Saturday, 5 December 2009

A few pictures of Ramsgate

One again a few pictures Don and the others who may not be able to get out.

This lot are Wednesday morning and mostly show the terrible state the pavement in King Street in Ramsgate has got into I was talking to one of our road sweepers about it and he said that of the main town centre roads in Thanet this one is the worse.

Sorry it was too wet to get far on Wednesday.

I believe I have already done Thursdays.

This is yesterday mornings, the main thing of note was the complex machinery evidently doing something to our drains, at first I think the chaps operating it thought I was up to no good with my slr but once I explained what I was up to they were very cooperative hence the picture down the drain

On to this morning’s pictures sorry the first few seem to have got to the bottom of the page, one thing they show is how badly silted up the harbour is, you can see the boat that was on the slipway next to her sister ship well and truly aground with props mostly out of the water. You can also see the route the fishing boat has to tale to get out of the harbour.

Here are the pictures another think I have noticed is a slight movement in Augusta Stairs, by this I mean the platforms between the various sets of steps used to all be level and drain properly. Now some of them have puddles on them, I don’t know if this is significant of anything.


  1. I recall being taught at school that the pile of silt in the middle of the outer basin was put there deliberately when the harbour was built. Apparently, it was put there for sailing ships to drag their anchor when running at speed before the wind. I have never been sure if this explanation was accurate or not.

  2. I think this was the use for the east and west banks in the harbour.But although being almost removed in recent years to allow redevelopment they have reformed dramatically with lack of dredging so much that they now occupy most of the harbour on a spring ebb.The east and west sluices when in operation kept the east and west gullys clear of mud and the barrell sluices on the crosswall would keep the middle ground clear and wash the mud to the pier heads for the tide to take charge an immpossibility these days with the new port outside even if everything was in working order Not long before the whole harbour dries at low tide it is to a certain extent a tidal harbour and would need several millions to achieve its former past which I doubt will never be spent

  3. The trouble is that regular maintenance is expensive and usually one of the first casualties in budget cuts.

    I wonder how much savings were really made when the Ramsgate dredger was scrapped. Presumably the crew lived locally and the vessel maintained by local firms. By having the dredger in the harbour it was a constant reminder that removing sand costs money, outsourcing the operation moves it onto a balance sheet and easier to delay spending money.

    Sand like debt builds up and the deeper it gets the harder it is to clear.

  4. JH is right about the banks left to help stop ships running into the port,they were not put there but are the original chalk banks from when the harbour was built,the sluices east and west when run on spring ebbs would wash the mud from the gulleys where the dredger could pick it up,in the fifties Ramsgate council renewed all the doors and worn guides with in house expertise,as then the harbour had a blacksmith,carpenter,shipwright,stonemason,painter signwriter,diver,diving boat and pump,waterman,and severall labourers.A few years later when it became TDC there was not enough men to wind up the sluices,so they electrified them,the motors were not powerfull enough to lift the doors with the water pressure at low tide so were only used at high tide to level the water in the dock if the gates were not opening,any repairs could only be done by private firms as there were no council tradesmen employed at the harbour anymore so it became to expensive,and the sluices were blocked up.
    When the Port outside was built it cut off the strong eastern tide and just collected sand in Easterly gales that could never go back,so strangling the Royal Harbour,for ever,
    The dredger not only shifted mud but used to lay and service eight bouys on the the channel,now Trinity House have the job and bill TDC for it thats progress for you under this regime that runs Thanet now.

  5. JH you are quite right, I once used this aspect of the harbour in earnest when skippering a 35 ton converted Norwegian water carrier, some may remember her in the harbour, The Peggy. She got a fishing net tangled around the propeller and I sailed her onto the mud bank and waited for the tide to rise before kedging her onto the eastern hard.

    20.02 you have to appreciate that the harbour was built as a harbour of refuge for the ships sheltering in the downs, as for how the harbour worked in terms of civil engineering you may find the following links of interest,

    I will endeavour to publish some more of Smeaton’s report on the internet this week I already publish it in hard copy form see

    9.45 We seem to have been through a period of relative prosperity during which basic maintenance in Ramsgate has been allowed to lapse, now when the money has run out I think we may have some serious problems.

  6. I recall something about the old harbour entry signal lights working the wrong way round. When the light was green it was OK to sail in onto the mud bank. When it was red there was a chance that you would sail over the mud bank and into the pier. I understood this system was unique to Ramsgate.

    Does anyone remember the light on Wellington Crescent which was used to lign up with one on the west pier to show a safe approach to the entrance?

    Or have I been fed some false stories, like the one about Father Christmas.

  7. @PS
    From a 1970 Reed's Almanac there was a fixed green light on an iron column on the East Cliff Ht. 117 ft.
    When bearing 021 degrees with West pier Lt. makes leading lights from Middle fairway buoy in Ramsgate channel to harbour entrance.
    West Pier and East Pier lights in line 289 degrees lead in through the old Cudd Channel.
    Red light displayed from the West Pier, there is 10 ft and upwards between the piers, Green less than 10 ft.
    All the usual disclaimers in case anyone tries using this 40 year old data and runs aground or into the harbour.

  8. Thanks for that Anonymous, I didn't think I had lost the plot completely. I remember seeing a large lantern with a green lens on the eastern end of Wellington Crescent, but I suppose it could have been on a column. It does appear the light signals were designed for sailing ships and were perhaps unique to Ramsgate

  9. When I was a boy the East leading light was on Albion house then just passed the lift then on the last house in Wellington crescent,on the west side there was a column on the edge of the pavement near the old toilets then it was moved to the top of the building about 40 yards East of the pub.At sea green is for danger so if the lighthouse was green vessels would know there was less than 10 feet of water in the entrance during daylight the tidal ball on the west cliff would be raised to the top of the mast when there was more than 10 feet in the entrance.


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