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Roots, Revival and Regeneration

Roots, Revival and Regeneration


The origins of the district’s three distinctive resorts - Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate - and their surrounding villages, lie in farming and fishing.

The passion for the health benefits of sea air and bathing started among the aristocracy in the 18th century. It led to a building boom and the development of the towns to cater for a rapidly growing number of wealthy visitors.

With an increase in ferry services from London and even more significantly, the arrival of the railways, many more people could visit these coastal resorts, each of which had its own mainline station.

Investment in buildings and businesses followed, providing accommodation and entertainment for holidaymakers, group excursions and day trippers from the capital and beyond.

The resorts shared much in common - golden sands, sweeping beaches and hidden bays framed by impressive chalk cliffs.

However, each resort developed differently. Margate’s wide, open seafront provided the scope for classic seaside fun and entertainment alongside the narrow, cobbled streets of the Old Town. Broadstairs grew up around its traditional fishing roots with narrow streets frequented by Charles Dickens, while Ramsgate’s waterfront reflects its maritime heritage, incorporating its working Royal Harbour and port.

As the visitor economy grew, so did the number of wealthier people wishing to visit the coast or spend their retirement in a place where they had enjoyed happy summer holidays. Grand houses and gated communities were built along the coast, on the outskirts of the main resorts, along with estates of classic bungalows.

From the mid-20th century, wider access to package holidays abroad gradually took its toll on the Isle’s visitor economy. Increasingly, cheaper flights and the rapid growth of resorts in destinations such as Spain meant that more people chose to go abroad for their one or two-week family sun and sand holidays. Thanet continued to be popular as a day trip or weekend destination, but many of the larger hotels and guest houses closed, followed by larger entertainment venues. 

Revival     Regeneration