Ramsgate is a town steeped in history, a place which may not instantly spring to mind when thinking about some of the most influential people of the 19th and 20th Century. And yet there aren’t many towns on the planet which can boast associations with figures like King George IV, Queen Victoria, Sir William Garrow, Elizabeth Fry, The Duke of Wellington, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Darwin and Karl Marx. Our modest harbour town packs a punch when it comes to local heritage and history.
But where does this hidden history lie? Ramsgate Town Council have just launched a new digital app which guides visitors and residents around Ramsgate and takes users to the locations where history was written. It is the first Heritage Town in the UK to be launched on the Useeum App, Europe’s fastest growing museum and heritage platform, thanks to a pilot project which has been initiated in conjunction with Your Heritage Limited.
The project was initiated by Your Heritage co-founder and local school teacher, Adrian C. Smith. He said:
“During the first COVID-19 lockdown I took a walk along the East Cliff with my children. We were talking about some of the blue plaques we saw along the way and I thought this would work so well as an outdoor trail. I knew that Ramsgate Town Council had been part of Historic England’s Heritage Action Zones so I approached the Council to see if there was a way we could help to develop a number of digital trails for Ramsgate and the project grew from there.”
Built on the Useeum platform, users will be able to download the app and explore the town’s Blue Plaque Trail, the Pugin Trail and Vincent van Gogh Trail for free. Once they are inside the app there is also the opportunity to download Eva’s War and be transported back to Ramsgate on September 3, 1939.
Sponsored by The Ramsgate Tunnels, and based on the true testimonies of Ramsgate residents, Eva’s War is a cross between a radio play and a historic guide. For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can be transported from the Sailor’s Church, where Eva discovers war has been declared with Germany, and then proceed in a loop around the Marina and East Cliff as she tells you about the bombing raids and what life was like for the Ramsgate residents who spent six years staring into the face of an advancing German army.
Eva’s War is largely inspired by Jane ‘Eva’ Bull, who has always lived in the town and who celebrated her 100th Birthday last September. Supported with images and research provided by The Ramsgate Tunnels and performed by a cast of professional actors (one of whom is a direct descendent of the daughter of Vye & Son and a mason who built Ramsgate harbour), the trail takes approximately an hour to complete.
Adrian said, “Writing Eva’s War has been a fantastic experience. It was an opportunity to share some of the stories I had heard from my Godmother growing up and also to work with Isaac Naylor at The Ramsgate Tunnels. I’ve lived here all my life, I went to Christ Church School, my father had a business in Addington Street, and yet I’ve been constantly surprised at how much I didn’t know about Ramsgate during the war. We take a lot of our local history for granted, I think, and yet there were some really interesting people who lived here and so many reasons to be proud of our town and its people.”
Other Ramsgate trails will be added to the app later in the year and work will soon begin on the My Town project which will give an opportunity for some of our local residents to work together to produce their own digital trail. When published, the My Town trail will go live to Useeum’s global audience.
We are keen to gather feedback from the Ramsgate community and are looking for beta testers (people who can trial the EVA’s WAR app for free and who would be willing to complete a short survey) so that we can ensure the Ramsgate app is ready for visitors to the area. If you are interested in volunteering as a beta tester please email: email@example.com
If you would like to experience any of the other digital Ramsgate trails you can download the Useeum App for free by scanning the QR code or by searching for Useeum in your preferred App Store.