Recreated from the Friends of Ramsgate Tunnels newsletter - 13th June 2011
With just two weeks to go before voting in the Jubilee People's Millions begins we though it would be a good opportunity to tell you a little more about why we're asking for your support. Before we do that, can we please ask again that you contact as many friends as you can to get their help and give us a better opportunity to win the vote on Monday 27th.
Here's a bit more about the project; if you have any questions we'll be available for a live "chat" on the forum at http://ramsgatetunnels.org/forum
between 7 - 8 pm for the next few evenings. You don't need to sign up to use this facility, just click on "CHAT" on the menu ribbon.WHY ARE THE TUNNELS IMPORTANT?
Having suffered extensively during The Great War of 1914-18 Ramsgate was acutely aware of the dangers of attack as World War II approached. Despite initial government attempts to prevent construction, the spirit of the town won through when construction and adaption of over 3 miles of tunnels took place in 1939. Thousands took refuge in the tunnels and hundreds of lives were saved. They were so popular that in 1940 there were over 300 families living below ground. Having once formed the heart of Ramsgate, the tunnels and memories of the few who are still with us from the period are now the only remaining links to this important period in the town's history. It is now vital to preserve both the memories and the tunnels for generations to come. WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE TUNNELS?
The tunnels are generally still in good condition. Chalk cut sections and concrete lined entrances are still hidden below ground and will provide a perfect setting for reconstructions, displays and tours depicting life through this most important part of the town's history. The former main line railway tunnel, built in 1863, is over half a mile long and will be the perfect venue to preserve and present the town's history. The coming of the railways to Ramsgate was another very important time as it brought wealth and prosperity to the town. Exhibitions, displays and themed rides will celebrate the evolution of the town from the arrival of Christianity to its time as a retreat for Royalty, a playground for the rich and famous, its time as one of England's greatest seaside resorts and its contributions during two World Wars. HOW WILL THIS PROJECT BENEFIT THE COMMUNITY?
The undeniable decline of Ramsgate in recent years can be attributed to a variety of causes such as the economy, changes in social trends, package holidays and not least being absorbed into a District Council. The abolition of Ramsgate Borough Council in 1974 took with it much of the spirit and identity of the town as its future was no longer decided in isolation but alongside that of other towns. We now have a new Town Council and along with it comes the opportunity to rebuild the spirit of the town for which it was so famous. Ramsgate Tunnels Project is focused on helping to rebuild this identity by researching, collating, archiving and presenting the history of the tunnels. This will probably be our last chance to record oral histories of those who used the tunnels during World War II. Most of Ramsgate's surviving wartime residents are now in their 80's and 90's and their numbers are dwindling. Official records are one thing, but living memories are essential to bring the tunnels and the town back to life. An important aspect of this element of the project is that funding will be made available to train volunteer members of the community in researching, interviewing, recording, cataloguing and archiving all aspects of the tunnels history.
This will have the added benefit of bringing together different age groups and different sections of the community to create mutual understanding and respect. The final part of this will be to create an accurate and detailed educational resource as a legacy for future generations. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
At this stage we need money - not yours but from the Big Lottery Fund via the Jubilee People's Millions. Interest in this project has been overwhelming with offers of help from builders, electricians, researchers, archivists, archaeologists, tunnel engineers and architects. There can be no doubt that the project is popular, but we all need to act on Monday the 27th June. At 9.00 am the number to call will be announced and lines will be open for voting until midnight. We will publish this on our website at ramsgatetunnels.org
as soon as it's announced and email it to all our Friends.
What you can do now is contact everyone you know and enlist their support.
If you're on Facebook, Twitter or any other social network please give us a mention and help create a snowball effect. You can download a printable poster which we would like you to display in your workplace, local shops, clubs, pubs etc. If you live in Ramsgate and don't have a working printer we'll try and get a poster to you. Posters and details are at http://ramsgatetunnels.org/posters.html
. Please encourage everyone to join the Friends of Ramsgate Tunnels
to ensure they receive the voting telephone number as soon as it's announced.