Thursday, 5 August 2010

Work Starts on The Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate

As you can see from the picture taken yesterday the scaffolding is going up, my understanding is that the work is to be external only and is the result of an agreement reached between Thanet District Council the owner and The Rank Organisation the leaseholder.

I believe the lease was granted to the Pleasurama Organisation and that they moved their “Tiberius” casino there from where it was housed between The Marina Swimming Pool and Marian Esplanade into the western end of the pavilion and opened an amusement arcade “Stardust” in the western end.

At some point the lease was transferred to Rank Organisation who operated the casino until it closed and moved to Westwood Cross, I think this was late in 2007 or early in 2008.
If you look at the picture above of the pavilion in its former glory you can see some bits are missing most noticeably the domed porch and the windows in the arched roof.

Now I am not certain at what point the windows were removed but I am certain that the porch was removed after the building was listed and while the building was leased as a casino.

What I am completely uncertain of is if the work will reinstate the outside of this listed building to how it was and looked, or if this is just urgent weatherproofing to stop further deterioration.

The damage to the structure that has been caused by years of neglect that has lead to water getting into the iron framed structure, causing the iron to rust badly, which in tern lead to expansion inside the concrete that covered much of the iron frame, causing it to crack.

This process is called spalling, the cracks mean more water gets in causing more rust that enlarges the cracks, it is difficult to remediate effectively and it may be several years after the work is done, before it is certain that the problem has properly stabilised.

Speaking here with my engineer’s hat on instead of looking at it from a historical preservation point of view I think the pavilion is probably beyond economic preservation.
The picture above shows a very high tide, fortunately we don’t get these very often and mostly we get them on a calm day, like the day the picture was taken. I suppose pretty much anyone who has lived by the sea for a while can imagine what happens on the rare occasions when a very high tide is combined with a major storm.

Since the pavilion was built in 1903-4 it has been engulfed by the sea on several occasions, causing damage and flooding and I think that it is likely that at some time in the future a storm will cause all or part of it to collapse.


  1. Ever the optimist eh ?

    I would be grateful that someone is look at the building and not have someone shouting at them about the flood risk and that they should abandon all hope.....

  2. Michael, I afraid you have your engineer's hat on crooked. The main frame of the Royal Pavilion is not encased in concrete.
    Westcliff Pavilion is a cased frame)
    The Royal Pavilion is a self supporting steel and iron rivetted structure and for a 100+year building it is in remarkably good condition.

    Even the strongest storm sturge would only remove brick infill the main structure is constructed of "shipwright" quality.

    I will e-mail you a preliminary internal inspection report carried out for the Ramsgate Society.

  3. Anonymous GeraldAugust 06, 2010 11:27 am

    I never could find an answer about when and why the original roof windows disappeared... does the Ramsgate Society have any info? Also is there any possibility of a photo from inside the building as it is now?

  4. Gerald (not 11.27 :-) )August 06, 2010 11:55 am


    'Pleasurama Properties Limited' is listed as one of the Rank Group's subsidaries.


  5. 22.35 Point taken, my problem here is that until council tell us proper details of what is going on with the pavilion, then there is the concern that although money is obviously going in a liability may be coming out.

    As far as I understand it all of the resources that the council had available to them to investigate the flood risks in Thanet were used on Margate.

    Readit many thanks for the inspection report, you are I believe right here, unfortunately the only part of the pavilion that I am familiar with is the eastern end without the domed roof. I worked there for a while when it was the Stardust Arcade and am pretty sure this is built with a structure of reinforced concrete pillars that are spalling badly. I am afraid that I made the mistake of assuming that the rest of the structure was built the same way.

    Gerald I will do my best to get some photos, this isn’t easy as what would have been the main part now essentially has the internal two story structure inside it that housed the casino and nightclub.

    Thanks Gerald, I am assuming then that any liability for damage done by Pleasurama would now be Rank’s.

  6. Bet it was nice with the balcony shame there wont be any chance it being re-instated . Have to make do with it being restored. What is where the windows were removed another floor?

  7. The casino and night club are no more than "stage sets" inside the building and would be best completely removed so the real building can be structurally assessed.

    Unfortunaltely all the internal finishes were ripped out of the building prior to conversion, so little or nothing of the original interior exists today.

    The casino conversion pre-dates the listing of the building so the modified entrance, blocked windows and loss of the dome are mentioned in the listing narrative.

  8. Michael,

    Paying for the repairs ...

    'Pleasurama Properties Limited' still own the lease on the pavillion - so they would presumably be ultimately responsible (to TDC) for repairs.

    However ... 'Pleasurama Properties Limited' sub-lets the pavillion to 'Pleasurama Casinos Limited'.

    'Pleasurama Casinos Limited' appears to be a former name of 'Grosvenor Casinos Limited'.

    The recent planning application to remove the metal shelters from the roof of the pavillion (as part of these repair works) was from 'Grosvenor Casinos Limited'. I'd guess therefore that the leaseholders (Pleasurama Properties Ltd) probably pass on the repairing liability to their sub-tenants.

    Grosvenor Casinos Ltd is another Rank Group subsidary - and (according to has almost 3000 employees and a turnover last year of around £190M.


  9. Don some old pictures of inside I think they answer your question.

    Readit I know at the time the council were furious about the demolition of the dome and I am fairly certain that it wasn’t done within the terms of the lease.

    Thanks Gerald and Readit I am as they say piecing together a picture and hope to be able to do something positive with the information in the end.

  10. Michael,

    Do you know if TDC actually *did* anything about the removal of the dome that you refered to - other than just get angry?

    [A landlord can't rely on raking up breaches of a lease that they were aware of and which happened in the past. The landlord needs to take action at the time or they otherwise run the risk that a court might rule that they had 'condoned' the breach through inaction.]

  11. Gerald this wasn’t TDC, before their time it would have been the old Ramsgate council, the information came from Don Long who was a councillor at the time but unfortunately he is now dead.

    The trouble is that when I talked to him about the Pavilion my main interest was in the storm damage, my primary concern being the safety of the new Pleasurama development, so I didn’t take as much notice as perhaps I should have done.

    I don’t know if any one is left alive who could remember reliably what happened or if there would be any records.

    I suppose the main problem here is that we have an important Ramsgate project here and I expect it will be impossible to get much useful information about it from TDC. I will try to find out what they intend to do to the pavilion as soon as I have all the information that I can get so that I am asking the right questions, god alone knows in any other town a project like this would public knowledge, mind you it is hard to imagine anywhere else that the main council owned public venues could have gone the way they have here.

  12. Yet again another opportunity to decry the fact that TDC have been successful in ensuring something is done to rectify the decay of this listed building. The repairs will hopefully generate investment and eventually the building could be returned to a useable asset for the town… there an optimistic view and it didn’t hurt at all.

    Regarding the structure, I agree with Readit, the frame is not encased in concrete, however being exposed the columns do show significant decay and the associated expansion has reduce the effectiveness of the columns.

  13. 19.04 any chance you could tell us some details of what is actually being done to our pavilion?

  14. Thought you'd be onto the TDV planning applications by now Michael....

    Application for Listed Building Consent for removal of 3no metal screens from first floor roof deck


    The building is currently unoccupied and remedial works are now planned to ensure weather tightness and long term protection of the structure including works planned to the roof area. In doing so it i proposed to remove the non-original shelters to facilitate this work.

  15. Concert hall and Assembly Rooms, now Casino. 1903 by S.D. Adshead,
    built by F.G. Minter of Putney. Rendered with glazed and leaded roof,
    ostensibly in the style of a Robert Adam orangery. Horizontally
    rusticated ground floor, with polygonal pavillions to left and to right
    with fluted Doric columned arcading (originally open, now infilled),
    and projecting entrances to left (originally with a Dome) and to right,
    now with glazed barrel roof. Continuous cast iron balustrade to 1st
    floor; recessed central roof, curved with a top cornice, as if a giant
    conservatory. Rear (seaward) elevation with covered arcade on iron
    posts. Irregularly placed sashes and casements over whole elevation,
    with C20 glazed doors to left in double Ionic columned porch, the fascia
    still topped by large male and female figures which originally supported
    a dome, but now lean precariously into space. Glazed doors to right
    hand entry. Interior: altered and modernised. The commission was
    given by Ramsgate Corporation to Adshead on the strength of his
    entry for the Ramsgate Library Competition of 1902. The interior was
    originally based on the Little Theatre at Versailles; the whole was
    aimed as an exercise in the Adam style. Designed in 1 week, to be built
    in 6 weeks in time for the 1903 season, Adshead considered he "completed
    this building with some success" despite delays (Thanet District Council
    preserve F.G. Minter's claims for non-payment of monies due by Ramsgate
    Corporation during construction). (See Architectural History, 24, 81,

  16. Anon 19.04, you state that want an optimistic view, nobody is more optimistic about the potential future of the Pavilion than I am.

    Can you please explain where you have seen the "significant decay" as there was little of this decay visible when I visited the building

    "however being exposed the columns do show significant decay and the associated expansion has reduced the effectiveness of the columns."

    Bearing in mind that on an exposed steel column, inserting a repair is a relatively simple process.

  17. I'm also quite optimistic about the future of the Pavillion - particularly as Readit tells us that the metal structure is in good order.

    If the leaseholders can get the Pavillion watertight and structurally sound then there's probably a far better chance of them being able to find a new tenant for the building.

    In many ways its useful that the building is currently leased, as I can't imagine that TDC would be willing to fund these repairs themselves :-).


  18. The previous post is an imposter who obviously has nothing useful to add to the discussion.

  19. I have activated my google account to prevent the above happening in future

  20. 20.42 Thanks for the info, I had actually seen this but as it relates to three rusted metal windbreaks put up for people sitting outside on the roof when there was access from one of the nightclub bars.

    Unfortunately what there isn’t on the planning site is much in the way of information about the work that they intend to do.

    20.42 thank you also this is information from the buildings listing as a grade 2 historic building, you seem to have missed off the first bit, here it is:

    “IoE Number:171780
    Photographer Mr: Peter Hubbard
    Date Photographed 29 May 2003
    Date listed: 13 September 1974
    Date of last amendment 13 September 1974
    Grade II
    RAMSGATE HARBOUR PARADE TR 3864 N E (south side) 14/151 13.9.74 Royal
    Victoria Pavillion GV II Concert hall and Assembly Rooms, now Casino. 1903 by S. D. Adshead built by F.G. Minter of Putney.”

    Gerald Readit 19.04 it does look like we are all basically for some sort of constructive restoration project here, I think there may a bit if a misunderstanding about exposed columns, I take it that there are two different types, the iron ones along the open seaward shelter and the spalling reinforced concrete ones that are between where the windows were.

    There is the problem of councillors and council officers who can really only comment anonymously and the council’s general secretiveness, something that makes it difficult with a project like this where I believe most people would like to get the best and most viable result for Ramsgate.

    Readit glad you have seen the light here, as this obviously happened at 3.07 am it could have been worse.

  21. Michael,

    I'm assuming from the listed building consent application that other than removal of the metal shelters, the work they plan to do at present just consists of repairs. Any changes to put the building back to it original state (prior to its listing) would also require listed building consent.

    I expect that there will be a schedule of works that TDC and Rank have agreed on.


  22. Gerald there is the rub, a major Ramsgate venue, council owned there are other major council owned venues I can think of in the town, Neros they demolished out of hand without consultation, Westcliff Hall they put into a residential auction in the middle of negotiations with a local group, backed by the town council, once again action out of hand, they didn’t even tell the town council. The only venue that they seem to have in use in the town is Albion House, they still hold some public meetings there although the state of the building is such that it has nets on it to stop bits of the structure falling on people.

    Work of some sort is going on there probably sanctioned by the council, the trouble is that I can’t find proper details of what this work is and the track record in Ramsgate with council owned major venues is so bad.


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