Monday, 23 July 2012

A new book about The Granville Hotel Ramsgate, a story of underage drinking and local book publishing.

As you can see from the picture above I have added to my local publications a history of The Granville. It is rolling of the press, on and off as I write, the press or presses in this case, being computer-controlled printers, so stocks may not last. The computer in question seems to have developed an intense dislike for me.

What to say about The Granville?

We moved to Ramsgate when I was about fourteen, my mother bought a guesthouse in Augusta road, and the bar of The Granville was the nearest to a local pub that I remember from that time.

I looked old for my age and don’t ever remember any difficulty in getting served beer there, no age ID cards in those days, and in the 60s The Granville was already part of this countries redundant splendour.

The guesthouse had a side effect of making me fairly wealthy as a teenager during the summer season, for most of the rest of the year I was away at a boarding school for the disabled.

At that time there was very little appreciation for great Victorian buildings, we had previously lived in a fairly substantial and virtually unheatable ten bedroomed Victorian house I Salisbury, so I wasn’t greatly impressed by The Granville as a teenager. 
Over the years I think I have come to appreciate Victorian architecture and have to admit that I find the more splendid Victorian town houses more interesting than many of the Regency and Georgian houses that preceded them.

For the most part apart from the occasional beer in The Granville I have to admit that I didn’t really notice it much until the bar closed, and then after that the front part that had been destroyed by a bomb in the war, was rebuilt in the same style as the rest of the building.

I guess I looked at it and thought how much better this was than building a dull modern looking structure on the site.

My interest in local history, which started about seven years ago, means that my interest in Ramsgate buildings and the overall look of Ramsgate has become keener. From not caring very much at all, well I guess more not noticing that much, I have formed an opinion that new buildings here should harmonise with the look of the town and preserve its distinctive character. This is particularly the case with the seafront viewed from the harbour walls. To me the majority of the post-war built Ramsgate skyline that isn’t built in the style of what was bombed, demolished or burnt doesn’t fit in too well.

Attempts at using non-traditional building materials in our sea air don’t seem to work that well either, modern concrete blocks tend to soon become nastily stained, whereas the more traditional stuff tends to just look interestingly weathered.

Quite a few of our buildings were bombed during the war and after the war a mixture of neglect, the council and various property speculators probably caused even more damage than Hitler did. 

The great Granville complex of the hotel and the Granville Marina resort are an example of this. As I mentioned the front bit was bombed, however the bits at the side and back, ballroom function rooms baths and so on were a victim of a property speculation and Thanet district Council’s rather lax approach to our architectural heritage. Down on the seafront the theatre, that turned into a cinema and then Nero’s was vacant, council owned and of considerable architectural importance when the council decided to demolish it. By that time I was beginning to lose confidence in our council and tried to reason with them, not perhaps the best course of action with an organisation run by civil servants who live well away from the area and elected members who seem to behave like sheep, when these highly paid individuals tell them what to do.

Back to the book, the printer having spat out a couple of copies, has just gone into some sort of cleaning mode that seems to have consumed several ink cartridges, I read the book last week with considerable interest and enjoyment.

The story of The Granville starts when Edward Welby Pugin and other speculative investors purchased the land in 1867, the intended to build a terrace of grand gothic houses, but the other investors fell out and pulled out leaving Pugin who poured his fortune into creating a grand gothic hotel. Pugin went bankrupt in 1873 and the following bitter litigation this lead to his untimely death two years later. The next owner going bankrupt in 1881 and the next in 1895.

The tower wasn’t primarily a decorative adornment but was built, originally extending about twice as high above the roof of the building than I does now, to hold the massive water tanks for the baths. Lowered in 1899 because of the strain of the massive weight of water and now looking rather strained again.

Anyway the book is out now, priced £9.99 and I will endeavour to write some more about it and print some more copies of it.

I took some pictures in and on The Granville last year, here are the links

if you want to read another publication about The Granville here is The Granville Illustrated News   

Anyway thanks to Ben Kelly who has done a considerable amount of research, I now have some idea of the history of The Granville. 


  1. Fantastic piccies Michael,, In a previous life I was a roof tiler and I have been really impressed with looking at the views.

  2. I remember the Granville both as a child and a teenager. As a child my mother took me to a New Years Eve Party and I remember dancing up and down on the maple wood sprung dance floor. It was sinking and rising a good foot under the feet of drunks bouncing to the Hokey Kokey. Then as a teenager my grandmother introduced me to the joy of whiskey macs in the Granville bar. My great uncle lived in 32 Augusta Road and I often stayed there in the 50s & early 60s.


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