Public Art Trail

Introducing (one of) our new art trails!

Here in Ramsgate, we love a walk or three and responsible tourism is what we are all about!  Combine that with our ever growing creative community and we’ve got ourselves a few more trails! 

The first one I’d like to tell you about is our new public art trail which takes you from west to east or vice versa, either way, you are guaranteed to enjoy discovering these little gems stretching from chine to chine!

Mushroom hut

If we start from the west side of town, you will be transported into the fairy garden where you will spot the little painted doors and maybe even find some painted rocks.  If you are lucky enough to find one, take a pic, upload it onto Thanet Rock Hunters fb page and then rehide!  If you are totally in love with your find, you can keep it but still post about it as the artist loves to be thanked!  Whilst you’re there, you may also spot the container shed, recently spray painted by the incredible graffiti artist, Vince Pugh – you can follow him on ‘vinceagramm’ to see more of his artwork!  

Head east along the West Cliff Promenade for approximately 400 metres when you will come across the Hands and Molecule Sculpture which was installed in 2000, sculpted by British artist, David Barnes (1942-2021), commissioned by Sustrans to mark the opening of the National Cycle Network (route 15 Viking Coastal Trail) and funded by Pfizer who at that time, had a significant sized base in nearby Sandwich.  This 2.5 metre bronze is a remarkable piece that celebrates scientists and their discoveries and was ahem, ‘erected’ two years after Pfizer released their little blue pills into the world!

Another 400 metres and you will come across artwork by Lee Nicholls on the upper level and Robert Onion and Lee Nicholls artwork on the ground level of this now, defunct Art Deco lift.

You can at this stage, either head north up to Ellington Park to check out the wooden sculptures approximately 1 km away.  The sculptures were created in 2014 by Steven Andrews, Tribal Animal Chainsaw Carving  using old tree stumps and include birds, animals and a soldier.

If you prefer to stay around the coast for this walk, travel along another 400 metres until you reach Spencer Square where you will find the Vincent van Gogh bust nestled in the courtyard.  This was gifted to the town in 2019 by Anthony Padgett .  Anthony spent a year delving into the life of Vincent van Gogh in 2017 and created seven of these award winning busts and donated them to various locations around Europe and the UK where Vincent spent time living in.  Our bust is finished in bronze but each one has been cast in a different medium.  Note the base of the bust where you can see a revolver, pipe, paintbrush and paints.

Vincent van Gogh statue

Make your way back to the coastal road (Paragon and Royal Parade) and head 500 metres into the town centre into York Street and just before York Street Gallery, head under the arch into Albert court, where you will find the Brick 3-Piece Suite created by Rodney Harris and commissioned by Thanet District Council in 2000.  The installation was funded by Arts Council England and SEEDA, and was a finalist in the Rouse Kent Public Art Award.

Brick Sofa

Head north into town for approximately 100 metres on to Kings Street and just next to Rooks Butchers, turn up onto Abbot’s Hill steps. The artwork was produced by several local artists including Emily Tull, Gill Cleaver, Janie Grout and Anthony Thorne (who also paints incredibly detailed rocks for lucky people to find!) and all the work is inspired by Ramsgate’s history.  These panels were first painted in 2015 and some are due to be restored in late 2021.

Destiny sculpture

Continue straight ahead and into Albion Gardens, approximately 100 metres until you reach Destiny, on Madeira Walk.  This Grade II listed memorial is set in a flowerbed in Albion Place Gardens. The statue, is made from Roach bed Portland stone and was sculpted by Gilbert Bayes RA (1872 – 1953), adapted from Anatkh (Destiny).

Destiny was installed in 1920 to commemorate the animals that served in WWI, and funded by wealthy landowner who later became mayor of Ramsgate (1923-24), Dame Janet Stancomb Wills. The purple poppy symbolises those animals that died in war, hence the purple flowers surrounding Destiny, planted by the volunteers who tend to Albion Gardens.

Kent Steps

Next up, approximately 40 metres on the other side of the road to Destiny is Kent Steps, travel down the 32 steps and then turn around to look at the tiles!   These tile designs were created by local students from Royal Harbour Academy and Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School.  The average age of the students was 13 – the same age as Pugin when he took up his first draftsman apprenticeship.  The students studied Pugin and his tile designs before creating their own version, inspired by his work.  The tiles were installed in March 2020 following a year-long project funded by Historic England, and there is an information board explaining a bit more about the initiative at the top of the steps and at the end of Kent Place.  Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812 – 1852) spent the last 10 years of his short life living in Ramsgate and you can visit his home, The Grange and St Augustine’s Church next door in St. Augustine’s Road.  Pugin designed churches all over the world but he referred to this one as ‘his child’ which considering he had eight children in his short life is quite a statement!  You can check out Pugin’s Trail via the Useeum App or via The Pugin Society’s website.

Peter's fish factory mural

Head down Kent Place from Kent (Pugin) Steps that lead to the harbour, look up to see the mural: first commissioned by Peter’s Fish Factory in 1988 and painted by Berni Johnson .  The artwork had deteriorated due to exposure to the elements and in the summer of 2011, Mike Samson from York Street Gallery was asked to repaint it which involved stripping the original right back, priming and then recreating the original piece with a different colour palette. 

Now cross the road to the public toilets where you will find Mooch’s WHEE! project which is the latest public art installation to arrive in Ramsgate and is a new take on the classic hall of mirrors that many of us remember from childhood. Take some fun selfies and don’t forget to post your pics on Insta using the #WHEE hashtag!   


Next head towards the main sands to check out the silver painted, life-sized reclining sculptures either side of the front dome on The Royal Pavilion which have sat on the Grade II listed building since 1904.  It is believed that the sculptures are of Apollo and Daphne, the ill-fated lovers from Greek mythology.  Apollo and Daphne aren’t usually clothed as seen in the photo below but the added knitwear was part of a Summer Squall Arts Festival back in 2012, led by Ramsgate Arts.  A new group, The Festival of Sound  born out of the Summer Squall festival, took over the popular summer event 4 years ago. 

At the time of writing this there is also a temporary art installation on the eastern side of The Royal Pavilion, which spells RAMSGREAT, installed by a local, mystery artist, Mr Tear Gas.

Ramsgreat Installation

Walk another 100 metres along the lower promenade towards Ramsgate Tunnels where you will see the Rainbow Steps (officially called Augusta Steps).  Back in 2014, Ramsgate Town Team put a call out to paint the steps and 30 volunteers across Thanet turned up to complete the project in 2 days.  The local schools also created artwork with the theme ‘Colours in Ramsgate’ to complement each landing.  In 2017, the team refreshed the steps and added new artwork from the infants and junior schools in Ramsgate.

Rainbow Steps

Climb the 120 steps, or walk up the hill and at the top, turn right onto the wide promenade for approximately 60 metres.  Directly opposite the large Granville Building, you will find the Memorial bust of Edward Welby Pugin, accomplished architect and son of AWN Pugin, in front of Granville House (formerly the Granville Hotel, Ramsgate).  

Pugin bust

The bust is made out of marble and sits on a granite pedestal.  The sculptor, Owen Hale created the bust in 1879, he was a popular sculptor in the 1870s according to the Royal Academy of Arts.  The inscription reads “In memory of Edward Welby Pugin, the gifted and accomplished son of Augustus Welby Pugin, one of England`s greatest architects: born 11th March, 1834, died 5th June, 1875. This bust was erected by Edmund Francis Davis in 1879.”  Edmund Davis purchased the then Granville Hotel in 1875. 

Carry on along the Eastcliff Esplanade to the ‘Beacons’ installed in September 2021. It is the result of a 3 year child-led project with Turner Contemporary and Pioneering Places involving 70 schoolchildren from Ramsgate Arts Primary and St Laurence in Thanet Junior Academy. 

The Beacon
Beacon photo by Brian Whitehead. 

The children commissioned Conrad Shawcross to work with them and they learnt about the harbour history: the engineering and materials used in many of the structures, how it was a refuge and how that could feature in their artwork which they wanted to reflect playfulness and the love for their town. The semaphore Beacons which can be turned using handles, hide a coded message that can be seen out to sea which spells HOME, an important word to the children but also an invitation for people to take refuge in Ramsgate, as they have done for centuries. Salus Nafragus,(safety for the shipwrecked) Salus Aegus,(health to the sick) Perfugium Miseris, (refuge for those in need) all Latin mottos found in Ramsgate on the town crest and lighthouse, also endorse their ideas that our town and harbour have been a welcoming destination across the centuries. 

We hope you enjoyed this trail of a variety of public artworks and if the Grade II listed, Tollgate Kiosk you just passed is open, I think you have earned a snack and a cuppa! 

Rebekah Smith

Town Promoter on behalf of Ramsgate Town Council

Route without diversion to Ellington Park is approximately 2.5kms

Route including Ellington Park is approximately 5.5kms.

Thanet Loop bus runs every 8 to 10 minutes can take you up to Ellington Park (Ashburnham Road is nearest stop)

Public Art Trail

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