Old Ramsgate (then and now)

Identical scenes from the town of Ramsgate (Isle of Thanet) from past centuries and today

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pegwell Bay

Pegwell Bay Regatta, 1828

Pegwell Bay, 2007
Pegwell Bay is one of the most scenic and interesting parts of East Kent. Rugged and wild, the coastline around this pretty bay has seen a lot of change over the centuries, along with the constant erosion of the chalk cliffs. Pegwell Bay was very popular during Victorian and Edwardian times as a busy holiday spot, with tea rooms, regattas and bathing facilities amongst other things. The remains of two wooden jetties can still be seen today.

Pegwell Bay, c 1800's.
This picture was drawn prior to the distinctive Belle Vue hotel tower was built. Note the two covered piers or jetties, extending out to sea. The remains of these wooden posts can still be seen jutting out of the beach at low tide today.
Pegwell Bay, 2006
The tower of the Belle Vue hotel is now the most dominant feature of the skyline. The piers and bathing facilities have long since disappeared

Pegwell Village, c.1895 and 2006

The BelleVue tavern can be seen clearly on the left, and what is now the "Sir Stanley Gray" is next door. Previously this pub was called "The Moonlighters" after it's smuggling connections. There are numerous smuggling tunnels known to have run from beneath these pubs through the chalk cliffs and to the sea. The building straight ahead (in the old picture) appears to be the top floor of a four storey building (since demolished) shown in a later picture.
The Old Convent, Chilton. c1890 (Assumption Convent)

Site of the Convent, 2006.
The convent was demolished some years ago, to make way for a new housing estate. The only prominent feature that remains is the archway, on Goodwin Road, shown on the left of both pictures, and the "Nun's Graveyard", located near the adjacent Convent Walk.
The whole site is now a new housing estate with several new roads and streets intersecting across it.

The Sportsman Inn, c 1910
The Sportsman Inn, 2006
Not much has changed, other than the mode of transport in the car park!
(Plus the houses on the left and an extension to the pub on the right (not shown)

Pegwell Bay, early 1900's
Compared to the earlier picture above, the piers and bathing facilities have disappeared, and the Belle Vue Hotel has been built, with it's characteristic tower
Pegwell Bay, 2006
The 4 storey house in the foreground of the early photo has completely disappeared. This can be seen rising above the cliff top in previous photos, with an entrance from Pegwell Road. The building next to it (partially obscured) is still there however. It is part of the Belle Vue hotel complex. Also the carefully manicured lawns in the foreground of the original picture have now become very overgrown and wild. Sadly, rubbish is also dumped here on this wasteland. The concrete cliff reinforcements are also clearly seen in the recent picture, which were not present on previous ones.

Pegwell Bay and Belle Vue gardens, c1900
Similar to the above pictures, this view shows the once immaculate lawns and gardens at the bottom of the cliffs at Pegwell, which I believe were the grounds to the Belle Vue hotel.
Pegwell Bay and Belle Vue gardens, 2006 (opposite direction)
Here is another view of the grounds to the Belle Vue hotel, on the undercliff at Pegwell. As you can see, rather than the well kept grounds in the original picture, they have been 'laid to lawn' over many years, and are now unkempt and overgrown. However, I feel this lends itself to the rugged nature of Pegwell Bay now, and adds to it's natural beauty. It is also creates a haven for the many different types of wildlife and birds
Coastguard Station, c.1900


Remains of coastguard station, 2009

In the early view, the coastguard station was the wooden scaffold structure in the foreground, with ladders leading down to the beach below. This provided the coastguards with a convenient lookout across the bay for smugglers, and other things. Over a century later, the remains of this lookout station can clearly be seen in the modern picture, what is left of the wooden structure hanging fore-lornly against the chalk cliffs, long forgotten in time. The station at the top of the cliffs is now completely buried in undergrowth

Pegwell High Street, c.1912

Pegwell High Street, 2009
The earlier view was taken in the winter. Note the old cottage in the foreground on the left of the picture. In the modern picture you can see this has since been demolished, and the car park for the Belle Vue tavern is in its place. You can clearly see the original outline of the old cottage on the white wall in the modern picture, where it used to be. (its chimney breast and inglenook still remain). Also the white house with its two bay windows next door (Banger's old florist shop) has now become two seperate houses, with the second having been built up higher in the modern picture, with an extra storey. Everything else remains rather similar though!

Pegwell High Street, 1860
Here is an even earlier view looking up Pegwell Road, from the same spot as the previous two pictures. The public house on the right in the recent picture has not been built yet (what is now the Sir Stanley Grey pub). Instead, Tatnell's old barn stands in its place (where potted shrimps were once produced). The building in the foreground on the left (with the nice shutters) was there prior to the Pegwell Bay Hotel being built on the site in 1898.

An even earlier view!, likely from the late 1700's. the only prominent building that still remains today from this view is of course the Belle Vue Tavern, which has changed little over the last 200 years.


Sunset over Pegwell Bay, c.1906

Sunset over Pegwell Bay, 2009

There is one very obvious addition to the skyline in the modern picture!
The famous cooling towers of Richborough Power station lie dormant across the bay. These famous landmarks have dominated the landscape here for over half a century, but are obviously missing in the earlier view across the bay.


Pegwell Beach, c.1920

Pegwell Beach, 2009
These two views are dramatically different. What was once a private sheltered beach was completely destroyed in the 1960's, when it was replaced with a Hoverport. The hoverport was used by hovercraft crossing the channel, throughout the 1970's and early 80's before being left derelict. The vast concrete aprons still remain, but are slowly being reclaimed by nature. The arrival of the hovercraft at Pegwell has been blamed for ruining what was once a thriving shrimping industry, and the once sandy beach was soon replaced by mud and quicksand. However, the old remains of what was once a busy hoverport lend their own silent beauty to the area.

Other pictures of Pegwell (old and new)

The beer garden of the Belle Vue Tavern, c1900
The Belle Vue hotel is now on the opposite side of the road, (with the distinctive tower), and is actually linked with the pub next door to the Belle Vue Tavern (The Sir Stanley Gray) via an underground tunnel.

A Bait Digger on the sands at Pegwell Bay, c 1905
Even today, at low tide, you can still see bait diggers far out on the sands at Pegwell Bay, carrying on the profession in much the same way as they have for hundreds of years


Looking out over Pegwell Bay at high tide, November 2006
A choppy sea, and the distinctive towers of the derelict Richborough Power Station on the horizon near Sandwich.
Pegwell Bay Pier, 1870
Pegwell Bay, 1820

Thanks to Richard & Janet's Genealogy Homepage for permission to use many of the old postcards on this page

"Ramsgate - Then & Now" has recently been published by the History Press, in an attractive 96 page book. This first edition includes all of the old & new images from this site, as well as many more, and over 10,000 words of supporting captions and historical information, to complement the images.
If you have enjoyed visiting this site, why not buy the book, which would make the perfect gift for any Ramsgatonian, old or new!
Only £9.99 (inc. P&P)

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Blogger Richard Eastcliff said...

Fascinating stuff. What a great collection of photos - thanks Vince.

Personally I think it's a shame that the Belle Vue gardens are now overgrown, but that's just a personal thing.

11:49 am  
Blogger Vince R said...

Thanks Richard! Yes, I do agree it is a shame the gardens are unrecognizable and overgrown now. Mind you, I was talking to someone in the pub last night who works in the hotel, and they said there are plans afoot to restore or develop that waste area back to its former glory... I guess it's a case of watch that space.....

4:43 pm  
Blogger www.doverpast.co.uk said...

Would be nice to see it reinstated back to gardens, can see now why it it a bit damp underfoot in there !!

10:51 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would make my day to see pegwell as it was then. Its an amazing place, I used to play there when I was younger, I still visit the place to relax and get away from the hussle and bussle of town.

3:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely photos. Thank you for sharing. I used to walk from the Eastcliffe to Pegwell Bay as a child playing along the cliff top as I went. It's nice to see the old place as it once was. It brings back many good memories.
Thanks again.

2:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I moved here 30 years ago from the States after hearing many stories from my Mother of Thanet and Pegwell Bay but was shocked to see how the Brits let there History and Beauty spots go to the dogs !
Pegwell Bay could be a fantastic site if only the planners had some imagination and foresight.
Its never to late !

9:39 pm  
Blogger Vince R said...

Hi All - Just wanted to say thankyou for all your positive comments and questions. Sorry I haven't been able to reply to individual questions as yet, but will try to do so as soon as I get some time!
Stay tuned, as there are more updates to the site pending! ;-)

4:13 pm  
Blogger Vince R said...

More pictures added!

4:46 pm  
Blogger and another thing said...

You have not referred to the time when the Belle View Hotel was sold and became the Convalescent home for the Workingmen's Clubs and institutes Union. This was the time when the building doubled in size. Funded by passmore Edwards, who also funded two convalescent homes at herne bay, it was one of over seventy public buildings he funded.

10:13 pm  
Blogger MaryG said...

I have an enamel entitled "PEGWELL BAY ESTABLISHED 1760." which my mother acquired when we lived in Norfolk, England in 1955. It is identical to your " earlier view!likely from the 1700's." I am almost certain it is the original since it contains a few additional details. Do you know the origin of the image or the artist?

7:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi just seen the images of Pegwell it is great. My mother in law owned the Belle Vue in the 50s and the florist opposite and house which used to be the site of the shrimp factory. I worked in the Convalescent Home and it was a lovely then.

4:49 pm  
Blogger Vince R said...

Thank you all for your lovely comments! "Anonymous (4.49pm)": Thanks also for your comment. I would be VERY interested if you had any old photos of the time when your mother-in-law owned the belle-vue and particularly the Banger shrimp factory opposite, as that is a building very close to my heart! I would love to hear from you at vinny007@talktalk.net

9:31 am  
Anonymous BP said...

fantastic memmories i remember a tea room on the cliffs at pegwell in the mid/late 1950s the owner was a lady who was the daughter of a mr pangbourne who was the owner of the allandale guest house in ramsgate can anyone shed any light on this.

3:47 pm  
Anonymous Janet A. said...

Hi. I live in Missouri in the US. My mother recently passed away and as we were sorting through her belongings, I found a round,porcelain box with the early view of Pegwell Bay on the top of the box. At the bottom of the picture it states, "Pegwell Bay, established 1760". My sister and I were wondering how this came to be in our mother's possession since we cannot recall any of our family visiting England in the past. We did have a great, great uncle who fought in WWI and we were wondering if foreign troops might have passed through the area on their way to France. Does anyone know anything about this? My son now lives in Witney near Oxford and the next time I pop over to see him and his family, I plan to visit Pegwell Bay for myself!

12:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janet A, in WW1 the troops would have left for France from the port of Richborough which can be seen across the bay of Pegwell, as indeed the other way around too. It is possible that he might have 'gone to the pub' in Pegwell although it would have been a good 4/5 mile walk.

3:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone know the whereabouts of Pegwell Cottage,or have a picture? It appears to have been the home of Sir William Garrow (Barrister in the BBC TV Series GARROW's LAW) in approximately 1840.
I also believe he is buried in Ramsgate or thereabouts.

2:27 pm  
Blogger ktk said...

What has happened to the viking ship that was there in the late forties / early fifties? Not even a photo! Same question regarding the BOUNTY that was in Ramsgate harbour.
My parents and I holidayed at Ramsgate and Pegwell Bay for eight years on the trot at this time.I had my first flight from Ramsgate airfield (not Manston)in a Dragon Rapide, price 10 shillings!

10:44 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to live at the Moonlighters as one of the long term residents back in the 60's. It was owned/managed by John Barry and his wife. The old place was maintained quite well then. We used to chip in and help run room service from the restuarant opposite. To make a quick trip we would regularly use the connecting tunnel. Fun days.

1:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived at the Moonlighters in the 70's. The Hotel was owned and run by John Barry and his wife Carol. They maintained the place well and it was quite popular. We would chip in with room service delivering from the restaurant opposite and saving time by using the underground tunnel that connects the two. Fun days

1:54 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Would anyone have pics of abbey lodge nursing home that was on pegwell toad

3:44 pm  

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