Old Ramsgate (then and now)

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

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Out of Town and Miscellaneous...

Ramsgate Municipal Airport

Members of the public being given a "field talk", c.1937
Factory buildings mark site of Airfield, 2007

I recently heard a rumour there had been an old airfield (pre-WW2) somewhere in the fields behind my house (near Newlands Road), that run between Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

After doing a bit of digging, I found that indeed there was, and as it turned out, Ramsgate had it's own Municipal Airport! (And I don't mean Kent International at Manston!)

The airfield was situated next to Pyson's Road, with the main entrance from Rumfields Road, and was known as Ramsgate Municipal Airport.

Ramsgate Airfield, early 1930's

Airfield site, 2007
Pysons Road is to the left, running from top to bottom in both pictures (top towards Ramsgate, bottom towards Broadstairs). The footprint of the old airfield site remains, but has since been covered by industrial buildings, showrooms and workshops, with newer roads intersecting it. There is little left on the ground to show that this was once a bustling local airport prior to World War 2

I'm not sure of the exact dates the airport was in use, but I believe it's heyday was in the late 1930's, but was actually in use right up until the late 1960's(?)

Ramsgate Municipal Airport, 1937
The "new" terminal building can be seen towards the rear of the field, in front of the hangar

Same view, 2007
Now a retail and industrial complex

The site is now an industrial estate, it's largest occupant being the Sericol ink factory, however, the names of the new roads that intersect the estate give a clue as to it's previous life, with names such as Anson Close, Blenheim Close, etc, no doubt named after the classic planes that graced the airfield in it's heyday.

The 'new' terminal building, 1937
This was a revolutionary design at the time, and I believe won some architectural awards. Note the water tower in the background, still a prominent landmark on Rumfields Road.

Same view, 2007

The water tower on Rumfields Road is still the dominant feature of the skyline


View from the passenger lounge, 1937

The terminal bar, 1937

A pilot indulging in a nice beverage! (hopefully after his flight and not before!)

A DeHavilland Tiger Moth ready for take off! (c.1937)

These legendary aircraft were used as trainers by the RAF at the start of the second world war. The terminal building is in background.

Same location, 2007


Rear view of the terminal building, 1937

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iremember this site after it fell into disuse and before it was developed. I remember too the old terminal building. Look at a bomb map of this area, it was peppered with bombs during WW2 even though it was a civil airfield.

9:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a my first flight from Ramsgate Airport about 1960. A joyride in Pervical Prentice I think the Registration was G-AOKL


Charlie Vint

12:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found this site after researching David Bouverie, grandson of 5th earl of Radnor; architect who designed this Ramsgate Aerodrome Terminal. Thanks for preserving the history of this interesting building!

7:43 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't they do "SKYWAYS COACH-AIR" to France in the early 60's. (Used A.W. Argosies I think)If I'm right they pioneered flying your car abroad.Had catchy advertising slogans in the buses. Pilot Pullinger (lived opposite Ellington Park-Keeper's House) flew out of Municipal.
Correct me if I am wrong please.

I once explored a really decent private air raid shelter under a house on the West cliff.

John Ruston

10:15 pm  
Blogger A J Ovenden said...

Excellent photgraphs, I like the Art Deco feel in the airport building.

7:57 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Skyways Coach Air flew out of Lympne, near Hythe in the 1950s and60s. They initially used Dakotas, but never carried cars. Silver City Airways, and later British United Air Ferries, flew cars in Bristol Freighters, out of Lympne, and later from Lydd. Neither company used Ramsgate.

1:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked at the airport in Ramsgate for the summers of 1959 and 1960, loading passengers onto the Percival Prentices for Maitland Air Charters who were running the pleasure flights at that time. They were the best summers of my life, I went up in the planes a lot myself.

7:54 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 RobinPilot said...

I remember going for a pleasure flight in a single-engine, four-seater light aircract from an airfield near Minster in Thanet, where we were staying in the mid-60s. The pilot was a lady and I sat in the front right seat, my father in the back. It was probably the experience that started my love of flying. The question is, was it from Ramsgate? I shall try to find the photograph of the aircraft.

8:07 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just in case any reader worked for Skyways in the 1960s/70s, there will be a reunion of Skyways staff in Hythe on 10 October 2009.
Details are here;

10:04 am  
Blogger Nichoid said...

The lady pilot was Chris(tine) Roberts who with her husband owned several aircraft including the Percival Procter that they gave flights in. I know because I also flew in it. As I went to the adjacent Dane Court School and an aircraft enthusiast I saw a lot between 1958 to 1962. Ian Nicholls

12:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's Clare Roberts , her husband is Chris

3:44 am  
Blogger Nichoid said...

Thanks for the correction yes it was Clair Robert's with Chris who owned Chisair see http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1964/1964%20-%203028.html for photo

8:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lost my virginity at the old Ramsgate Airport I was 21 and he was one of the pilots.

6:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice u wrongun

2:38 pm  
Anonymous Pete Accurate said...

Nice post but your modern photos are all out of place, the views you offer aren't the same position as you suggest they are...

10:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in nearby Northwood Road and in the early 50s played lots of cricket on the concrete apron in front of the disused hangar. We chalked the wicket on the hangar doors. I thought then as a boy that the airport was permanently derelict.
But then in 1958 after being away from Ramsgate for a couple of years I found - in a very scary way - that aircraft had started using it again. Late one afternoon, returning home from Broadstairs, I took a short cut across the 'disused airfield', as I thought of it, only to hear the sound of an aircraft approaching. I turned to see a single-engined plane heading straight for me at a very low level. I threw myself to the ground, in some panic, and it passed just overhead. I picked myself up and started running to the perimeter, when the sadistic berk piloting it turned and did the same thing again. I still, all these years later, recall my fear at that North by Northwest moment and feel a spurt of anger towards that nasty piece of work.

3:27 pm  
Anonymous Philip Crow said...

I also had my first flight from Ramsgate airport as a lad of about ten.My brother was home on leave from the RAF and managed to russel up the 7s6p for my flight.We spent many a summer there as our house was on the Margate road.The old hanger is still there but the main terminal building has long gone.What a discrace it would have made fine offices.The front of the building was laid out with tables and chairs of deco design made of metal in various colours, two of which i came across a few years ago and are now in my garden in Rainham. Happy days.

1:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i remember living in at Rumfields Road in the 70s when the housing estate was being built behind us. We used to go and play on the field at the back- they used if for storing new cars at the time, but there was a aircraft hanger- we went in and found old plane parts. I recall my dad saying it was a airfield. I can see the water tower now as it was then- even though we now live in west mids

7:44 pm  
Blogger ktk said...

I had my first flight in a dragon rapide for ten shillings. It was around 1950.Does anyone know the registration of this aircraft and is it still flying? Jim Morris.

3:36 pm  
Blogger Nichoid said...

Yes I know the registration numbers and I have some photo's. You can call me 0900 to 2100 at 4D Builders CT14. Ian

3:09 pm  
Blogger ktk said...

Thanks for the reply Nichoid but I don't understand your contact details. My email is morrisjames151@gmail.com Look forward to hearing from you again.

9:26 am  
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10:34 pm  
Blogger greege said...

Hello all, the views posted of 'then ane now' are one road 'too far down' toward Broadstairs, the actual location of the airport building was on the right of Hopes Lane, [as you look toward Northwood road, yes the hanger IS still there, so one can get a fairly good bearing from this building/hanger as the Hopes lane turns left at the first corner, you can see 3 or 4 metal bollards, then a small car parking area, the building you are now looking at in the background is the hanger, turn 180degrees & to your left, approximately 30meters ahead is the location of the airport terminal site. The first building to go up was b.o.c. the now Sericol building, I dispair when I look back & see how Ramsgate has been asset stripped since the mid seventies, it is so wrong.

6:15 pm  
Blogger Ollie M said...

My grandmother trained to fly at this airport pre ww2. We have her old log book somewhere in the family which shows her last flight as being mid 1939, I think she flew tiger moths?? Not long after and the outbreak of war put an end to it all. She always claimed to be thanets first female pilot. The road names on the industrial site are named after old aircraft.

8:35 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

From the late sixties the Airport building and hanger were used by AEM an aircraft engineering company, they moved to the Haine industrial estate in the seventies I think.

4:40 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Pathe website News In A Nutshell features Ramsgate Airport with small aircraft called Flying Fleas. Lots on them in Wikipedia. There appears to be a race on and a prize won. Rumfields Rd water tower and the old hangar can be seen in the background. Some extra pics of Hereson railway and visit to the beach.

9:19 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I flew into Ramsgate around 1967 - Terminal Building was still there. Seem to remember it was 'compact' - but no problem for a Tiger Club Druine Turbulent.

5:55 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Visited the vicinity for a then-and-now shufti nothwithstanding Mr David Collier's writings a few years ago which I confess I haven't consulted. Seeking out the remaining architectural archaeology of the airport for myself was more of a challenge and rewarding surprise, after consulting a few old aerial pictures just to get a few bearings. In summary, I actually ended up in that ( yes the one and only ) hangar talking to a very kind gentleman who has a unique set of fading and curling old B&W pictures of that premise during their tenure over very many years and its changes, some of which are significant but still preserve the essence of the place due to its heritage. A storage company and furniture manufacturer are based in it and are very mindful of its history, but I would politely stress they are private businesses and not open to the public as such but were prepared to be indulgent just the once for a cheeky chap like me from Broadstairs continually looping round their entrance and yard on my pushbike gawping at the roofline etc. The airport's old refuelling pipe system remains nearby does the original concrete apron slabs plus those silver cast iron entrance posts on Hopes Lane by the corner turning and junction with Webbs Removals. The beautiful airport building was based up a bit from Webbs to Graham Plumbing and I do believe a large pig farm was once opposite tho' I might have my dates misaligned. Flying Flea planes aside, RAF Royal Auxilliary Airforce No 609 ( West Riding ) Squadron website data has pics of Ramsgate Airport as their 1937 Summer Camp when they has Hawker biplane aircraft issued. Ramsgate once echoed to the sound of lots of Yorkshire accents! From the distance and alignment of the present-day Rumfields Rd Water Tower in the light of the position of the Hangar, there's a chance to look again at some proposed old pictures of aircraft around the vicinity but I don't want to upset those who have bravely tried because they might be right after all. Speaking of positioned aircraft, the Facebook page for old Broadstairs has a 1960s picture of local school girls treating themselves to a cheeky rest on one of the parked commercial Proctor aircraft during one of their many walks in the vicinity, which was a popular past time for that school's pupils. Suffice to say, if anyone's interested, I can dig out the details of that craft which belonged to a latter-day air taxi firm. Anorak jokes aside for my aircraft spotting, I do recall we still have retired folks living nearby who either flew as pilots or worked at the airport in many service sector roles. Perhaps they'd like to see one of their old aircraft. Then again, perhaps not. Always interesting to see and read of the fate of the airport as a portent for the fate of Manston if some some factions still get their way on a much vaster scale. That old airport building really was aesthetically pleasing, and I hope if Manston ever gets going again, a suitably-proportionate larger replica is created there instead of the tired-old 70s portacabin convenience architectural sprawl. There are hints of similar 30s(?) Ramsgate era architecture at the hotel buildings up at Minster roundabout, but that is another story.

10:04 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fascinating insight into the Aerodrome at Ramsgate - the saddest thing that the Aerodrome Terminal was demolished, it could have been LISTED and made into a café (as at West Malling) or ANYTHING, surely..! It was without doubt one the most delightful 'Art Deco' buildings in the area and a treasured link to the history of aviation. The Municipal Council of the time desired to be involved in the emerging air transportation scene and it is to them, who we must thank for the existence of both the Terminal Building and Aerodrome. I dare say that it was never 'economic' but in this age where accountants even dictate what goes in a packet of cornflakes - preservation is vital..!

9:46 am  

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