Lease of cafe at historic former coastguard station at St Margaret’s near Dover with ‘dramatic’ views up for sale
The chance to run a restaurant at a unique and historic clifftop property with “one of the most dramatic views in the country” is up for grabs.
Efforts to shift the building for £950,000 earlier this year proved fruitless, while a listing in 2016 at £3.5 million also saw nobody step up to the plate.
Perry Mercer of Marshall & Clarke, the firm marketing the business, told KentOnline it has been a struggle to move the property on but confessed hopes of seeing it utilised as an eatery.
He said: “We’ve struggled to find somebody to buy it as a whole because of its restrictions around not being able to live there as a main residence.
“We’re hoping to find somebody to take it on and run it as a successful cafe or restaurant, the locals would love it and the idea has been really popular before.
“The owners have retired now and what with Covid and everything else it’s not reopened for a few years but it’s a great opportunity for someone else to take over.
“There’s the potential to open it as a restaurant in the evenings and with the location it’s second-to-none, the 180-degree views are some of the best around – it’s a fantastic location.”
Described as “absolutely immaculate”, the property is a former coastguard station which has been sympathetically extended and converted into a tea room with a luxury holiday apartment above.
As a result of previous planning disputes, possible owners would be unable to permanently reside in the property – though plans to convert the cafe into a holiday let were approved last year.
In any case, the 999-year lease would cost any suitors £395,000 and would only see the bottom half of the property available – with the upstairs holiday home to be used by the current owners.
The building occupies a truly spectacular location overlooking the English Channel and once played a vital military role during the Battle of Britain where a top secret revolutionary radar system, called Magnetron, was installed to detect incoming enemy aircraft.
So important was the building to the defence of the realm, it was protected by two anti-aircraft guns and retains an underground bunker. It even warranted two visits by Sir Winston Churchill during the war.
The land where it now sits was acquired by the Ministry of War in 1914 and two huts were erected and used as a signal station during and after The Great War.
In the late 1920s, they were replaced by a purpose-built brick coastguard lookout.
With war again looming, however, the significance of the site prompted the building of an underground operations room (35ft below the building) with two anti-aircraft guns sited to the rear.
Throughout the Second World War, the lookout played a significant part in the defence of the country, its position near ‘Hellfire Corner’ being central to the Battle of Britain.
It was also pivotal in the monitoring and co-ordination of shipping in the Channel which saw its importance acknowledged by Churchill who made visits during the war to the underground bunker.
After the war, the lookout – now a fully equipped coastguard station complete with a radar scanner – continued its important role as the principal centre for the monitoring of what had become the busiest shipping lane in the world.
With this increase in traffic and the development in new technology the decision was made to build a new multi-million pound coastguard station nearer to Dover at Langdon Cliff.
The old station was then decommissioned and in 1994 offered for sale by public tenure.