Westgate Heritage Centre, Westgate on Sea, Thanet, Kent
Westgate Heritage Centre, Westgate on Sea, Thanet, Kent

Welcome to the Westgate on Sea Heritage Centre

Founded in 2007, the Westgate Heritage Centre aims to tell the story of Westgate on Sea, a unique Victorian development, from 1865 the year when the first houses were built to the present day by a series of displays called “Time Line”.

We are open regularly throughout the year to browse our archives, speak to our volunteers or for our monthly talks about rich heritage of Westgate-on-Sea, please see the details in the Opening Times section.

News and Events

Lilian Colling Winterton

12th June 2017

The Heritage Centre sends its warmest congratulations and good wishes to Lilian Rhoda Colling Winterton, who now lives in South Africa, but was born in Westgate-on-Sea 100 years ago, on 16th June 1917.

Lilian Colling Winterton on her 100th birthday

Lilian Colling Winterton on her 100th birthday

Lilian’s grandfather was Albert Harris, who came to Westgate in 1897 with his wife Minnie and their three children, Lilian, Ernest and Sydney to live above the butcher’s shop at 14 Station Road (now number 37 and shown in the photograph with the blue car outside). Ernest emigrated to Southern Rhodesia just before the First World War, where he met and married Rhoda Smallman. Despite it being wartime, they returned to Westgate in 1917 for the birth of their baby, who was named after her aunt, who had died unexpectedly. Lilian Rhoda was born on the night of one of the worst air raids that Thanet had suffered. Six weeks later the family returned to Bulawayo via Cape Town in a convoy, for Germany had declared unrestricted U boat warfare on Britain and her allies.

Albert Harris remained in his butcher’s business until 1922, when he retired and he and Minnie moved to Gordon Grove. It was there that Ernest and his family came back to visit them from time to time. Albert Harris was a highly respected tradesman and also served on the Westgate-on-Sea Parish Council from 1902 -1922.

Station Road in Westgate

Station Road in Westgate

For the full story, see our August newsletter.

Information and photograph supplied by Lilian's son-in-law, Pat Budd

Dawn Crouch Made Honorary Freeman Of Westgate-on-Sea

At a ceremony in June 2016, Dr Dawn Crouch, Consultant Historian of the Heritage Centre, was recognised for her many years of hard work researching and speaking about the local history of Westgate.

Dawn Crouch Made Honorary Freeman Of Westgate-on-Sea

Images courtesy James Brazier.

Do you remember this event?

Heather, Westgate-on-SeaHeather, Westgate-on-Sea

In September 1973 Westgate suffered severe flooding and one resident was drowned. On Sat 3rd October at 10.30 a.m. at the Heritage Centre at St Saviour's Church John Naden, who was a young Police Constable at that time, will share his memories. We would welcome particularly anyone who remembers the event, as we would like to build up a collection of any stories - or photographs.

Does anyone recognise Heather?

Heather, Westgate-on-Sea

The Heritage Centre has been given one of its hardest tasks ever and the likelihood of success is small. Our researchers, however, are very persistent, so we shall try!

Raymond Duncan, who now lives in Devon, used to visit Westgate with his family in the 1950s. They stayed at the caravan park in St Crispin's Road. He made friends with a girl about his own age called Heather – like most young boys he did not bother to find out her surname. He is now anxious to contact her, if she is still around and has sent photographs of those sunny days at St Mildred's Bay and at the caravan park, hoping that they may strike a chord in someone's memory. Does anyone remember a family living, probably in one of the bungalows in St Crispin's Road, with a daughter named Heather? Please contact me via the website, if you do. Sometimes miracles happen and we always want to be of service to the community.

Please contact us with any information.

UPDATE. We have been informed that Heather was Heather Simpson who lived in St Margaret's Road. She married and had a daughter but sadly passed away in 1971. Thank you to those who made contact with us. We are especially grateful for the information received about the caravan park in St Crispin's Road, which will be the subject of a future article.

Can you help identify the young girl in the picture?

Mrs M E Glover, 22 Wellington Street, Westgate on sea

An address on the back of the photo reads - Mrs M E Glover, 22 Wellington Street, Westgate on sea.

Please contact us with any information.

Heritage Lottery Fund