Monday, 21 August 2017

Two photos of Ramsgate Sands taken before 1860 and a bit of a ramble.

I think these two old photos have done the internet rounds of being copied and appearing on most local history websites about this area since I first put them online about ten years ago.

The main snag with this is the image sizes get smaller and smaller meaning you dear reader can see less and less detail.

I thought it was about time to republish them at a reasonable size, for those of you familiar with this blog, you will know that a bit of compulsive clicking will get them up to a reasonable size so you can home in on the detail.

Ramsgate photo wise there isn’t a lot that predates these ones, so they really are a bit of a look into the other country that is our past.

The only reason I know they were taken before 1860 is that Ramsgate Sands Railway station was built in 1860 on the site where the coast guard station stood before 1860.

The station carried on being a station until the early 1920s  when it closed and the bit where the railway lines were was turned into a funfair with the station building being turned into an indoor amusement arcade called Merrie England, Olympia, Pleasureland and eventually Pleasurama.

This eventually burnt down around twenty years ago and became a deserted building site, which it still is.

I think it possible that this is part of the plan to regenerate Margate, i.e. degenerating Ramsgate, the main rival holiday leisure in Thanet will give Margate an extra boost. Another alternative is that there is no plan and this like Westcliff Hall is just another dreadful accident delivered by our accident-prone district council. 

It may look like I am having a bit a dig at the council but I have been sending them emails asking for an update on the situation with the site for several months now and I haven’t had any replies.

Anyway back to the history, assuming the photos were taken some time around 1850, based on the very latest it could be would be 1859 – because of the station and the very earliest it could be around 1840 because of the development of photography, it may be helpful to have a look at the street map of Ramsgate for 1849.

This is a very big picture, but is should open fairly easily on most devices, because of the way I have published it online, here is the link

The cart things on wheels are bathing machines and relate the management of Victorian modesty before the invention of the bathing costume. Basically you got into the machine, stripped off while someone pushed it into deep enough water to cover you up, then you got into the sea.

This was enhanced by a group of people on the harbour wall with telescopes, and eventually developed to the bikini in Ramsgate in about 1939, see

Staying on the subject of Ramsgate visitors and residents, you may wonder what is happening inside their minds in the here and now, I don’t think you could get much closer than looking at the pictures of the books that went out on the shelves in the bookshop in Ramsgate today.

My take is that as they are mostly replacing copies of books that people have bought recently, this is the closest the amateur anthropologist can get to looking inside now, so here is the link 


  1. Hi Michael, I think you need to edit your typo "...Ramsgate Sands Railway station was built in 1960...". Just an observation.

  2. David corrections are always useful, I do try to post it, link it to a few facebook groups, have a cuppa read it through but it's the very devil reading something you have just written and noticing the errors in it. You can only really read something for the first time if you haven't written it.


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