51 Queen Street


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Ramsgate, CT11 9EJ


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Statutory Address:
Ramsgate, CT11 9EJ

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

Thanet (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A former wine merchants premises of around 1898, designed by W J Jennings of Canterbury, in a Victorian Tudor-style.

Reasons for Designation

51 Queen Street, Ramsgate, a former wine merchants premises of around 1898, designed by W J Jennings of Canterbury, in a Victorian Tudor-style, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:    Architectural interest:   *  for its bespoke Victorian-Tudor design, displaying the character of a small castle; *  for the good quality architectural detail of the carved-stone entrance, spandrels and the hooded figure; *  the exterior and interior are little altered, and the cellar retains its plan, fixtures and fittings.

Group value:

* through a co-location of diverse Grade II buildings in Queen Street, of different types and dates including the Rising Sun Public House, and 47-49 Queen Street.


51 Queen Street was designed around 1898, by the architect W J Jennings of Canterbury in a Victorian Tudor-style. It was built for Gwyn and Co, who were wine and spirit merchants on Queen Street. The building also fronts on to Effingham Street, where there is a stone shield, carved with the dates ‘1778 JC 1898', referring to the establishment of a wine business in Ramsgate, by John Curling in 1778. The building later became the premises of the grocer J Powell, and is now (2018) in use as an estate agents. Further cellars which are related to the building's original purpose as a wine merchant's, remain in separate ownership beneath the southern end of Effingham Street and the front garden of 1 Effingham Street, but do not form part of this item.

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 1794-1795 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.


A former wine merchants premises of around 1898, designed by W J Jennings of Canterbury in a Victorian Tudor-style.   MATERIALS: carved and random-rubble elevations with granite detailing. The roof is hidden behind a parapet.

PLAN: the building has two storeys with a cellar and tower. The main entrance is located beneath the tower on a canted corner, at the junction of Queen Street and Effingham Street.   EXTERIOR: both street elevations have two bays which are broadly symmetrical, and have stone window surrounds delineated by random-rubble panels. The ground floor shop windows have pointed arches with stone spandrels to either side, which are decorated with grapes and framed by a stone drip mould. The windows have a large lower pane, while the upper sections have gothic Y-type tracery. On the Effingham Street elevation, one of the ground floor openings has a pair of panelled and half-glazed doors. There is also a six-panelled timber door to the north end, with Gothic-style door furniture. Above the door there is a stone shield with the entwined letters 'J&C', and the date '1778-1898'. At first floor level the stone window surrounds have mullions and a transom which form six-light windows with sashes. At street level there is a stone plinth. There is a moulded fascia above the ground floor, and a continuous drip mould above the first floor fenestration. The projecting, ashlar parapet is supported by a corbel table.

The main entrance is at the centre of the building on the ground floor, and forms a canted corner. It has a square-headed drip mould, terminated by dog heads, above a Tudor-style surround with carved foliage to the stone spandrels. The doorway is flanked by slender granite columns, which stand on a carved granite base. The paired and timber entrance doors are half-glazed and have an arched head. Above the canted entrance a stepped moulding resolves to a curved corner with two single-light windows to the first floor. The tower has a single-light window and a corbel table beneath a castellated rim, and to its western side there is a stone bracket supported by a hunched medieval figure. The bracket supports a large circular clock, which is horizontally fixed to the wall and projects out over the street.   INTERIOR: the main entrance opens into an open-plan ground floor, with a central, cast-iron spiral staircase which serves both floors, and the basement. The basement element has a barrel-shaped, timber surround which may have originally extended to include the ground floor. The treads and brackets of the staircase are decorated with scrollwork, and the balustrade with a tulip motif. Either side of the stairs on the ground floor there are cast-iron, Doric-type columns (the example to the left of the stair is a C20 replacement). The ground floor window frames have slender column-like mouldings to either side. The first floor rooms are fairly plain, but one room retains its decorative cornice.

The basement has a number of brick-built stores, along with metal doors and cages. The walls are covered with gloss, beige-coloured tiles. The brick ceiling is vaulted, and supported on iron H-beams. The chute descending from the pedestrian door in Effingham Street is blocked-up. A brick stair rises under the Queen Street elevation, but access to the street pavement has also been blocked.


Trade Directory 3.8.1898, p2
Trade Directory 7.5.1898, p5


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

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