Ramsgate prepares to celebrate 200 years of Royal Harbour status

After enjoying his time in the town so much following an international trip to Hanover, Germany via Ramsgate, King George IV, on his return, gifted the harbour Royal ascent. 2021 marks 200 years since King George IV officially declared Ramsgate harbour as 'Royal' in 1821. It is still the only Royal Harbour in the country to this day.

Ramsgate at night with restaurants lit up
Royalist tall ship

In recognition of this special 200th anniversary, a grand festival will take place from 24th to 26th September around the beachfront and harbour area. The main event includes the Royal Navy bringing two of their fleet to the harbour, and the world-famous Tall Ship 'The Royalist' will also be anchored within the harbour during that weekend.

It will also host the 80th-anniversary celebrations of the WW2' Little Ships' Dunkirk repatriation. Ramsgate Harbour and the Ramsgate tunnels played a significant part, which had to be delayed last year due to COVID restrictions. Over a dozen of the original Little Ships that helped rescue 331,000 British and French troops on 700 little ships in WW2, this heroism helped serve to raise morale and was a pivotal moment in history. A flotilla of the original 'Little Ships' will also be coming into the harbour that weekend.

There will be parades and activities going on in Ramsgate's inner harbour, as well as the Harbour Parade in front of The Royal Victoria Pavilion and parts of Ramsgate Main Sands, which will all be used to host this significant event for the town and UK maritime history. Plus, there'll be an opportunity for children to operate a multi-million-pound submarine simulator supplied by the Royal Navy, alongside a major funfair, market stalls, costumed walks, vintage vehicles, music and entertainment and a variety show called 'The Royal Harbour of Ramsgate Gala Show.' The Royal Cadets will also be bringing an 80-piece band, plus carnivals from around Kent will be parading through the town and seafront area.

Ramsgate harbour
Ramsgate harbour bird's eye view

The festival coincides with a time of huge promise and regeneration for Ramsgate. The town has been recently ranked as the number one out of 20 seaside towns from the UK to relocate to by a national property market report by propertymarket-index.com for its accessibility, travel time to London, price growth, value for money, culture and maritime heritage, cleanliness, beaches and education. And as Amanda Collison from the Property Market Index points out, “It's no surprise that this town has been named the sunshine capital of the UK by a recent report, using 10 years of Met Office data the town has the most sunshine hours annually out of UK coastal destinations.”

Brenda Blethyn in front of the King George IV stulpture
Dominic Grant standing next to King George IV Sculpture

The festival will also be helping to raise funds towards the completion of a bronze statue of King George IV, which will stand right beside the Royal Harbour as a permanent landmark. King George IV was not the only Royal to visit and enjoy time in Ramsgate. A young Queen Victoria spent time living at Albion House in Ramsgate, which is now a boutique hotel.

Renowned sculptor Dominic Grant planned to gift the statue to Ramsgate once finished but sadly passed away before he could do so in November 2020. £50,000 is needed to complete the bronze casting of the statue and provide site groundworks and a plinth.

More recently, Stacey Dooley has been filming in the town and staying with her partner Kevin Clifton at the Royal Harbour hotel, enjoying the café culture and harbour area. This summer, filming has also been taking place for a new Apple TV drama series, using the Royal Harbour as its backdrop. This French and English thriller features A-listers Vincent Cassel from Black Swan and Westworld, plus BAFTA award winner Eva Green.

Internationally renowned actress Brenda Blethyn OBE, who lives on Ramsgate seafront, is this year celebrating ten years of ITV's most successful detective series Vera, which has become ITV's largest export and seen by over 500 million people. She grew up in the town and lives and breathes the area while being a huge advocate for Ramsgate and is supporting the festival along with fundraising efforts to complete the statue of King George IV. She feels passionate about the regeneration of this historic town and says, "My head and heart are in Ramsgate, and I absolutely love it here. We've got a beautiful harbour, and we're about to celebrate its 200th anniversary."

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