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1-12 West Cliff Arcade

A Grade II Listed Building in Ramsgate, Kent

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Latitude: 51.3318 / 51°19'54"N

Longitude: 1.4182 / 1°25'5"E

OS Eastings: 638214

OS Northings: 164736

OS Grid: TR382647

Mapcode National: GBR X0L.KC8

Mapcode Global: VHMCW.JSMF

Entry Name: 1-12 West Cliff Arcade

Listing Date: 22 May 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1463597

Location: Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent, CT11

County: Kent

District: Thanet

Civil Parish: Ramsgate

Built-Up Area: Ramsgate

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


A row of shops, designed by WG Osborne for E Tapply and built in 1883.


A row of shops, designed by WG Osborne for E Tapply and built in 1883.

MATERIALS and PLAN: the terrace of shops which forms West Cliff Arcade are built of brick with timber and glazed shop windows of full width. Cast iron brackets support a glazed canopy.

EXTERIOR: West Cliff Arcade is placed to the north of the roadway at its eastern end, in front of the Royal Temple Yacht Club. The southern front, facing the roadway and with views out over the harbour and sea, has a series of shop fronts divided by painted brick piers on line with the party walls. The shop fronts have basket-arched heads and lobbies are central or to one side with transom lights to the arched heads. At least three lobbies appear to have their original tiled floors. The piers support decorative cast iron brackets which support the glazed timber awning which runs along in front of all the shop fronts. A set of steps with stone treads is set in a gap between numbers 4 and 5 and forms an approach to the club. The club terrace on the roof has unpainted brick piers with stone dressings and iron railings above the shop fronts.

INTERIOR: the shops along West Cliff Arcade have now all been converted to restaurants and several individual spaces have been combined by archways formed in their party walls.


From the mid-C18 Ramsgate became increasingly popular as a seaside resort, its expansion being accelerated by road improvements and faster sea passage offered by hoys, packets and steamers. An assembly room, warm water baths, subscription libraries and places of worship were joined by new streets such as Effingham Street and speculative crescents and squares on the East and West Cliffs such as Albion Place of about 1791-1798 and Nelson Crescent of about 1800-5. During the Napoleonic Wars Ramsgate became a busy garrison town and a major port of embarkation. Ramsgate’s importance in the 1820s is attested by its patronage by the British and European royal families and the creation of a separate parish by Act of Parliament, served by the large Church of St George (1824-1827). The harbour is the only one in the British Isles which has the designation ‘Royal’, granted by George IV.

The arrival of the South Eastern Railway’s branch line in 1846 opened up Ramsgate to mass tourism and popular culture, bringing a range of inexpensive, lively resort facilities intended for the sorts of middle- and working-class holidaymakers depicted in WP Frith’s painting ‘Ramsgate Sands’ of 1854 (Royal Collection). Wealthier visitors were accommodated at a respectable distance from the town in developments such as EW Pugin’s Granville Hotel of 1867-1869. Competition with other Kentish resorts stimulated a series of large-scale improvements in the late-C19 and early-C20 including the construction of Royal Parade and landscaped stairs and pathways at the eastern and western ends of the seafront to join the upper promenades to the Undercliff walks. New schools, hospitals and services were also built. The thriving town attracted diverse faith communities; Moses Montefiore founded a synagogue and a religious college at East Cliff Lodge, while AWN Pugin St Augustine’s Church and the Grange as part of an intended Catholic community on the West Cliff.

In 1940 the harbour was the point of return for many of the small boats involved in the evacuation from Dunkirk and war-time precautions included the digging of extensive air raid shelter tunnels in the chalk beneath the town. Ramsgate remained a popular holiday destination until the advent of cheap foreign travel in the post-war decades. Falling visitor numbers were exacerbated by the decline of the town’s small trades and industries, fishing and boat-building. However, a ferry and hovercraft port and the large marina created in the inner harbour in the 1970s have continued to bring life to the area.

The site of West Cliff Arcade, along with West Cliff Mansions, was formerly the garden of Cliff House, which was sold to E Tapply in about 1880 and developed by him with W G Osborne as his architect. The parade of shops forming 1-12 West Cliff Arcade were completed in 1883.

Reasons for Listing

1-12 West Cliff Arcade are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* the shops have a pleasant, uniform appearance with many retained fittings, which accurately reflects their original frontage and overall plan.

Group interest:

* with 2 West Cliff Mansions, and terracing, arcading and balustrades to Royal Parade (both Grade II).

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