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Broadstairs is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanetmarker in East Kentmarker, England, east of London with a population of about 22,000. Situated between Margatemarker and Ramsgatemarker, it is one of the seaside resorts on the Isle of Thanet, known as the "Jewel in Thanet's crown". The town's crest motto is "Stella Maris - Star of the Sea". As a civil parish, it includes the St. Peter'smarker area and is known as Broadstairs and St. Peters. This was derived from the "broad stairs" carved in the chalk cliff, that led from the sands to the 12th century shrine of St Mary situated above the cliffs.

The town spreads from Poorhole Lane in the west (named from the mass graves dating from the Black Death) to Kingsgate in the north (named after the landing of King Charles II in 1683) and to Dumpton in the south (named after the yeoman Dudeman who farmed there in the 13th century). Reading or Redyng Street was established by Flemish refugees in the 1600s.

History

Toponymy

Broadstairs derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon word Bradstow.

Before 1400

The inland village of St Petersmarker established after the building of a parish church in about 1080. A nearby fishing settlement developed in the 14th century known as Bradstow. Old English for "broad-stairs", it was named after stairs carved in the chalk cliffs, leading to the beach from the cliff-top 12th-century Shrine of St Marymarker. Charles Culmermarker, son of Waldemar, is supposed to have built the stairs for the fishermen in 1350. The stairs have survived to this day and were first repaired by Richard Culmer over three hundred years after their original construction.

1400-1600

In 1440, an archway was built by George Culmer across a track leading down to the sea, where the first wooden pier or jetty was built in 1460. A more enduring structure was to replace this in 1538, when the road leading to the seafront, known as Harbour Street, was cut into the rough chalk ground on which Broadstairs is built, by another George Culmer. Going further in defence of the town, he built the York Gate in 1540, a portal that still spans Harbour Street and which then held two heavy wooden doors that could be closed in times of threat from the sea. Richard Culmer was the son of Sir Richard Culmer by his first wife and was born in 1640/41. Richard was buried in the parish church of Monktonmarker, on the Isle of Thanet. Of his legacies was the endowment on Broadstairs of an area of six acres (24,000 m²) of ground for the poor of the parish. The name survives to this day as "Culmer's Allotment" as does the allotment.

1700-1815

In 1723, Broadstairs had a population of about 300. A brief outline of the history of Broadstairs Pier is given in Broadstairs, past and present, which mentions a storm in 1767, during which Culmer's work was all but destroyed. At this time it was of considerable importance to the fishing trade with catches as far afield as Great Yarmouthmarker, Hastingsmarker, Folkestonemarker, Dovermarker and Torbaymarker and elsewhere being landed. It had become so indispensable that the corporations of Yarmouth, Dover, Hythe and Canterburymarker with assistance from the East India Company and Trinity Housemarker subscribed to its restoration with a payment of £2,000 in 1774.

By 1795, York Gate needed repair to repel any threat from the French Revolutionary Wars; the subsequent renovation was undertaken by Lord Hanniker in the same year as the first lightship was placed on the Goodwin Sandsmarker.

On the occasion of the landing at Thanet, of Major John Percy, on 21 June 1815 with the captured French eagle standard taken at Waterloomarker, a tunnel stairway from the beach to the fields on the clifftops above was excavated, and christened Waterloo Stairs to commemorate the event. Broadstairs was supposedly the first town in England to learn of this historic victory although there is no written evidence of this.

Smuggling was an important industry in the area and the men of Broadstairs and St Petersmarker became very good at outwitting customs agents. This was very profitable because of the very high duty payable on tea, spirits and tobacco. There is a network of tunnels and caves strewn in the chalk strata which were used by smugglers to hide their contraband.

Development as a seaside resort

By 1824 steamboats were becoming more common, having begun to take over from the hoys and sailing packets about 1814. These made trade with London much faster. The familiar sailing hoys took anything up to 72 hours to reach Margatemarker from London, whereas the new steamships were capable of making at least nine voyages in this time. Mixed feelings must have been strongly expressed by the Thanet boatmen in general, as the unrivaled speed of the steam packet was outmanoeuvering all other classes of vessel, but it brought a new prosperity to Thanet. In the middle of the 19th century, the professional classes began to move in. By 1850, the population had reached about 3,000, doubling over the previous 50 years. Due to the fresh sea air, many convalescent homes for children opened towards the end of the 19th century.

Railways

Although numerous holidaymakers were attracted to Broadstairs and to other Thanetmarker seaside towns during the Victorian era, it was not directly served by the railways until 1863. This was time of great expansion for railways in the South East; in 1860 Victoria Stationmarker had been completed, followed by Charing Crossmarker and Cannon Streetmarker. Rail access to Broadstairs had previously relied heavily upon coach links to other railway stations in the district or region; with firms such as Bradstowe Coachmasters, operated by William Sackett and John Derby, principally involved. Their coaches connected Broadstairs to Whitstable stationmarker where a railway service had begun as early as 1830 (one of the first in England, with its pioneering Stephenson's engine Invicta). By 1851, the region's network was still more complete, being supplemented by the London to south coast route, including the coastal link from Chichestermarker to Ramsgatemarker, the cross-country service between London and Dovermarker and the Mid-Kent line that linked Redhill, Tonbridgemarker and Ashfordmarker to London's new terminal at Waterloomarker (opened in 1848). Broadstairs stationmarker (unlike neighbouring Margate) is a 10 minute walk from the beach. Although rebuilt in the 1920s electricity was not installed at the station until well into the 1970s and the buildings and platforms remained illuminated by gaslight until then.

1840-1900

In 1841, 44 mariners were recorded as resident in Broadstairs; nine of these being specified as fishermen, and of course the residual boat-building activity that remained after the Culmer~White yard closed in 1824 (under pressure from the steamships), still continued (though there were only four shipwrights recorded in the census: Solomon Holbourn and Joseph Jarman among them). Others may have been at sea on census day: Steamer Point, as the pier head at Broadstairs was then known, would have been fairly busy with shipping movements since consignments of coal and other produce would have been traded along the coast and there would have been regular work on the steam packet to and from Ramsgatemarker. By the 1840s, the smuggling had ceased.

Present

By 1910, the population had reached about 10,000. A "guide book" of the 1930s by A H Simison (the photographic chemist) entitled Ramsgate (The Kent Coast at its best) Pictorially Presented, describes Broadstairs town as having approached modernisation and urban development "always with a consistent policy of retaining those characteristics for which it has for so long been renowned". The town has retained a great many aspects of historical interest, besides its maritime history. Amongst these is its notable religious history, evoked by places such as the Shrine of Our Lady, Bradstowemarker.

Today Broadstairs is a magnet for visitors year after year and has been likened to a "Cornishmarker fishing town" .

Lifeboats

Lifeboats arrived in Broadstairs in 1851. It has been suggested that news of the loss of the Irish packet with 250 lives, on the sands off Margate on 6 April 1850, was the prompt that led to old Thomas White to present one of his lifeboats to his home town of Broadstairs that summer. The lifeboat saw its first use on 6 March 1851 when the brig Mary Whitemarker became trapped on the Goodwin Sandsmarker during a severe gale blowing from the north. A ballad was written to celebrate the occasion, Song of the Mary White.

Solomon Holbourn, coxswain of the Mary Whitemarker of Broadstairs had an aunt, Sophia who married at Folkestonemarker in 1813 to William Stevenson. His eldest son William became a mariner and boatman, and married an Elizabeth Wellard in 1839 at St Peter's, Broadstairs. One of their children, born in 1848, was named after his father William, but in his adult life was better known as Bill "Floaty" Stevenson, and as such as a member of the Frances Forbes Barton lifeboat crew. The "Frances Forbes Barton" was originally, in 1897, the legacy of a Miss Webster to the boatmen of Broadstairs. It is recorded as having remained at that station until 1912, when it was moved to the Walmer stationmarker when the Broadstairs one closed, during which time it had been taken out on 77 launches and saved 115 lives, by far the most effective of the RNLI craft stationed there.

Broadstairs' lifeboats were further supported by a fund established in the 1860s by Sir Charles Reed FSA.

Governance

Broadstairs is within the Thanet local government district. The town contains the five electoral wards of Bradstowe, St Peters, Beacon Road, Viking and Kingsgate. These wards have eleven of the fifty six seats on the Thanet District Council. As of the 2007 local elections, all eleven of those seats were held by the Conservative Party. Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council has 15 members, who are elected every four years, led by the mayor.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for South Thanetmarker is Dr Stephen Ladyman of the Labour Party. He has been the constituency's MP since the 1997 general election, when he took the seat from the Conservative Jonathan Aitken. At the 2005 general election, Labour won a majority of 664 and 40.4% of the vote in South Thanet. Conservatives won 38.8% of the vote, Liberal Democrats 13.2%, United Kingdom Independence Party 5.0%, Green Party 2.2% and an independent 0.5%.

Broadstairs and St. Peter's is twinned with
  • Wattigniesmarker in northern France. The towns were twinned in the early 1980s.


Geography

Joss Bay near Broadstairs on a warm Saturday in August 2008.
Kingsgate Castle, taken from the Captain Digby pub, December 2007
The town lies above a harbour with cliffs on either side. It has seven bays of golden sand, which are Viking Bay, Louisa Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Dumpton Gap, Botany Bay, Stone Bay and Joss Bay. Broadstairs has changed very little over the past fifty years. On the cliffs above Kingsgate Bay is Kingsgate Castlemarker once the home of Lord Holland, but now converted into private residences. Several follies of the castle still exist within the area.

Broadstairs has a very mild maritime climate.

Transport links

The town is situated from both Dovermarker and Canterburymarker, and about from the M25marker, London's orbital motorway.

Economy

As a seaside resort, the economy is mainly based around tourism; there are hotels and guest houses on and near the seafront, to accommodate the influx of all year round visitors. Although the number of hotels in recent years has declined because of the high land redevelopment values this has resulted in an improvement in quality of the existing premises. The High Street has a wide variety of independent shops and services, and there are a small number of factories mainly situated on the small industrial estates on the town's borders. The elderly population (many retire to the seaside) has led to many health and social care jobs at local care homes. As of the 2001 UK census, 1.8% of the population resided in a medical or care establishment, compared with the national average of only 0.8%. Many jobs in education are provided by the town's relatively high number of schools and colleges.

Employment

As of the 2001 census, the economic activity of residents aged 16–74 was 34.1% in full-time employment, 12.8% in part-time employment, 10.0% self-employed, 2.9% unemployed, 2.3% students with jobs, 4.1% students without jobs, 20.0% retired, 6.5% looking after home or family, 4.9% permanently sick or disabled and 2.4% economically inactive for other reasons. The percentage of retired people was significantly higher than the national figure of 14%. The percentage of unemployed people was low compared with the national rate of 3.4% and the district rate of 4.4%. 12% of residents aged 16–74 had a higher education qualification or the equivalent, compared with 20% nationwide. The Office for National Statistics estimated that during the period of April 2001 to March 2002, the average gross weekly income of households was £522 (£27,219 per year).

The industry of employment of residents, at the 2001 census, was 15% retail, 14% health and social work, 13% manufacturing, 13% education, 10% real estate, 8% construction, 7% transport and communications, 6% public administration, 5% hotels and restaurants, 3% finance, 1% agriculture and 5% other community, social or personal services. Compared with national figures, there was a relatively high number of workers in the education and health/social care industries and a relatively low number in finance and real estate. Many residents commute to work outside the town; as of the 2001 census, the town had 9,842 employed residents, but there were only 9,049 jobs within the town.

Industry and commerce

  • Broadstairs' & St Peter's Chamber of Commerce has existed for over 100 years and has been instrumental in establishing links between traders and authority and raising money for projects including the town's CCTV scheme. It organises events and promotes tourism to benefit the town economy, the local customer and visitors.
  • Broadstairs has several industrial estates,the largest at Pyson's Road.
  • Residential building land is now scarce and property prices within Broadstairs tend to be higher than the rest of Thanetmarker.
  • Broadstairs has seen major development in its area recently with a large out of town shopping development at Westwood called Westwood Crossmarker. This has attracted national retailers, a new Travelodge hotel a Mecca bingo club a casino, a ten screen state of the art vue cinema, a new fitness centres, and an Ask, Nando's, Frankie & Benny's and Chiquito restaurants.
  • Land is currently being redeveloped to extend the existing Westwood Crossmarker shopping centre.
  • Within the Broadstairs boundary there are three large supermarkets: Asda, Sainsbury'smarker and a Tesco Extra, which, before redevelopment, was the home of a large Co-op store (one of the first hypermarkets built in the UK). Tescomarker has a metro store in the town. The Co-op has a convenience store in the town and in St Peter's village.
  • A high speed train link to London is planned and should be running by 2009.
  • A new community centre will be built in the town in 2008/9 replacing Park Hall in the town centre.
  • Motor and household insurance claims of Saga Insurance Ltd. are managed in Broadstairs.


Demography

Broadstairs Compared
2001 UK census Broadstairs Thanet District England
Total population 24,370 126,702 49,138,831
Foreign born 5.3% 5.1% 9.2%
White 98% 98% 91%
Asian 1.0% 0.6% 4.6%
Black 0.2% 0.3% 2.3%
Christian 75% 74% 72%
Muslim 0.4% 0.5% 3.1%
Hindu 0.3% 0.2% 1.1%
No religion 14% 16% 15%
65+ years old 24% 22% 16%
Unemployed 2.9% 4.4% 3.3%
As of the 2001 UK census, the Broadstairs had 24,370 residents and 10,597 households. Of those households, 34.2% were married couples, 6.7% were cohabiting couples and 8.3% were lone parents. 31.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.9% had someone living alone at pensionable age. 25.7% of households included children aged under 16, or a person aged 16 to 18 who was in full-time education.

The town has a low proportion of non-white people compared with national figures; the ethnicity recorded in the 2001 census was 97.9% white, 0.7% mixed race, 0.3% Chinese, 0.7% other Asian, 0.2% black and 0.2% other. The amount of foreign-born residents is relatively low; the place of birth of residents in 2001 was 94.7% United Kingdom, 0.7% Republic of Ireland, 0.5% Germany, 0.9% other Western Europe countries, 0.3% Eastern Europe, 0.8% Africa, 0.6% South Asia, 0.5% Far East, 0.3% North America, 0.2% Middle East, 0.2% Oceania and 0.1% South America. Religion was recorded as 75.3% Christian, 0.4% Muslim, 0.3% Hindu, 0.3% Buddhist and 0.3% Jewish. 14.3% were recorded as having no religion, 0.5% had an alternative religion and 8.6% did not state their religion.

The age distribution was 5% aged 0–4 years, 14% aged 5–15 years, 5% aged 16–19 years, 26% aged 20–44 years, 27% aged 45–64 years and 24% aged 65 years and over. There was a high percentage of residents over 65, compared with the national average of 16%, mainly due to seaside towns being popular retirement destinations. For every 100 females, there were 87.1 males.

Education

Junior and infant



  • St. Peter's Court School: attended by King George VI and his relatives. Demolished some time since 1955.


Secondary modern and grammar

The Charles Dickens, Hereson, and St George's are below the 30% GCSE target.

Colleges and universities



Foreign language



Entertainment and leisure

Events

  • The Broadstairs Dickens Festival is held annually in honour of the novelist Charles Dickens in the third week of June. A Christmas event in December is now part of the calendar. The festival includes a production of one of Dickens' novels and people about the town wearing Victorian dress. The festival first took place in 1937, when Gladys Waterer, the then owner of Dickens House, conceived the idea of commemorating the centenary of the author's first visit by putting on a production of David Copperfield, a novel written in the town.
  • In the second week of August each year, the town holds the Broadstairs Folk Week music festival. The main acts perform at the Concert Marquee in the town's main park (Pierremont Park), but smaller gigs are also held in many pubs, restaurants and cafés as well as at the town's bandstand. The playing fields at Upton Junior School become a vast campsite (as visible on the Google Maps view of Broadstairs taken during a Folk Week in the mid-2000s) as the town's population swells with thousands of tourists, both the traditional folk reveller, and the curious visitor keen on imbibing seaside culture. Whilst Folk Week's origins are centred around Folk music and its appreciation, for many this period is simply an opportunity for general festivities in which pubs and bars have later opening hours and the main streets are closed to traffic in order that revellers may fully enjoy open air drinking and social merriment.
  • During the summer season, and on 5 November the town hosts firework displays every Wednesday evening on Viking Bay, with hundreds of people lining the overlooking cliff tops.


Sport and recreation

  • Thanet Wanderers rugby team is based in Broadstairs.
  • Sandcastle building competition takes place annually.
  • Broadstairs has a Green bowling club.
  • Beach Volley Ball is held on the beach in the summer.
  • Broadstairs is home to the North Forelandmarker Golf Club.
  • Broadstairs Sailing Club in Harbour Street once had former prime minister Edward Heath as a member.
  • Fishing competitions are regularly held in the Harbour.


Local media

Broadstairs has two paid for newspapers, the Isle of Thanet Gazette and Thanet Times, which are owned by Northcliffe Media. Free newspapers for the town include the Thanet Extra, part of the KM Group; and yourthanet, part of KOS Media.

Local radio stations are KMFM Thanet, owned by the KM Group; and the county-wide stations Heart Kent, Gold and BBC Radio Kent.

Landmarks and places of interest

  • There is a small cinema, "The Palace Cinema" (formerly known as The Windsor), in Harbour Street.
  • Also in Harbour Street, the Pavilion on the Sands hosts a summer show and all-year entertainment. There are extensive views across the bay. Its location and facilities make the Pavilion a popular wedding venue.
  • The beaches at Botany Bay and Joss Bay have both been awarded the Blue flag rural beach award in 2005. Viking Bay beach, the main beach in Broadstairs, won the Blue Flag in 2006.
  • The main beach (Viking Bay) has a number of cafes and ice cream outlets. During the summer, this bay is often very busy.
  • Punch and Judy and donkey rides a feature of the summer beach entertainment.
  • There are four firework displays on Wednesday evenings over Viking Bay in the summer and a free display on 5 November.
  • The Dickens' House museum is situated on the seafront, which displays many artifacts relating to Charles Dickens and his life in Broadstairs.
  • Crampton Tower by the railway station houses a museum. The museum contains Crampton working drawings, models, graphics, patents, awards and artifacts connected to his life and works. Other galleries illustrate the history and development of the railways, the electric tramways, road transport and other aspects of local industry. The original Broadstairs stage coach built in 1860 is displayed alongside seven working model railways in gauges N, OO, O and Gauge One.
  • In the village of St Peter's, tours are held throughout the summer.
  • The church of St. Peter-in-Thanet has one of the longest churchyards in England.


Notable residents and visitors



TV and film location

  • The E.ON windfarm advert "The Wind of Change" was filmed here.
  • Scenes featured in the Churchill Insurance advert were filmed on the jetty.
  • The Channel 4 programme Relocation, Relocation has recently featured Broadstairs.
  • The Thriller TV drama Oktober starring actor Stephen Tompkinson was filmed in and around Broadstairs.
  • The police station featured in the Only Fools and Horses episode "The Jolly Boys' Outing" to Margate was actually in Broadstairs.
  • Jo Brand has filmed comedy sketches for her TV shows on the beach.
  • Meridian TV produced a lifestyle programme called Alfresco and featured Broadstairs.
  • The 2007 film Exodus, a contemporary re-telling of the Book of Exodus, is the story of Moses and his search for the promised land. Written and directed by filmmaker Penny Woolcock, Exodus is a film made for Channel 4 shot on location in Margate and Broadstairs.
  • Segue's for The Paramount Comedy Channel have been filmed across the Thanetmarker coast, notably Broadstairs and Kingsgate.
  • The beach comedy sketch in the 2007 Catherine Tate Christmas special was filmed on the beach in Viking Bay.
  • 2008 BBC 4 Docudrama Hancock and Joan, based on the last months of Tony Hancock's life which he spent in Ramsgate with Joan Le Mesurier (wife of actor John Le Mesurier), was filmed around Viking Bay and in a house on South Cliff Parade.
  • At least one outside broadcast scene in the BBC cbeebies series Boogie Beebies was filmed on Viking Bay.
  • General beach scenes in Thanet - including some in Broadstairs - feature in the 2008 feature film Ruby Blue which was mostly filmed in Ramsgate.
  • Scenes were shot around the coast of Broadstairs for ITV1 drama The Fixer.
  • BBC South East Today staged their first 'Deckchair Tour' of 2008 from the beach with much of the 18.30 regional news programme being broadcast from here featuring local guests and some performers from the Folk Festival.


Gallery

image:Bsatirsfront3.jpg|Broadstairs Seafront

See also



References

  1. Broadstairs Town Council People
  2. BBC NEWS | Education | League Tables | Secondary schools in Kent
  3. BBC NEWS | Education | League Tables | Secondary schools in Kent
  4. BBC NEWS | Education | League Tables | Secondary schools in Kent
  5. BBC NEWS | Education | Schools below 30% GCSE target
  6. http://www.northcliffemedia.co.uk/our-regions/south-east


External links




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