When I was a child, Ramsgate was a popular holiday day-trip destination for my family. I remember there was a long walk from the railway station, through a park with squirrels to the beach. I only vaguely remember the railway station, which was (and still is effectively) "the end of the line". All of the North Kent Coast train services terminate there, although there are services from there down to Sandwich.
Once we got to the beach there was an amusement arcade which covered the area from the cliff to the esplanade. If you went through the arcade, there was an amusement park which had a helter-skelter in it - something which even Dreamland in Margate didn't have! You'd get a coconut fibre mat with handles and a pocket for your feet, climb up the stairs inside, and slide down the outside of the tower trying not to burn your elbows on the rubber rail round the outside. You landed up in a polished wooden "bowl" with a wooden panelled fence round it, where people could see you spinning round when you got to the bottom. Then you had to climb out before the next person turned up.
In 1998 the arcade closed after it (and the amusement park) caught fire, and was demolished. The photos on this page were taken in 2001 when I took my own family down to Ramsgate for the day to look around.
One of the things I didn't realise when I was a child was that the amusement arcade was originally a railway station - "Ramsgate Harbour", which closed in 1926. The amusement park was built where the tracks emerged from the tunnel in the cliffs which brought the railway to the esplanade. The waste ground in these pictures is where the amusement park stood.
This picture was taken a few yards to the left of the one above, and showns the esplanade built by the council. You can see the cliff wall in both; the tall narrow structure in the wall, with the domed roof, is the lift. There's the harbour monument in the middle of the background, the old rounded roofed building on the left is the casino. The smaller building on the left with the slanted roof is a kiosk which sells things for the beach. The roof is circular and is covered with solar panels.
It's quite sad, but in 2001 the only thing left of the amusement park was some scary looking clowns on the cliff wall, shown in this picture. More recently, even these have been taken down, and the chain link fence around the site has been replaced with an 8 foot hoarding.
From the same place that the previous photos were taken, but facing the other way, you can see the road along Marina Esplanade. The mini roundabout might seem a bit of overkill for a u-turn into a car park, but according to the signs it will have an exit off into whatever is being built on the amusement park site (on the left, just out of view). From pictures I've seen on other sites, the amusement park extended all the way along to the corner on the cliff wall, near the middle of this photo.
If you look just to the left of centre in the photo, there's a blue van in the car park. To the right there's a road sign. Between the two is the entrance to the old railway tunnel. It's shown more clearly in the picture below.
Just to the left of the centre of this photo you can see the tunnel entrance which used to carry the railway to Ramsgate Harbour station. It's been bricked up, and the dark rectangle is the steel doors which have been fitted. Last time I visited Ramsgate there was also a steel pallisade fence, complete with spikes, around it as well.
After it was closed the tunnel held a scenic railway, and was used as part of Ramsgate's air raid shelters in the second world war. Personally I'd love to get in there and take some photos, but that's unlikely to happen. Thankfully, other people have already done it - Barry at Underground Kent has a section on The Ramsgate Tunnels. Subterranea Brittanica also have a site report for Ramsgate Public Air Raid Shelter and Scenic Railway. Both of these sites are excellent and well worth reading through.
As you drive down Marina Esplanade to get to the car parks by the beach, in the cliff wall are some sealed chambers, which you can see hext to the road, which runs along the top of the frame in these photos. Also, as you can see, there are what looks like storage areas under the slope - the two tall arched ones in this photo and in the smaller arched areas to the right of them (shown in the photo below). I never had chance to wander over and have a look in 2001, and more recently they've been fenced off. If anyone knows what they are, please e-mail me.
All photographs copyright 2001 Jason Ross