Tuesday 29 January 2008

Ramsgate and Historical Thanet

I have just published another reprint of a local guide, it’s undated but appears to be about 1920 most interestingly to me are the street maps within for Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Margate, Westgate, Birchington and Minster.

As this is pre the unification of the railways you can see the ways the two competing companies managed to reach both of the main towns.

The first railway to get to Thanet was the Southeastern and Chatham Railway the first station to open was in Ramsgate in 1846 as you see from the map it was at the top of the High Street, the present station, at the other end of Station Approach Road replaced it in 1924. Sometime after that (forgotten the date) the line was extended on to Margate.

Then came the London Chatham and Dover Railway via Margate that terminated at Ramsgate Sands Station that opened in 1863 and closed in 1926.

Now of course the two lines are connected together in a loop.

Click on the links below to look at to the information mentioned in this post.

Ramsgate and Historical Thanet

The early 1920s maps

The Underground

I managed to get a bit more information on the caves attached to Pugin’s house that collapsed spectacularly in the 1940s, I was discussing the cliff repair works behind the Pleasurama site with Paul Wells who came into the shop yesterday. Paul is very much involved with the Kent Underground Research Group. One of our concerns about the site is that there is what appears to be a very large cave under Wellington Crescent shown on some old maps.

One of these maps was drawn by Brimmel the borough surveyor who was not a person to mistaken about something like the existence of a cave, it has been my contention for some time that as the various surveys of this area show the chalk to be in poor condition this cave should be investigated and if necessary made safe.

Anyway Paul said that he had managed to obtain the Bimmel’s drawings for the repairs to the collapse of Pugin’s caves, so I asked him to photograph them and publish them on web so we can have a look at them.

Paul Wells is also the historian who produces the Dover Past website http://www.doverpast.co.uk/ and has an interest in underground caves as you can see from http://www.flickr.com/people/doverpast/

Click on the links below to look at the pictures of the various things I have mentioned in this post.

Radar ground survey of Wellington Crescent

Report on the state of the cliff façade of Wellington Crescent

Pictures of the collapse of Pugin’s caves

Bimmel’s drawings for the repairs

Dover Past website

Paul Wells’s other pictures

Kent Underground Research Group

Saturday 26 January 2008

Every picture tells a story

I have just put a few more old pictures of Ramsgate up on the web for your amusement click here to look at the rest of them. I have been fairly busy with my continued research into flooding in Ramsgate as you can see from the picture.

Thursday 24 January 2008

Beethoven symphony no 5

this just came up when I was testing the network connection to the pc in the workshop and I thought it was rather good.

Sunday 20 January 2008

Fallen arches

I am becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of our cliffs, having discovered that the cliff behind the Pleasurama site was considered to be dangerous, looking around we have several cliff supports that look to be much more dangerous. The one photographed above has got into this state because of a planning dispute between the council and the site owner, as far as I can ascertain.

Ironically TDC appear to have refused planning consent because the development could be viewed from the conservation area above, I say ironically because they seem to be behind the Pleasurama application further along.

If you click here you can see just what a mess this site has become and if you click here you can see what happens when the cliff collapses.

The site itself is just one of many where the safety fencing is broken meaning that children can get into this dangerous area.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Well its time for an update on the Pleasurama situation I expect some of you are aware that work has started on the cliff face, so I have been down there and taken a few photos and chatted with a few of the chaps in hard hats.

I have been assured that the huge scaffolding will be bolted to the cliff façade at regular intervals, I think they were impressed by yesterdays wind.

I think that probably the most interesting thing I discovered is the lack of communication between the people involved, the men supervising the cliff repairs have been unable to contact the firm that is due to start building the access road nor do they know what the base line of the cliff i.e. the level of the car park. No they haven’t got the plans nor have the been asked for an assessment of how close to the cliff it will be safe to build.

Well anyway I telephoned the firm that is due to start building the access road and gave them the phone number of the chaps supervising the cliff repairs. It was a bit of a surreal phone however since it was me that first put the architect in touch with the environment agency officer in charge of the flood and storm assessment for the site I have become used to this sort of thing.

I think it is unlikely that anyone has done a feasibility study on how close the building can be to the cliff façade, however nothing would surprise me with this development.

These chaps you understand are very competent, they are masters of the sucking in sound through the mouth when something expensive is going to happen so I said to them 5 stories the ground floor will have to be at least 6 meters including ceiling and floor to let emergency vehicles in, and the other 4 at least 3 metres including ceiling and floor above

Funny thing they can add up and everything they even know how high the cliff is well I told you before so how does it goe in school when I was little how do you get 18 meters into 14 this leaves remainder 4 meters over the cliff top or under the sea


Goldsmid Place in 1817 from Picturesque Views of Ramsgate

I have decided to put the various local history enquires that I get on this blog with my answers, in the hope that some of you may be able to add information.

Fascinating website I discovered today!

I would like some information/photos/prints of the National Provincial Bank Ramsgate in the 1850s. The manager at the time was George Lee. Working for his household was Sarah Ann Noakes, a housemaid. a relative of mine I am trying to find out more about. Do any of your books have info about this bank/household/pictures of Goldsmith Place, St Georges, where I believe the bank was. Does it still exist?

I'me purchasing some books from you which I've guessed might contain some pictures/info about the Goldsmith Place area/Nat Provincial Bank. If I'm wrong please let me know and substitute for a book which does have the info.

Sarah Ann Noakes' home was Udimore, near Rye, in East Sussex. How do you think she would have got to Ramsgate? By train or maybe by boat from Rye?

Any thoughts I would appreciate as I am writing a book about the Noakes family from Udimore.

Ken Noakes.

Ken there is no reference to the name Noakes in any of the Victorian Ramsgate directories that I own (1849, 1878 and 1887 all available form me as reprints) the provincial and National bank is described as being near the pier in the 1849 directory which would be Goldsmid Place.

Bagshaws Kent directory circa 1847 has a Mr john Noakes resident in Hardres Street and the National and Provincial bank Goldsmid Place manager Mt Geo. Lee. It is my intention to do a reprint of the Thanet part of this directory in the not to distant future.

Waterside later early 1700s became East End then Goldsmid Place mid 1800s then Harbour Street then Lower Harbour Street late 1800s then Harbour Parade about.

Hope this is of some help Michael.

Saturday 12 January 2008

pictures of Kent buildings in about 1900

How well do you know the county of Kent and its history I have put up a few pictures of Kent buildings in about 1900 see how many you can identify.

All the pictures have a unique number use the arrows to navigate click here to view them.

Friday 11 January 2008

Ex Libris

One Margate had a library but after refurbishment it has a thing called Thanet Gateway, when you go in the entrance you will find queues of people paying their council tax and complaining about their houses, drains etc. once you have battled through all this, yes there is a library in there. I really despair of this stupid arrangement that must be as difficult for the council staff as the librarians. So why not two separate entrances and why waste our money in this way?
If the same thing is going to happen in Ramsgate library when it reopens they could well be best off staying in the temporary accommodation in Cannon Road car park.

Saturday 5 January 2008

Map Madness

I got sucked into one of those local history puzzles that emanated from the Thanet Life blog this week. The puzzle involved dating the map shown.

I thought I had solved the conundrum of the map, it is a prime example of how local history is inclined to tell us lies, because the further back one goes in time the less people are able to produce accuracy added to this is that one book tends to copy the mistakes of the previous book.

I think what happened that around 1800 someone did a fairly decent private commercial survey of The Isle of Thanet, all the earlier maps that I have ever seen show something that is essential the wrong shape, see the map of 1732 at http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id51.htm
The earliest fairly accurate map or Thanet that I can put a date to, that I have is 1800 it comes from my copy of Hasted’s History of Kent http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tol/map_of_thanet_about_1800.htm as you can see it is considerably more primitive than Hinds’s map, the earliest Thanet map I have that looks the right shape is in my 1809 guide produced by Hogben Surveyor Margate http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/id213.htm
Anyway you have to appreciate that no one surveyor prior to the triangulation of the whole country and the publication of the Ordnance Survey map in 1819, made one survey and got the shape of Thanet right.

Looking at the 1819 OS map I don’t think Hinds used this for the basis of his map so either he drew it before 1819 or was scared of the copyright implications.

Anyway once he had drawn his map he stuck with it, here is the 1872 edition of the same map http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/id211.htm copied from Charles Busson’s The Book of Ramsgate. With railway corrections showing the railway built in 1863 rather proving the point.

So how much Mr Hinds copied from other maps and how much he surveyed himself is a matter of conjecture, however I suspect when he drew the map of Ramsgate in 1849

he may have had more than a passing glance at Collard and Hurst’s map of 1822 http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/tol/map_of_ramsgate_in_1822.htm

However it is as well to remember that the first triangulation survey of England in 1787 was made for military purposes the first survey using trigonometry was started in 1791 so in the late 1700s and early 1800s was pretty much rocket science.

Why your house doesn’t appear where it should I just don’t know, I can’t however imagine that either Hogben or Hinds could have cover the whole island with theodolite and compass.

Well I thought that was that but something about the 1872 edition of the map niggled at me last night, it was that it shows the parish boundary or St Lawrence and the boundary of Ramsgate Cinque Port but it doesn’t show other parish boundaries. Now these two boundaries are not on the earlier edition of the map I was trying to date. So I looked in the main history of St Lawrence written by Charles Cotton and published in 1895 facing page 14 is the map that Busson calls the 1872 map of Thanet. It is fairly obvious that the parish boundaries were added to the map in 1895 as it is facing a page about the parish boundaries. It is also obvious that this is where Busson copied it from, although he doesn’t say so. Why he should call a map published in 1895 an 1872 map of Thanet is beyond me.

Now looking at the first map I am fairly certain that it was drawn between 1791 and 1810 this hinges on the way Ramsgate Harbour is shown. If you look carefully you will see that the harbour cross wall has two gates and a further opening at the western end. Now in Smeaton’s plan of the harbour in 1791 http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/Smeaton/ you will see that the cross wall has only one set of gates but does not extend quite as far as the west pier. The next plan of Ramsgate Harbour I have is 1817 this shows two sets of gates and the cross wall extending all the way to the west pier. As Hinds was a Ramsgate surveyor I don’t think he would have made a mistake about the shape of Ramsgate harbour and I feel this map must date from between when the second gate was put in the cross wall and the cross wall extended to the west pier.

My guess is that that Cotton wanted in 1895 to use a map of Thanet that was not subject to copyright and so drew the parish boundaries and the railways on and that Busson when he used the map from cotton guessed the date of the map from the railways.

The final act of misinformation that I have found so far is that in section 8 of The Ramsgate Millennium Book where the map is dated 1872 so there you have it, our main source of Ramsgate history patently wrong.

I should add that it would have been most unusual to write an s in the shape of an f after 1820.

You have to be rather tenacious to make any progress with local history.

Wednesday 2 January 2008


This book was the first history of the Isle of Thanet parts of it have been used in almost every subsequent history of the area. First published in 1723 in an edition of according to the verso of the title page of not more than 150 copies. Here I have reprinted the second edition as it is greatly expanded having an extra 85 pages. The second edition appeared in 1736 apparently in two different sizes of paper. There was a proposal made by Mr. Boys, solicitor of Margate to do a new edition in about 1810 but nothing appears to have come of it.
That makes this printing of 2005 the third edition. It’s a considerable time to have to wait 269 years between editions.

It is the grail of Thanet history books, the maps are so attractive that it is difficult to find a copy with them all still present. I know of three copies of the 2nd edition that are for sale at the time of writing two at £440 and £485 respectively both appear to have bits missing and an absolutely super copy at £1000 buyer beware. As far as I am aware my copy that I have scanned for this reprint is complete in every respect. People are already asking for the odd map or plate to complete their own copies.

JOHN LEWIS was born at Bristol, Aug. 29, 1675, and educated at the grammar school of Poole, in Dorsetshire; from thence he proceeded to Exeter College, Oxford, where he took his bachelor's degree in Arts, and was soon after ordained deacon by Bishop Compton; about the close of the century, he took upon him the cure of Acryse, and lived at the same time in the family of Philip Papillon, Esq., to whom his behaviour rendered him so acceptable, that, although he had left the parish, and was then chaplain to Paul Foley, Esq., upon the death of the incumbent he was presented to the living, Sept. 4, 1699. He now applied himself to repair a dilapidated parsonagehouse, as well as to discharge his pastoral duties with all diligence; he found a kind friend in Archbishop Tenison, who had heard a good character of him, and granted him the sequestration of the little rectory of Hawkinge, near Dover, 1702. It was at this time that his acquaintance began with Mr. Johnson, of Margate, who recommended him for his successor in that laborious cure; but his old friend and patron Mr. Papillon, being unwilling to part with him, he excused himself to the archbishop at that time; afterwards, upon the resignation of Mr. Warren, he accepted it in 1705 ; in 1706, he was collated to the rectory of Saltwood, with the chapel of Hythe, and the desolate rectory of Eastbridge; but, being here disturbed by a dispute with a neighbouring squire, his patron removed him to the vicarage of Mynstre, where he re-built the parsonagehouse in a more elegant and commodious manner.

A Sermon that he had preached at Canterbury Cathedral on Jan. 30, being severely reflected upon, he printed a defence, which was so highly approved of by Archbishop Wake, that he rewarded him with the mastership of Eastbridy Hospital; from that time he was continually employed on his various publications and correspondence with the" literary men of his time. He died Jan. 16, 1746, and, at his own desire, was buried in the chancel of his church at Mynstre. Besides his Histories of the Isle of Thanet and Faversham, he wrote a great number of Sermons, Theological Pamphlets, and Biographies. He also left numerous manuscripts, which are scattered about in public and private libraries. Among others, he left Memoirs of his Life, written by himself, which was lately in the collection of Mr. Heber, then in the hands of the Rev. Thomas Streatfield, now in the British Library.

It was Lewis's misfortune to live in a time of much party violence, and, being a moderate man, he met with ill usage, from both parties, particularly from the clergy of his own diocese. He was so diligent a preacher, that, we are told, he composed more than a thousand sermons. He was always of opinion that a clergyman should compose his own sermons, and therefore ordered his executor to destroy his stock, lest they should contribute to the indolence of others. Having no family (for his wife died young without issue), he expended a great deal of money on his library, and the repairs of his dilapidated parsonage-houses, and was, at the same time, a liberal benefactor to the poor.

The Rev. Roger Huggett, of Stone, in Thanet, the contemporary and friend of Lewis, was strongly attached to the study of Antiquity, Heraldry, and Topography. His own copy of the History of Tenet, second edition, quarto 1736, the margins of which were covered with MS. Notes and Illustrations, was left as an heirloom to his family. This volume had been lost for several years, and was at length discovered to be in the possession of Mr. R. Freeman, who, as appears by advertisement in the Kentish Gazette, Aug. 11, 1809, was about to publish a third and improved edition. By the exertion of Mr. Boys, it was recovered and restored to a descendant of the family.

He would have had access to the Cathedral library in Canterbury (this contained and still does one of the best collections of Kent history).

This was my fourteenth publication and I found my confidence had increased to the point where I could offer it in three inexpensive volumes without excuse. I have found that the previous reprints of older books on Thanet (an antiquarian book strictly speaking is one published before 1810) have had a market among those who have original copies, its always handy to also have a copy that you can make notes on, leave on the train, spill coffee red wine etc. on.

I found reading Lewis a delight, he speaks across a gap in time of 300 years still interesting and amusing the reader with an interest in local history. We are, on this small island extremely lucky to have had an antiquary of his calibre.

The reading of a good antiquarian book is very different from the reading of a modern book. I and many of my customers, find that after the initial realisation that time is indeed another country and that the writer is trying to communicate with indeed a foreigner, we have become addicted to this foreign narcotic.

When Rev. Lewis talks of a pound 1l it is the equivalent in value to about £80 today.

From David Hannaford the archivist of Margate Public Library.

I have fished out large paper 2nd ed & how fascinating it is! The manuscript in front signed Peter Thompson of Bermondsey (publisher) 15th Feb 1760 records 170 small paper and 19 large paper copies of the 2nd edition sold to Mr John Osborn of Turville Court Bucks, son of John Osborn late bookseller of Paternoster Row. Later in the ms Thompson accounts for costs to printers, engravers etc and lists some of the purchasers.Total number published was 250. A pencilled note (presumably Parker) notes that of these only 20 were large paper.

Large paper copies were sold at 21 shillings and the small at 14 shillings.

Thompson poignantly writes "Mr Lewis died 1746. Mr John Osborn died. Mr Ames died 7th October 1759. so that I am the only person living this 15th feb:1760 that was concerned with printing this 2nd edition as witness my hand Peter Thompson".

Best wishes David.

Criticism in the eighteenth centenary was even more robust than in the nineteenth

Of this book The Antiquities of Thanet, Thomas Alien, Vicar of Murston, sometime Fellow of University College, writes to his friend Thomas Heame, the antiquary, of Edmund Hall that "it has only an indifferent character and is a poor performance." Heame refers to "that vile, silly Pimp, that vile wretch, Lewis the Pyrate, the same poor writer that drew up and published Wicliffs Life. He is a Wiclivist, Calvinist, Puritan & Republican, and hath wrote and published divers other things of no manner of Esteem among honest learned men. Lewis has the character of a rogue and a villain."

It was at this time quite easy for a minister to live off the income of his parish while using curates, deacon churchwardens, etc to do the work. The standards of the time were very different to today. To quote the article by Canon Shirley who studied the records of the Canterbury diocese. Patten of Whitstable kept a mistress and did not pay his debts; Bourn of Ash was "allied to the sons of Eli" ; Roberts of Queenborough, ale-house sot and debtor, "so impudent as nothing is like him"; Bate of Chilham, "proudest and stiffest man" in the diocese, allowing corpses to lie unburied for want of fees; Burroughs of Kingston, "most horribly covetous" ; Ansell of Stowting and Cade of Sellindge, Jacobites and taven-brawlers; Edward Dering of Charing who fought his own sister at the Swan Inn and threw her "head-cloaths" into the fire; Hobbs of Dover, who amassed pluralities; Isles of New Romney a notorious sot and Jacobite; Nicholls of Fordwich who preached that George was a Foreigner, a Lutheran, and a Beggar-"a wicked, swearing. Lying, Drunken man".

John Lewis was Vicar of St. John's in Margate from 1705 to 1746. Archbishop Wake's private notebook (Notitia Dioces Cantuar,) now in Canterbury Cathedral Library describes Lewis as, a conscientious studious hardworking jolly good chap. "vir probus, doctus, diligens; concionator bonus.

Tuesday 1 January 2008

Doin the Ramsgate walk

Perhaps someone will be washed off the harbour wall.

Seasick Steve

I thought the high point of the new years eve TV was Seasick Steve on Jools Holland’s show, well here is a sample if you missed it.

Find out more at bbc.co.uk/later


predictions for 2008

Happy New Year to you all, it is time to make predictions for 2008 now I am not a soothsayer my background is in science and engineering so I have put on my engineers hat and am predicting cliff collapses.

During WW2 we suffered from lack of maintenance to our cliffs water was allowed to seep through cracks in the surface on the cliff tops and subsequently we had a number of serious cliff collapses in Ramsgate.

Once again there has been a serious lack of maintenance to our cliffs you will note that the same lift is shown in both pictures.
One was taken a few weeks ago and the other in 1947.