News In Kent

Find out what’s happening in the Garden of England – we round up what’s new and happening in the county. Historical updates, transport additions, and lots more.


After funding from The National Lottery Community Fund,  Your Leisure will support Activity Alliance’s National GOGA Get Active programme across Dover over the next three years. Together they will offer a programme of events, activities and opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people to be active. Thanks to this funding, the legacy of GOGA will create healthier and happier communities in Dover. The programme includes a range of classes and courses, mainly free, including pilates, and inclusive Tai Chi in various venues in the district – including Sandwich, Walmer, Deal, and Aylesham.

Monkton Nature Reserve (main picture) is seeking proposals for sculptures for a new nature trail that will be open to the public from May 2024 till September 2024. They are looking for sculptures to reflect ‘natural’ in whatever form you interpret using only natural materials. You do not have to be an artist or sculptor – you could be a knitter, a potter, a painter, a maker, or just interested in nature. Please email for more information and a submission form – the deadline for submissions is 29th February 2024.

Girl on a swing for News in Kent and the New play area in Dane John Gardens in Canterbury
Canterbury City Council have installed a new children’s play area in the Dane John Gardens, pictured above, providing a range of imaginative and inclusive play equipment for children aged up to seven years old. The play area had to bear in mind the garden’s status as a Scheduled Monument, so the council worked with both Historic England and Canterbury Archaeological Trust to ensure the design of the play area was in harmony with its historic setting and that underground archaeology was protected. Although the equipment is open, there is still some work required on the grassed areas, which will be carried out when drier weather comes along in the spring.


See Kent visited Canterbury this week for the unveiling of plaques at Canterbury West Station to recognise the past, present and exciting future for rail ticketing with Canterbury Society, Southeastern and the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP. Two new blue plaques recognise Canterbury’s proud railway history. The first is placed on the station entrance and marks the terminus of the former Canterbury to Whitstable railway, which operated from 1846 to 1952. The second plaque commemorates the issuing of the world’s first railway season ticket in 1830 and will, ultimately, be placed on Weighbridge Cottage, the site of the former station building. These are the first of 14 new blue plaques which will be installed across the City in the coming months by the Canterbury Society and recognise Canterbury’s proud history. The event, attended by Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP and Southeastern, recognised the early success of the recent launch of its Flexi sTicket. Southeastern is the only operator in the country to accept and retail Flexi tickets as a sTicket, the latest secure ticketing format for barcode rail tickets.

Historic England has announced that the Finnish Olympic Sauna has been granted Listed II status. A prefabricated timber sauna manufactured by Finnish company Puutalo Oy (Timber Houses Limited) for the 1948 London Olympic Games. The building was first erected in the Olympic Village in Richmond Park in 1948, moved to the Reed Paper Mill in Ditton, Aylesford in Kent in 1949, and to its present location (also on the former Reed site) by 1957. As the earliest surviving purpose-built Finnish sauna in England in continuous use, and is thought to be the oldest surviving Olympic sauna in the world. It is also listed because it is a rare surviving example of a building newly constructed for the 1948 London Olympics, the first post-war games known as the ‘Austerity Games’.

Until the 10 March 2024 (daily 9am-9pm) enjoy free entry to Canterbury Cathedral Precincts as part of their 6-week Free Precincts Trial. This is to test the feasibility of balancing free access to large parts of the Cathedral estate with their need to attract paying visitors to cover the substantial costs of running and maintaining the venue. Visitors will still have to pay to enter the Cathedral building and the north side of the Precincts – including the Cloisters, Herb Garden and Chapter House – during standard sightseeing hours. As always, it will still be free to attend a worship service or enter the Cathedral to pray.

Southeastern Railway has announced plans to increase the number of later trains to their service from June. According to Scott Brightwell, Operations & Safety Director, this is “to support leisure and tourist attractions including Dreamland. We are delighted to provide these additional services.”

The bounce park and soft play centre Elev8 in Broadstairs is expanding next door with more fun and games to explore.

Leeds Castle’s new Lakeside Lodges have recently opened for bookings and offer a unique experience, with breathtaking views overlooking the Great Water. You will also have the opportunity to explore the estate, with its over 500 acres of seasonal gardens and parkland, historic architecture, and lots more attractions and activities.

Dreamland Margate is introducing a restoration levy on tickets – £2 for outdoor events, £ 1 for indoor –  towards the upkeep and development of Dreamland. They will be open about where they spend the levy and will publish updates on their website, setting out what we have achieved and which future projects they are concentrating on next. LN-Gaiety Holdings a subsidiary of Live Nation which owns Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc., has taken significant controlling issues at the venue and shares in Sands Heritage which owns Dreamland Margate.

The Folkestone Leas Lift has secured £6.6 million, including a £4.3 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, towards the project to restore and re-open the Leas Lift and deliver a three-year programme of heritage activities. The grade II* listed funicular railway was originally installed in 1885. It is one of only three remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK and carried 2,389 passengers on its first day.

Due to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) issues The Orchard Theatre had to suspend performances. However, a new temporary venue is now open as a fully functional, temporary, enclosed performance space with 1,000 seats – Orchard West.

VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Accolade Winners 2022-2023 latest awards include a trio of Kent winners –  The Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham has won the Hidden Gem award, as has Gusbourne Estate, Appledore. Balfour Winery in Staplehurst won Gold. VisitEngland’s Accolades are designed to celebrate excellence within the visitor attraction sector and showcase those businesses in the VisitEngland Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme that go the extra mile to provide a high-quality day out.

News in Kent has learned that the grade II Listed mid-19th-century gun tower standing in the mouth of the River Medway, near Grain, has been sold for £159,000. The new owner is unknown.

Sign up for the waiting list to buy a piece of Banky’s Valentine’s Day Mascara in Margate (pictured) with fractional ownership site Showpiece. Fractional ownership is the process by which you can own part of an extraordinary item that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to own in its entirety. The original artwork (not shown here as the council removed part of it) is of a ’50s housewife with a black eye and a missing tooth, closing a chest freezer with the legs of a man protruding from it. The piece implies a scenario of domestic violence where the abused partner has allegedly murdered her oppressor and hidden him in the freezer. Originally on a wall in a residential part of Margate, it was moved to Dreamland Margate to preserve it and can be seen there for free. It is valued at £6 million!

Still in Margate, local artist Tracey Emin has secured the purchase of TH Westbrook Loggia building at Westbrook Bay from Thanet District Council and her renovation plans include a community bathers club with café, hot showers, toilet facilities, sauna, and Winter club room on the ground floor. The first floor will provide a range of facilities including a large art studio, gym, restaurant, and a hot desk station. The roof area will be transformed into a sunbathing area with refreshment facilities. For News in Kent, this is important for the area, as historic buildings such as these need to be preserved.

Medway’s theatre in Chatham has closed for major improvements thanks to funding. The planned upgrade looks like it may take two years to complete, more details of improvements and the closure period shortly. Its Central Theatre nearby will continue to be open to theatregoers.

Broadstairs has come 20 in a poll of 50 hippest places to live, ranked due to elements including Instagrammable features, the range of cultural events, and how popular as a TV or film location site. The survey was conducted by the health supplement brand. Naturecan.

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News In Kent
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Picture Credit: © Historic England – Finnish Olympic Sauna.

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