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In preparing our vision we have been guided by many discussions, professional advice and public consultation. The importance of the tunnels to the town is fully recognised and the rich heritage of Ramsgate will play a key role in its future. The aims of the project are to preserve the town’s heritage and create an all weather all year round attraction that will preserve our heritage whilst bringing employment and prosperity to the town.

The outline Vision for Phase 2 of our project divides the railway tunnel into four areas, with access from the main entrance on the seafront in Marina Esplanade. The first section of approximately 18 metres will be used as a reception area, shop and café to be known as “The Tunnels Stop”. At 26 metres long section 2 will house an exhibition area to be called “The Tunnel Story”. Section 3 will be the largest area at 45 metres and will house a state of the art Virtual Reality Theatre to be call “The Tunnels Time Machine”. The last area for Phase I will be “The Tunnel Explorer” which will be the area for preparation and exploration of the tunnel system.

This area will generate revenue to support the attraction whilst providing much needed employment for local people. The Café will serve a full range of quality produce to suit all tastes. The Shop area will provide a range of locally produced unique gifts and souvenirs. The exact dimensions and content of the Shop and Café area will be decided in more detailed studies, but the area could be divided into two floors.

The second section of 26 metres is to be “The Tunnels Story”. This will be an exhibition area where displays will benefit from using the latest technologies to inform, educate and entertain visitors. Ramsgate was in the forefront of two World Wars as a Naval Base and was in close proximity to RAF Manston during World War II. What better place to tell the story of these important events than in the Railway tunnel that provided shelter to hundreds of families at the height of the Battle of Britain. This tunnel also brought thousands of visitors to the town in the Victorian and Edwardian periods making it one of the country’s leading resorts. Audio presentations will make use of original recordings captured in our Oral Histories Project. The Tunnel Story will also explore the wider histories of the island and where possible become the centre for collecting and displaying artifacts illustrating the social history of the town through the ages. In addition, the area's important maritime natural history and geology will form part of the displays and could provide a starting point for guided tours of the coast and cliffs. Displays and activities will be designed to engage all age groups, making this both a family attraction and educational resource.

This virtual reality theatre will detail the story of Ramsgate from its early beginnings. Using the latest developments in interactive and immersive projection technology we will create a space where visitors feels as if they are part of the experience. The VR theatre will allow us to present various stories of the history of East Kent and England in a modern hi-tech format. For example, visiting a Roman fort, seeing the marble arch actually being built and listening to the soldiers stories, and perhaps engaging them in a conversation. You could find yourself caught out in an air raid during the Battle of Britain. There’s no limit to virtual reality.

When projectors are turned off the theatre becomes an open space which can be used for a variety of other events including corporate product launches, a local music venue, lectures and private functions. Using the theatre in this way will provide a valuable and versatile local resource.

Access to the World War II tunnels will only be possible by guided tours in sections that are safe to use. Before entering the network an introductory film will be shown and visitors will be given a safety briefing before being issued with safety equipment. Areas of the tunnel will be fitted out as in the 1940s to give a real sense of life underground and provide an informative, educational and enjoyable experience.

Design by HKD       Museum + Exhibition + Exhibit Design
Marine Studios, 17 Albert Terrace, Margate, Kent, CT9 1UJ

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