Ramsgates maritime origins and development


Ramsgate’s maritime tradition goes back to the Romans, but it was not until the 18th century that work started on building Kent’s first true safe haven. Enclosed by two vast piers for sailing ships seeking protection from the severe channel weather, Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour was completed in 1850.

Ramsgate is justifiably proud of its status as the only Royal Harbour in the UK and can trace its history back to 1749 when, following the Great Storm, Parliament passed an act giving approval for construction of a new harbour. George IV granted its Royal designation in 1821 in appreciation of the town’s hospitality when he embarked, with the Royal Squadron, from Ramsgate for Hanover.

The Royal Harbour was one of the main embarkation harbours during the Napoleonic wars. In 1940, passenger ships, freighters and warships, unable to sail close enough to Dunkirk’s beaches to evacuate the stranded British army, urgently requested small boats from England to help with the rescue of troops waiting on the beaches. Operation Dynamo was launched and boats and other small craft assembled in Ramsgate before crossing to Dunkirk to ferry men from the beaches in these “Little Ships”. Around 40,000 rescued Allied troops were landed at Ramsgate.

In the late 1970s we reclaimed land to the west of the Royal Harbour to create a modern commercial port facility. The development provided valuable vehicle and storage land and included the necessary Ro-Ro berthing, capable of handling multi-decked vessels and passenger facilities required for a cross-channel ferry service.

In 1985, a third Ro-Ro linkspan was installed and the turning vessel circle was dredged to allow for vessels up to 6.5m draught to berth onto the three linkspans. In 1986 the completion of extended breakwaters gave the Ro-Ro berths all-weather protection and ensured that year-round operations were practicable.

Further hard standing land was reclaimed, which now provides 32 acres of dedicated port land. The port’s approach channel was further widened to accommodate larger vessels. A new passenger terminal was constructed and, in 1999 a new direct relief road tunnel link into the port was completed. Completion of the recent dual carriageway upgrade and extension of the A299 to the Thanet Way provides direct road links to both the M2 and the M25.



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