designova logo

Project MotorHouse is located in Ramsgate’s Central Harbour Ward which is one of the most deprived areas in the South East and has particularly high levels of youth unemployment.

Latest News

what's happening

Clare Grayston

Clare Grayston

Project MotorHouse is extremely sad to announce the death of one of our Board members, Clare Grayston after a short illness.  She was a founder of Project MotorHouse and a trustee from its inception.  We will miss her terribly.

An outstanding lawyer, she was a senior partner at top 50 law firm Nabarro and an honorary vice president of AIJA, the international association of young lawyers. She served on the board of the Southwark Alliance and was an honorary member of Women in Film and Television, having served as its company secretary for nearly 20 years.

She was only 52, hugely successful, a loyal and generous friend, glamorous, clever and very good fun. We were privileged to know her and extend our condolences to her family and all who knew and loved her.

Project MotorMouth

Project MotorHouse and Doctor Who

On 19th January, 2013, Doctor Who came to the aid of Project MotorHouse. Peter Davison, David Tennant, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann plus John Leeson, Andrew Smith and Simon Fisher-Becker did a benefit for us. Ticket numbers were kept to 300 to ensure everyone had a good time. The tickets sold out within 24 hours of going online and people came from as far away as Australia and USA to attend. Project MotorHouse is enormously grateful to the good Doctors for getting 2013 off to such a tremendous start.

The auction contained rare items from Doctor Who such as costumes, signed scripts and memorabilia and raised £7,700.

The next Project MotorMouth event is in August and features (so far) 9 of the Doctor Who companions, with more guests to be announced soon. Further details can be found at

Virgin Money Giving

A Future for the MotorHouse And
How You Can Help

Project MotorHouse is now a charity. Our registration number is 1147974.

Online donations

If you would like to donate securely online, please click on this link -


Alternatively, please send a cheque to: Project MotorHouse, Custom House, Harbour Parade, Ramsgate, CT11 8LP. If you pay British tax, please also enclose a note telling us your donation is eligible for Gift Aid. It will mean an extra 25% to us and costs you nothing.

Project MotorHouse Update

Project MotorHouse Update

Project MotorHouse have been consulting with TDC, the police, the fire brigade and a health and safety consultant on how to address the problem with break-ins and vandalism at the hall. A key recommendation is to bring the gardens back into public use as soon as possible. The gardens do not meet current health and safety standards so this will involve raising funds in order to achieve compliance. We are working with Rippledown Environmental Education on a cross generational permaculture solution that will create an edible garden.

The Project

explore what we are doing

Our Story

Project MotorHouse is located in Ramsgate's Central Harbour Ward which is one of the most deprived areas in the South East and has particularly high levels of youth unemployment.

For more than two years, a group of residents has been working on a plan to save the derelict West Cliff Hall (aka ‘the old motor museum’) and turn it into an exciting mixed use venue where people of all ages can enjoy themselves and where Thanet’s young people can be introduced to a business culture and get the hands-on experience they need to feel confident about starting their own businesses. We intend using low carbon techniques to renovate the building and foster interest in the burgeoning low carbon economy of East Kent.

Project MotorHouse has a board made up of local residents together with prominent figures from the City. We began as the Low Carbon Community Ramsgate; the name Project MotorHouse came from focus groups we conducted with local youths.

Local organisations such as Ramsgate Town Council, Ramsgate Arts and the Kent Film Foundation have identified a lack of modern, well equipped venues as a problem. Our plan is to turn the hall into a mixed-use venue incorporating an indoor/outdoor theatre, cinema, gallery, shop, offices, function room and restaurant. Young people who work at The MotorHouse will be involved in the running of the venue and there will be a staff development programme designed to help them gain the personal and professional skills needed to start their own businesses in the area.


Thanet District Council currently owns the building. They asked Project MotorHouse to develop a business plan showing that the building can pay its own way without the need for revenue funding. On September 22nd, 2011, Cabinet decided to give the project the go ahead based on a Heads of Agreement.

We are currently finalising the contract.  Because the hall is built into the cliff and the garden walls hold up one of the main roads coming into Ramsgate, sorting out who should be responsible for what is a complicated exercise. We are grateful to the Asset Transfer Unit and Locality for helping us negotiate our way through these complex issues.

Until the condition reports on the structure are done, we cannot know how much the works to the hall will cost but our best estimate at this time is £5 million. The success of the Turner Contemporary in nearby Margate has shown us that a sophisticated cultural project can produce huge benefits for a deprived area.

Project MotorHouse is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. See the About the Board page for details of the trustees.

The Building

discover the history of West Cliff

The south facing terrace

About the building

The hall sits at one of the gateways to the UK, overlooking the international ferry terminal and the port of Ramsgate. It is set into the cliff so that it supports the West Cliff Promenade which runs across its roof. It has a huge, sunny, south facing terrace on the port side with superb views out to sea and a lovely sheltered garden amphitheatre on the landward side.

There were three of these buildings built into the cliffs of south east England just prior to the First World War. This is the smallest of the three, the only one that retains its indoor/outdoor performance capability, the only one that is not listed and the only one that is derelict. The building is on the Theatres Trust Buildings at Risk register.

It opened in July, 1914, as a concert hall called the West Cliff Hall and Gardens but its most recent incarnation was as a motor museum. That closed in 2005 and the building is now derelict. It should be a major asset in an area of high deprivation, instead it is currently just another liabiility.

The building is approximately 36 metres by 23 and of steel framed construction with concrete infill. The planned redevelopment will produce an interior of approximately 1200 square metres, including a small mezzanine. The south facing terrace lends itself to solar power panels and Project MotorHouse intends putting in a lift down to the port level to solve some of the parking, loading and general access problems.

There has been significant damp penetration in the south east corner of the auditorium.The semi-circular extension into the garden is a later addition from the 1930s. It is in extremely poor condition and is probably not salvageable. The extent of the corrosion to the steel frame and the spalling of the concrete won’t be known until a full structural engineering report can be done. This will involve exposing parts of the frame. The condition of the chalk cliff also needs investigation.

The problems of the building are significant but so is the potential.

A short film

In our first Project MotorHouse update, Janet Fielding shows us around Ramsgate's former motor museum and explains our plans to bring it back to life for the community. After six years empty the building, which was constructed in the Edwardian era as a palace of entertainment and then known as the West Cliff Hall, requires some serious TLC. Within the last month Thanet District Council has voted to turn the lease over to us, so we can now get motoring!

The Board

who we are

Our Team

The MotorHouse

John East


A well known and respected figure in the City. He is deputy chairman of the Carlton Club, a member of the Arts Club, a partner in the 606 jazz club in Chelsea and, with his brother, has for 11 years been the joint president of Dagenham & Redbridge Football Club.

He is also a jazz singer and musician, leading, as an amateur, a professional band, The John East Project. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

The MotorHouse

Chris Welch


A Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and has been working in UK since 1997. Since 2003 he has been the Finance Director of the Association of British Insurers (the ABI), a major City insitution.

Chris is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. He was until recently treasurer of Ramsgate’s East Cliff Residents Association.

The MotorHouse

Emma Claridge


is 21, was brought up in Ramsgate and is passionate about the area. Her mother is Swedish and her father English. She has just finished her law degree at Nottingham Trent University and is currently doing her masters at Uppsala in Sweden. She has worked as a paralegal at top 50 law firm, Weightman’s and wants to settle back in Thanet.

The MotorHouse

Russell White

RIBA (retired)

Russell’s architectural practice, R F White & Associates worked on large scale projects for clients including GEC Marconi, British Telecom, British Rail, the Housing Corporation, the London Borough of Islington, the Libyan Embassy and other major projects.

He has served as an advisor to Keep Britain Tidy, Ramsgate Town Partnership and the Margate Theatre Royal. He is chairman of the Liverpool Lawn Adelaide Gardens Residents Association and a committee member of both the Conservation Area Action and Ramsgate Harbour Impact Groups.

The MotorHouse

Jane Hetherington


Jane has had careers in law, business, the voluntary sector and more recently the NHS. She moved down from London 10 years ago to Thanet where she managed local third sector services and more recently the East Kent Psychological Service.

She was until recently Director for BCCS who provide psychological services in the London Borough of Bromley. and also clinical lead for services in Lambeth within the NHS. She now runs an early intervention programme in Canterbury.

The MotorHouse

Sonja Bigg


Sonja Bigg has had a diverse career in both the public and private sector. She managed Adult Therapy Services in Lewisham for many years, before becoming a partner in Fresh Produce Design Consultancy, whose  client list includes EAT, Mitchells & Butlers, BBC, Solidere (Lebanon), YOO, Greene & Co, Urban Spaces, Union Developments, Findon Urban Lofts, Green Shoots and MACE.

Sonja is currently Clinical Development Lead for ICATS (Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment) services working on the strategic development of clinical services across East Kent.

The MotorHouse

Janet Fielding

Project Co-ordinator

Janet was a Doctor Who girl in the early 80s. She is a founder of the UK chapter of Women in Film and Television which she ran for the first four years.

As an agent, her clients included Simon Callow, Rhys Ifans, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Paterson and Anne Marie Duff. More recently, she has worked part-time as Head of Finance for a charity while developing a writing career. She is the project’s community champion.


Contact Us

get in touch

Send Message