The Walpole Bay Hotel Museum

Ours is a lovely story and we are writing a book about our experience whilst renovating The Walpole but suffice to say here that we welcome you to our Home, our Hotel and our Museum, the realisation of a 35-year ambition! We hope you enjoy your visit.

Museum images by Cristina Massei

On entering The Walpole you will have walked up the marble steps that have been there since 1914 when the Hotel was originally built by Louisa Budge. The Walpole remained in the ownership of the Budge family, down through the generations, until we arrived in 1995 with our restoration project. Photographs of those early holiday makers can be seen in the exhibition on the 2nd floor. Also, a staff group photograph which shows some of the exterior view and the charabancs which frequented the Walpole in those bygone days.

If you now look to the left, there are two original gas lamps from the period which are still operational, and in front of you is the centre piece of our museum – our original trellis gated Otis lift which is a marvellous accolade to Otis’ engineering skills.

The lift was installed in 1927 and has worked perfectly ever since. The service record from 1927 through until 1939 is written, in pencil, on the bare plaster wall in the machine room and to our knowledge, the only time it ceased to function is by human error and never a mechanical failure. Please take a ride to the top, up to the third floor, where, if you alight and look up, you can see the original workings in action.

All around you in our Reception Lounge, Bar and Dining Room are display cabinets full of interesting objects, mainly from the period and many donated by our clients and well-wishers. We have exhibition of 19th and 20th century glass on the south wall and the original toaster from our kitchen has pride of place on the salon table.

The large screen TV in the corner is evidently 21st century but it does serve a purpose. In 1995, BBC’s “One Foot in the Past” Series did a piece on us and although it missed the plot completely by editing out everything to do with our museum ambition, it is most informative and you are welcome to sit and watch our whole five minutes of fame.

There are exhibits of interest on all five floors on the Walpole. From the lower ground floor with its original 1914 Lincrusta panelling and 1927 sprung maple ballroom floor, gentlemen’s 1927 urinals still with their original ceramic drain covers and bolt-on seat and floor cisterns and marble floors and tiling and original Po’s and… and.. and… the list goes on and on.

Up to the first, second and third floor corridors to wander and admire the original open fireplaces, and those converted to gas in the 1930’s, pieces of original wallpaper discovered under the 1922 splash backs on the sinks whilst we were renovating, the huge gas and water pipes adorning the corridor walls, the Maids Sculleries with their original deep ceramic sinks and wooden drainers, call systems and copper stills boiler and gas ring (Second Floor), the dumb waiter servicing all five floors for 24 hour room service operation, and so much more.

Our Thanet coastline has an amazing diversity of flora, fauna and fossils and our Living History Museum has an exhibition of the fossils that can be found in our 80 million year old chalk beds, or even washed up on our beaches. We organise educational walks and talks in conjunction with our local geologist Alastair Bruce. There is also a small display of fossils which are available for purchase.

Paintings and photographs adorn the walls, and fascinating, historical objects from the 20th century cover every surface. It is our intention that you meander, reminisce and explore all our little corners. Please feel free to ask us any questions and we will do our very best to answer them.

It is our hope that eventually period exhibits and displays will fill every nook and cranny of the Walpole. We had originally thought that our Museum would be on the life of the Walpole only. That idea then expanded to cover the history of Cliftonville, and through the generosity of our clients it now encompass the period et al.

So many people have wanted to become part of our little project by donating items that are of interest or supplying information and archive material that we now have a Register of Contributions which can be viewed in Reception. Visiting the museum is free of charge but if you enjoyed your time here and care to make a donation towards the upkeep, or to give an item for display it would be most gratefully received. Please see our staff on reception.

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