Monday, 27 June 2011

Ramsgate Tunnels Vote Today

The number you need to phone is 0871 626 88 55, you can do this up to 10 times from one phone number. Calls cost 11p from a UK landline, when you dial the number it rings for a bit and then you get a recorded message saying that your vote has been registered.

What are you voting for?

Funding to document and survey 3½ miles of historic manmade tunnel structures within the Ramsgate area in order to restore and preserve them as part of an all-weather, year-round tourist and heritage project. The survey will properly document the entire tunnel system so as to clearly define its true condition, collate and archive all the available documentary evidence and draw up a workable business plan to develop them as a heritage attraction and educational resource. 

How long have you got to vote?

The phone line opened at 9am today and will stay open until midnight tonight.

Television Coverage Today

Watch ITV Meridian this evening at 6pm.

How do you get involved?

Ramsgate Tunnels Website  

What were these tunnels dug for?

Ramsgate and a lot of this part of the country sits on chalk, as well as giving us our white cliffs and providing underwater reservoirs of fresh water, this chalk is easy to tunnel and remains strong and sound after it has been tunnelled.

This whole area is full of caves and tunnels some of them dating back to prehistoric times, apart from the main tunnel system that this is about there are many other smaller tunnels and caves under Ramsgate.

The history of this system of tunnels dates back about 150 years and started because of competing Victorian railway companies, the railways first came to Thanet via Canterbury to a station in Ramsgate at the top of the High Street, the other end Of Station Approach Road to where the station is now.

This was the South Eastern Railway that arrived in Thanet in 1846, later a spur line was built across the island to Margate.

Around 1860 The London Chatham and Dover Railway extended their line form Herne Bay, via Margate and Broadstairs to Ramsgate, their new station was on Ramsgate seafront where the Pleasurama site is now.

This was reached by 1124 yard tunnel from Dumpton Park to the base of Augusta Stairs in Ramsgate, this is a virtually straight tunnel big enough to take two standard sized railway tracks that slopes between the railway cutting near the bridge at Dumpton Park to Ramsgate seafront.

When the two railway companies were amalgamated under Southern railways and in 1926 the existing station was built in Ramsgate, a new link line between Dumpton and the new station built, Sands Station and tunnel closed.

The Sands railway station was bought by the town corporation and used as an amusement park, they were also keen to find some use for the tunnel and in 1936 a spur tunnel was dug from the existing tunnel to near Dumpton Park railway station and a narrow gauge scenic railway opened between there and the seafront.

During the Fist World War Ramsgate was one of the most bombed and shelled towns in the country and when the Second World War Started this tunnel system was extended to provide a linked series of air raid shelters for the whole town.    

Books related to the Ramsgate Tunnels.

I have various local history books available now in my bookshop that cover aspects of the Ramsgate Tunnels.

The Ramsgate Tunnels, Main Line Air Raid and Scenic Railway, by Nick Catford, Published Michaels Bookshop 2005 £4.99

Ramsgate All Change, Railways in the news at Ramsgate, by David Richards, Published Michaels Bookshop 2008 £7.99

Midst Bands and Bombs, ABC Kempe 1946 reprint Published Michaels Bookshop 2006 £5.99

The Ramsgate Underground, by Terry Wheeler, Published Terry Wheeler 1999 £2.25

Ramsgate has the World’s Finest Shelters, by Phil Spain, Published Phil Spain 2011 £4.99

Who owns the tunnels?

Thanet District Council own the tunnels, I have complained to them that they haven’t even put out a press release about this, which is after all a national TV Peoples Millions event to raise funding to survey a council owned asset 

I will add to this one today with a short history of the tunnels and a more detailed explanation of the voting process.  


  1. I've voted. This is a wonderful opportunity - I just hope people know about it

  2. Unless local councillors post here, I doubt it will happen.

    B K

  3. RossM quite a few people have been into the bookshop today asking for the phone number, I am just a bit worried that the heat may defeat them.

    B.K well Dave Green has posted asking people to vote, nothing from any of the other councillors which is a bit surprising as this is lottery funding for a Thanet tourist project.

  4. It is all a nice idea, but to be able to open anything other than the railway tunnel I cannot see as possible.

    Ventilation is a major issue as it was designed to self-ventilate (and was event regulated as it did this so well), but with limited openings this won't work well.

    Also the area off the railway tunnel has collapsed in the past and suffers from a lot of water ingress which cannot be resolved.

    Unlike Dover Castle where you have a hugh network of tunnels with a lot of room and entrances, the Ramsgate tunnels are rather restrictive and don't warrant a huge throughput of people.

    I cannot personally seeing it get past the Health and Safety Executive...

  5. 20:01. A really helpful and positive statement. Hope you're not one of our many anonymous Councillors, otherwise we truly are lost.
    As our Margate colleagues are always telling us, we have to be positive. The Tunnels are unique and could well prove a tourist attraction. So would the narrow gauge railway although they would have to find other places to terminate.

  6. No not a councillor, as much as I would like it to be feasible as they are amazing historically, I am just being realistic on the practicalities of opening them,

    Mostly being only about 7ft wide and 7th high they won't really allow much throughput of people and with interpretation (original bunks, lighting and ventilation) very restricted, without them it will just be a long plain chalk/concete tunnel.

    I have explored the Ramsgate Tunnels a hugh number of time over the years, and visited many other similar heritage sites and I support what I can, but I am struggling with how a lot of the practicalities can be overcome to make them a safe and viable tourist attraction....

  7. 21:50 I think you are missing the point about the bid...its a feasibility study.

    If the research is done well our future generations will have a well documented, errr document that fully records the extent of the tunnels and its social history - something that is not well documented. We only have a few years to interview people who can remember using them.

    message ends

  8. I lived down in the old railway tunnel in the war,if I remember it is brick all the way through to the old Dumpton entrance,the smaller branch tunnels are bare chalk and no doubt need a lot of work,it would be nice to see them opened for our young people to see how their forefathers lived during the war years,or perhaps a cycle path emerging in broadstairs,failing that just put some cells down there and lock the local drug dealers and anti social hooligans up to keep them away from people that want a decent town.

  9. A lot of the tunnels are a great deal older than last century,and as for water ingress,in chalk?
    I and a friend Mapped the systems in the 80's and I know them like the back of my hand,no mention of "The Chapel".
    The narrow guage railway was scrapped but there is a great description and model at Crampton Towers!Lots of photos too.

  10. A lot of the tunnels are a great deal older than last century,and as for water ingress,in chalk?
    I and a friend Mapped the systems in the 80's and I know them like the back of my hand,no mention of "The Chapel".
    The narrow guage railway was scrapped but there is a great description and model at Crampton Towers!Lots of photos too.


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.