Sort file:- Margate, January, 2023.

Page Updated:- Monday, 09 January, 2023.


Earliest 1787

(Name from)

Six Bells

Closed 1987

201 High Street / Six Bells Lane 1841Census


Six Bells

Above photo from date unknown.

Six Bells

Above photo date unknown.

Six Bells

Above photo, date unknown.

Six bells street procession

Above photo showing a street procession outside the "Six bells" date unknown.

Six Bells

Above photo, date unknown.

Margate map 1821

Above map 1821, showing the "Six Bells" in blue and the "One Bell" in yellow.

O S Map 19853

O S Map 1853.


The pub has also been referenced as the "One Bell" but I believe this to be in error.

According to Michael David Mirams in his book "Kent Inns and Inn Signs" the "Six Bells" was rebuilt in the 1953; it replaced an inn of 1716-22, which was called the "Five Bells" until 1787. In 1787 more bells were added to St John's Church tower, this would explain a  name change. The old house was the haunt of smugglers, who hid their illicit gains in the vaults of St John's Churchyard opposite, and of Naval press gangs. Cock fighting was held on the premises during the 1770s.

The Kentish Gazette of 1770 mentions that Gentlemen of Canterbury and Birchington would be against those of Margate..... Fighting at the "Five Bells." Cock fighting, which was brought to Britain by the Romans, was restricted and finally banned by a series of Acts of Parliament between 1833 and 1845.

The Inn was the haunt of local smugglers as it had huge cellars. There are tales of press gangs going up High Street at this time, with cutlasses and pistols breaking up noisy parties of local fishermen and boatmen.

In 1810 a Naval officer was stabbed in the chest by a local seaman, while shouting "How many will volunteer to service the King". The officer died and the Press Gang seized half a dozen local men to serve George III.

Prior to 1833 the pub was owned by the Symond's Brewery of Ramsgate, but they sold the business and pub to Francis Cobb and Son, brewer also in Ramsgate that same year. Whitbread took them over early 1968 and closed the brewery later that year.

The pub closed in the 1987 and is now (2015) operating as a children's centre.

The original building was from two of three small tenement houses knocked into one, the living rooms being converted into licensed use. The pub was of a fairly small size and located at the top of the old High Street.

During WW2 the "Six Bells" was still well patronised and had a 200 strong Social Club.


Six Bells 1953

Above photo, circa 1953, showing the rebuilt pub.

Six Bells 1988

Above photo, 1988, kindly sent by Michael Mirams.

Six Bells

Above photo, date unknown by Ian Chapman.


Due to a road widening scheme around 1954 the "Six Bells" and three other pubs in the High Street were demolished to make way for council flats and a new and much larger "Six Bells" was built.

The new pub opened July 1955 by Whitbread and landlord Edwin "Taffy" Thomas was the new licensee.

 Taffy was one of the first professional footballers signed by the newly formed Margate Football Club in 1931.

The Six Bells lasted until 1987 when it closed down and became empty for many years, until Margate Sure Start took over the building and it is now (2018) being used as a children's centre.


Kentish Gazette 17 August 1847.


August 9, in his 50th year William Young, of the "Bell Inn," Dean-street, Commercial-road, East, many years landlord of the "Six Bells," Margate.


Dover Chronicles 21 August 1847.


August 9, in his 50th year, Mr. William Young, of the "Bell Inn," Dean Street, Commercial Road East, many years head landlord of the "Six Bells," Margate.


Dover Express, Friday 28 April 1916.

Dover Young Woman's Suicide at Margate.

An inquest was held in the Town Hall, Margate, before Mr. George Camfield Deputy Coroner touching the death of Gwendoline Emily Twyman (29), who resided at 12, High Street, Dover, and was found dead at the "Six Bells Inn," Margate, on Thursday last week.

Mr. Adolphus Arthur was elected foreman of the jury:

Frederick Charles Lewis, licensee of the "Six Bells Inn," Margate, said he identified the body of the deceased as his niece, Gwendoline Emily Twyman, who was 29 years of age. Her permanent address was 12, High Street, Dover. About 5 weeks ago she came to stay with witness. Her health was not good, and mentally she was rather "funny." They looked after her as much as possible, but she suffered from many delusions, vainly imagining that she was watched by the police. About 4:40 p.m. they were unable to gain admission into her bedroom. The door was locked, and witness forced the door. They found deceased lying dead across the bed on her face. She was fully dressed. There was some lace tide tightly round her neck, with a bootlace inside. This they cut off. His niece was then quite dead. During the day prior to 4:40 p.m. she had been doing domestic work in the house, and seemed quite all right.

Renvenia Helen Sophia Lewis said deceased was her cousin. Deceased have been a shop assistant at Dover. She had been staying at the "Six Bells" about 2 months, and during that time had been attended by the doctor for mental trouble. She had delusions daily, principally that she was being watched by the police. She had suffered trouble through recently losing her sweetheart, which had preyed on her mind. On Thursday about 4:40 p.m. she complained of feeling tired, and so she said she would go and lie down a little. Witness saw her to bed. She then came downstairs, but in a quarter of an hour returned, when she found the door locked. Witnessed then went for her father who forced the door. Deceased was lying dead on the bed. She untied the cord and cut the lace with the scissors.

Dr. Sawers, practitioner, of Margate said he saw deceased at the end of January this year. She was then in a state of acute nervous depression due to the loss of her fiancÚ. He treated her, but did not see her again till last Thursday week. The next thing he heard was what had happened on Thursday, when her uncle came to the surgery and informed him that she was dead. The cause of death was strangulation. The bootlace, which had been tied around the neck, had left a purple mark. On the various occasions he had seen her he did not think she was a suitable case to send to the asylum as he hoped she would get better. She undoubtedly did the act in an unsound state of mind. In his opinion her mental balance had been upset through the loss of her young man.

The jury returned a verdict to the effect that deceased committed suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity.


Thanet Times, Tuesday 22 September, 1964.

New house, but the same atmosphere.

Edwin Thomas 1964

When Margate Council realized development plans for the top end of High Street, customers were one night relaxing in the atmosphere of the old "Six Bells." The following night they had a brand new public house, but the familiar face behind the bar and the atmosphere remained the same.

Licensee at the "Six Bells" who moved into the new house which arose from a demolition ashes of the old is ex-footballer Edwin (Taffy) Thomas, who has had the licence for 12 years.

"The move came during a bank holiday week," he recalled on the Tuesday night we were in the old pub and on Wednesday night we were serving our old customers in the new house."

Taffy, 58, first came to Margate in 1929 when he signed for the town football club - just at the time when it proudly moved into new play and accommodations at Hartsdown.


Principally a centre-forward, he also played for Millwall before and wound up his soccer career as a utility player before hanging up his boots in 1935 because of a knee injury.

He is still a regular Hartsdown supporter, but when Margate played Millwall in the FA Cup two seasons ago the match was an extra special attraction for him.

His absorbing interest behind the counter is making new friends and of the taxing hours demanded he says:- "They just grow on you and you accept them as such."

Before taking the pub he worked before and after the war with Margate Corporation as a beach inspector and during the war he served with a fire service at Margate.


Thanet Times, Tuesday 20 March 1979.

Death of Publican.

Mr. Thomas Swallow, former licensee of the "Prospect" and "Six Bells" public house, Margate, died on Thursday at the age of 63.

Mr. Swallow, who was steward of the Limpsfield Royal British Legion Club, died at Detling.




HUMBLE John 1792+

CARTHEW John 1823+

YOUNG Thomas 1826-28+ Pigot's Directory 1828-29

YOUNG William 1832-Aug/47 dec'd (age 40 in 1841Census) Pigot's Directory 1832-34

CRICKETT Charles 1847-74+ (age 57 in 1871Census) Williams Directory 1849

LEWIS Frederick Charles 1881-1922+ (age 62 in 1911Census) Kelly's 1903

GARRATT Leonard Nelson 1930+

HEAD Bill 1930s

HEDGES Arthur 1938+

LILLEY Bert 1945-47 Next pub licensee had

THOMAS Edwin "Taffy" 1952-64+

Last pub licensee had SWALLOW Tommy & Francis to 1979 dec'd

SULLIVAN Mick & Shirley 1982-85 Next pub licensee had


Pigot's Directory 1828-29From the Pigot's Directory 1828-29

Pigot's Directory 1832-34From the Pigot's Directory 1832-33-34

Kelly's 1903From the Kelly's Directory 1903


Williams Directory 1849From Isle of Thanet Williams Directory 1849


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-