a large events and performance space, and an upper deck area and garden, to open to the public in September 2021 ready for Ramsgate’s bicentenary celebrations of the harbour’s royal status. The project is the brainchild of Kevin O’Connor and Natasha De Samarkandi, who moved to Ramsgate a year ago. Kevin, with a background in marketing and music management, and Natasha, an artist and illustrator, have engaged Ramsgate architects Del Renzio & Del Renzio who are providing concept design assistance for the renovation and refurbishment of Vriendschap. A £100,000 crowdfunding campaign, running for eight weeks from 19 October to 13 December, will help raise vital funds towards the cost of refurbishment works. The project has already attracted 60 volunteers offering practical help once works begin, including electricians and carpenters. Others are assisting with publicity, photography and research. There is plenty to do and Kevin and Natasha
are keen to hear from anyone wanting to get involved. “This is an incredible opportunity for all of Ramsgate, Thanet and Kent to come together with positivity and optimism after a tough year,” said Kevin. He stresses the hub would be for “everyone - current and future generations. The project will create jobs and boost the local economy by driving footfall into Ramsgate twelve months a year.” Ten hours of free events space per week will be offered to communityfacing groups, including charities, schools and societies, for workshops and educational programmes. Addington Street’s Moon Lane is exploring how the project can help extend its programme of improving children’s literacy across Thanet. The children’s bookshop is launching a Kent-wide school competition alongside Ramsgate Arts Barge to design a logo for the project. Submissions open from October with the public voting on a shortlist to decide the winning logo. For further details and to enter visit ramsgateartsbarge.org Vriendschap invites anyone interested to jump on board and hopes that can translate to a physical invitation once the project is fully afloat. To see full plans for the Ramsgate Arts Barge and support the crowdfunding campaign visit crowdfunder.co.uk/ ramsgateartsbarge instagram.com/ramsgateartsbarge facebook.com/ramsgateartsbarge twitter.com/ramsartsbarge
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ON THE WATER
Let it glow!
Images courtesy of Brian Whitehead
Year on year, the Harbour display of Christmas lights glitters ever brighter as boat owners and businesses alike compete in the now world-renowned Ramsgate Illuminations. We meet some of those preparing for this year’s ambitious display
ights may draw in early, but December in Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour is never dark. The Victorian arches of Military Road are ablaze with decorations, while the boats’ light displays grow more dazzling by the year. Come late November, in search of ever-more creative ways to shine, owners of yachts, cruisers, barges and waterside businesses can be spotted winding long strings of lights around their doorways and decks. By Christmas Eve, the heart of the town is a flashing feast of colour, attracting attention from all over the world. “Last year, the Ramsgate Illuminations even reached Australian
TV news,” says Martin Morgans of the Royal Temple Yacht Club, Christmas Lights Coordinator. “They’re unique and an indication of boatowners’ pride in our marina.” Martin is one of a panel of four who judge the lights in advance of the annual awards ceremony at the Yacht Club. Owners fund the illuminations themselves and while some engage in healthy competition, others are more shy. “One winner turned down his trophy, saying he did it purely for fun and the community.” The tradition began informally, with a smattering of boats lighting up, and judging started in 2014 as a way of boosting winter visitor numbers and raising money for the RNLI. Back
then, there were 24 illuminated boats; last year, there were 88, raising over £800 for the second year in a row. “The feeling of community pulling together is typical of Ramsgate,” says Rebekah Smith, town promoter and judge. “I’d like to see us get to 100 lit-up boats this year.” Dulali, a 26-foot yacht belonging to Ramsgate resident Phil Shotton, will definitely be one. “It takes my wife Deb and me a good couple of hours to dress the boat. We use strings of LED lights to keep the environmental cost low, 196m in total. We wrap them around the halyards, boom, guard wires and stays, across the cockpit cover and down the coachroof. “We have to use the tender to row around the side and once came close to falling in as we stood up and wobbled around. We had on lifejackets, like good yachties, and just managed to stay dry! It’s wonderful seeing how much people love the lights and playing a part in such a lovely tradition.” Natasha De Samarkandi, new coowner of the Arts Barge, Vriendschap, also intends to join in the festive festooning for the first time this year. But she’ll be needing more than a few fairy lights: “At 51metres, the Dutch barge is the longest vessel in the inner Harbour for 40 years.”
Advice will be on hand from the Cromptons, proud owners of Gloriana and winners of the cruiser category for the past two years. “We go to town, inside and outside the boat,” says Gloria, “and we’ve been planning our 2020 lights for months. It will be a difficult Christmas for lots of people and we’re working hard to bring them something bright and sparkly.” As a thank-you to the generous owners for the seasonal boost, many local businesses donate per lit-up boat, as well as contributing vouchers for free drinks, chips, or discounts in the local shops. “It’s a fantastic event for Ramsgate, creating footfall and interest from all over,” says Jim Barber, manager of the Queen’s Head on Harbour Parade. “We serve mulled wine or hot chocolate to visitors and give participating owners a free pint. “For my family, looking out on more and more boats coming alive every night is like an advent calendar and we always walk around after Christmas dinner to choose our favourite.” We all need a little magic right now and Ramsgate’s Harbour lights will warm the cockles of even the hardest heart. facebook.com/ramsgateilluminations
A place of play Writer
Images courtesy of
Hester’s Handmade Home
Confined to home during lockdown, one Ramsgate resident has been inspiring others to love and improve their spaces via her blog. She tells us about her love of upcycling, DIY and affordable updates
et’s face it, by changing the ways in which we work and socialise, Covid has had a huge impact on what we want from our homes. With competing needs now under one roof and jostling for elbow room, many of us have witnessed our homes grow increasingly chaotic under lockdown. And yet, when we spend so much time there, the need for a comfortable environment has become paramount. Enter Hester van Overbeek, DIY and interiors author extraordinaire. A long-term Ramsgate resident, her popular blog, Hester’s Handmade Home, has seen an upsurge of interest during these lockdown times. The blog is full of tutorials designed to be accessible to even the most DIYaverse, from heavier-duty projects to smaller craft ideas. These, says Hester, have been most popular lately, with families struggling to keep young kids entertained. She cites the “mud table” as her favourite - an Ikea hack for messy play, which her two-year-old Kiki plays with every day. Hester’s blog came about by accident. Before making the move to Ramsgate, she and partner Ian lived in Broadstairs eight years ago, where
friends suggested, that Hester might document her creative approach to renovation online. She thought she’d give it a shot. “Try everything once,” she laughs, “and if it fails, try again!” Ironically, it appears to be this very absence of pressure to succeed which makes her projects so successful. The couple have now been in the Ramsgate house for five years, and it is filled with the sorts of experiments which many people would not dare for fear of messing up. When she couldn’t find bedroom wallpaper to her taste she drew her own, and in Kiki’s bedroom she has used doodle paint, which can be drawn over with marker pens and wiped off. Along with Hester’s can-do spirit, it is precisely for these sorts of tip-offs that the blog has gained a loyal following. As an ex-rental, the Ramsgate house was, as Hester puts it, “a nightmare of beige”. Fortunately it did not need much heavy-duty work, and apart from knocking through one wall on the ground floor, the rest of the transformation has been cosmetic. So, though the house is now unrecognisable, none of Hester’s improvements are out of reach to the ordinary person.
ART & CULTURE
Such an inclusive and empowering philosophy remains relatively rare in the world of building. Hester remembers her shock at finding that so many women in the UK “had never used a drill”. In Holland, she says, “women are much more confident about using tools”, and if she can’t do something, she’ll just watch a video and teach herself. The house is full of marvels: ingenious tricks which Hester documents beautifully on the site and with easy-to-follow YouTube videos. Though it is quite literally her work and living space, for Hester, her home is a playground. She is not scared to try out new things, and she tells me that most of the rooms have now been redone several times over. Every inch of space has been made use of in a simple way which she describes as “very Dutch, quite Scandi” - clean and bright, but not at all devoid of colour. She laughs when I mention shabby chic, saying that she much prefers the minimalist look. Does she like Marie Kondo? As an ethos, yes, she says, but like many real people, people with families and actual possessions, she feels that minimalism is off the cards it’s just not practical.
Of course it’s easy to make a place look good when you’ve got the money, but Hester’s blog shows us how we can beautify our homes without much cash. She is firm about using what you already have: when she wants something, the first place she looks is inside her own shed. She also goes to places like Scotts in Margate to find furniture for upcycling, and “Ikea hacks” are some of her most popular posts. In fact, she does these so well that she has been featured in the Ikea magazine several times over. Like many people, Hester had her own lockdown project: hers was a do-over of her garden deck, which is
now a serene, lilac-inflected corner of the garden. For however finished the house may look, it seems like Hester never stops dreaming up new projects. She is extraordinarily productive. Now racing to meet the deadline on her seventh book in six years, she confesses that she is currently eyeing up other properties in Ramsgate. Doesn’t she ever just want to lie back and enjoy what she’s already done? “No,” she says, she would get bored. Which sums up Hester’s attitude in a nutshell: DIY is not just about getting good looking results, but should be fun to do in its own right. hestershandmadehome.com
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ART & CULTURE
Each unique piece of jewellery fashioned by goldsmith Polly Gasston harks back to the ancient world, from design through creation. Russell Chater went to meet her in her Ramsgate studio to find out more about her work and inspiration Photography
ou may have seen Polly around town. Resplendent in jewels, she is the perfect walking advertisement for her wonderful pieces. Her materials of choice are 22-carat gold and semiprecious stones. Combined with her aesthetic, these continue a dialogue with jewellery from the ancient near East: a period and part of the world that particularly fascinates her. Born and raised in East Africa, Polly knew that she wanted to be a jeweller from the age of six. At a time when young women were “expected to be secretaries and not much else”, she was fortunate to be given licence to pursue this dream. After school,
she went to Sir John Cass College in London, receiving “good oldfashioned training” that has served her well in an ever-changing industry. Indeed, she still uses some of the hand tools she trained with. Making jewellery has “never lost its lustre” for Polly. However, her practice was put on hold for more than thirty years when, at the age of 26, she married a man who “demanded her full attention”. It would be seven years after her husband’s death, and following travels to the likes of Syria, Jordan and Iraq, before Polly resumed her practice with renewed energy and inspiration. With a view to consolidating and simplifying her life, Polly moved to Ramsgate in 2014 after thirty years in Canterbury. She required a house with sea views large enough to accommodate her studio, her ageing mother, who lived long enough to receive a certain letter from the Queen before she passed away in 2017, sister Philippa, and Philippa’s husband and son. She found all of this in the house she purchased. As well as offering unparalleled views of the Harbour, the house itself is stunning and has featured in local publications in its own right. Perhaps most importantly, though, it has brought everything under one roof, enabling Polly to focus on making her jewellery whilst Philippa takes charge of the business side of things. ►
ART & CULTURE
As her pieces are unique, Polly seeks a consistent colour to the gold as a constant that “holds it all together”. Although much of her gold comes from a dealer in Birmingham, the semi-precious stones are sourced from Paris, Germany, India and beyond - and Polly likes to carry a large stock from which to draw. Polly reveals that she often won’t know what she will make at the start of each day, enjoying the “organic process”. However, this approach has been curtailed somewhat over the past few months given the impact of Covid-19. With physical jewellery fairs (traditionally her main selling outlet) cancelled or relegated to online, Polly has taken on a few considered commissions to keep busy. For instance, she tells me about a young couple who commissioned rings for their wedding in August this year, while also recounting the story of a father who recently sought her out to create a necklace (pictured right) for his daughter from a bag of faience beads (glazed earthenware) that were unearthed in 1921 from the sands surrounding the great pyramids! It is such stories that demonstrate the magic of Polly’s jewellery: beautiful, tactile pieces whose timelessness speaks to both ancient
pasts and romantic futures. It’s at this point that Polly takes off a ring she is wearing so that I can feel the weight, the warmth, and the softness of it. I understand immediately how important it is for potential buyers to do the same and why a return to having physical shows of her work cannot come soon enough. That said, there are potential events on the horizon, while hope remains that the big trade shows will return next year. Talk of the future inevitably leads to talk of Christmas, when Polly will likely make a few smaller and more affordable pieces for the season - an awareness of affordability also informing her willingness to consider payment plans. When asked about what advice she might give to wannabe jewellers, Polly says, “Very few women in the world don’t want to adorn themselves, and everyone wants something different,” adding that the key is to “make things that are timeless, not fashionable”. Time and timelessness, touch and tactility. Long after I have left Polly, these thoughts still linger. It doesn’t escape me how they resonate perhaps now more than ever. pollygasstongoldsmith.co.uk Instagram/polly.gasston.goldsmith Necklace of faience beads, photo courtesy of Polly Gasston
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ALL OF RAMSGATE'S A STAGE Writer
Film crews and celebrities have been drawn to Ramsgate’s scenery as a backdrop for many features, TV dramas and music videos. We explore the locations bringing the film industry to this corner of the country
People think my job is full of glamour and that I spend my time mixing with the stars,” says Sharon Kelley, film officer for Thanet District Council. “But sadly the reality is often very far from this, and I am more likely to be sorting out problems, standing on the end of the jetty being beaten by wind and rain.” Ramsgate residents may have seen a film crew around town this year, shooting scenes for a new drama.
Adapted from Deborah Kay Davies’ novel True Things About Me, the film stars Ruth Wilson, who is also one of the film’s producers, alongside actor Jude Law and production company The Bureau. The production had already started filming here in March, but was forced to halt when the country went into lockdown. After four months when the entire UK film and television industry stopped filming, production resumed again
in September and shooting has been completed under the new film industry Covid-safe protocols. A number of local creatives have been working on the shoot including in the art and costume departments, some residents were recruited as supporting artists, or “extras” as they are more commonly known, and private homes in Ramsgate have also been used as locations. The film is scheduled for release in 2021. This is not the first time Ramsgate has appeared as a backdrop to feature films and television dramas, and our town and beaches are also a popular location for photo shoots and music videos. Sharon has seen an increase in the number of productions coming to the area in recent years and attributes this partly to how much harder it is to shoot around London now. She understands the benefits to the town and to local businesses and is determined to make filming in Ramsgate and Thanet an effortless and enjoyable experience for everyone. “Local businesses are very film friendly and this makes a big difference,” she explains. “They don’t see film units as being in the way, but rather something that interests them. Although, some people do soon realise just how much standing around there is and how boring some bits of the day can be!”
The 2018 feature film, Juliet Naked (available on Amazon Prime), based on Nick Hornby’s novel, and starring Chris O’Dowd and Rose Byrne, was also filmed locally. A fictional town named Sandcliff was created using locations in both Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Filming took place outside the Maritime Museum, Cross Wall, the Esplanade and at the bottom of East Cliff. The entire cast and crew stayed in the area throughout the fiveday shoot. Perhaps the most famous example is when Eastenders came to town in 2015. The production team was here to film scenes following the death of Stan Carter, played by Timothy West in the popular BBC1 series. Stan’s son, Mick Carter, landlord of the Queen Vic, is played by Danny Dyer. He was among the actors who gathered on Ramsgate Royal Harbour’s West Pier to reminisce about Stan’s maritime past. Ramsgate Harbour and the port are a popular filming location, seen in a variety of productions ranging from a Russian feature film Soul of a Spy, Channel Four’s The Tunnel, and Netflix series Top Boy. The Port is also useful as a base for film units to park their trucks and vehicles. Also popular for filming is the tunnel leading to the Port, which provided a key location to film parts ►
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of the music video for hit single “Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Paloma Faith. Film production brings valuable revenue to local businesses with hotels and restaurants benefitting most. Sharon helps with local knowledge and advice and is keen to encourage more producers to Ramsgate and the Thanet area. “Many crew say that it’s so nice here they will come back with
Eastenders in the Harbour, photo credit BBC Photo Library
their families. Some even think of moving down,” she says. What better reason could there be to encourage more filming here? Sue Austen is a BAFTA nominated film and TV producer, Senior Lecturer at the London Film School, and author of Producing for Film and Television available from crowood.com and Amazon
True Things About Me on the West Cliff, photo credit Brian Whitehead
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SHARING THE BOUNTY: the return of gleaning
All photographs by Laura Nickoll
enture beyond Thanet’s municipal centres this autumn, into the surrounding fertile terrain, and it’s hard to miss the acres upon acres of cabbages, cauliflowers, pumpkins and orchards groaning with fruit. The abundance of edible crops is a welcome sight, but modern industrial farming systems and the conditions of the retail market mean that sadly not all of it ends up on our plates. On a warm September morning, local farmer Trevor Bradley heaves open two barn doors to reveal huge crates of freshly harvested potatoes. He sells 75 to 100 tonnes of spuds a week for distribution across the south coast, many of them destined for fish and chip shops. But the contents of these crates are surplus to requirement: the potatoes are perfectly good to eat but are either too small or too large for chipping. I joined gleaning coordinator Chris Turnbull and a team of volunteers from the Hythe Environmental Community Group to pick through
For centuries, food left over after harvest would be collected and saved from going to waste. This practice of “gleaning” formed part of the ancient rural calendar. Laura Nickoll joins a local team of volunteers reviving this tradition the crates and bag up what was undamaged for delivery to local food poverty organisations. This group is just one of many teams of volunteers across the country forging relationships with local farmers and ‘gleaning’ nutritious produce typically around 16% of crops - that would otherwise go to waste, be ploughed back into the soil, sold as animal feed or turned into biogas. Gleaning, the act of salvaging leftover produce (historically often cereal crops) from farmland after harvest, is an ancient rural custom. For millennia it formed part of the annual agricultural calendar in England and was a legal entitlement of labourers and poor members of the farming community, providing them with a valuable supplement to their income, and sustenance for the colder months ahead. A bell would be rung in the morning to signal a field was ready for women and children to start
picking, and ring again at nightfall for gleaning to stop. Private property laws, mechanisation and changes to domestic economies in rural villages led to a decline in the practice. However, present-day food inequalities and scandalous levels of food waste have led to a resurgence, with networks of gleaning “hubs” emerging the world over to help combat the issue, including in our corner of Kent. Supporting England’s network of gleaning hubs is Feedback, a charitable organisation and campaign group dedicated to reducing food waste. Thirty community groups have benefited from their Gleaning Network training toolkits and advice, and since 2012 the network has rescued and donated over 600 tonnes of fresh produce from farms across England, mostly in Kent, Sussex, the East Midlands and the north-west. Chris tells me that he and his team of volunteers have rescued and redistributed over 10 tonnes of fresh produce, including plums, cherries,
cabbages and potatoes, from east Kent farms and orchards in the last six months alone, despite the logistical headache Covid presents. Key to the success of gleaning operations is forging relationships with farmers, who contact groups when they have surplus goods. David Bradley (no relation to Trevor Bradley), owner of Selson Farm near Eastry, grows apples and pears and has been collaborating with local gleaning teams for four or five years, since reading about the practice in Farming Monthly. “I thought what a brilliant idea it was, and I got in touch with Feedback’s Gleaning Network,” he says. He invites gleaning teams onto his farm regularly, as factors beyond his control, including the weather, inaccurate forecasting and retailer requirements, lead to gluts he can’t sell. “This year, with the dry summer, the apples are smaller and quite a few haven’t made the cut,” he explains. Wastage at his farm is decreasing, thanks in part to the growth of the low-cost supermarkets who “have
FOOD & DRINK
Volunteer Julie Kirby in fields of broccoli
Chris and his team from the Hythe Environmental Community Group
broader specifications” when it comes to fruit shape and size, and to the work of gleaners, who help strip the trees of fruit (in turn encouraging healthy growth the following year). Working with gleaners gives him and other farmers - the satisfaction of knowing that what would otherwise have gone to waste has made it to those in need. Chris is keen to emphasise the farmers’ good intent. “David and Trevor both have an environmentally friendly approach to farming yet have a great deal of waste, partly because of market requirements and partly because of the need to focus a workforce on the most valuable crop that is currently ripe for harvesting. This means that they have to walk away from less valuable crops. This year has been really difficult as, in the heat, some crops only have a few days during which they are optimal for harvesting.” For volunteers, the appeal of taking part isn’t just the act of helping save produce, it’s sociable too. Those I meet all agree that spending a few
hours in the open air, doing “their bit”, makes it an experience well worth signing up for, with kids needing little encouragement to help with orchard pickings. A Thanet gleaning hub is in the pipeline. Sharon Goodyer, Ramsgate resident and founder of Our Kitchen, an innovative food club and outreach initiative in Margate, featuring a shop (selling solely cheap, healthy food) and educational resources to signedup members, has done preliminary gleaning training with Feedback and is excited about potentially mobilising a group in the near future. If anyone understands the logistical challenges of getting gluts of fresh produce to where they are needed most, Sharon does, having organised the delivery of over 2,000 free bags of nutritious food to people in need during the pandemic, when food poverty in the area reached its highest ever levels. There are currently 11 food banks in Thanet, but not all of them can accept perishable produce. For those that can, such as the Pie Factory Studio and Salvation Army food
“He and his team of volunteers have rescued and redistributed over 10 tonnes of fresh produce... in the last six months alone”
to our modern food crisis. “Gleaning offers fantastic environmental and social benefits… However, it’s important to remember that food poverty and food waste are distinct challenges that need to be addressed at their respective root causes.” Gleaning is a seasonal practice too, taking place from springtime to early winter, and yields vary widely week to week, so steady supplies aren’t feasible. This being said, the benefits of salvaging what’s unsellable are undeniable. For now, while the campaign for more large-scale redistribution channels for surplus food continues, gleaners are back on our local fields, strengthening community ties and getting good food to those who need it. Every little helps.
banks in Ramsgate, receiving sacks of fruit and vegetables gives their food boxes, primarily filled with tinned and dried goods, a much-needed nutritional boost. Phil Holtam at Feedback stresses that gleaning is not the sole answer
How you can get involved If you are interested in setting up a gleaning hub, or joining an existing one, head to gleaning.feedbackglobal.org to find out more
Calling all Thanetians Ramsgate resident and Level Eleven Studio owner Russ Pullen is photographing characters from across the Isle. Here he introduces his latest Ramsgate subject: Mason Antonio Fardowe
I met Mason a few months back when he was sent to my Studio by a friend who knows I’m always on the lookout for interesting characters for my ‘Thanetians’ project. And he’s certainly interesting - he’s ex-forces, has an acting career and moved to Ramsgate from London a while ago. He’s currently filming a Brit Gangster Movie called The Drugs Game, which is due for release when editing is completed towards the end of the year. Our studio session was a blast. Mason really threw himself into the shoot, which we styled around his role in the movie, using hard lighting and a film look to the processing which harks back to classic Brit gangster movies. Wild use of the baseball bat nearly cost me an expensive camera lens, but it all ended well! The Thanetians charity exhibition will be held at our Military Road Studio, September 2021, as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations for Ramsgate Royal Harbour.” If you know any interesting characters from Thanet who would like to be involved, or are one yourself, get in touch by dropping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Pat Castle Writer Lynne Wallis
Photographer Storme Sabine
Ramsgate is celebrated for its architecture, with many buildings enjoying a history stretching back 200 years. But had it not been for Pat Castle much of this heritage could have been lost
at Castle landed in Ramsgate in 1971 from her native Streatham, after being widowed suddenly at 38. Tourists attracted to a thriving Ramsgate in the 1950s and ’60s had been lured away by package holidays. “The Harbour shops had all shut down bar one rock shop, but it had assets natural beauty, the light and all the architecture from the building boom of 1815-1845.” Pat bought a house in Spencer Square. “The tarmac on the tennis courts was all cracked and drug-taking was rife. Everyone said, ‘You can’t live in Spencer Square – it’s awful.’” Her search for a second hand staircase kicked off her quest to protect Ramsgate’s architectural splendour. Pat was tipped off that the Artillery Arms, a pub built in 1815 on the West Cliff, was about to be demolished as a “traffic hazard” in the way of plans for a new ring road. “I applied to English Heritage to get it listed,” she explains. It reopened a year later, in 1972, and the council scrapped the ring road. More buildings were subsequently listed, and Ramsgate now boasts a central conservation area. “If you believe in something, you have to fight for it, just as those people now who are fighting against Manston reopening. People have always tried to turn Ramsgate into something else, something it isn’t. They always fail. Leave it alone and let it be what it is: a town crammed full of history and beautiful buildings that is still attracting visitors and artists, as it always did.” In the mid-1970s Pat fought against the building of railway sidings over Pegwell Bay, now a nature conservation area. “They wanted to turn Ramsgate into a port to ‘rival Dover’. I was already doing the Restoration of Ramsgate project with a lot of support from the Civic Trust, English Heritage and other residents, and we secured £25,000 to fund a
Pat with her dog Toby and painting ‘Nesting Storks, Chellah, Morocco’
survey on the future of Ramsgate. The owners of the Churchill Tavern wanted to turn Spencer Square into a car park. Imagine! We restored all the gardens and the tennis courts. “If you want something, don’t go and tell people how awful they are. Tell them, ‘This could be something really good for the town, and for you.’ I funded the printing of an opposition document to the Pegwell development and we defeated them. I consider this to be my greatest achievement... All the regeneration here sprang from that ’70s research paper, and it’s working.” Pat set up the Thanet Creative Artists’ Group which ran in the ’70s, and has achieved notoriety as a painter as well as an accomplished campaigner.
She ran a gallery from her home in Addington Street to exhibit her work, much of it the result of frequent travels to Morocco and her love of Islamic art. Pat has exhibited in the USA, France and London. “I haven’t done too badly considering I am dyslexic and had no more than six years education,” she says. “I didn’t want to become a second-class citizen after being widowed. I’ve always been a fighter.” Pat, now 92, moved back to London in 2016, but returns frequently to visit her daughter who lives here. “Ramsgate is nothing like the town I moved to in 1971,” she recalls. “There wasn’t even a Waitrose!” she says with a twinkle in her eye. “If you don’t like something, up your sights, fight for what you want and change it.”
Bird Watch Writer
From picture framing, decorating and drycleaning, to yoga, afternoon tea and days out, our local venues, outlets and enterprises offer an impressive array of services and products. You can offer your support by choosing local independent businesses first
Professional picture-framing and mount-cutting in Birchington. Visit us for unique handmade gifts and unusual greeting cards. Passport/ driving licence photo service verified with HM Passport Office, or print off your photos on our excellent quality printers.
PIE FACTORY is a unique exhibition
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ou wouldn’t expect to see a freshwater bird like a kingfisher along the coast or in Ramsgate Harbour would you? But in fact for six months of the year kingfishers live in the harbour. Around August, after having bred, the adults and juvenile birds begin heading up the coast from the River Stour and prepare to over winter in Ramsgate Port and Harbour where they find shelter and a plentiful supply of food including fish, shrimp and small crabs. They head back to the river around March. These surprisingly small birds are unmistakable in their bright plumage. They are the most colourful British bird, with an orange front and striking blue back. I’m often asked how you tell if they are male or female? The easy way to remember is that the female is said to be wearing lipstick. She has an orange lower bill whereas the males are entirely black. You can also tell an adult from a juvenile by the colour of its feet. Adults have bright orange feet, young birds have darker brown. Kingfishers are birds of habit and depending on the tide and weather have favoured perches where they can dive for food. They don’t like to be seen, so they often look for hidden parts of the harbour where they are less likely to be disturbed.
They fly off with a distinctive blue flash, skimming just a few inches from the surface of the water, often calling with a high-pitched “peeping” sound. These birds are extremely territorial, performing a ritual display where they stand side by side, mirroring each other doing repetitive head-bobbing and wing-flashing in order to establish dominance. They will even fight to the death if another kingfisher tries to muscle in on their fishing grounds. I’ve watched fights result in both birds ending up in the harbour, furiously flapping in the water, each bird trying to drown the other. A few years ago I filmed two birds fighting on the railings of a yacht in the harbour. BBC’s Springwatch saw the footage and over four weeks in winter myself and wildlife cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones filmed three birds. One even ended up catching goldfish in the Westcliff Boating Pool. The film was shown as the finale to Winterwatch. Our kingfishers had made it on to national TV! If you’d like the chance to see the kingfishers and other wildlife, Keith organises guided nature walks from Ramsgate to Pegwell Bay. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
framing service, gallery, exhibitions, art supplies, gifts and cards. You can visit us at 248 Northdown Road, Cliftonville, or our website: www.lovelysgallery.co.uk where you can order art supplies for delivery or click and collect. Framing consultations are by appointment only. Email: caroline@lovelysgallery. co.uk Phone: 01843 292757 Instagram: @lovelysgallery Facebook: Lovelys Gallery
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space in Margate Old Town, specializing in a broad range of weekly exhibitions. For current exhibitors and for details on hiring the space at competitive rates, please check our website or social media.
Fifty three year-old family run patisserie, bakery and retro coffee shop. Freshly baked bread, croissants and Danish, tortes, fresh cream cakes and savouries daily. Celebration cakes made to order. Tel: 01843 221227 FB: @BatchelorsPatisserie Instagram @batchelorspatisseri (no 'e' on the end)
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Independent shop selling house plants, homewares, textiles and ceramics.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM GIFTS
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Yoga for adults, pregnancy and kids. Workshops and teacher training. Join us in the studio and live stream. @margateyogastudio www.margateyogastudio.com email@example.com
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Based in Margate, Recovered by Ollie provides quality bespoke upholstery services utilising both traditional and modern upholstery techniques for domestic, trade and commercial clients. Please contact via email for a free quotation. www.RecoveredbyOllie.com Insta: @RecoveredByOllie Tel: 07789 720 477
trusted, high-quality, fully insured, painter and decorator, with over 30 years professional experience, specialising in hanging high end wall papers. You can check out some of our work on my Instagram @therockindecorator
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Professional, reliable, honest dry-cleaning, laundry and repairs service. Collection and delivery service. Please try us! Will take on all domestic and commercial work.
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Sunday Brunch 8am - 11:45pm Sunday Roast 12pm - 4:30pm
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