Sir Alfred was a friend of philanthropist Dr Barnardo, who famously worked to house poor children. Following his daughter’s illness, Sir Alfred decided that he wanted to replicate aspects of Dr Barnardo’s children’s homes, but in a place for children to recuperate from illness.
From this idea, The Yarrow was born, with the building designed and constructed to allow up to 100 children to convalesce.
The large building was designed to be totally symmetrical, and split in the middle. One side housed boys, while the other housed girls. Although the children - who were primarily from the London boroughs - would be expected to spend plenty of time in the fresh sea air outdoors. Sir Alfred highlighted that in his view, Broadstairs was one of the healthiest places in the UK.
The Yarrow’s corridors were designed to be wide enough for them to play and exercise in during poor weather conditions, while the building also plays host to a unique staircase. The staircase was designed with unusually shallow treads, and wide stairs - perfect for childrens feet.
The building also played its part during the two World Wars, with soldiers able to convalesce there throughout both of them. The Yarrow building remained a children’s convalescent home until the 1960s, when Thanet College took over the site to form its campus.
The building housed various curriculum departments through the years, before slipping into disrepair and finally being mothballed in 2005.
Plans to turn the large Grade II Listed building into a hotel first emerged in 2013. The massive refurbishment project – which has seen much of the Yarrow’s interior rebuilt – began in late 2013, and was finally completed in July 2016.