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White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales by CAMRA not at Dover Town Hall before 2025


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Organisers of a beer festival need a new venue.

Their regular spot is expected to be out of use for more than three years.

A previous CAMRA festival at the Town Hall with some eye-catching names for the ales. Library picture: Paul Amos
A previous CAMRA festival at the Town Hall with some eye-catching names for the ales. Library picture: Paul Amos

CAMRA Deal, Dover, Sandwich and District usually holds the White Cliffs Festival of Winter Ales at Dover Town Hall.

But it is out of bounds for the group until early 2025 because of a massive refurbishment there.

A post on the group's Facebook page said: "It's likely the first festival won't be until 2025 - due to the extensive nature of the restoration works.

"We appreciate that this is a long time to wait. So at our branch meetings we are discussing possible alternatives. However the Town Hall is ideal in terms of its location, size and how much we were being charged to hire it."

The festival is normally at the Town Hall on the first Friday an Saturday of every February and usually about 1,300 people attend over the two days.

Two beer enthusiasts at the CAMRA winter festival at Dover Town Hall in 2012. Library picture: Paul Amos
Two beer enthusiasts at the CAMRA winter festival at Dover Town Hall in 2012. Library picture: Paul Amos

It provides a wide range of beers, many lesser known and some with unusual or amusing names such as Russian Stoat, Comfortably Numb and Yule be Sorry.

The last one was in 2020, a month before the first national lockdown for coronavirus and this year's had to be cancelled as restrictions continued.

The Town Hall is expected to re-open around June 2024, and the next winter ales festival there by Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) would be in February 2025.

Dover District Council is behind the hall's £9.1 million of alterations, repairs and refurbishments and this is its most ambitious historic building conservation project.

It includes the restoration of an interior decorative scheme by the neo-Gothic architect, William Burges.

Dover Town Hall. Library picture: Paul Amos
Dover Town Hall. Library picture: Paul Amos

There will also be a new street-level visitor entrance to the Connaught Hall, along with improved access throughout the building.

Redundant spaces will be brought back into commercial use, including restoring the Mayor’s Parlour as a holiday let.

There will also be a new café in the space once occupied by Victorian gaol cells.

A Dover council spokesman said: "We have worked with a wide range of users and event organisers on the plans for the multi- million pound restoration of the Maison Dieu.

"We’re grateful for the support we have received for this exciting project which, once complete in 2024, provides Dover with a unique heritage, cultural and community venue that can play an even bigger role in the life of Dover."

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