Monday 24th March 2014
The title of this little pub is a play on words as the Harbour Arms is located on the Harbour Arm. Obvious really, I suppose. It was a really sunny day as I walked towards the harbour along the sea front. A lot has changed since I was last at this spot; not least the construction and opening of the Turner Contemporary Gallery which has kick started the renaissance of the town which had become fairly run down.
The tide was out as I walked towards my objective, which is located almost at the end of the arm. There is another pub at the very end but I didn't bother with it, as I know it serves no cask beer. The arm was constructed between 1810 and 1815. It was thought that greater protection was needed after a massive storm struck in January 1808. Now it is home to a few fishing boats but once large paddle steamers would disgorge large amounts of day trippers from as far away as London.
The Harbour Arms is to be found in two brick built sheds that were used by fishermen to store their equipment and nets. I believe the pub opened its doors for the first time on 17th May 2013, or possibly the day before. In the photograph the pub is located beneath the look-out tower. The two sheds have been combined to create a tiny pub and it is surprising to see how much has been crammed in here.
On entering I noticed a few framed photos hanging wonkily on the light blue painted brick wall to my right. In front of this there are two high tables with a couple of tall wooden chairs. Beyond this is the small bar with a sink for glass washing located behind it.
To the left of this is a small cool room for the beer and cider. This has a "window" that is surrounded by the pump clips of previously sold beers. Upcoming events at the pub are written on the glass.
There is a small seating area on the left along with an upturned wooden barrel to provide a resting point for the glasses of standing customers. There is some wooden panelling and an old wood burning stove that must see a lot of use during the winters.
Postcards from customers have been stuck on the wall here. The ceiling is festooned with fishing nets, Union flags and old life belts. One thing that is noticeable is that none of the wooden chairs are the same as any another. If they are the same shape, then they're a different colour!
There was a good selection of beers available when I called in and they were: Just a Minute (Spennymoor, Co Durham) Bitter Daze (4.0%); Canterbury Ales (Chartham, Kent) Wife of Bath's Ale (3.9%) and two from Ramsgate Brewery (Broadstairs, Kent): Black Pearl Oyster Stout (6.2%) and East Kent IPA (6.5%).
Then there were the ciders with virtually the complete range from Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire); 1st Choice (5.0%), Raspberry Twist (4.0%), Rosie's Pig (4.8%); Old Rosie (7.3%) and Wyldwood (6.0%). They also had Kentish Pip (Bekesbourne, Kent) Cider (5.2%) and their Ginger Pip (5.3%).
Wine is also served and there are many packaged snacks to be had including a big selection of crisps along with the usual nuts and pork scratchings.
They also sell soft drinks, not surprising considering the location. Fruit Juices are offered at reasonable prices and are from a company called Frobisher; they look like high quality products. Oh, I also noticed a big jar of pickled eggs.
I took my beer outside and settled at one of the wooden tables. As it was an unseasonably pleasant day all of the other customers also there along with the lady who was serving the beers and ciders. I mention the latter specifically as cider is sold at the same price as beer and many of the patrons were consuming it.
The pub has no toilets but that is no problem as there are public facilities literally next door. I presume these are operated by the people who run the Harbour Arms.
Well, the message to them is: Smarten them up a bit as they seem to be used by a lot of your visitors.
However, a plus point is that there are separate Ladies, Gents and Disabled facilities, a situation that is not usual in micro pubs.
I noticed that their glasses and the beer mats were sponsored by the Royal National Lifeboat Association with the slogan "Respect the Water". It's a very apposite message consideration the situation of this pub.
The seating outside is the same as inside, i.e., very haphazard, including a deckchair and an old trolley with cast iron wheels being used as a table that looked as if it might have once been utilised to carry shellfish from the sea up the beach to dry land. Outside of the toilets there is an old cannon pointing towards the town.
As can be seen this is a quirky pub and comes highly recommended. A short walk along the Arm will easily repay the effort, should you be in Margate.
The Harbour Arms, the Stone Pier, Harbour Arm, Margate, CT9 1AP. Tel: 07776 183273
Open: Monday-Thursday 12.00-22.00; Friday-Saturday 12.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-21.30
If coming from the railway station you should allow at least twenty minutes to walk here even though you can see the pub from the station's forecourt. There are two trains per hour on Mondays to Saturdays from London Victoria via the Medway towns and Faversham, one an hour on Sunday. These trains continue to Ramsgate. Also there is one Hi-Speed train per hour from London St Pancras via Ashford, Canterbury West and Ramsgate. Margate is well served by buses from throughout the Thanet area and also Canterbury.