Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Working in Ramsgate

I spent some time in the late 1970s working in the seaside resort of Ramsgate, on the Isle of Thanet in Kent.

I moved to Ramsgate from Loughborough, where I had been Manager of the Town Hall.

Classic Cinemas invited me to take over the management of their Classic Cinema in Ramsgate. I had worked for Classic on two previous occasions, in the West End of London and in Westcliff, a suburb of my home town of Southend.

It was great to be moving back to beside the sea, with clean air and the sound of seagulls as a constant background.

The Classic was situated in the town centre, and was one of the old Odeons that had been bought from the Rank Organisation some years before.

Although the box office and sales kiosk were on ground level, the auditorium was upstairs, in the old Circle. The old Stalls had been converted into a bingo hall.

My brief included, in addition to managing the Classic Cinema, keeping a watchful eye on behalf of the company on this bingo hall and also another which the company ran four miles away at Margate.

As I had done at other cinemas, I soon managed, by intelligent marketing and publicity as well as a lot of long hours and hard work, to considerably raise the admissions level and the general public interest.

After I had been at Ramsgate for around a year, the company bought the opposition cinema, the Kings, which was a matter of a couple of minutes walk away. I also took over the management of the Kings, so that I was now General Manager of Clasic Cinemas Ramsgate.

This unusual arrangement led me to invent a good number of administrative systems, but it also allowed me to maximise the intelligent deployment of staff, taking into account levels of business at any particular time.

I used to every week organise some sort of contest for the children on the Saturday morning club, and brought in the Classic Queen Contest which I had invented at Westcliff.

There were of course lots of Carnival processions in the area. I personally took part, with float and Classic Queen, in processions at Birchington, Broadstairs, Canterbury, Deal, Margate and Ramsgate.

I was heavily involved in the promotion of tourism, and was Public Relations Officer for the Isle of Thanet Promotion Board, of which I was a founder member. I was also on the Ramsgate Carnival committee.

Calais is not very far, and at that time there were regular hovercraft sailings from Ramsgate to Calais. I became the first cinema manager to have publicity material regularly available in another country, which of course was at Calais.

Eventually, having increased business to a great extent, I decided to look for another challenge, and went to work in Canterbury at the Marlowe Theatre.

If anybody reading this has any connection with Ramsgate, or the Isle of Thanet in general (Born? Lived? Worked? Ancestors? Relatives?), I will be very pleased to hear from them.