Monday 31 March 2008

Ramsgate All Change

My latest publication Ramsgate All Change; Railway in the News at Ramsgate by David Richards is published today. Its mostly about the railway building and accidents that have occurred in the town.

Steam played a major part in the development of Ramsgate, prior to 1816 the journey from London to Ramsgate was a difficult and arduous one, either by horse drawn coach or sailing hoy.

In June 1816 the first paddle steamer, The Duke of Argyle, arrived at Margate and by 1826 a regular and reliable service had been established to Ramsgate.

Ramsgate was an ideal destination for wealthy London families that came here for the summer season; initially they rented the houses that had been built for the officers that were stationed here during the Napoleonic wars. However soon the demand for accommodation was such that many fine Georgian and regency houses were built.

On April 13th 1846 Ramsgate was the first of the Thanet towns to be connected to the main Kent railway network, a branch line continued on to Margate opening on December 1st 1846.

Ramsgate’s prosperity has been directly related to the time that the journey from London takes and it is hoped that the introduction of the Javelin class trains will considerably reduce this time and herald a new period of prosperity.

Sunday 30 March 2008

When is a traffic warden not a traffic warden?

Couple of little gems of information from the TDC website just now

Parking attendants will be re-named Civil Enforcement Officers and it will no longer be essential for a ticket to be placed on your vehicle, as under the new rules, it can be posted on to you.

I don’t think this means that the parking attendant has to either stick it to you or the car to get a successful conviction. Ed.

Older people across Thanet could win £200 just by giving their views on how they would like to see Thanet District Council communicating with them in the future.

I realise now why they won’t tell me why the Pleasurama development is being allowed to go ahead despite being only half a meter above the high tide line, or why they have wiped out our seafront carparking to build a huge roundabout for large vehicles to turn that can only be accessed via a road that no one in there right mind would take a large vehicle along, it’s because I’m insufficiently decayed. Ed.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Panorama of Ramsgate from the sea

This panorama of Ramsgate dates from about 1880 it is an engraving that has been made to look like a photograph, thoroughly modern at the time. I publish it in my book Views of Late Victorian Ramsgate one of my children cut it out and stuck it on the kitchen wall where it gives us great pleasure.

Click here to view it

My technical expert has just added a counter to this blog so I can tell if anyone looks at it.


Looking around the local blogs and news sites Margate has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, so I thought a few old pictures of the town would add a little cheer to an otherwise rather bleak situation. Click here to look at the pictures

Friday 28 March 2008

Old Ramsgate photographs

This lot are fairly self explanatory, it’s unusual to see Wellington Crescent without a bandstand, the one of the tram accident is when a tram jumped the rails on Madeira Walk in 1905. I believe the building in the background with the advertisements on it is probably the old Kings Head one of the last of the buildings to be demolished on Harbour Parade to make way for the Customs House Kings Head Etc. Click here to see them

Thursday 27 March 2008

The Shoreline Management Plan

Back to my notes on high tides and global warming, here in Thanet we can expect to be seriously effected by rising sea levels. So how much can we expect the sea to rise, well to start with the land is sinking by about 0.8 mm per year for geological reasons related to the last ice age. The latest predictions for the rise in sea level in this area are 1990 to 2025 4 mm per year 2025 to 2055 8.5 mm per year 2055 to 2085 12 mm per year.

So by 2085 the land will have sunk by 61.6 mm and the sea risen by 640 mm giving a total rise in level of 700 mm about 27 inches. Combined with this we can expect much stormier winters.

What this means to us here in Thanet, first and foremost, is that the low-lying ground that was once the Wantsum Sea Channel that separated us from mainland Britain is vulnerable to the sea flooding back in and washing away the land.

For our two main towns Margate and Ramsgate the areas around the harbours and main beaches will be more liable to flooding and storm damage.

Those places where the cliffs are not protected by a concrete promenade will be subject to greater cliff erosion.

I would recommend reading The Shoreline Management Plan especially appendix C it makes for rather disturbing reading. Click here to read it

Old photographs of Ramsgate

A fairly large batch of photographs for you all today these are all previously published in my publication Photographs of Old Ramsgate. I think they are mostly self-explanatory click here to look at them

The Harbour Masters House and Committee rooms demolished in 1890

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Pictures of old Ramsgate

Here is another batch of old Ramsgate pictures, nothing particularly exciting or unusual, even so very relaxing to look at. Click here to view them.

Monday 24 March 2008

High tides Ramsgate surges and global warming.

We often get fairly high tides in Ramsgate as you can see from the picture taken last November click here to see more pictures of this high tide. The real problem comes when a high tide is combined with a storm coming from the east or south, fortunately this doesn’t happen often. The prevailing winds in this part of the world are from the north and east so it’s mostly Margate and the north Thanet coast that gets the worst of the problems.

We get two types of extra high tide the first type is a spring tide shown in the video, this is caused by the combined gravitational pull of the moon and sun and mostly occurs in spring and autumn. The second type is a tidal surge this is caused by barometric pressure over the sea i.e. it’s weather related and is sometimes combined with a storm.

We also have the effects of sea level rises caused by global warming to consider, if you look at the figures for Dover tide gauge for the last 60 years it appears the sea level has risen about 10 cm or 4 inches during that period. This really isn’t enough to make any difference at the moment and scientists are still fairly uncertain about both how much the sea will rise or how quickly.
I am playing it safe on this one and am doing a lot of recycling, have cut down on all forms of motorised travel (Mostly by doing nearly all of the shopping in Ramsgate which also helps support the local shops.) and have sold my big car.

Sunday 23 March 2008

Thanet and the Wantsum

With all the recent talk of allowing the sea defences to fail that stop Thanet from becoming an island again, I thought some historical background would be helpful to some of you.

When the last ice age ended about 10,000 B.C. the glacial melt down caused by the global warming resulted in sea levels to rising by about 100 meters, separating the UK from Europe. By about 3,000 B.C. the level had filled in the ancient waterway known as the Wantsum.

The geological information suggests that in Roman times the Wantsum a considerable waterway about two miles wide and 30 feet deep. Until it silted up it was the main sea route between the Thames and the North Sea, and the English Channel. Going round the North Foreland has always represented a nautical challenge. It is our local mini Cape of Good Hope or going round the Horn.

If you consider the seas rising leaving Thanet an island, because it is higher and the surrounding land is lower, what you have to start with can be thought of as the typical children’s concept of an island, a chalk hill with a flattish top poking out of the water.

The north, east and south coasts being subject to the full force of wave action were eroded away, the result being our chalk cliffs. The west and southwest coast of Thanet faced the UK mainland and were subject to the gentle silting up of the Wantsum channel. This silting up was a very slow process and without large scale land reclamation Thanet would probably still be an island today.

From about 1,000 AD the two great monasteries of Minster and Canterbury owned most of the land around the Wanstsum and from about this time the monks started building dykes and reclaiming land.

Happy Easter

Looking at the snow outside perhaps happy Christmas would be more appropriate, anyway seasons greetings to you all.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Steam boats to Thanet

Map of East Kent before the railways click here to enlarge.

I have just published a piece from Richardson's book, Fragments of the History of Ville and Liberty of Ramsgate, about the local paddle steamers click here to read it. We do have the book in stock at the moment both an original copy and a modern inexpensive reprint.

The steamboat was the first practical, cheap, fast and reliable form of transport to Thanet from London and had a considerable impact on the formation of tourism here.

Friday 21 March 2008

Pictures of old Ramsgate

This batch includes the opening of St Lawrence war memorial in 1919, the Wesleyan Centenary Hall and one of a pub called the Queens Head that I can’t identify at all. Click here to look at them.

Thursday 20 March 2008

The Royal Victoria Pavilion

I would like offer my thanks to Thanet District Council for doing the proper thing about the Pav. Many of us here in Ramsgate have been worried about this charming Edwardian building for some time. I have just read that the council have served a repairs notice on the Rank organisation. Further details are in a Kent Messenger article click here to read it.

Wednesday 19 March 2008


Number two headshunt the Shunting line in Ramsgate where part of a train ended up hanging over a parapet above a row of houses was taken out of action. Houses below sidings at Ramsgate depot were evacuated after the train being shunted smashed through buffer stops, a sand drag and a parapet wall eventually halting with part of the leading coach overhanging the 70 feet drop. It was the fourth time such an incident had happened.

The number one headshunt, was closed in 1987 following the incident that year and number two headshunt was equipped with new buffers and an extra long sand drag. After this accident that, too closed.

Half of one carriage went over the edge of the viaduct in Margate Road and was left teetering 70 feet above the ground for several hours. The only people on the train at the time were the driver and a shunter.

As you can see I have been working on Dave Richards book “Ramsgate All Change” about Ramsgate’s Railways.

Click here to see the rest of the pictures of this accident.

Monday 17 March 2008

Ramsgate in WW2

I have received an account of a gentleman’s childhood in wartime Ramsgate and think it has the makings of a little booklet if illustrated with contemporary photos.

Anyway I have been looking out the ones stored on my computer click here to see the first batch, these ones come from Mr Ronald West’s collection and are published in my publication, A Collection of Old Pictures of Ramsgate.

You may fancy a little puzzle and try identifying the locations, I have put numbers under them so you can post the ones you know, as a comment should you wish.

As far at the answers go I have some but not others, mostly identified by Dave Richards who is the author of my publication, Ramsgate August 24th 1940 and something of an authority on the subject.

If you email me your answers before posting them I am happy to offer £1 book voucher per correct answer.

Click here to view the pictures.

More pictures of Ramsgate’s western undercliff and promenade.

I do hope I’m not boring anyone with this lot I know many of them are so similar, today I had to throw more than half the post (adverting circulars) into the recycle bin and more than half my telephone calls have been advertising calls from call centres. I think I am right in saying that Ramsgate’s main sewage outlet was at the western undercliff at this time, making it rather an unusual place to build a children’s pool. Anyway on that thought provoking note I have published and await damnation click here to view the pictures.

ECR blogs in Latin!

I am just drawing your attention to the fact that our very own Eastcliff Richard is back link on the sidebar.

As he’s been upmarket, he started his first post in Latin so I though for those of you without a classical education, a little dog Latin that you could work out without any knowledge of Latin would be amusing.


You can of course Google it if you find it too difficult, which is unlikely.

Saturday 15 March 2008

Prints of Ramsgate in the early eighteen hundreds

A charming gentleman with a long association with Ramsgate, came into the shop with some prints for me to scan today, so we can all share them. Click here to view them, sorry about all the withs.

Friday 14 March 2008

Thanet’s civic leaders

I was looking through the 1937 guide to Broadstairs as one does and I noticed the picture above (click on it to enlarge) of the local civic heads. They must have all felt they made their mark on The Isle of Thanet yet after what is three score years and ten, only about a lifetime I wonder if anyone could identify them or say what their achievements were. Perhaps our civic heads today should consider that if they fail to find adequate funding for our local museums in 70 years time there won’t even be a photograph of them for anyone to see.

More old pictures of Ramsgate

Today’s batch of pictures shows a rather peculiar obsession with a shelter. Useful as the pictures are to the historian in terms of showing the changes to one small part of the town and the ironwork of the shelter etc. they beg some questions about why they were taken or who would have bought them at the time. Perhaps it’s just me and this all makes perfect sense to everyone else click here to view them.

Thursday 13 March 2008

The EKC libel case

I stumbled upon this little bit of rather unusual local history recently and thought it could amuse some of you old enough to remember Dallas.
Click here to enlarge it enough to read.

Ramsgate and Historical Thanet

I am just getting the local books part of my website up to date and have just published part of this one for the people who can’t get to the shop. It was published in about 1920 I thought the maps were particularly useful and posted them up the other day. If you cant wait for me to get it so you can buy it from my website its already on ebay click here for that. I am afraid the quality of the pictures is not very good, as the original owes much to the potato school of printing. One has to remember that these ephemeral guides were not intended to last, however I am sure you will agree with me that the advertisements alone make preserving it in this way worthwhile. Click here to view the pages.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

More pictures of old Ramsgate

Several of this batch of pictures are of the area of the westcliff that collapsed in March 1947 so some interesting comparisons can be made.Recently a senior council officer told me that much of the cliff support in Ramsgate is completely rotten, worn out and unsafe. Frankly you don’t need to be an expert to see this you can look at the pictures I have published or walk along the town’s coastline a child could identify a lot of the problems. Sorry for the rant but I get annoyed when those running things here seem to have a total disregard for our safety.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Ramsgate Lifeboat before 1879

As we are having more windy weather I thought I would put up some pages of Storm Warriors or lifeboat Work on the Goodwin Sands by John Gilmore a book about the work of the Ramsgate Lifeboat click here to read them Ramsgate can boast one of the first lifeboats in England, we had a lifeboat before the formation of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. In the days before it was practical to build a boat that was both small enough to use in sea rescue, but with an engine powerful enough to resist storm and tide, the combination of a steam tug and rowed lifeboat was used in many rescues. Most of the rescues were of ships that had gone aground on the deadly Goodwin Sands where it would be far too shallow for the steam tug to venture. Often the combination of storm and tide made it impossible for the lifeboat powered as it was by oars and sails to get to the vessel that had floundered. So the tug towed the lifeboat round the outside of the sand until it was upwind of the wreck and then let it go across the Goodwins. While the lifeboat was doing its work the tug would steam round to the other side of the Goodwins in the hope of picking up the lifeboat with those rescued aboard.

Old postcards of Ramsgate

Behold another few for your amusement click here to view the rest.

Monday 10 March 2008

Mr Byng Gattie’s remarkable book

With today’s high winds one is reminded that the people of The Isle of Thanet have fought a constant battle with the sea on many levels and over many years. Memorials of the Goodwin Sands is one of my favourite books about this struggle so I have published a large part of it on the internet for you to read click here to view it
Most noticeably throughout mans relationship with the sea in this area one is aware that repeatedly experts have underestimated the power of the sea.

Sunday 9 March 2008

The calm before the storm

The weather forecast is predicting the likelihood of very strong winds and high tides tonight and tomorrow morning. This combination has caused problems in Thanet in the past the area around Ramsgate main sands being particularly vulnerable because the very large beach that built up on the WW2 defences and protected the harbour wall, Royal Victoria Pavilion and other buildings in this area was removed as building materials for Port Ramsgate.

I understand that the sluice on the North Thanet coast that protects the low lying ground between Thanet and Reculver from this sort of event is broken, so we may have some problems.

The video is of a moderate wind and spring tide at Ramsgate, you can click here to see some more videos of this. The picture is of the result of the only really big storm since the sand was removed.


Continuing the First Word War theme here is another publication that may interest some of you. Mr Cockburn, as you will find out if you click here and read part of the book, lived with his family in Ramsgate and worked as the secretary for Westgate gas and water works. He was responsible for the administrative side of the company, the management of essential services has to go on even when a country is at war so he stayed in Thanet for the duration of World War One and didn't go off to fight in the trenches.

Saturday 8 March 2008

Pictures of Ramsgate and video of the model village

Click here to view the other pictures

I have received a comment on an old post of mine about the model village for Zumi about the bicycle wheels (yep sorry I know it sounds like something from The Third Policeman) also some more video of the model village has appeared on youtube.

So I thought to put up another picture too would be appropriate.

Friday 7 March 2008


I am reading a Wilbur Smith novel at the moment and one of the characters is a pilot in World War One, so I was reminded of this little publication that I published a few years ago.

About Christmas 1915 the Admiralty, who were then responsible for the air defence of these Islands, decided that Look Out Posts should be established round the South East Coast to act as "eyes" for Anti Aircraft Defences, London.

Captain Stansfeld R.N.Officer Commanding the London AA Defences offered Mr. E. S. Oak-Rhind charge of one of these Look Out Posts to be established at North Foreland.
This offer Mr. Oak-Rhind accepted & enrolled as crew two other local men both of whom possessed useful sea knowledge.
The initial crew were enrolled in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, AA Corps & were rated as follows;-
E. S. Oak-Rhind. Chief Petty Officer in charge.
S. Boucher. Able seaman.
W. N. Haggard. Able seaman.
watch being kept from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset - so little did the authorities anticipate attack after dark.
The first day's watch commenced in the compound of The North Foreland W/T, on the 3rd January 1915 & under the most depressing conditions.
Later in the day the Look Out Post was transferred to H. M. Coastguard Station, Ramsgate where proper facilities were to be found for such Look Out.
The initial decision to place the Look Out at North Foreland was correct as it at once became the landfall for attacking craft & it was not for some long time that Mr. Oak-Rhind could persuade the authorities to make the obvious provision for the Look Out to be once more at North Foreland.
Late in April 1915 the authorities had come to the conclusion that watch must be kept day & night & for this purpose Mr. Oak-Rhind enrolled M. B. Hughes to form the fourth member of his little crew.
From the 29th April 1915 until early in 1919 a continuous watch was kept by this Look Out Post.
Click here to read on

Thursday 6 March 2008

Reflections of a mobile bookseller

Periodically along comes a piece of modern technology that is so useful that one is minded to share information about it with others. And oddly enough the secondhand book trade and its demands keeps one pretty near the cutting edge of modern technology.

In 1995 secondhand booksellers were dragged kicking and screaming into the world of the internet and computers because most of their trade reference works ceased to be available on paper.

I am very lucky in having someone who works for me on Saturdays who is extremely good with computers and modern technology and as there is no fortune in secondhand bookselling and local history publishing I am inclined to set difficult targets with very low budgets.

Nowadays if one wants to know the value of a secondhand book the internet is the main tool for the job, although be warned there are pitfalls for those without expertise and experience.

So my remit was to have a mobile phone that would allow me to look at ordinary websites, and the budget was very tight having just paid my income tax. My Saturday wizard managed to achieve this for me with a capital investment of under £100 with an annual cost of under £100 pounds without any phone contract.

I now have an O2 Xda Mini s phone purchased from ebay for £80 on pay as you go with O2 and a £7.50 a month O2 bolt on that allows me as much internet access as I need. Although I had initial technical difficulties, I had to download and install an Opera browser and had to have help changing its socks, yes really. I can now look up books post on blogs etc. from pretty much any location.
The phone for want of a better name seems to be considerably more powerful than the computer I first got for the business back in 1995 has MS word on it and a qwerty keyboard, enabling me to send text messages without getting annoyed for the first time. Little things like a movie camera hands free kit and the ability to play music and videos are of course included with the phone.

Wednesday 5 March 2008

How TS Eliot found inspiration at Margate

Thomas Stearns Eliot

I just found this excellent article in the local paper.

In the autumn of 1921, a fragile man, accompanied by his mentally unstable wife, went to Thanet for a period of convalescence.During his stay, the man, Thomas Stearns Eliot, wrote some lines of poetry.The following year, The Waste Land was published. It is now regarded as one of the best poems in the English language.

Click here to read more

Reflections on blogs and blogging

After the recent battle of the blogs I have decided that it’s time to update the links to other blogs. First for those of you used to a daily dose of Simon Moores out goes Thanet Life and in goes Zentelligence at I also notice that Simon is now writing for the newspaper Your Thanet if you wish to read his views on local issues.

Next for those of you wishing to read Eastcliff Ricard will now find him at The Isle of Thanet Gazunder albeit a little bruised and not quite yet his old self. One is reminded here of the Nac Mac Feegles fear of lawyers.

Then the new kid on the blog is Bertie Biggles of Thanet Strife which started as a parody of Thanet Life, but is now attracting some serious readers and comments.

I am also adding a link to Thanet Blog List recent feeds that is where you can keep up to date with all the new postings on the local blogs.

I realised during the events of the last few weeks that one should always think carefully before publishing a persons real name on the internet if what one is saying is in any sense controversial. Real people have real reputations and careers that can be damaged and the internet has a long memory (because of caches) so that if one subsequently wishes to retract what one has said it is not just a matter of deleting it.

Anonymity on the internet just doesn’t exist, so that anything one writes anonymously can be tracked back to the person who paid for the computer one is using to be connected to the internet.

A final thought about anonymity, if one posts anonymously without a blogger identity but just puts ones name to the post one could in fact be anyone. So that having a fictitious blogger identity is not, as it were as anonymous as just posting anonymously, sorry if I am being a bit abstruse here what I mean here is that when say Eastcliff Richard posted one always knew it was the same person or at least someone who knew his blogger password.

Terrible Tram accident at the junction of Bellevue Road and Plains of Waterloo

On the 26th of May 1905 tram no. 47 jumped the tracks and crashed into Vyes Grocers now a hairdressers, the shop manager’s daughter, tram driver and conductor were all badly injured.
As you can see from the picture the building was badly damaged and had to be shored up before the tram could be removed.

The old Ramsgate Sands Station in its incarnation as Olympia.
The old Post Office in Ramsgate High Street

The London Boat in Ramsgate harbour
When I published up these cards I thought some of them needed a bit of text click here for the pictures in a larger size.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

Granville Marina

After the demolition of 1Granville Marina I have been looking around for an advertisement for this beach resort built by J T Wimperis in 1877 this is the first one, sorry it’s a bit blurry, click on the picture to enlarge.