The Whitstable IMP is a glossy, full-colour magazine available free throughout Whitstable

Delivering a host of essential features for locals and tourists alike, distributed free of charge to every house and business in Whitstable, every month.

Regular features include:

  • Local Whitstable News
  • Interviews
  • Recipes
  • Competitions
  • Whitstable Gig Guide
  • Local listings
  • Whitstable Community information
  • Letters Page

To read the magazine click Whitstable IMP

Whether you are a local trying to plan the month ahead, or a local business trying to keep the people of Whitstable up-to-date with what you have to offer, there has been no one-stop-shop… until now.

What can The Whitstable IMP do for Whitstable?

We are a local couple, with a background in publishing, who moved to Whitstable, Kent in 2007. We found a buzzing community with lots going on but usually found out about things after they had happened! we decided to tap into our experience and publish a local magazine where information could be posted for anyone to find.

Whitstable is a town in its own right. We found the free papers great for bits and pieces of reasonably local news - but where can you find out what’s going on in your own back yard? If you are organising something locally, how can you get your message out?

Whitstable is your community - have your say

We don’t take ourselves too seriously – we welcome your thoughts and comments – The Whitstable IMP is here to serve Whitstable so your input and feedback really matter to us. If you have an interesting local story, or would like to nominate a local business or personality for inclusion in our editorial, please email

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Here are some recent articles

A Day in the Life of... Delia Fitt

It's an Aladdin's Cave for fish fans, but what exactly goes on inside Whitstable icon Wheelers? The IMP caught up with owner Delia Fitt to see what her day involves.

After a success story spanning more than 150 years, not much changes at Wheelers.

Customers still peer at the menu in the window while the staff politely pretend not to notice, tables are still hard to come by and, of course, the freshest fish from local boats still takes pride of place throughout the building.

Wheelers is more than a business for Delia Fitt - it's been in her family since the beginning and her involvement began when she was just ten. Now she oversees a dedicated team of chefs and waiting staff who share her passion for food and for Whitstable.

It means long days behind - or in front of - the counter but as the place is more like her second home than her workplace, she's not complaining. "I'm a bit of a fixture," she said.

"Apart from Monday, which is my day off, if we're open then I'm probably here. "And if I'm not here, it's only because I'm off around the town with one of Mark's long shopping lists picking up ingredients."

Mark is chef Mark Stubbs, who trained with the man who taught Gary Rhodes, and together they have hit upon a recipe for success. Delia selects the freshest fish from boats as they moor in the harbour and Mark creates sauces and marinades that keep the customers flocking through the doors. Her days usually begin checking the catch and fetching other ingredients from shops around the town.

"We always support the local shops," she said. "We don't have the space to buy in bulk from a wholesalers and it's much more fun to wander down the High Street and have a chat with everyone on the way."

Once she arrives at the striking pink building at the top of town Delia becomes one of the team, helping out with anything from salad preparation to serving customers. "I always say we don't do fine dining here, we just do very nice fish dishes," she said. "Mark is a very imaginative young man who sticks food together in a very imaginative way.

"It is as good as fine dining but I don't think it's the same thing." Whatever it is, it's popular with locals and visitors alike who pop in for everything from a sit down meal to a smoked salmon sandwich. Lunchtime sees all hands on deck but there is still time to wave at regulars and friends who pass by.

"We do get customers who, when you suggest they sit in the shop, look horrified," Delia said. "But once they have done it, they love it. It's very interesting, especially at night and if you sit in the corner you have an excellent view of all the goings on in Harbour Street."

Once everyone is fed and watered - although with non-alcoholic drinks unless they bring their own - people-watching becomes the main business of the afternoon again.

It may seem like a very relaxed way to run a business but in fact Delia sees everything that goes on and fits in phone calls to suppliers and a meeting about a new fridge in between chatting and commenting on Whitstable life. She is keen to play her part in promoting the town and people who pop in with posters are given a warm reception.

The transformation of the former Hatchards shop opposite into a Costa Coffee franchise is less pleasing though, and she is keen to preserve her own corner of the town's heritage.

"Our biggest problem is lack of space but we have no plans to expand," she said. "We don't change, we evolve, and I think if we were too big we would lose a lot of what makes us special."

Unlucky customers who can't get a table that evening may not agree but as the successful ones begin trickling in and creating that unique Wheelers atmosphere it's easy to see her point.

To read the magazine click Whitstable IMP

Whitstable Castle

With boarded up windows and turmoil over trees, Whitstable Castle looks in a rather sorry state.

But the people responsible for managing the town's historic manor house insist its future as a community facility open to everyone is secure. Liz Crudgington reports.

In these days of credit crunch woes, a multi-million pound project is not to be sniffed at. And when it's Whitstable on the receiving end of almost £3million to restore and rejuvenate one of the town's best-loved buildings, champagne corks should be popping from Swalecliffe to Seasalter.

There was plenty of fizz when the Lotto grant was first announced, but months later the lack of apparent progress has left a sour taste in the mouth of some, who fear that the Castle may never open its doors again.

Not so, insist John Simmonds and Darren Simpson, chairman and chief executive of the Castle Trust set up to manage the facility.

"We have the same ambition as the people of Whitstable - to have a great community facility," said John, who is county councillor for Herne Bay but lives in Downs Avenue. "All our existing users will be welcomed back with open arms and they won't find our pricing structure much different to before. We don't want to price loyal people out and we want to see everyone back."

Although the building shut its doors late last year and is not due to reopen until Easter 2010, the trust is planning plenty of community and communication events to help keep people informed.

"Part of the problem is that the consultation process began such a long time ago that people have forgotten," said Darren, a familiar face too many as a member of the Lindley Players. "We want to work very closely with residents and we simply won't be able to run the Castle without volunteers, so people in the town are absolutely crucial to this project."

The renovation, which includes an investment of half a million pounds from Canterbury City Council's own coffers, will see a lift installed, providing access to all floors, as well as redecoration and rewiring.

Outside, the flat-roofed extension will be demolished and replaced with a Gothic-style orangery which will match the building and will be used as a tea room. An area of the roof will also be opened up to provide a viewing platform that will be open to the public.

The rose garden will be extended and key additions include an artist-designed toddlers' play area and new public toilets. There will also be changes on Tower Hill, which will become one-way for a trial period to provide extra parking, on top of more free spaces which will be available within the Castle grounds.

But the trust has been warned that there will be no more money from the council, so they are responsible for providing their own funding. John said: "It is a condition of the lottery money that there is a balance between making enough money to run it and providing community access.

"We will be limiting the number of weddings to make sure the building is available to the town more often, but we think there is a market for mini conferences and meetings, and we think that will make up the shortfall."

Among the ideas already being considered for community events are a nature day, kite-making workshops, open air theatre and concerts, and a Victorian day. Each will also include opportunities to get involved with the Castle as a volunteer or part of the membership scheme.

Darren said: "We will have a friends scheme open to everyone and we value the community's input. The trust is in place to manage the Castle for the community and we hope people will be as excited as we are about the project. It is going to be a fantastic facility, secured for future generations."

Darren's post is funded by the lottery grant and there will also be an education officer and full-time gardener on the staff. The 10 trustees are all volunteers and, apart from the two city councillors appointed by Canterbury, were selected from the dozens who applied back in 2007.

They have already weathered their first storm, a protest about the removal of 15 large trees from the site which were diseased or damaging the building. Darren said: "I can understand people's concerns but there really was no other option and in fact we are planting 52 trees as part of the scheme. The grounds will be open all the time except at night, when they will be locked to prevent vandalism. Once the Castle is back in use all the benches will be replaced and the plaques reinstated, but they were getting damaged too so are now being safely stored."

In addition to the Castle and its grounds, they have also taken responsibility for the tea gardens across Tower Hill and plan to continue the open air functions held there. Darren said: "We have lots of ideas but we want to hear from people in the town as well. I have an open door policy so if the light is on and I'm here then knock and come in, or call any time."

Darren is based at the Castle Gatehouse, and for more information you can visit www.whitstablecastle.co.uk or call 01227 281726.

To find out more click Whitstable Guide

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Warmer Whitstable...

Wet weather, the Credit Crunch and rising bills - there's plenty to be miserable about at this time of year. But cheer up, although it may not feel like it, summer is only a few short months away and this year there is the promise of even more events and activities to keep the whole of Whitstable entertained.

With many people deciding to skip their usual holiday abroad this year, the extended summer season should make it easier to attract more visitors over a longer period of time, and bring in valuable extra income for our businesses.

May Day heralds the start of the season and Whitstable and Herne Bay Lions Club, who organise the Celebration of Spring, are promising it will be as fun-packed as usual. This year will be the first time they have not been able to use the Castle, which is closed for refurbishment, so the events will be centred around Tankerton Slopes instead. But that will make no difference to the traditional parade, featuring Jack-in-the-Green and hordes of Morris Dancers - or to the variety of stalls run by local groups and charities.

Tankerton Slopes will also be the focus for fun in June, with Whitstable Rotary Club's Pantomime Horse Races returning for the third year on June 14. The event, which raises money for good causes locally and nationally, will have an International flavour this year as teams from far and wide compete for glory!

And the following weekend, June 21, sees another big fund-raising event in the form of Whitstable Umbrella Centre's Fun Day. The Slopes will again be packed with stalls and entertainment, all supporting the Community Centre in the heart of town.

For once, July could be a quieter month in Whitstable as organisers of the Oyster Festival, Regatta and Harbour Day have collaborated to spread the events out throughout the summer months.

The Oyster Festival will take place between the last two weekends of the month, and co-ordinator Mair Stratton is once again at the helm to make sure it offers something for everyone. Working with the Whitstable Oyster Festival Association (WOFA), which was highly commended in Kent County Council's volunteering awards last year, she will continue to provide a truly local festival.

A spokesman for WOFA said: "Our 2009 target is to increase the amount of residents involved - from helping out during the festival to providing support and assistance with the planning stages. WOFA believes that the festival kicks off the season for visitors to Whitstable and many of them make repeat visits throughout the year. The heart of the town and its community is the shopping centre. This is taking a battering at the moment and visitor income could help it survive the recession."

There should be no problem keeping the family entertained throughout the school holidays, with events taking place on most weekends...

Whitstable Carnival will set off through the streets on the first Saturday of August, and Whitstable and Herne Bay Lions Club will stage their Annual Regatta the following weekend, August 8 and 9. Organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for good weather for the fireworks on the Saturday evening, as well as all the old favourites of fairground rides, live music, and stalls.

And what better way to bring the summer to a close than by celebrating that pearl in Whitstable's oyster - the Harbour? This year the annual Harbour Open Day will take place on Saturday August 22, with plenty of boats to admire and stalls to browse.

The IMP will keep you informed about all these events and more as summer gets closer, and don't forget to check out our 'What's on' listings if you are looking for something to do this month.

Liz Crudgington

www.mediaandmore.co.uk

Keep up to date with the Oyster Festival

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Jazz, Jazz, Jazz

Jazz is a genre that has always divided music critics. Like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. But here in Whitstable it seems we can't get enough of it, judging by the plethora of enthusiastic local bands which keep the music alive and well.

A host of local venues cater for Jazz, most notably The Duke Of Cumberland, which hosts Burt Butler's Jazz Pilgrims every Friday lunchtime. Definitely an outfit deserving of the label 'Dixieland Jazz', Burt Butler's band has been entertaining audiences with their infectious music since 1990.

With an average age of 72, the crew show no signs of slowing down - and why would they, when the venue is packed before they've even played a note? Burt, 68, told us: "There is a thriving Jazz scene in Whitstable, and by playing 'trad' favourites like 'Basin Street Blues', 'The Sheikh of Araby' and 'Hindu Stan', audiences know what to expect. The thing about Jazz is, no matter how bad people perceive it to be, you can't beat watching a live Jazz band!"

Burt's chosen instrument is the banjo, and he explains why: "Quite simply, there was nothing else to play - everyone was either playing trumpet or clarinet - I wanted to play something no-one else had tried." His Whitstable home boasts a collection of six banjos, including his prized New York-made epiphone which, at a value of £4,500, he is understandably reluctant to play!

Catch Burt Butler's Jazz Pilgrims at venues across Kent including July 26 when they play 'Jazz on a Summer's Night' at The Whitstable Playhouse. To book tickets at £8.50 call Burt on 01227 274250. *

Occasionally playing trumpet for Burt's outfit is Whitstable-based Jazz scene veteran Malcolm Walton. At 65, he shows no sign of slowing down either, regularly playing for the The Tishomingo All Stars. Lead by Dave Bone, they were one of the earlier bands to play Jazz in Whitstable, but split in the 60s. They reformed in 2006 at the behest of the guitarist's widow, as Malcolm explained: "Dave Bashford was a legendary guitarist, and an original member of The Tishimongo Stompers, as we were known back then. When he died in 2006, Dave's widow asked if the band could reform for a one last performance at his funeral, and we've been together since."

With their Dixieland/mainstream style, and boasting Martin Rawbone (trombone) and Ray Perkins (piano) amongst their number, The Tishomingo All Stars have also played The Duke of Cumberland and are well worth going to see at The Marine Hotel, Tankerton, on Friday, February 19.

Malcolm also fronts his own band, the popular Blue Rhythm Kings. Inspired by Jazz pioneers such as Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols, their approach is 20s/30s 'White Jazz', ensuring their regular appearances at The Horsebridge, usually on the second Friday of each month, results in a packed house.

Formed in 1978, they split in 1990 but reformed a few years later, due to popular demand, with a gig at Dover's traditional Jazz venue, The Louis Armstrong. Blending comedic favourites like 'Masculine women, feminine men' and 'Me and Jane in a plane' with traditional dance numbers, it's hard not to get caught up in the old-style charm that The Blue Rhythm King's followers enjoy. Their next show is at The Horsebridge on Saturday February 20. *

If you prefer more contemporary Jazz, then seek out Fletch, a quartet fronted by local saxophonist Lawrence Fletcher. Influenced by King Crimson, Zappa and Soft Machine, this outfit is far removed from the Traditional/Dixieland style. The current line-up, which includes Bill Johnson (drums), Kim Jones (bass) and Clive Hicks (guitar), has been playing to appreciative audiences for eight years.

Even though he is a respected saxophonist, Lawrence's first instrument was the clarinet - a choice that bought him 15 minutes of fame when he played on the 1975 Fiddler's Dram hit 'Day Trip To Bangor'!

As a saxophonist, Lawrence has also played with notable musicians such as Hugh Hopper and Perry White. Like Burt Butler and Malcolm Walton, Catch Fletch at at local venues, including Keppel's in Folkstone, Deco 5 in Whitstable and Oranges (Formerly Simple Simons) in Canterbury. Also available for private functions, the band can be contacted via Lawrence on 01227 277408. *

And for something altogether different, check out Whitstable's own Trouser Trumpets. Formed three years ago, this 11-piece 'Dance band with vocal refrain' boasts Malcolm and Lawrence, alongside Pete Cook (sax), Dee Strauss (trombone) and Gerry Birch (sousaphone). Fronted by comedian Steve Graham, and backed up by Jelly Jim (banjolele/guitar), IJ (keyboards), Trevor Stevenson (washboard) and Andy Capon (drums), this unique outfit has been keeping audiences dancing and laughing with its catchy blend of 20s Jazz and comedy.

They also add a unique twist to modern classics such as 'Ride A White Swan', 'Close To You' - and their tango version of The Beatles' 'Hey Jude' needs to be heard to be believed! Unashamedly based on the music of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Spike Jones, The Trouser Trumpets strike a pleasing balance with both Jazz purists and newcomers, even being named Best Band at last year's Broadstairs Folk Festival.

Never in danger of taking themselves too seriously, The Trouser Trumpets' quirky take on Jazz standards is sure to have you dancing and laughing into the night. Singer Steve Graham described the band as "Taking the sounds of the last seven decades into the next century." 2009 sees the band busy with the usual festival appearances - they can be contacted on 07988 630544 or email

To read more click What's On

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What's to become of Whitstable?

Chris West is not a man to shy away from a challenge. It's a characteristic he could soon be very grateful for, as he tries to win over Whitstable after the loss of the Visitor Information Centre and the redundancy of Town Centre Manager Linda Mason.

From April 1 Chris will be stepping into her shoes - although a flatter-heeled version - in a new combined role, taking charge of both Whitstable and Herne Bay. And although many have blasted the move as a crisis for the coast, he refuses to be downhearted.

"Of course I feel awful for Linda, and although I am looking forward to the challenge and excited about the role, there were no celebrations when I found out, because of the situation," he said. "But I think this is a great opportunity for the coastal towns. We have 10 miles to market as an excellent location to come and stay and visit. I know Whitstable well and I want to continue the great work that Linda has done to keep it a thriving town. In the summer it is fantastic but we have got to support that all year."

As a former retail manager who has also worked with radio stations and in town centre management in Ashford and Herne Bay, Chris understands many of the challenges businesses face and is passionate about helping to overcome them.

Networking is a key part of his role, and he has already met many key players in the town to discuss ways to work together. "One of the things I think is vitally important is to network with people and use the resources you have in a town," he said. "When I came to Herne Bay, in two weeks I went round 60 businesses, and many of those were independent. They weren't keen on being included, or on town centre management, and it was about winning their trust and setting achievable aims and objectives. Once people saw what we were achieving they started to come with us."

He is hoping to repeat that formula in Whitstable, although he's keen to stress that both towns will keep their own, separate identities.

Chris's time will also be equally divided, with two days dedicated to each town and one day spent on planning and administration. An assistant will take on most of his clerical work as well as dealing with routine inquiries and issues. "At the moment, 50 to 60 per cent of my time is spent doing admin," he said. "The assistant will free up my time to look at the strategic side of things and how to boost the economy of both towns. There are opportunities to bring new businesses to both towns and help and support existing businesses. We can also be more imaginative with events, which boost footfall, and we will be working at marketing both towns further afield to bring more people in."

The restructuring that cost Linda her job will also see the council's tourism and local economy teams coming together, which Chris believes will bring more resources for Whitstable. "We will have tourism staff to put on the streets and they will have a much more visible presence," he said. "We will have people around the town at key times of the year offering customer service to visitors. I know Whitstable feels hard done by, and so does Herne Bay, as everything seems to go to Canterbury - but that is starting to change. The local economy team see that they have got to be out there seeing what is happening, supporting businesses. We can work together to achieve a vibrant town."

Chris officially takes up his new role on April 1 and will be based in the council offices in Harbour Street two days a week. To get in touch with him, call 07786 852061.

Two of the town's most influential groups have given tentative support to Chris in his new role. While both the Chamber of Commerce and Whitstable Improvement Trust remain steadfast in their support and praise for Linda Mason, and their anger at the way the situation has been handled, they are also hoping to forge good working relationships with the new team.

Dave Heenan, chamber treasurer, said visitors would still come to the town and there may be more this year, as people choose to holiday in the UK rather than abroad. "They will find their way through the town, hopefully from one end to the other, without the VIC," he said. "But we need better signs from the station and better leaflets and maps available in places like the WIT shop and the harbour shed. We can do all that if someone can help us. The council doesn't need to spend lots of money on marketing or consultants - leaflets and volunteers talking to people and handing out maps can be just as effective."

He said that, despite the recession, Whitstable still had a promising future, which a change of management could help to achieve. "We are very sorry to see Linda go, and she did a really good job, but maybe someone with a new perspective will see something we are all missing and find something we haven't done," he said.

Kit Ryan, chairman of Whitstable Improvement Trust, said it was now crucial that the council worked more closely with groups like the Trust to ensure the best service for Whitstable. "The willingness of people like Dave Heenan and me and the Whitstable Improvement Trust to work as partners with Canterbury City Council has not been fully explored," he said. "It needs to be brought back to their agenda of thinking at the moment. I think it will become better, but I think we are going to have to work harder to make it happen."

Liz Crudgington

www.mediaandmore.co.uk

To read more click Whitstable News

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