Royal Victoria Pavilion


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Harbour Parade


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Statutory Address:
Harbour Parade

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Thanet (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Seaside pavilion of 1903, by Stanley Davenport Adshead, originally incorporating a theatre and cafe, later converted to a casino and then to a public house in 2018. 

Reasons for Designation

The Royal Victoria Pavilion, a seaside pavilion of 1903, by Stanley Davenport Adshead, originally incorporating a theatre and cafe, later converted to a casino and then to a public house in 2018, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:    Architectural interest:   * it is an impressive example of an Edwardian seaside pavilion, designed in the French Classical-revival style by the architect S D Adshead; * the architectural detailing is largely intact, and although the interior has been altered, it retains a legible plan.   Historic interest:   * as an example of a building type widely seen at Edwardian seaside resorts across the country.   Group value:   *  through a co-location with diverse buildings and structures of different types and dates on Ramsgate seafront.


The Royal Victoria Pavilion was conceived as a theatre, and entertainment complex, with a first floor promenade and viewing platform. It was designed in 1903 for the Ramsgate Corporation, by S D Adshead (1868-1947), who won the design competition. The plans and elevations were drawn in around one week, and this was Adshead's first architectural composition. He was a founder member of an architectural group dedicated to defining an Edwardian Classical-revival style, and is known to have favoured the designs of Robert Adam. For the pavilion, he drew inspiration from the conservatory designs of Adam, and for the theatre interior, from the Queen's Theatre (1780), in Versailles, France. Adshead also designed Ramsgate library, which is listed at Grade II.   Because the pavilion was to be built on the beach, it was necessary to construct pile foundations in order to reach the chalk substrate, which was 15ft below the sand. The builder was F G Minter of Putney, and it was intended that the pavilion be built in six months, and therefore ready for the 1903 summer season. However, the building was not opened until 1904, when Princess Louise attended the ceremony. Photographs show the building operating as a cinema and variety theatre in the early C20.   In 1970, the pavilion was converted to a casino, and after closure in 2008, the building fell into disrepair. In 2018, it was refurbished for the Wetherspoons pub chain, becoming their largest pub in England.   During the C21 conversion, the interior was simplified and fitted with timber fixtures and fittings. In the main central pavilion, the ceiling is now plain, apart from a C21 Classical-style cornice. Externally, the domes above the sub-pavilions to the east and west ends, have been removed. The roof (replaced in 2018) no longer has its decorative pinnacles, and includes reinstated oculus windows. On the south (seaward) side facing on to the terrace, the original ground-floor doors have been replaced with French windows in wider openings, and an external fire escape stair has been added. Three, C21 free-standing signs have been affixed at roof level. Around the curve of the eastern sub-pavilion, the ground-floor openings have been filled in. A new main entrance has been formed to the centre of the north elevation, and the original entrance (further to the east in the sub-pavilion), now has plain supporting columns (previously Corinthian). A few original windows survive, but the majority have been replaced.   Ramsgate is situated on the east coast of the Isle of Thanet, facing France and the Low Countries. Originating as a fishing village within the medieval parish of St Laurence, Ramsgate’s development from the C16 was driven by the strategic importance of its coastal port. Ramsgate became associated with the Cinque Ports as a limb of Sandwich from the C14. Late C17 trade with Russia and the Baltic resulted in a wave of investment and rebuilding in the town. In 1749 the construction of a harbour of refuge from storms in the North Sea and Channel was approved, and a cross wall and inner basin were completed in 1779 to the design of John Smeaton. Later improvements included a lighthouse of 1794-5 by Samuel Wyatt and a clock house of 1817 by Wyatt and George Louch.

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 around 1791-1798 and Nelson Crescent of around 1800-1805. 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 W P Frith’s painting ‘Ramsgate Sands’ of 1854 (Royal Collection). Wealthier visitors were accommodated at a respectable distance from the town in developments such as E W 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 A W N 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.


Seaside pavilion of 1903, by Stanley Davenport Adshead, originally incorporating a theatre and cafe, later converted to a casino and then to a public house in 2018.    MATERIALS: the stucco-covered building is formed of brick and concrete, over a steel frame, and has a metal roof.   PLAN: the main, central section of the pavilion, which formerly housed the theatre, is two-storey. The ground-floor street entrance is on the north elevation, and there are also entrances out on to a covered terrace to the south (seaward) side. To the west end there is a single-storey sub-pavilion, the roof of which forms an open viewing deck at first floor level. This leads to a promenade, which runs around the extent of the building. To the east end there is another sub-pavilion, with its own entrance to the north. Internally, the central section has a wrap-around mezzanine, accessed by an imperial stair to the south side.   EXTERIOR: the pavilion is French Classical-revival in character with wide and low elevations, under a prominent, curved mansard roof. The long elevations face north and south, and at each end there are flat-roofed, polygonal sub-pavilions.   The north-facing elevation has a horizontally-banded, ground floor with an arcade of Ionic columns. The central, and curved entrance* is C21 projects under a bow-fronted, flat roof. The first floor has a continuous, cast-iron and decorative balustrade, in front of multi-paned French windows, and above, the central roof is recessed behind a continuous canopy and curves to a top cornice. Affixed to the roof, there is a large C21 free-standing sign* stating 'THE ROYAL VICTORIA PAVILION'.

The eastern sub-pavilion retains the former main entrance, which is located under a metal-clad dome, supported by C21 columns*. To either side of the dome, there are life-sized sculptures of reclining figures; a male figure to the east and a female, to the west. The walls below have classical detailing including paterae, swags and Doric columns.   The centre of the southern (seaward) elevation has a covered arcade on iron columns with Composite capitals. The terrace and the first floor above, are fronted by regular and multi-paned French windows. The central roof rises above, and also carries a C21 free-standing sign* stating 'THE ROYAL VICTORIA PAVILION'. To the eastern end at ground floor level, the sub-pavilion has Doric pilasters, delineated by round-headed and rusticated window openings, which are filled-in but retain their key stones, decorated with Grecian-type faces. The western sub-pavilion is similar, but the windows are retained, and the key stones have lion heads. The roof above the viewing deck to the western end, also has a C21 free-standing sign 'WETHERSPOONS'   INTERIOR: the principal interior space is the large main bar (former theatre) which extends for the full length and depth of the central pavilion at ground floor level. There is a C21 imperial stair * to the south side, which has a timber wreath-type hand rail, and metal balusters. The stairs rise to a mezzanine floor that runs around the periphery of the main pavilion, and is fronted by a C21 metal balustrade*. The bar fixtures* and fittings* are all C21, and constructed from dark, stained timber. All the floor tiles* are also C21.   The sub-pavilion to the west end, is fitted out as a seating area. At its centre, there is a ring of Doric columns, which originally supported a dome (now replaced with a flat roof). The sub-pavilion to the east end is arranged as functional retail space. The cellars are shallow, and concrete lined.

Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest, however any works which have the potential to affect the character of the listed building as a building of special architectural or historic interest may still require LBC and this is a matter for the LPA to determine.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Newman, J, The Buildings of England. Kent: North-East and East, (2013), 502
''Architects I Have Known': The Architectural Career of S. D. Adshead' in Architectural History, , Vol. 24, (1981), 104


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 29 May 2003
Reference: IOE01/10457/29
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Peter Hubbard. Source Historic England Archive
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