The most successful places have a simple Shared Story to tell. It is a commonly agreed way of describing the place, that everyone uses when they are planning how to invest in improvements and new experiences, and when they are talking to people who don’t know the place.
It is a short and simple story that makes it clear what is special and different about the place. It does not over-promise; it goes with the grain of the place and it is authentic and true. It focuses on the distinctive qualities that capture the essence of the place: it isn’t a list of everything that is on offer. If everyone uses the same broad ideas to develop the place and then uses some of the same concepts and phrases to talk about it externally, the image of Thanet and the experiences in the place will be much stronger. That leads to greater impact, which means more visitors and stronger investment.
Londoners have been escaping to the Isle of Thanet for more than 200 years … for the laidback seaside vibe … breathtaking sandy beaches … fresh sea air… and romantic Turner skies …
Here at the very edge of the Garden of England, three Georgian and Victorian resorts, each with its own distinctive character – Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate – cluster around the bays at the far end of a peninsula.
There’s a retro feel to these harbour towns, with their remarkable 18th and 19th century architecture, their classic seaside heritage and kitsch, their eclectic attractions and live arts and music venues. And there is a variety of independent places to shop, eat, drink and stay.
Miles of low chalk cliffs edge the peninsula, sheltering a string of secluded, unspoilt sandy bays. Chalk rockpools, chalk stacks and rare chalk reefs teem with wildlife. These are the closest surfing beaches to the capital city: a popular choice with south-east boarders.
Artists, writers and musicians have long been inspired by this almost-island … and continue to be drawn here. Turner said Thanet had “the loveliest skies in all Europe” … for Dickens Broadstairs was “the freshest, freest place” … and Tracey Emin declares in green neon on Margate seafront: “I never stopped loving you”.
The Isle’s a historic landing place steeped in symbolism for the story of Britain … the first Saxons Hengist and Horsa arrived and settled here … and St Augustine first stepped onto these shores on his way to nearby Canterbury.
For this is the furthest south east you can go in Britain … almost touching mainland Europe … yet these days only 75 minutes from central London …
And now with the Turner Contemporary gallery, the return of the iconic amusement park Dreamland, reimagined for the 21st century, and high-speed trains from the capital … a new generation is discovering this original seaside escape