There has been silence from us for a while on this project as TDC, who are the Accountable Body for the Levelling Up Fund, have experienced delays due to recent well publicised, and some not so well publicised staff losses.

Importantly, the Grant of £1.5m for The Clock House from the Levelling Up Fund has been confirmed and will be spent on repairs to the existing Grade 2* Listed Building.

TDC are out to tender for an external consultant to Project Manage both the Ramsgate and Margate Levelling Up Grant Schemes on their behalf. Once this appointment has been made, we can start to engage with the new project manager about delivery of the Clock House and Pier Yard projects. We currently expect the project manager and his team to be appointed by the end of October. Once in place the Project Manager will be seeking to appoint further consultants to take our scheme forward e.g. Architect, Engineer, Quantity Surveyors, M&E Consultants, Contract Administrator etc. etc.

I understand from TDC that negotiations for the termination/surrender of the lease with the Steam Museum trust are ongoing but they are unwilling to say any more than that until there is an agreement between the parties.

Our Expression of Interest Application (EOI) to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for a further £2.6m was submitted about a month ago and initial responses have been very positive, though competition for HLF funds is very strong at the moment. If successful the grant will be used to transform the Clock House into a modern heritage centre for the town of Ramsgate

On September 14th I had a Zoom with Judith Carruthers (HLF) on 14th to discuss the result of our first round application. Judith was able to confirm that we got through the first round and can now proceed to the Development Phase. She made it clear, however, that it was a very close run thing. There were 22 applications considered by the HLF team in this round which had to be got down to 5 and we just scraped through. They had lots of unanswered questions about the Application but it was eventually allowed to proceed on what they described as “strategic grounds” which means that though some points needed further clarification, they accepted that Thanet was a priority area and should be supported as much as possible.

The timing of the next round (Development Phase) is on a quarterly basis so either November ’22, February ’23, May ’23 or September ’23. Considering that TDC have not yet appointed a Project Manager I think the earliest we could possibly submit a stage 2 application would be February 2023 but more likely to be May 2023. The interviews for the Project Manager are scheduled to take place in October 2022.

TDC are really struggling with resources at the moment and have been for some time, but I think this is likely to improve over the next few weeks and once the Project Manager is in place we can start moving forward.

The Museum has been kept open from Wed – Sunday each week since Easter by volunteers from The Ramsgate Society, but closed on Sunday 18th September for the Winter. We’re not sure at this stage whether it will reopen again next Easter. This will depend on progress and timing with the renovation works to the existing building but this will become clear over the next 6 months.

John Walker