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

News From The Heritage Centre

Adverse Weather Conditions

2nd March 2018

Due to bad weather, the AGM and talk on Saturday 3rd March 2018 have been cancelled. Our next meeting is on Saturday 7th April 2018 and will begin with the re-scheduled AGM.

Westgate needs 100 walkers

8th February 2018

Are you able to walk 1.5 miles (2.4 km)?

Would you like to pay tribute to the men of Westgate-on-Sea who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-1919 and to the civilian population who struggled to keep going on the Home Front?

Then, please come to the Westgate-on-Sea Heritage Centre in St Saviour's Church, Westgate Bay Avenue from 10.30 a.m. on Saturday 24th February, when we shall be taking part in a County wide project organised by 'Screen South' (kentww1.com/100-miles/) '100 miles - 100 years Kent in World War 1'.

Walking trails in many towns across Kent have been designed to recognise the people, places and events linked with the Great War, in the county.

Over the weekend of 24th / 25th February the trails will be launched across the County. The Heritage Centre has been invited to host the launching of the Westgate-on-Sea Trail, which we helped to design, on the morning of Saturday 24th February.

It is a circular route starting and ending at St Saviour's Church. The furthest point is the RNAS Memorial plaque at St Mildred's Bay. Our M.P. Sir Roger Gale has accepted our invitation to launch our trail at 11.15 a.m.

There will be an exhibition in the church showing how life in Westgate-on-Sea was transformed by the War with sections on the RNAS seaplane base at St Mildred's Bay, the VAD hospitals, the role of the Westgate-on-Sea Parish Council and the vital part played by the parish church of St Saviour. There will be archive material and artefacts on display, which are not usually available.

There will be hot drinks available, free of charge, throughout the event.

Walkers will need to register either online or at the church before setting out. Non-walkers are welcome to the exhibition, where volunteers will be on hand to help. The church has good disabled access.

In the Great War, Westgate-on-Sea played a part that was disproportionate to its size. It was, at that time, totally separate from the Borough of Margate, being part of the Isle of Thanet Rural District from which all official instructions were issued. Life in the town was completely changed by the presence of the RNAS seaplane base and a large number of army personnel, who were there for the duration to protect the base and to prepare for the threat of invasion. There were also many wounded soldiers in the town being treated at the Westgate hospitals.

The Victorian Soirée evening

6th February 2018

Our Victorian Soirée evening, scheduled for 20th April, has been cancelled.

£264.50 raised in our charity events

2nd October 2017

2018 Heritage Centre Calendar Now Available

Our recent charity events have raised a total of £264.50 for Macmillan Cancer Research and Cancer Research UK. Thank you to everyone who took part.

2018 Heritage Centre Calendar Now Available

2018 Heritage Centre Calendar Now Available

Our 2018 calendar is now available. It features one page per month, each with then and now views of Westgate-on-Sea. The calendar is priced at £6.00 and will be available from the Heritage Centre at our next talk on Saturday 7th October and while stocks last.

Change Lives With Every Slice At The Heritage Centre

27th September 2017

Change Lives With Every Slice At The Heritage Centre

Our latest tea and cake afternoon, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, will be held on Wednesday 27th September from 2pm - 4pm. Please do come along and support this worthy cause.

Town Hall Buildings Open To The Public

The Town Hall Buildings will be open to the public to celebrate Heritage Open Day and is hosted by volunteers from the Westgate-on-Sea Heritage Centre. The Buildings will be open between 12noon and 4pm. At 12.30pm and 2.30pm Local Historian Dr Dawn Crouch will tell the story of the Town Hall buildings. Sir Wm Ingram, who had the Town Hall built exchanged many letters with the Chairman of the Parish Council and there will be Dramatic Readings from the original letters. Also a slide show on Sr William Ingram will be shown several times during the afternoon and displays will show early photographs of the exterior and interior of the building. Dr Crouch and the Heritage Centre volunteers will be happy to take you on a short tour of the Council Chambers. The Town Hall Assembly Room is now the Carlton Cinema.

REFRESHMENTS: Ploughman's lunches will be available from £5 to £7and will include a choice of cheese, pate, pork pie, ham, sausages, quiche; all will be served with fresh salad and artisan bread. Tea, Coffee and Fruit squash is included in the price.

Not suitable for wheelchair users as access is via a grand Victorian staircase. Toilets available on site.

Plenty to see and do. Children and family activities will be available.

Opening Times

Saturday 9 September: open 1200-1600, Talk at 1230 & 1430

Booking Details

No booking required


Sorry no wheelchair access as entrance is up the original Victorian grand staircase to the chambers on the upper floor. Ploughman's lunches can be reserved in advance via The Heritage Centre (open Wednesdays or Saturdays pop-in between 11am to 1pm or email enquiries@westgateheritagecentre.org.uk or phone 01843 832617 or text 07955 913838 Toilets are available. Parking available throughout the Town, or side roads near by.

Additional information

Max 30 people per tour/session. Event contact over the festival:07955 913838.


The Town Hall Buildings are one minute walk from Westgate-on-Sea Train Station and a bus stop is directly outside. (The Carlton Cinema has replaced the original Assembly Room and this is a good landmark).

Organised by Westgate-on-Sea Heritage Centre in partnership with Westgate-on-Sea Investments

Exhibition in homage to the men of Westgate who fought and died in the Great War 1914-1919

26th July 2017

At the same time that the Westgate Art Group is holding its annual exhibition in St Saviour’s Church, the Heritage Centre will have a display in the south aisle, which will focus on two of the great battles of 1917 – Arras and Passchendaele. We will also display personal stories of the relatives of today’s Westgatonians, who fought in the Great War. More stories are welcome. Our poppy garden of remembrance will again be near the display boards.

Amongst those to be remembered is Captain Leonard Neville Rogers of the Northumberland Fusiliers who was killed at Arras in April 1917. There is a memorial window to him in St Saviour's Church

Amongst those to be remembered is Captain Leonard Rogers of the Northumberland Fusiliers who was killed at Arras in April 1917. There is a memorial window to him in St Saviour's Church

Extra: The recent release of the film Dunkirk has aroused interest in an event which touched the heart of Thanet in 1940. Over the years we have collected the stories of those who remember seeing the returning troops from the beaches of Dunkirk – a sight they have never forgotten. As a result of the evacuation of Dunkirk and the threat of invasion, many Thanet children were evacuated to Staffordshire within days and we have their heart-rending stories too.

The exhibition is runs Monday 14th August to Friday 25th August.

Opening times:

Mon - Thurs: 10.00am to 4.00pm
Fri: 1.00pm to 4.00pm
Sat: 10.00am to 12.00pm

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.


January 2014

Westgate-on-Sea Heritage Centre has received £7,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for their exciting project to help the Centre encourage more people to enjoy and engage with their local heritage.

Parish Priest Rev. Barbara Way meets Carpenter Gary Murphy and welcomes him to St Saviours Church

Parish Priest Rev. Barbara Way meets Carpenter Gary Murphy and welcomes him to St Saviours Church

Led by Dr Dawn Crouch, local historian and founder, volunteers from the local community staff the Heritage Centre and are always on hand to talk to visitors and help them access archives, which start with the town's inception 149 years ago. The archive includes information on individuals who had a strong impact on the town’s early development and architecture and the collection continues to evolve and comprises material from 1865 up to the present day.

St Saviour’s Parish Church is the home of the Heritage Centre. The Parish Priest and Parochial Church Council have welcomed the Heritage Centre to their historic Grade II listed church and are pleased to know that a substantial part of the Heritage Lottery Fund grant will provide custom-built storage for the Centre’s precious maps and archives. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the historic church and appreciate its exceptional Victorian stained-glass windows.

Today’s HLF funding will help ensure the Centre’s long-term sustainability and provide a wide range of opportunities for local people to learn more about where they live. They will be able to research family history, discover previous owners of their houses, or even work in the Heritage Centre as a volunteer.

Carpenter Gary Murphy and Heritage Centre volunteers discuss the layout of the planned storage cupboards

Carpenter Gary Murphy and Heritage Centre volunteers discuss the layout of the planned storage cupboards

Commenting on the award: The Chairman of the Heritage Centre Management Committee said: "We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This will enable us to achieve many of our objectives and help ensure the Centre is here for the long term. One very important objective is to install purpose built storage cupboards especially designed to house the continually growing archives. At the same time it will improve accessibility to the material for visitors and volunteers alike, so all can engage with the past and really start to understand their heritage".

Heritage Lottery Fund