Friday 29 February 2008

Washed away

Click in the map to enlarge it

Back in either the 14 or 1500s I will look it up exactly the monks and other farmers reclaimed the land between Chislet and St Nicolas with the winds and therefore the stormy seas in this area coming predominately from the North and West this quite quickly lead to the land shaded grey on the map being reclaimed.

Now I have just read in the Isle of Thanet Gazette that in these times of rising sea levels and increased storm activity Thanet District Council has agreed to remove the sea defences between Minnis Bay and Reculver Towers.

As the designers of the first attempt at the Turner Centre learnt to their cost, you don’t mess with the sea on the North Thanet coast, the great sigh of relief after the 1953 surge storm was that this wall held.

Only 307 people lost their lives in the UK in this storm, in the Netherlands where the sea defences were breached 1,800 people drowned.

I beggars belief these people admit that the Thanet Way will have to go onto a bridge and so will the North coast railway line.

Click here to read the article

More Pictures of Ramsgate

Some more old postcards of Ramsgate click here to look at them I have just got the first of a series of new books of them out. The picture above shows the marina Bathing Station, later the marina Pool was built on this site, now unfortunately a car park like so many of our leisure facilities.

Sackett’s Stone Masons

This is a rather unusual photograph of Sackett’s Stone Masons in Church Hill Ramsgate that some of you may not have seen before, one wonders what a health and safety inspector would have to say about it nowadays.

Thursday 28 February 2008

Pictures of the Wellington Crescent area

I have put up some old pictures of the Eastcliff including the one above that shows a previous temporary fence, in those days one you could see over the top of click here to view them and a few recent ones Click here to view them

Wednesday 27 February 2008


I am still working on David Richards new book “Ramsgate All Change” about the railways in Ramsgate, I hope to have it out next week, what I lack however is any pictures of the construction of the main line railway tunnel to Ramsgate Sands Station, or any contemporary newspaper articles about it, any help with this would be much appreciated. Anyway here is another snippet from the book to share with you all.


In sinking the foundations of the piers of the viaduct across the Margate Road, in four out of the five, the engineers discovered after they had commenced that they were faced with problems. In the case of the first pier, they had not gone down far when to their amazement they discovered a disused chalk pit, which at some remote date had been loosely filled with ashes and rubbish and forgotten. That had to be cleared out and properly filled. On the next pier they discovered a relic of the First World War, a huge dug-out. That had to be explored and filled. Next, an old sewer, which they had to bridge, and when they imagined their difficulties overcome, they dug down to a water main, which also had to be bridged.

Tuesday 26 February 2008


Reading through the latest batch of Thanet Times articles on the internet I came across rather a cryptic one click here to view it I have since had a translation from someone young enough to understand it but it certainly gives new meaning to cub reporting.

More postcards of old Ramsgate.

I have published another one of my web pages with a lot of old pictures of Ramsgate
Click here to see them

his one is interesting as it shows the final stages of the demolition of Ramsgate pier.

In this one you can see the temporary rail track for the construction of the Marina pool

Monday 25 February 2008

Fredrick Rogers Ramsgate 1913

I received rather a charming letter today containing the picture above, usually there are plenty of unusual postcards of old Ramsgate but scant explanation of what they are of so this one makes a pleasant change.

Runner number 37 is Fredrick Rogers pictured here in 1913 he spent his working life in Ramsgate police force. Click here to read the letter.

Sunday 24 February 2008


The most serious mishap which occurred on the railway at Ramsgate for over twenty years took place at the Ramsgate Town Station on a Tuesday afternoon, when an approaching train dashed into a stationary brake van standing at the end of one of the platforms precipitating the van across the platform and through the main entrance to the station premises.

As a direct result of the accident a portion of the station premises was wrecked, and ten persons complained of having received injuries. The Ramsgate Town Station (as was also the case at the Harbour Station) is a terminus, and the pull-up of trains had to be gauged within a few yards by the drivers of trains.The train which caused the trouble was the London train, which left Margate at 1.55 and was due at Ramsgate at 2.09. It was stated that the driver became acquainted with the fact that there was something wrong with the brake before the train arrived at the station, but he was quite unable to bring up, and the consequences were serious. When the engine drawing the train arrived at Ramsgate there was an empty brake van standing at the end of the platform and just inside the station doors. Buffers of a very heavy type were at the end of the line. The engine plunged into the van with a terrible crash, sending the van forward against the buffers, which were carried away like matchwood, and the van itself was hurled through the doorway of the station buildings. Brickwork and woodwork were sent flying, and the force of the impact caused a cloud of dust to rise from the debris for a few moments obscuring the whole of the surroundings. It was not known for a few moments how many people were under the broken woodwork and ironwork. A railway employee residing a mile away from the scene heard the noise of the crash and thought it came from vessels firing near Margate.

I am working on a book by David Richards about the Ramsgate Railways at the moment and I thought I would share a bit of it with you click here to read more.

Friday 22 February 2008

Turner Contemporary

The approved plans are now available on the Thanet planning site the application number is 07/1600 if you copy the number and click here to go to the site and put the number in the application number search box you can view them if you have the right pdf software.

I have tried to work out (using a ruler on the computer screen so I may be mistaken, correct me if I’m wrong please) what we the tax payers are going to get for our money approximately £40,000,000 plus approximately £2,000,000 per year running costs, once again I may have this wrong.

In terms of actual gallery space appears to contain four gallery rooms about 20 feet by 60 feet this appears to mean that there won’t be any more gallery space than in the Marks and Spencer building in the High Street. You could say this is about over £8,000 per square foot, but to be fair there is a fair amount of other space devoted to lecture hall shop etc.

These buildings between the cliff and the sea are very demanding in terms of architecture and feats of civil engineering, we have two in planning progress at the moment The Turner Contemporary and Pleasurama so here are a few comparisons.

Overall the Turner Contemporary runs for 77 metres along the coastline this compares with 250 meters for the Pleasurama Building.

The biggest risk to these building is wave overtopping in a storm at high tide, the predicted extreme high tide at Margate is 4.78m above ordnance datum the site is 5.5 meters above datum so it will stand on a concrete base 2 meters high and be set back more than 17 meters from the sea edge of the concrete base. So it’s 2.75 meters above and 17 meters behind to be safe in a storm.

The predicted extreme high tide for Ramsgate is 5.5 meters above datum the Pleasurama building base 6.05 meters above datum, no concrete plinth oh well at least there will not be much modern art inside.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Back on the internet

We lost our internet connection on Sunday evening, I believe it was because aol had a security update and decided only to support modem routers that it had supplied. Anyway the thing has just arrived in the post and I have managed to get one computer back online so I will catch up with my emails and blogging over the next few days.

Sunday 17 February 2008

Vanishing blogs

The shenanigans of the Thanet blogs over the last few days brings to mind a joke I first heard from Nicholas Mosley son of the well known fascist I will try and re-tell it here from memory.

It seems that the pope and cardinal Virtuous were playing golf and the pope missed, and said. “S..t missed.”

Well cardinal Virtuous said to the pope. “Your holiness, you really shouldn’t say that.”
Well the same thing happened at the next few holes and cardinal Virtuous’s virtuosity and better golf were really putting the pope off his stroke.

Eventually after a particularly heartfelt, “s..t missed,” from the pope, cardinal Virtuous’s comments were particularly irritating.
Suddenly the heavens opened and there was a huge flash of lightening, cardinal Virtuous vanished leaving the customary smoking boots, then a huge voice from above boomed “S..T MISSED.”

Saturday 16 February 2008


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The Pav

The charity auction is being held today to sell of the contents of the casino in Ramsgate today, like everything else they have moved of to Westwood Cross where they can be bigger and brasher.

However the worry is what will become of the building, we have been a bit unlucky with buildings in this part of Ramsgate, they seem to get demolished, burnt down or washed away by the sea.

The Royal Victoria Pavilion designed by the architect Stanley Davenport Adshead who also designed Ramsgate Library was known by the locals as the Pav, the casino only used a small part of it, the rest is pretty much derelict.

Beanbag toss

Passing the computer in the living room just now my two six year olds intent with the mouse, I heard an American accent coming out of the speakers saying, “you’re a great tosser”, I rushed to the scene thinking the filtering software had gone wrong only to find them on an American children’s site playing Beanbag Toss.

American is truly another language, when an American says, “I’m mad about my flat,” it means they are angry about their puncture, for any Americans in the UK it would mean, "I like my apartment."

Click on the link below and go onto the third page of games to play beanbag toss.

Thursday 14 February 2008

Roundabout Madness

Of all the crazy things that happen when Thanet District Council and developers get together for the benefit of the local community this one takes the cake.

Just about everyone in Ramsgate is aware of the enormous amount of construction work and destruction on Marina Esplanade in the vicinity of the old Pleasurama site and frankly I am finding that I am now getting considerably more cooperation than I expected both with regard to the demolition of The Marina Restaurant and the flood risk assessment with regard to building new homes down there.

But what no one seems to be able to answer is the riddle of the roundabout, why would anyone build a huge roundabout for busses and large vehicles to turn at then of a road where the weight restriction prevents busses and large vehicles getting to it?

You have to appreciate that this means the permanent removal of most of the main sands car parking, I can’t think of a more effective method of crippling Ramsgate’s economy and all for something that will never be needed as the only vehicles light enough to be allowed there can comfortably turn in the car park.

Reflections from the book trade

I notice in this mornings news that publishers are starting to make whole books available online, as today’s news on the blogs is mostly about there being no news, with Thanet Life and Eastcliff Richard gone, if you have nothing to read I should point out that I jumped the gun on the big publishers.

So if you are finding like me that there is not much interesting local stuff to read this morning I hope this will fill the gap to some extent. Click on the links below for all or part of some of the books I publish.

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Grange Road Mill

One of my customers let me copy three pictures of the mill that he had just bought this week. Click here to see them

Grange Road Mill An early mill stood at Ramsgate in 1719. Then, in 1819-43, as evidenced by the early Ordnance Map, there were two standing. One of them must have disappeared many years ago, for the 1858-72 map does not show it and there was no sign of it in 1905 although remaining mill was still there, by 1930 the body of the remaining mill was completely gone and the wreckage of the base alone remained. This base was then being used as a motor garage. Its “black-timbered walls are smothered with advertisement posters. Grimy mechanics grapple with cars in its bowels.” To quote William Coles Finch the notable antiquary and mill historian.

Tuesday 12 February 2008

Bad day for Thanet blogs

Simon Moors has decided to stop posting on his Thanet Life after a torrent personal abuse. Eastcliff Richard has had his blog hacked and deleted, very mean as a lot of work goes into people’s blogs. So that’s two local blogs that I read out of action which takes a bit of amusement out of the day.

I would recommend that any local bloggers who haven’t already done so change their password making it long and complicated.

Saturday 9 February 2008

More old Ramsgate pictures

I didn’t want to leave the two previous rather depressing posts on top for the weekend so here is another batch of old Ramsgate pictures for your amusement click here to see them.

Wednesday 6 February 2008

Goody outlawed

This is by way of an update on the situation, Thanet District Council have but an order on the building making further demolition illegal they have also instructed the structural engineer that they appointed not to order or sanction any further demolition.
I have published my correspondence with TDC about this matter in the internet, you can click here to read it

Pictures of yesterdays activity on Ramsgate Mitch click here to see them

Monday 4 February 2008

Pleasurama update

I have just sent the text below as an email to all the councillors, council officers and others involved.

Dear all

As most of you are aware there is a considerable amount of construction work going on at Marina Esplanade, so here is an update on the whole situation.

1 Knight Developments are building a huge roundabout so that the busses and heavy goods vehicles can turn, this is a bit unfortunate really as the weight restrictions on the hill mean that these vehicles won’t actually be able to get to it. So we seem to be losing the main seafront car park for no reason.

2 The cliff façade is being repaired, there is a bit of a problem here in as much as the ground level of the new Royal Sands Development is much lower than the old Pleasurama building, this means that there is a gap of about 1.5 meters between the bottom of the wall and ground level.

The only bit of this that was exposed when I examined it last week had no foundations and was sitting on a little pile of chalky mud. In many places the mud had shrunk away from the wall above and I was able to insert a probe much further than seemed desirable.

3 The grade 2 listed building, the castellated Marina Restaurant has been demolished. Marina Esplanade had then three major Victorian buildings of historical and architectural importance the station, theatre and restaurant, to lose one building may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness but to lose all three, I am lost for words.

I have still not received the up to date plans that reportedly show a different road and car park layout, and the building, like the ugly sisters foot in the less politically correct versions of Cinderella, with more architectural features removed to fit in the space available. This time its not the height problem but to leave room for cliff maintenance.

David Green managed to get a look at the latest plans after requesting to do so under the freedom of information act, and says the ground floor and car park will be only half a meter above the predicted highest tide line.

This of course means that in a surge storm such as the ones that have demolished large portions of the harbour wall and flattened many of the buildings on Marina esplanade in the past, any waves higher than half a meter will enter the car park under the building.

So of course the big unanswered question is, when the waves make the cars float about and bang into the building supports, causing the building to collapse, how do the 1,5000 or so people inside get out, with the sea storm in front and the cliff wall behind?

There are other minor questions that I have posed both on my weblog and websites, here are the web addresses and you can leave your thoughts anonymously on the weblog or you can reply to this email either in confidence or for publication, please make it clear if you want me to publish you replies and also if you wish to remain anonymous.
Best regards to you all Michael

The Marina Esplanade

The Marina Esplanade was once an area of interesting Victorian buildings that complimented those above on the cliff most especially The Granville. From the Victorian railway (later to become Pleasurama) to the to the Marina Theatre and Electric Picture Palace (later to become Nero’s) the whole area had a special charm.

I returned to Ramsgate 20 years ago to open the bookshop and for some time I hade no dispute with the council or developers over the preservation of our heritage, until the day they decided to demolish the Marina Theatre. I found that my protests at loosing a significant Victorian building (significant both to the town the history of theatre and cinema) fell on deaf ears. I wonder if there are any plans to rebuild it, I am afraid the council performed this act of vandalism, so there won’t be any developer to force to pay for it.

The Victorian station that burnt down belonged to the council, was it insured? If so where did the insurance money go?

This area had then three major Victorian buildings of historical and architectural importance the station, theatre and restaurant, to lose one building may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness but to lose all three.
Click here for more historical detail and some pictures of the area.

Saturday 2 February 2008

Goody goes bananas

This is just an update on yesterdays post with some photos of how it looks now, apparently cracks appeared mysteriously overnight in two of the turrets, this was after the high winds had subsided.

I gather from my enquiries that TDC officers were on site to supervise before the demolition started, so what went wrong one can only guess, I think Goody demolition may have got a bit over excited, I will have to have a word with them.
One of my children who took some interest in this demolition, having been told the building was listed and therefore protected and that the men from the council were there to protect it, rather poignantly said “am I protected daddy” but the big question that I couldn’t answer was. “Why is it eating the castle daddy”?