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24 September 2014

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You are in: Kent > Coast > Point 3 - Harbour history

Elizabeth Fry as seen on the five pound note.

Elizabeth Fry on the five pound note

Point 3 - Harbour history

In November 1703 a great storm destroyed an entire naval squadron which was sheltering in the channel between the coastline and Goodwin Sands. Talk began of the possibility of a harbour of refuge being built at Ramsgate.

By 1749 work began on the harbour and it was completed in 1792.

Nowadays pilot boats, the long distance and in-shore lifeboats as well as commercial fishing vessels are moored in the outer harbour. Sadly Ramsgate lost its large fishing fleet during the First World War when the fleet moved to Brixham in Devon.

Dunkirk Little Ship the Sundowner

Dunkirk Little Ship the Sundowner

The inner harbour is home to local and international sailing boats as well as the Mary of Colchester, the oldest boat afloat in Ramsgate. Spot her as you wander around the harbour towards the town centre. Originally dating from 1844, she has been completely rebuilt at least twice!

As you wander around the harbour today keep a look out for the Dunkirk Little Ship the Sundowner, which although has no special permanent mooring, can usually be spotted.

The Sundowner took part in the famous evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940. She was skippered by Cmdr C H Lightoller, the senior surviving officer of the Titanic and she returned safely to Ramsgate with 130 men.

Today a freight ferry service to Ostend runs from the port  about 20 times a day and there is a small passenger service too but back in the 18th century it was a very different kind of boat leaving Ramsgate…

Elizabeth Fry

Elizabeth Fry

Ramsgate was often the last port of call in Britain before the prison ships loaded with female convicts, set sail for New South Wales, Australia.

Elizabeth Fry was a prison reformist and Quaker who had become concerned for the conditions of women prisoners. From 1818 until 1843 Elizabeth visited 106 ships, taking 12,000 convicts under her wing.

Turning her attention to the practice of shackling the women prisoners, after much work Elizabeth finally won the right for them to travel without chains.

After visiting many times with her family, staying up on the East Cliff, she eventually came to live in Ramsgate in 1845 hoping that the fresh sea air would improve her health but she died soon after.

Elizabeth Fry has appeared on the Five Pound note since 2002.

From the harbour begin to head towards the town centre. Cross the road at the pelican crossing and follow the pedestrianised road into Harbour Street.

last updated: 06/03/2008 at 14:22
created: 05/07/2005

You are in: Kent > Coast > Point 3 - Harbour history

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