Saturday, 16 October 2010

Why has the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate gone grey?

Anyone got any idea why the roof of the pavilion has been painted battleship grey?
Its bad enough that so many bits have been chopped off since it was built in 1903.
Some things about it remain a bit of a mystery, like the picture above (click on it to make it bigger) perhaps sandbags for the war effort, does anyone know?
As you see from the picture above it could really do with a flood defence like Margate is getting.
The pavilion was designed by Stanley Davenport Adshead, more about this later on when I get a bit more time.
Here are a few more pictures before I get going on this one some of what was there before the pavilion and some showing bits that were added on but mostly taken off since it was built in 1903.
Some of the official opening, I think it was opened by Princess Louise in 1904, but will have to check that.
What is happening at the moment is one of those only in Thanet stories, it could probably be resolved by spending several days formulating information requests and formal complaints.

Ridiculous as it is the council don’t just tell us what is going on, what if any the plans are for this iconic Ramsgate building.

What happened with the building is that it was leased to a firm who were running it as an entertainment venue, live music, concession seaside shops, café etc. it’s all rather a long time ago and I was a teenager at the time with other things on my mind.

A series of takeovers and possibly unwise control by the council meant that the building’s use changed to an amusement arcade and casino and then to a nightclub and casino.

The operators gutted the building and built separate buildings inside to house their various ventures.

They then closed the nightclub that became derelict, followed by the casino, leaving this listed building an asbestos contaminated wreck.

Eventually the council got around to trying to enforce the terms of the lease, I assume that these were at the very least to keep the building in a reasonable state of repair.

Some deal has been struck between the casino firm and the council, although what it is, well that is of course some sort of secret. From what I understand the casino operator have agreed to decorate the outside of the building but leave the inside a wreck.

I don’t think they intend to replace the features that they removed, most importantly the domed porch.


  1. Nice pictures Michael, the ones of the sandbags are unusual. So why has the roof been painted on the Pavilion.

  2. Sea grey, to avoid disturbing the view?

  3. Grey roof, on instructions from men in grey suits with similar imagination.

    The seaside is supposed to be a fun place, look at the fantastic old photos posted by Michael.

    People enjoying themselves, can't have that in Thanet.

  4. The Turner Contemporary have produced a wall of etchings, sketchings and paintings as part of their Big Draw Doodle Mania.

    I wonder where that idea came from???

  5. Perhaps its to match the colouration of the roof of the Pleasurama development...when its built. Either that or the MoD are selling off surplus paint due to the reduction in our surface fleet.

  6. Wasn't the green colour a copper roof? If it's a listed building I would have thought you'd need some kind of permission to paint over a wonderful feature like that because it alters the whole character.

  7. Also if it was a copper roof some things react with copper in a corrosive manner and the whole thing will deteriorate even more. Can only imagine what damage was done to the interior in the name of progress. still Ramsgates going to the dogs OHH I forgot it cant anymore since the dog track has become such a nice feature.

  8. Sorry if this is off topic, but I just stumbled across the BBC's Coast website tour of Ramsgate.

    The "sorry looking" Royal Pavilion gets a mention. Actually, the tour of Ramsgate goes on for 6 or 7 pages. Quite impressive.

  9. Didn't you see the offer battleship grey buy one get one free.
    joking aside it is hopefully an undercoat, to change the colour of the roof i would think they would require listed building consent and planning permission.
    Or is another fine mess that tdc have got tdc in and they will be taking themselves to court to get it painted the right colour.

  10. The listing (below) says a lead roof although I am not sure this is right, looks more like zinc to me.

    TR 3864 NE
    (south side)
    13.9.74 Royal Victoria
    GV II
    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,

  11. I've been watching this closely as the repair work has progressed. The first stage was removing loose paint from the roof, which exposed the surface underneath in places as being grey metal. The paint applied to the roof was from a paint spray. I'd guess that this may have been some kind of specialist paint for the purpose.

    Assuming that this roof paint may only come in a limited range of colours, I'd prefer the roof to be duller than before rather than brighter !

  12. I thought the Pavillion roof looked quite shiny in the sunlight yesterday....moreso than I'd expected. Slightly different topic but one that irritated me as a visitor to Ramsgate, the large signboard advertising a long defunct cafe/restaurant out on the end of the mole......well someone must have heard me as the offending object has now been removed.

  13. According to 'The Times' (30.06.1904), the Pavilion was 'formally opened' by Princess Louise on 29 June. 'The occasion was favoured with delightfully sunnyweather and the town, with its gaily decorated streets and crowds of holiday folk, looked its brightest' reported the paper; 'The outlay for the for the pavilion has amounted to about £40,000, the provision of adequate foundations proving very expensive; but theresult is to rpovide not only an admirable place of amusement, but also an extensive free public shelter facing the sands.'


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.