Sunday 30 December 2007

Ramsgate seafront

Looking along Ramsgate seafront from the old marina pool site where most local people I have spoken to want our new swimming pool but our politicians won’t even give that as an option in consultation despite the site being earmarked for one. Next comes the olds Nero’s demolished by the council despite my protests. Then you come to arches under the road running down the cliff some of which look very dangerous indeed and our strange change from a one-way road with parking spaces facing either the cliff or the sea to an unnecessary two-way road with no parking. Next the council built wall of sand that we presumably paid for, totally out of scale with the height of the waves in a normal sea and washed away in the next few days. Then the Pleasurama experiment in crippling the town by giving the architect an impossible remit, I wonder what happened to insurance money from the Pleasurama fire. On to the pavilion half empty with all its windows blocked up spoiled by a bad rich tenant and the council not implementing the most basic control over the way they treated the building. Then the cliff behind Kent terrace the façade visibly parting next to the houses I am told by experts in danger of collapsing. Then the harbour so badly silted up that even the ferries have started going aground. Then the port the harbour extensions built without a sand proof membrane or any understanding of the tidal flow in the bay and the buildings that were supposed to be screened from view by being next to the cliff, looking like prefabs that can be removed at a moments notice. Then the western undercliff used as a lorry park and lorry drivers toilet, behind it the motor museum and model village both gone. The disused lift where water collects in a deep pool at the top of the cliff next to it a sure sign of imminent cliff collapse and lack of the most basic maintenance. Do you think we have been short changed here in Ramsgate by both administrations?

Friday 28 December 2007

Will Thanet District Council be wasting £450.000 of your money?

Here in Ramsgate talking to people in the shop there is a lot of concern over the Pleasurama development. The only information I can offer is that work is due to start on the cliff façade repairs on the 7th of January and that the experts I have consulted say this will probably take about a year to complete after which it will be safe to start on the building work below and the environment agency have finally received the approved plans.

The main thing that concerns me is that cash strapped TDC have put aside £450,000 for this and are going to go ahead with the work before finalised plans for the building have appeared.

Certainly they can’t build using the approved plans as they are full of errors, apart from peoples heads and vehicles being embedded in the ceiling, where an attempt has been made to fit a 5 story building in a space only big enough for a 4 story one the architect seems to have been dimensionally challenged.

The experts I have discussed developing the Pleasurama site with generally are of the opinion that the only large development that would work on the site is one integrated with the cliff, where the cliff top is extended over the building and slightly beyond so that anything thrown of the cliff won’t hit the building of the cars parked in its car park.
Taking this into account it probably means that that the £450.000 will be wasted as the cliff façade would be rebuilt differently were it part of a building.

Thursday 27 December 2007

Masked Openers

In the world of health and safety gone mad one of my family received for Christmas a pocket combination tool about the size of a credit card, containing miniature compass screwdriver tin opener etc. Health and safety instructions on the packaging recommended hardhat, goggles, safety gloves and face mask should be worn when using it.

Monday 24 December 2007


It thought this Christmas I should write something about human relationships over Christmas more people commit suicide than at any other time of year perhaps you’re gay perhaps lesbian I don’t really think it matters well her it is.
If you take a large hungry dog and tie it up and feed it very little and tease it with large lumps of meat it will soon become bad tempered indeed. You can make it good tempered by giving it the meat or you can make it good tempered by taking away the temptation altogether, when the dog will adjust itself to the meager diet. While you keep on teasing it with the unattainable it will remain bad tempered. Scientists prove this all the time, and they say science is wonderful.

Christmas greetings

The picture shows the frozen sea in Ramsgate harbour in 1963 and if you click on it you should get a fairly high definition one.

I have just closed the bookshop for the Christmas break and would like to wish you all a happy Christmas and the hope that most of you get the books you want for Christmas.

It has been a pleasant day of helping people chose the right books for other people with so many charming customers who appeared to be genuinely enjoying the books and the bookshop.

My especial thanks to those of you who have helped with the local history book publishing by either writing local books or helping me to obtain material for them.

Saturday 22 December 2007

Some old pictures of Broadstairs

Christmas shopping in the bookshop is fairly patchy today, jumping between quiet and busy, meaning that it is difficult to get on with much work, so I am publishing a few pictures that are on the pc that I don’t think I have published before.

Ellington Park Ramsgate in 1971

Many thanks to Dave for his pictures of a snowy Ellington Park in 1971, which he is happy for any of you to print out as an emergency Christmas card with a local theme, click here for the high definition versions. Happy Christmas to you all.

Friday 21 December 2007

Not Christmas shopping

This year I have been becoming progressively more environmentally conscious and as Christmas approaches I have been trying to buy presents that are either secondhand or involve some aspect of recycling. But most of all I have been trying to avoid lots of car journeys to get the Christmas shopping.

Well today we had to get some of the things we need for Christmas from Tesco at Westwood Cross so we braved the inevitable traffic jam and started battling through the crowds.

I became increasingly aware just how very unpleasant it was I am afraid to say that after about half an hour with only 20% of the Christmas food shopping done we paid for what we had done and ran away back top Ramsgate where we did the rest.

The madness of crowds? I just don’t know.

I should add that all of the Tesco staff were both charming and helpful and I suspect no more wanted to be part of the great machine that is modern shopping than anyone else.

Monday 17 December 2007

More Confused Ramblings From the Book Trade

The Christmas shopping rush is here again which is always pleasant in the bookshop as you feel most of the shoppers are buying people something that they actually want, or the person who will receive it as a present will want, this is especially so with the local history books. This is not particularly a money thing as from the customers point of view none of the books I produce are over £10 and from my point of view the profit margin is fairly small. However in terms of giving local people a bit of extra enjoyment over Christmas it is very satisfying.

I have just published some more old pictures of the harbour to the web with some interesting ones of the area west of the west pier where Moses’s shipyard was, I am hoping to get time soon to produce a book of pictures of the harbour, at the moment most of my time being spent either manufacturing enough copies of the books to keep up with the seasonal demand or helping people to work out which will be the best books for their friends and family.
Something that is also interesting this year is that I am finding many people are coming to the conclusion that a secondhand book makes an environmentally friendly Christmas present.

Friday 14 December 2007

Historic pictures of Ramsgate

I have added more old Ramsgate pictures from this page on click here to see them. I should add that this is entirely down to the kindness and generosity of my shop customers who bring them in for me to scan or send them to me by email.

Where the pictures are not credited the owners of the originals prefer to remain anonymous.

Wednesday 12 December 2007

Ramsgate carnival 1969

Having put up some pictures of Ramsgate carnival last week here is some video to go with it.

This is one of a series of videos taken by Harry Hickman from 1968 to 1970 his family had them converted to dvd and sent the originals of to the national archive but were kind enough to lend them to me to put on youtube to share with us all.

Tuesday 11 December 2007

Ramsgate model village

This is one of a series of videos taken by Harry Hickman from 1968 to 1970 his family had them converted to dvd and sent the originals of to the national archive but were kind enough to lend them to me to put on youtube to share with us all.

For those of you who haven’t been up on the westcliff for a while the model village has closed, like most of our leisure facilities gone for good.

Monday 10 December 2007

Ramsgate hoverport in 1968

This is one of a series of videos taken by Harry Hickman from 1968 to 1970 his family had them converted to dvd and sent the originals of to the national archive but were kind enough to lend them to me to put on youtube to share with us all.

Saturday 8 December 2007

Warm Cottage

Swiss Cottage is on fire in Ramsgate, recently it’s had so many name changes and closures I am not sure if it was trading or what it is called at the moment. I am pretty sure the building value must be so high as to make it not viable as a business.

`Alpha' and Better

I have published a new book about St Nicholas at Wade By Mikal Cole called `Alpha' and Better here is a sample. .

Chapter One
BSNAW - Before St Nicholas at Wade
I was born on Saturday 24 August 1946, at about 10.30am, in The Canterbury (now Kent and Canterbury) Hospital and being a person who only complains when things are really bad was named `The Purple Terror' by the staff on the maternity wing, basically because I did not like being kept waiting for my food, (some things never change, do they?J). Saturday's child has far to go!
My parents William James Cole (born 26 April 1917) and Lilian Elsie (born 6 September 1916 (nee Pettman) were first cousins and got married in Napier Hall, Gillingham on 27 December 1939. Actually my mother was born on 7th but as Grand father left the house he turned to Granny and said `She was born on the 7th wasn't she?' `No! the sixth.' Came the reply.
When he returned with the Birth Certificate it had the wrong date on it and Granny told him off for being a `great fathead' but they didn't bother altering it and all her life my mother has had something in common with the Sovereign of this Country in that they both have `an official birthday' and an ordinary one.

Tuesday 4 December 2007

The cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Well it’s official this is from the TDC website.

TSR18 Museums and grant to the East Kent Maritime Trust
(Saving £100,000)
The Council currently grant aids the East Kent Maritime Trust, who provide museum services and supervise collections at Margate and Ramsgate. Sadly the council grant of around £100,000 a year supports services that are used by only around 10,000 visitors each year – equating to a subsidy of around £10 per visitor. This is not sustainable in the current financial climate and the Cabinet believes thatthis grant must cease in 2008/09. The Council will discuss with the Trust the best way forward to achieving the following objectives:-

A thorough review of the current museum exhibits, with the aim of establishing a series of high-quality themed exhibitions which can be displayed at various venues across the district and, possibly, county.
The presentation of a core, static museum display on the ground floor of Albion House, Ramsgate – in rooms not required for civic accommodation
The release of accommodation currently occupied at both Ramsgate and Margate for potential alternative commercial or community

As part of this change programme, the Council is willing to fund a post for two years to support the reconfiguration of the Museum collections.

Ed. as for tourist attractions in Thanet one thing can be said there is nothing much else to lose

Video through the eyes of a property developer.

Carnival time?

I am doing a bit of work on a new publication and would like some help dating some pictures of Ramsgate carnival, I think they are about 1968 click here to see all of them.

Going going gone?

A few bits of random news and rumour flying about in Ramsgate today one is that TDC intends to close Ramsgate and Margate museums, another that TDC is going to have to buy all of the pontoons in Ramsgate harbour under what it calls a special exemption from procedural rules.

I have been told that a start date of January 7th 2008 has been set for the repairs to the cliff façade behind the Pleasurama site in Ramsgate, when I took professional advice about this earlier in the I was told that it would take about a year and that building work on the site below wouldn’t be able to start until the repairs were finished. You can view a large sample of the engineers report on the condition of the cliff by clicking here in simple terms rain water going in from the top damages our cliffs and they collapse.
I have written to both Roger Latchford and David Green asking them if they could organise some temporary use for the Pleasurama site next summer, they were responsible for the fun fair that we all enjoyed so much this year click here to see the pictures.

Saturday 1 December 2007

Friggin in the rigging

Some of you may remember the square rigged sailing ship that was in Ramsgate Harbour beside the brick arches from about 1968 to 1973 owned by an Australian opal mining company she was called the Black Opal.

I worked on her rigging and in her engine room during my school holidays in the late 60s

I know she wasn’t originally called the Black Opal and is now called the Black Pearl, has been pulled up out of the water and is used as a restaurant in Malta.

I looked on the restaurant’s website and several others about her and a lot of the information on them I know is wrong, so I will put down what I can remember and perhaps others can add anything they can remember.

She was built I was told in the 1920s in one of the Scandinavian countries it think 112 feet long and 300 tons she was originally fitted with a 200 horse power 2 cylinder Bolinder engine with a variable pitch prop.

She was three masted, probably originally rigged as a topsail schooner, her masts had been cut off level with the deck at some time past, probably because it would have not been economic to have a crew large enough to manage her under sail, she was being used as a coaster in Jamaica when the mining company bought her, these slow running Diesel engines run well on rum which is cheap in that part of the world.

She was crewed by a group of young Australians and an older captain, Captain Keble I think. They flew from Australia to Jamaica where they picked her up and sailed to one of the Scandinavian countries, to buy the pine to make masts and spars.

When I first saw her she had the square cut pine on the deck, which we planed to eight sided the sixteen sided and so on until we were able to sand off to round masts and spars. The whole of the hull was empty and lined with oak to take dry cargoes, the only accommodation being under the wheelhouse where the portholes are in the pictures.

We removed the old engine because it was thought its exhaust would stain the new sails. It was under the accommodation we cut a hole in the engine room bulkhead, laid railway lines into the hold level with the engine bed, attached a chain block to the stump of the main mast and the engine and dragged it into the hold where it could be craned out. It was heavy, the flywheel alone weighed three tons, no one wanted to buy this dated marine engine it lay on the quay for a bit and was eventually sold to the scrap merchant for £50.

The hold was ballasted with fitted water tanks and shingle beneath a deck over which accommodation was built, two deck houses were also built over the cargo hatches.

The making of the masts and all the rigging was done by Wally the rigger, who taught us unskilled young people how to rig a square rigged ship from nothing at all.

Eventually the opal mining company went bust, probably largely due to financing the Black Opal and I believe a film company bought her eventually.

I am certain that she was renamed the Aeolus, though not sure if that was her name before being called the Black Opal. It was under the name Aeolus that she finally left Ramsgate rigged as a barquentine and I lost track of her.

Knowing the limitations of my camera at the time, click here to see the full size pictures, I think I must have taken the pictures from our dingy, one of the pictures says Ramsgate 1971 on the back in one of my brothers hand writing he was 15 and I was 18 at the time, you have to have a certain understanding of things nautical to fully appreciate what owning Heron number 19 meant in 1971.