Sunday 30 November 2008

The Sunday Ramblings of a Ramsgate Shop Assistant

Bit of a long ramble this one, technical problems mean I have to work all day today or a lot of people won’t get the local books they want for Christmas.

A sad probate clearance this week, the books of one of my better customers, his books were mostly about guns and the American Civil War, we conspired together to produce reprint of a Victorian Ramsgate gunsmiths catalogue which we both enjoyed doing.

He had quite a few of my own publications in his book collection, this is the first time I have had any back in as secondhand stock, they all seemed to be in perfect condition, but I put them in to the sale with the ones that got faded in the widow display, so there are a few bargains to be had there.

Click here for a bit more about the gun catalogue, I will put some sample pages up another day, the original image files got lost in some computer drama that I had some time ago so it isn’t a straightforward task.

There are some rather odd messages coming out of TDC relating to local blogs at the moment. A recent agenda of the TDC Standards Committee revealed that the monitoring officer says “misinformation is consuming a vast amount of officers time” and that a lot of the council’s internal workings is “finding its way onto blog sites”.

Nearly all of my comments about the council’s actions on this blog relate to major issues of public safety, like protecting our water supply, ensuring people can escape from the Pleasurama development in a tidal surge storm or that dangerous cliff collapses are avoided.
TDC seems to have lost site of what their purpose is, instead of guaranteeing that the wishes of the electorate are carried out, they seem in many cases to have a secret agenda supporting unsuitable or unsafe developments against our wishes.

The council has got this completely the wrong way round, it is wasting an enormous amount of officers time by not publishing basic information on its own website, things like the contaminated land register are important documents that effect public safety and should be readily available.
TDC seems particularly concerned to hide the views of the electorate, there does not seem to me to be any reason that public consultations and major planning applications should not be published on the internet in a way that the public can comment and others can view these comments.

A prime example of this is the government planning site where the public can comment on planning applications and on the site it says that these comments can be viewed by other members of the public.

When I did so recently and my comments failed to appear, I contacted the site administrator only to be told that TDC had elected to hide comments from members of the public. By applying pressure via the LGO I managed to get the council to publish the statutory consultees documents for the China Gateway development, these documents relate to protecting our drinking water supply and people flying into Manston airport and a variety of pollution issues.
There really is no reason that I can see why TDC couldn’t publish consultations on blogger where we could comment and others could see our comments, this also has the added advantage of being free.

When talking to council officers I find that the main problem is a core of experienced and able officers in the middle doing the bulk of the real work, a group of inexperienced officers incapable of doing their jobs properly. This is all made worse by several senior officers trying to curtail the power of the experienced and qualified officers, while supporting those less able and more malleable.

When talking to councillors, I have become aware that the cabinet has made itself into a ruling clique, spurning the offers of help from the other councillors even when they bring expertise in specialist fields.

So yes important people within our local government are disaffected making much information available to bloggers, however I must stress that most of this information should be available on the councils own website.

Anyway aside of all of that if anyone finds that I have posted anything that is wrong on this blog please let me know. Other peoples comments here are much more difficult to control, I always delete anonymous comments that I think may be libellous or defamatory. Where the comment is not anonymous, by that I mean where I know the real identity of the blogger who has commented I take a more relaxed attitude in that I normally wait until someone asks me to remove something.

I have had a difficult week with printers which is running on into today, to produce the local books I have 4 printers, one is a big black and white hp printer and today it’s throwing a wobbly. It has a very odd fault in that it’s very difficult to get it to print the f1rst page of anything but once it gets going it’s fine, it stops and says it’s jammed when it isn’t about 10 times and then off it goes, all rather trying.

I have printed over a million A4 pages since I started producing the local books 3 years ago, have had a lot of paper jams and ink blockages one way or another but today’s fault is a new one.
One of my Epson inkjet boarderless printers that I use to print the covers with has developed a mind of its own and keeps putting boarders on two sides, seemingly totally at random too.

Oh and finally this video clip appears to be of a younger Gordon Brown admitting to having done what Damian Green has just been accused of.

Saturday 29 November 2008

Who lived in your house in Ramsgate in 1930?

New out today, published with king permission of Kellys Directories the Ramsgate 1930 Street Directory price £5.99 I publish quite a lot of Thanet directories for various years, they are invaluable resources for local historians, people interested in the history of their house, they also make interesting walking companions.

If you know what a building used to be you look at in a different way, for instance if you look up the address of my bookshop 72 King street, you will see in 1930 it was The General Joffre public house, so you then notice the two stucco frames on the front of the building, one for the brewery sign and another for the pub sign. Perusal of one of the pre First World War directories will show you the that the pub was previously called the Prince Cobourg and changed from the German name during the war.

It can take one a very long time to progress anywhere when walking with one of these old directories.

Several people have asked me recently why I have published the whole book online when I have produced a paper copy to sell to people, doesn’t this reduce the sales of the book? Won’t people print their own out? The answers are. My primary objective is to get this material preserved for future generations, I really don’t know if it reduces the sales of the paper copies. As far as printing your own goes, assuming you want to produce something similar to the paper copies I produce, once you have sorted out the paper some card for the cover a cover illustration and pictures for inside, got the pages into the right order so page 307 is on the back of 306 you then have to consider the price of the ink, always the most expensive bit.

Click here for the book

Click here for the other Thanet directories and local books that I publish

Click here to buy the paper version of the book

Click here for our ebay shop

Illegal foodstuffs seized

Council press release.

Environmental health officers from Thanet District Council have discovered nearly half a tonne of illegal food imports, which are now set to be destroyed.

In a joint operation with HM Revenue and Customs and Kent Trading Standards, the officers spent two days investigating cargo that had arrived from Ghana at Kent International Airport in Manston. After inspecting hundreds of boxes described on importation documents as containing vegetables, officers seized 465 kilograms of illegal food imports. This was in addition to the large quantity of other illegal imports seized by the other agencies.

These foods included dried chilli peppers, which were the subject of a national food hazard warning due to contamination with the illegal colouring Sudan Red. It also included a large quantity of unlabelled peanut products, which are subject to special controls because of possible contamination with a carcinogenic mould called Aflatoxin.

Notice has now been served on the importers’ agent, who are responsible for the load, detaining it under import legislation. It is now being held securely until the importer, under the supervision of the council’s officers, destroys the products.

Cllr. Shirley Tomlinson, Cabinet Member from Commercial and Environmental Services, said: “This case highlights the excellent work that the council’s port health inspectors do in helping to protect the country from illegal food products. The team have specialist training that allows them to deal with products coming into the country from outside the European Union. That means checking all flights into Manston for foodstuffs and inspecting products of animal origin in the airport’s Border Inspection Post. It may not be a well known role that the team carries out, but it’s a vital one that helps to ensure everyone’s safety.”

Last chance to have your say

Council press release.

Local people have only a few more days to have their say on 17 sites around Thanet that the council is considering selling, with the proceeds re-invested into building new facilities.

It’s part of the council’s ongoing Asset Management Plan to ensure that all the land and property it owns provides the best possible value for money for Council Tax payers and that it is effectively managed and remains up to date and modern for people to use.

As part of the consultation, over 120 people attended the council’s three drop in sessions to find out more about the proposals, to speak with council officers and to have their say on the sites across Thanet.

The 17 sites on the list that are going out to public consultation are located in Margate, Westbrook, Garlinge, Birchington, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. They include the Maritime Museum in Ramsgate, Margate Caves, Retort House in Broadstairs, the Montefiore Games Centre in Ramsgate, land at Viking Bay, Broadstairs, land at Marine Terrace in Margate and a site to the east of the Port of Ramsgate.

Local residents still have a few more days to give their views on the possible sale of the sites and the possible uses for each of them by writing in to Communications, FREEPOST SEA8273, Thanet District Council, PO Box 9, Cecil Street, Margate, CT9 1XZ or by e-mailing

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Economy and Culture, said: “It was really encouraging that over 100 people came to find out more at our drop in sessions held earlier this month. It’s really important that residents understand what’s being proposed and that they have an opportunity to speak with council officers about each of the sites across Thanet. Residents still have a few more days to get their views in to us, and I would encourage local people to take this opportunity to have their say if they haven’t already.”

All comments must be made by Friday 5 December.

Friday 28 November 2008

Giant Shell Lady arrives in Margate

TDC press release

The giant shell lady of Margate has been hoisted into position on the town’s Harbour Arm today (Thursday 27 November).

The sculpture, created by artist Ann Carrington and commissioned by the Margate Renewal Partnership, is a towering nine feet high and is made entirely of cast bronze.

Created with the aim of encouraging people to visit the Old Town area of Margate, the sculpture is to be welcomed by an entourage of ladies made from real shells. Local may have seen the Shell Ladies throughout the summer months leading people into the Old Town area on a highly popular treasure trail, highlighting some of the unique features and architecture of the area.

Each Shell Lady has her own name and identity, based on some famous and infamous ladies in Margate’s history. The bronze sculpture is to be Mrs. Booth, Turner’s long-suffering mistress, who will be looking longingly out to sea in the hope of sighting her lover, from her position at the end of the Harbour Arm.

The Margate Shell Ladies are funded by money from the European Regional Development Fund, which has also funded other improvements in the town, including the new CCTV cameras and footway improvements in the Old Town, the regeneration of the Harbour Arm and the new play facility, currently under construction in Cliftonville.

Claire Tarelli, Margate Renewal Partnership Project Officer, said: “Margate’s Shell Ladies have been a great success over the summer and have really helped to promote the town, with a lot of national press coverage of them. They’ve become a familiar sight in Margate and now the giant Shell Lady will be a permanent fixture along the town’s newly regenerated Harbour Arm, which has also been funded by money from Europe. She’ll be a welcoming sight for both visitors to and residents of Margate.”

The giant shell lady of Margate will be illuminated nightly, starting from Saturday 29 November, which coincides with Sir Bob Geldof’s visit to the town to turn on the Margate Christmas lights.

China Gateway

It’s nearly 2 months since China Gateway’s plans were approved so I thought I would see if I could find out if anything has happened I put its planning reference F/TH/08/0400 into the Thanet planning site at no new documents.

Checked out Commercial Group Properties on the Stock Exchange website no shares have been traded for a month.

Checked out Commercial Group Properties website nothing seems to have been added to the site for over a month.

Searched for China in the search box on the TDC website the most recent thing to come up was nearly a year old, well that the TDC website for you, keeping us all informed.

Does anyone know if anything is going on?

Thursday 27 November 2008

The Cervia and the East Kent Maritime Trust

In 1985 the steam tug Cervia was leant to the East Kent Maritime Trust, a legal agreement was drawn up to the effect that they would be responsible for fully restoring and subsequently looking after her.

In 1986 they were granted a Manpower Services Commission project to restore her and restoration work started, unfortunately Manpower Services ceased to be.

In 1996 Cervia’s steam engine was restored to full working order, things were looking good at that time and we visited her on numerous occasions, something my children enjoyed a lot.

Then about 10 years ago something went wrong and the trust seem to lose interest in the Cervia, which is now in a bad state due to neglect and the dry dock, which leaks badly during spring tides.

In 2005 the EKMT commissioned a report on the way forward for two major heritage assets in its care - namely Smeaton's Dry Dock and the steam tug "Cervia". The report's conclusions were that an achievable joint restoration project should be put together with a possibility of securing funding from a number of sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, other E.U. grants and private sources. This would be of benefit not only to the ship and the dock but also serve to revitalise the Ramsgate Maritime Museum and increase its visitor numbers.

They seem to be much better at commissioning reports that they don’t act on than doing anything to preserve our maritime heritage.

The owner of the Cervia tried to get the trustees of the trust meet with him on numerous occasions, in order to come up with a plan for dealing with the problem, they however declined.

So now in desperation the owner is taking the trustees to court, the court case is on the 3rd December and will be a very costly matter for all involved.

The owner of the Cervia is prepared to drop the legal action if the trustees will meet with him and sort out a viable plan of action for the Cervia, as the cost of restoring the Cervia would probably be in the order of £2,000,000 and according to the legal advice I have sought the trustees, past and present could be liable to pay this, it would seem to be a sensible course of action.

If only a small proportion of the money that will be wasted on legal fees is spent on getting the Cervia onto the slipway and assessed this would surely be much better.

As an example of how bad things have got click here for some recent pictures the trust have disconnected the electrical supply for the bilge pump, so there it is probable that the Cervia will sink were she is, adding considerably to the costs.

Having written to the trustees myself last week, suggesting that there could be a more sensible way out of this, I was quite surprised not to get any response either and can understand the owner’s frustration.

The leaking dry dock

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Another significant chemical pollution incident

Chemical pollution at Thor chemicals in Thanet this time and once again it’s soaked down into the ground water.

It is not my intention to scaremonger here, but to add to my reasons why we should be considering our underground drinking water reservoir much more seriously, when planning future local development and expansion of existing enterprises.

Once again I am stressing that spillages and leaks into the ground are something that happens in industry, I know because I worked in industry.

Our underground drinking water reservoir is an essential local resource with out which we could not supply sufficient water to people’s homes, agriculture and industry.

The chalk under Thanet acts like a huge sponge where our water is collected and stored and bits of this sponge now has areas of poisoned water in it, the cumulate effect of the various poisoned areas will undoubtedly cause expense and problems for generations to come.

The proposed China Gateway development is a huge and very densely designed industrial estate, right in the middle of this reservoir very close to where our drinking water is pumped out of the ground.

Manston airport is also on top of the sensitive part of this reservoir, and if it is expanded so that there are a great many flights of very large planes, then it is probable that sooner or later there will be an air accident involving a large spillage of fuel or chemical cargo on the grassed part of the airport, which will soak into the ground.

Now while I am confident that Thanet District Council’s contaminated land team them are making sterling efforts to discover and cleanup previous and present pollution incidents, I think it is just plain stupid to take unnecessary risks with the water supply by carrying out perilous activities in the middle of the reservoir.

Rick has obtained some details about the Thor pollution click here to read

click here for the main post about the Sericol leak

Click here for the map of pollution locally

Click here for The British Geographical survey’s internal report on the Thanet underground water reservoir.


This is a press release from The Independent Media Society, and I should add any local group who sends me stuff for publication will get my full cooperation. I looked at the various statistics and noticed the counter I put on the this site a few months ago has had a lot of hits and as it went up by about 2,000 last week, so I feel I have an added responsibility to the local community.

Pic. Norman Thomas

Thanet stands in danger of being “developed to death” and needs a new “green deal” to give people jobs without damaging the environment,

This is the controversial proposition which will be debated at a crisis meeting to be held in Ramsgate on Friday December 12 at 7.30pm at which Dr Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party will be the key speaker. Caroline Lucas is also a member of the European Parliament for the South East.

The meeting, called by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, will discuss the biggest environmental issues facing the isle including the China Gateway proposal, the giant greenhouse development Thanet Earth and the plans for Manston Airport.
Pic. Dr Caroline Lucas

Film-maker Norman Thomas who is chairing the meeting said: “Thanet is currently facing some of the biggest developments in its history, bringing huge amounts of building and extra traffic.

“We run the risk of losing hundreds of acres of green space and prime farmland.

“If these developments go ahead, they will change the face of the isle forever, with incalculable consequences for all the people living here now and for generations to come.”

Mr Thomas added: “We’ve got to debate these issues now and look at the alternatives. We all want jobs, but will these projects really bring jobs in any significant numbers? Many fear we will simply find ourselves in an over-built, traffic-congested mess."
Supporters of the Green party argue that in the wake of the present national financial crisis a “new green deal” is needed which will mean the Government investing in providing “sustainable” jobs for the future.

Said Mr Thomas: “We’ve got to started exploring the options for new types of jobs in Thanet now. Rather than low-paid warehousing work, we’ve got to look at jobs which arise out of the natural assets of the area and the creative talents of its people.

“Anyone who is concerned about the future of the area should come and put their point of view.”

The meeting will be held at St George’s Hall, Broad Street, Ramsgate at 7.30 pm on Friday December 12th.

For more details telephone Christine Tongue on 01843 604253 or email

New youth groups started in Cliftonville

This is a press release from TDC and I will endeavour to publish them as they come out in the future, two reasons one is that the YDC site has no feeds which means I can’t just add their site to the recent posts on the sidebar and the other is there is no where that one can comment on their press releases that others can view.

Two new youth groups, focusing on dancing and football, have been started in Cliftonville, with the help of a worker who’s funded by the Safer Stronger Communities Fund.

The Street Football club meets quarterly at the Quarterdeck every Monday evening form 7pm to 9pm and is aimed at those aged 11 years and older. Sessions are free and take place on the Muga (multi use games area) at the Quarterdeck area, which provides a safe area to play.

The Street Dance Troupe has free weekly sessions at the Quarterdeck on Friday evenings between 7pm and 8pm for 13 year olds and older. It’s also got a sister troupe that meets on Mondays at St. John’s Community Centre from 4.30pm to 6.30 pm for those aged four and over, with mums welcome.

Both groups are run by their own youth committee, meaning young people have a say in agreeing what the group does. The groups are supported by both the St. John’s NAG (Neighbourhood Action Group) which helps them to raise funds, and Beth Denning, the Community Cohesion and Development Officer for the Kent Refugee and Minority Support Group, who is funded by the Safer Stronger Communities Fund.

Beth says: “It’s great to be involved with such a great group of young people. The groups are growing from strength to strength, due to their enthusiasm and commitment.”

The two groups have received an enthusiastic response from the young people already taking part. Jamie, one of the three football coaches at the Street Football club, said: “I’m playing the game I love and I’ve had coaching training. It’s good to feel part of something.” Toni, one of the dancers at the Street Dance Troupe, says: “I love coming to Street Dance. I didn’t think I could do it, but the instructors are really cool and I’m healthier now”.”

To find out more about the two groups, contact Beth on 0779 222 6103.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

VAT Darling

Up until this budget I had thought that the government were acting in a fairly sensible way to try and mitigate the effects of the recession and that there seemed to be some sort of cross party unified approach to getting us out of it.

Here in the bookshop the budget doesn’t really effect anything much as books don’t carry VAT, however the most expensive part of the budget in terms of what the government has borrowed on our behalf is the cut in VAT.

It did occur to me though that this will be a very difficult and expensive reduction for many retailers to implement, I reckon that the paperback fiction in the shop runs to about 15,000 titles most I believe are priced at £1.99 consider the logistics of reducing them to £1.94.

Looked at another way say I am going to buy a new computer that is £400, will it being £390 make any difference?

While in a broad sense I am in favour of doing something but the VAT cut suggests a complete misunderstanding of how retail pricing works. Much of the thing is about thresholds, i.e. trying to get it under a particular round amount.

I will give you an example of what I mean using a book off the shelf, as steam boats are very much on my mind I have chosen; Turbine Steamers of the British Isles by Nick Robins.

The book was published to sell at £11.99 obviously the publisher was getting below the £12 threshold here. I managed to buy the bin end of it 10 copies for £30 and am selling it at £4.99 to get below the £5 threshold, 12 ½ p in this equation doesn’t really get you anywhere.

I am afraid the only way that I can see that this could possibly work, is that if the government is going to borrow n thousand pounds on behalf of every family in the country for repayment in 2011, 12, 13…………., would be to send us all a cheque for whatever it is, and a letter begging us to go out and spend it.

Monday 24 November 2008

Local Journo’s Blog Deleted

Looks like young Thom Morris has annoyed someone, his whole blog has been deleted and he has put up something that looks like a somewhat resentful advertisement for the paper he works for click here to see what I mean.

I wrote the paragraph below last time this happened, click here for the posting about it.

He is a professional journalist, and the message that deleting sends out to all of us is that a local journalist is being gagged. It is not possible that they wouldn’t understand this, no journalist deliberately hides their writing unless the hiding is a louder message that the writing. Loud silences have been one of the most powerful tools of journalists in oppressed regions for hundreds of years.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Sunday morning reflections

We have a great many sparrows in our garden and there was quite a kafuffle this morning when a sparrow hawk turned up for its breakfast, I didn’t really see what happened but I think it must have got at least one, as we peered out of the window awaiting events the whole scene changed it started to snow and a robin turned up.

It’s been an odd sort of week in terms of bookshop business, a mixture of panic caused by the recession on the one hand and having bought some particularly good review copies and bankrupt book stock on the other.

With an overall shop stock of about 30,000 books it is fairly difficult to make much of an impact on the stock, right across the shop, but this batch has.

It’s very helpful to have a lot of obviously brand new books at secondhand prices with the recession and Christmas coming up.

Then there is the business of the museum closures, with The Maritime Museum we are fast approaching the deadline for the public consultation on the use of the building, if you would like to see it continue to be used as a museum please send an email to that effect to word is that the trustees forgot to renew the lease and that has caused the problem.

It would seem to me that The East Kent Maritime Trust don’t seem to have been particularly good at looking after the vessels in their care, one historic fishing vessel left to rot, chopped up and disposed of, another historic vessel seemingly abandoned and left high and dry for the elements to finish off and the last ocean going steam tug left to rust away.

I also noticed this little gem about the damage done to Margate Library, a lot of my customers use Margate Library and much of what they have to say about Thanet Gateway is unprintable.

Thanet Gateway Plus is one of five projects shortlisted in the efficiency and modernisation category of the prestigious Local Government Chronicle Awards, which recognises the best in UK local government.

Click here to read the press release about it

Click here for more pictures of Ramsgate Harbour

Saturday 22 November 2008

Library Update

Some of you may remember that I had some difficulties photographing Ramsgate Library, it was one of the most curious run-ins with our local government I have had to date click here to see what I mean.

Jocelyn McCarthy was in the shop this morning, bringing back some local history books that he had had on a sale or return basis to sell to people at a meeting to raise money, I managed to get his library update pamphlet and permission to publish it on the web, text below click here for the pictures scanned from the pamphlet.

Just a reminder and some information about our Library. Unfortunately our membership has depleted due to non-renewal of former members and I am pleading to unpaid members to rejoin us to ensure that The Friends of Ramsgate Library remains a viable entity.

Our Library will be handed over to KCC on the 1st December 2008 and it is hoped that the stocking out will take approximately four weeks so that by the first week February 2009 it will be open to the public followed by a grand opening in February.

I had a site visit a few weeks ago and I was greatly impressed by the amount of space there is.
I truly believe that we will have a Library fit for the 21st century — with three staircases, a lift, seating area with a drinks machine and central glass roof.

Our window will he installed on the 1 7th November and we are hoping to have a special dedication for the window and this will be discussed at our AGM on the 20th of November, at 7.3Opm at the Media Center, Cavendish Street, (The Old Church), for which I hope we will receive a good turn out!

The money raised for the window at present is £10K but we are still in need of some more donations and it is also hoped that we would be able to donate a few benches for the garden. If any member wishes to donate a bench in memory of a loved one this would be greatly received.

Unfortunately some of our members have the idea that after the Library is completed the Friends of Ramsgate Library will no longer continue. I would like to inform you that this is not so and that we made a promise in our constitution to continue to help in anyway we can to raise money by holding fundraising events for the library.

I hope to see you all on the 20th November.

Jocelyn McCarthy

Chairperson, Friends of Ramsgate Library

Thursday 20 November 2008

St Peter’s Second Best Tourist Venue in the World

According to the excellent Your Thanet this week this is in fact the case, unfortunately runner up to the country of New Zealand click here to read the article, so I thought I would put the little guide to St Peter the Apostle in Thanet on the web for people who haven’t discovered it yet.

Click here to read the guide

Click here if you want to buy a printed copy or to look at my other publications about Thanet

Sorry the pages on the web have published a bit jumbled up I will sort them out later.

The Isle of Thanet from Prehistory to the Norman Conquest

I have just received stock of a new book by Gerald Moody, paperback 192 pages, black and white illustrations throughout £17.99, published by The History Press.

This is what it says on it.

Deputy Director of the Trust for Thanet archaeology, Gerald Moody, has used all the most up-to-date and new archaeological evidence to produce the only book available about the history and archaeology of the Isle of Thanet.

The Isle of Thanet is located at the eastern tip of Kent and was once separated from the East Kent mainland by the Wantsum channel. With its unique position which made it part of a key trade route in the Romano-British period, the island has a long and diverse history. The Isle of Thanet explores that history from Prehistoric times up to the Norman Conquest, through the story of the rich and varied archaeological finds and a study of the key sites identified on the island, including Bronze Age Barrows, the Roman Minster Villa and Saxon monastic settlements. It also provides a historical study of the individuals and institutions that pioneered the exploration of archaeological sites on Thanet from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Film in the news

I have just been looking at the various local blogs and newspapers, the links are all on the sidebar, one rather worrying story is that The Granville Theatre and Cinema is in financial trouble.

It would seem that while Margate has two theatres heavily subsidised by the council, the council wont even let Ramsgate’s only remaining theatre have the rent relief it needs to survive.

Thanet Star reports that the film Thanet Under Threat is on youtube, it’s evidently been there for quite some time but has only had 240 views, so I imagine it needs a bit more publicity. It contains some fantastic archive footage of holidaymakers in Thanet so is well worth watching regardless of you views about property development in Thanet.

Finally having seen today in the paper that Kent County Council are considering spending another £400,000 of our money on its Kent TV site, where presumably the most important aspect of this site is to show local democracy in action, I was pretty amazed to hear from Thanet District Council that although Kent TV would host video footage from members of the public for nothing, they would charge Thanet District Council to host videos of their council meetings.

So here in Thanet having paid dearly for a government run video website, some of the local video footage we would most like to see isn’t there.

Clubs and Societies Thanet

Hello Michael,I have been developing a directory of all the Clubs and Societies in the Thanet area. As you obviously have an interest in the area too would you considerhaving a look for any omissions or errors? It's a website where anyone cancontribute, so feel free to make changes.

The idea is to provide a resource for everyone looking for a new activity to take up. Life is more than just work followed by pubs and clubs! Andyoungsters are less likely to create mischief if they are not bored. I wassurprised to discover that there is a lot going on in Thanet. So I've tried tobring all this information into one place.All the best,Parker

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Pegwell Bay Landfill Site

Does anyone know the answer to this one?

Thanet Offshore Wind would like to investigate the possibility of using the route of the cycle path that runs through the nature reserve at Pegwell Bay, as a cable route for the export cables from the offshore wind farm. The export cables at present are due to be buried under the A256 from the landfall at Pegwell Bay to the disused power station at Richborough.

It was appreciated that the initial attempt of putting traffic controls on this road in October, in order to start the work caused traffic chaos and we would like to try and avoid a repetition.

As the nature reserve was a landfill site, we would like to try and ascertain the extent of the landfill site and whether the present day cycle path passes over any of the old landfill areas, which would naturally cause problems with the cable burial.

If anyone has any knowledge of the extent of the landfill site, or has any detailed maps we would be very interested to hear from them.

Geoff Riches

Marine Supervisor

Thanet Offshore Wind Ltd.

Phone 01843 572133

The History and Antiquities of the Church and Parish of St. Laurence

Sorry about the delay getting this one in print, it wasn’t an easy one, anyway it’s out today at £9.99 I haven’t yet set up a buy it now button so if you want a copy posted to you, you will need to email the bookshop I am having a few technical problems at the moment, but will endeavour to keep up with demand.

The full title is; The History and Antiquities of the Church and Parish of St. Laurence, Thanet, in the County of Kent. With Special Articles upon Local Subjects by other Contributors. Illustrated with Maps, & pedigrees, Lithographs & Zincographs from Photographs specially taken for the work. 1895 By Charles Cotton.

The original edition is a rather large book so the print in my reprint is very small, I recommend a visit to the pound shop for a magnifying glass.

It’s one of the most important local history books, it mostly concentrates on history of St Lawrence before 1850 so is more of a historians book than a light read which should please a lot of people I believe.

I don’t have any biographical information on Cotton, so if anyone knows anything about him please let me know.

Monday 17 November 2008

Mail it to your leader

I have had one successful outcome from my questions to the council that is Sandy Ezekiel’s email address is to be reinstated.

It’s a bit of a strange reflection on the way that the council operates that I could get it reinstated and he couldn’t, as it was the email address that he used for his official correspondence it must have been a considerable inconvenience to have it deleted.

I have also received a response to my enquiries about the Sericol leak click here to read, as it doesn’t concur exactly with the information given to me by the experts I consulted, I will have to get back to them and also may have to get more information from the council. Once I have done this I will be able to produce an informed posting about it, in the meantime click here to read the response.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Sunday morning reflections

I notice all three local papers (links on sidebar) have reported the road accident on Ramsgate’s westcliff, three vehicles were involved and an elderly drivers car went over the cliff, he is now seriously ill in hospital. Does anyone have any more information about what happened?

There is an amazing aerial photo of Thanet Earth on Thanet Life it really shows the enormous scale of the thing.

It is a pity that it involved the desecration of so much prime farmland, I have expressed concerns before about matters relating to surface drainage and pumping so much water adjacent to Monkton Nature Reserve, which I think will dry it out.

What occurred to me looking at the pictures is that the large manmade lakes will attract a lot of waterfowl and that this is probably not such a good idea right at the end of Manston Airport runway.

The planning application number is F/TH/05/0237 because of the cranky way the government planning site is written I can’t link to the plans, so you have to go to the site and put the application number in the search box to view it.

I have been looking at the plans this morning and I can’t find anything there about the effects of all the open water on Manston airport, have I missed it, can anyone put me right here?

While looking for the application number I stumbled across plans and instructions for assembling a dragon on one of the main Thanet roundabouts see application number F/TH/08/1297 I have to admit to being quite captivated by these. Something that particularly amused me is that it is to be small enough not to distract drivers while large enough to be significant. You couldn’t make it up could you?

Oh yes and the following information from TDCs new knowledge hub website

Did you know? Thanet's population was estimated to be 129,200 in 2007. 52.3% of Thanet's population are female, 47.7% are male. Average life expectancy in Thanet is 77. Average life expectancy for females is 80 and males 75. Thanet's population is becoming more diverse. Between 2001 -2005 its black and minority ethnic population has doubled.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Ramsgate residents in 1930

I have just published the Ramsgate private residents and business directory for 1930 and am finishing of the Ramsgate street directory for the same year, I am always very grateful to Kellys directories for allowing me to make reprints of parts of their old directories.

I have also put the private residents part of the directory on the web click here to view it

Click here to buy the directory or look at our other books about The Isle of Thanet.

Friday 14 November 2008

Motoring books on the shelf

One of the most difficult sections to maintain any sort of credible stock in is motoring. So I was very pleased to get some new motoring books at reasonable prices, this was because the main motoring wholesaler sold off some stock cheaply to me.

If one is not careful the section degenerates into variations of the big book of cars, that people have received as gifts because they once said the were interested in them, and lines of car manuals for cars that have long gone to the scrap heap.

So if you think you may be getting a motoring book this Christmas, I would recommend looking at the pictures of them and telling your nearest and dearest the title you actually want.

I am always keen to buy books on individual makes and models of cars, motorbikes and other vehicles, not old car manuals however.

Click here to look at the motoring books on the shelf.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Questions to the council

This is by way of an update on the questions I put to the council a while ago.

It’s strange really the council must waste so much time answering questions, whereas if they put the information on the website in the first place it would save so much of their resources.

I make a considerable effort to try and avoid official complaints, the freedom of information act and the local government ombudsman, the object being to get them to become more open in their attitude.

Click here for the questions and their responses

Click here for more pictures of Royal Crescent

I also asked them about deleting the leaders email address, which to my mind is just plain stupid, yes anyone who uses it gets an email back saying it was undeliverable, what they don’t get is an alternative email address to send his mail to.

I really don’t understand why so much of government has to handle IT so badly, TDC seems to excel at this.

Nor can I understand why there should be such delay answering the questions about the Sericol leak, if the vapour is coming out of the ground at Westwood and the expert advice I have taken concluded it must be then it begs some very difficult questions. Not the least of which is, is it safe for the people working there?

History books

Here in the bookshop we are very short of English history books, the rest of the world history shelves are fairly full, so if you have a collection of books about English history that you want to sell you know where we are.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Ramsgate’s Saddest First World War Raid

With the First World War very much on peoples minds I have put on the web the sections from a couple of my publications covering the airraid in Ramsgate when the Sunday school children were killed.

The main part is from my publication Cockburn’s Diary, Ernest Cockburn was in a reserved occupation at Westgate Gasworks during the war, he lived in Ramsgate where he was a special constable.

He kept a diary during the war years which I was lucky enough to be able to borrow, his handwriting was fairly hard to decipher and much cross-referencing had to be done with directories of the period and our other books about Thanet during the war.

This meant that for a couple of months my wife and I were pretty much living in that period in our minds.

The other publication The North Foreland Lookout Post in the Great War 1905-1918 by Edwin Scoby Oak-Rhind is also a dated log looking at many of the same local events from a different perspective, so it helpful to have one to hand when reading the other.

Click here for the accounts of the raid in which the Sunday school children were killed

Click here for more of Cockburn’s Diary

Despite the lookouts warnings during the months before and several previous occasions when the air raid siren was sounded far too late, because the lookout was not connected by a direct line to the siren operator, the people died needlessly.

This was due to poor cooperation between the various military and civil authorities. There are parallels here with Pleasurama having no emergency escapes to the cliff top or building a very large industrial estate on the drinking water aquifer.

Monday 10 November 2008


A couple of email reminders received today

One from councillor David Green about tomorrow’s public consultation on the asset disposals click here to read.

One from Capt Nigel Collingwood the meeting to discuss major development issues on 12th od December click here to read.

All very important issues to this area so I am sure a lot of people will wish to attend.

click here for more pictures of Ramsgate from the air

Sunday 9 November 2008

Commercial Appendix

Firstly for those of you who are interested in old Ramsgate businesses click here for the commercial appendix to my publication Ramsgate illustrated, I have just put it on the web.

Now a bit of a Sunday meander, first having given some thoughts to the asset sales, it does seem that the council lacks any sort of proper plan for Ramsgate.

Selling off the maritime museum seems pretty stupid, one would have thought selling off the tourist information office and relocating it to the museum site with a restructured museum, run by volunteers would be a much better option.

Losing control of a large chunk of the harbour also seems like muddled thinking, one gets the impression that instead of a proper plan for the future of the harbour and port, there is an approach of how much money can be bleed from it.

I gather that a lot of the business that could have come to the port when it left Folkestone was lost because of the council’s lack of action.

I still haven’t had any answers to my questions about the Sericol leak, but have had an answer from TDC saying that they are consulting with the environment agency and will soon produce some.

I am assuming that since there has been such a long delay getting answers to the questions, are crops being irrigated and washed with contaminated water, and are the fumes coming out of the ground at Westwood? Something is probably seriously wrong.

Having done more research on the subject I am fairly certain that Cyclohexanone would have spread to a fairly large area around the site, and that the vacuum extraction plant would be unlikely to have removed as much as half of it from the ground.

Remembrance Day

One child’s comment on the subject.

"I went to school and they didn't teach me about poppies; they talked about soldiers instead. But one soldier wrote a poem about poppies."

Saturday 8 November 2008

The great asset sell off

Thanet District Council will be available to answer questions about the asset sell off next week, as part of the public consultation process, you can talk to council officers about this at the following times and places.

Tuesday 11 November from 4pm to 7pm Albion House, Albion Place, Ramsgate

Wednesday 12 November from 4pm to 7pm Margate Media Centre, 11-13 King Street, Margate

Thursday 13 November from 4pm to 7pm Pierremont Hall, Pierremont Park, Broadstairs

The 17 sites out to public consultation are:

Site: Margate Caves, Northdown Road, Margate (Margate Central)
Proposal: Either use as an amenity area, seek a commercial operator for the caves, after undertaking structural works, or consider infilling the cave system and developing the site.

Site: Land adjacent to 129/131 High Street, Margate (Margate Central)
Proposal: Improvements to the existing open space or potential development.

Site: Land at 1 – 6 Covells Row, off High Street, Margate (Margate Central)
Proposal: Either look at disposing to adjoining properties or seek planning consent for a single dwelling.

Site: at Marine Terrace, leisure site, Margate (Westbrook)
Proposal: Potential of leisure development.

Site: Land at Tivoli Park Avenue and Tivoli Road, Margate (Salmestone)
Proposal: Look at improvements to the area, retain the sites in their current condition or look at an alternative use for some of the plots.

Site: Land adjacent to 62 Brooke Avenue, Garlinge (Garlinge)
Proposal: Possible single development or dispose to adjacent property.

Site: Land at Park Lane, Birchington (Birchington South)
Proposal: Development potential still to be identified.

Site: Land at Viking Bay, Broadstairs (Bradstowe)
Proposal: To improve beach facilities, possibly with a beach café, restaurant or holiday accommodation.

Site: Retort House, Albion Street, Broadstairs (Bradstowe)
Proposal: Increased car parking provision or mixed use development, including commercial and residential elements.

Site: Former Rose Garden, Pysons Road, Broadstairs (St. Peters)
Proposal: Possible disposal to adjacent property.

Site: Port Ramsgate East, west to historic harbour, Ramsgate (Central Harbour)
Proposal: Residential development or a mixed commercial and residential scheme.

Site: Maritime Museum, Pier Yard, Ramsgate (Central Harbour)
Proposal: Possible use as a restaurant.

Site: Land at Effingham Street, Ramsgate (Central Harbour)
Proposal: Could be retained as a public car park, let as open storage, an agreement could be granted to local residents to use it for car parking or alternatively has potential for residential infill.

Site: Land adjacent to 19 Liverpool Lawn, Ramsgate (Central Harbour)
Proposal: Residential development or license the site, possibly to the adjoining property.

Site: Land at Irchester Street, Ramsgate (Eastcliff)
Proposal: Either formalize the car parking arrangement at the site or residential development to complete the terrace.

Site: Montefiore Games Centre, Ramsgate (Sir Moses Montefiore)
Proposal: Retain and/or upgrade the existing sports facilities and release surplus land for residential development.

Site: Manston Road extension site (Newington)

They say they want to get the best possible value for us council taxpayers, certainly Ramsgate seems to be putting up its fair share of assets here.

Sorry it’s such a long post but it’s rather a lot of assets.

Thanet public meeting 12 December

Dear Michael This is a blatant plug, if I may, for a public meeting on 12 December about the issues facing Thanet, which you and fellow Thanet bloggers have been keeping a watchful eye on:

Manston Airport’s planned expansion
China Gateway
Thanet Earth
Phase 2 of the East Kent Access road

Chaired by local filmmaker Norman Thomas
Speakers: Dr Caroline Lucas, Green MEP for the South East
John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch
Dr Hilary Newport, Director of CPRE Kent

7.30pm Friday 12 December
St George’s Hall
Broad Street
Thank you! Sean Furey

Friday 7 November 2008

Local historian makes up history he doesn’t know

I have been writing the introduction to The Hermit of Dumpton Cave and entered into one of those cans of worms that seems confront any local antiquary most every day.

The copy of the original book that I own, once belonged to a very well known local historian (I wont name and shame him) and has his notes inside, he says it was written by A. J. Valpy.

It is a difficult book to find out much about, it doesn’t appear in Bibliotheca Cantiana, anyway the British Library Catalogue ascribes it to Elizabeth Strutt [other married name Byron], (fl. 1805–1863), one of the nineteenth century's most prolific women of letters.

Having cross referenced this with The Dictionary of National Biography I am now certain that she is the author, however The Dictionary of National Biography calls the Hermit of Dumpton Cave Joseph Groome Peptit, his name was actually Joseph Croom Petit.

The picture of Lillian Road Cookery School that turned up today Says St Lukes Thornton road about 1922 on the back click here to enlarge it

Thursday 6 November 2008

Local pollution maps and incidents

I am still trying to make a case that having a major industrial development on the most sensitive part of our underground reservoir is just plain stupid.

I am still waiting for replies from TDC and the environment agency related to the Sericol spillage.

My main point is that dense industrial estates have pollution incidents so should be nowhere near the water abstraction boreholes.

Click here for the pollution map of Thanet it’s an edifying experience and shows pretty clearly what I mean.






The hunt is on for enthusiastic extras to play soldiers in a new comedy war film being shot in Thanet.

The film, called “The Singing Cowboy”, tells the story of a man who joins the army, with the hope of boosting his singing career but finds himself in big trouble when he ends up a war zone.

One of the key scenes in the film will be shot in Margate and producer Norman Thomas is looking for likely people to be soldiers in the scene.

“Mainly we’re looking for young men, anyone aged between 16 and 40,” Mr Thomas said, “But there will be some spots for women, too”

Mr Thomas said that people taking part needn’t worry about being under fire.

“They’ll be playing soldiers in a war,” he said, “but weirdly enough they’ll spend most of their time listening to people singing songs!”

And anyone who gets in touch with the film-maker may get the opportunity to be in other films in the future.

Mr Thomas said: “We’re already planning a series of new productions in particular one revolving around conflict in an office, and we’ll be keeping an eye open for anyone who might be able to take a role in them, too.”

pictures from the film being shot on location in Thanet, with local actors Steven Todd and Lisa Payne in action.

Anyone interested in taking part should ring Norman Thomas on 01843 604 253.
or email

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Retail Recession Ramblings

There is a rumour doing the rounds that the council is going to give Margate shopkeepers some sort of reduction in their business rates, I don’t believe this is true however if anyone knows different please let us know.

I think it may be some confusion about small business rates relief if you pay non domestic rates you are eligible for this relief if your rateable value is less than £1,000 and if your rateable value is less than £5,000 you ate eligible for 50% rate relief.

Click here to determine your rateable value.

I think it is pretty obvious with the growing number of empty Thanet shops, shop rents must fall and therefore rateable values, which are based on them, should follow.

Talking to other shopkeepers here in Ramsgate I am getting mixed responses as to how much business they are doing, from those who say they are on the verge of going under to those like myself who are doing fairly well at the moment.

Books are a sort on nonessential essential, by that I mean that if you normally buy books you don’t stop because of a recession or anything else, you just buy them from somewhere cheaper.

Ramsgate Lifeboat Coxswains

From left to right, Tom Cooper1963-74, Douglas Kirkldie 1946-52 and Arthur Verrion 1952-63.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

The Hermit of Dumpton Cave

One of the pleasant aspects of publishing local history in the way that I do, printing what I need as I go, is that I don’t have to worry that worry that the book is in any sense saleable.

The book that I am putting the final touches to at the moment is pretty much a case in point, a very scarce Ramsgate item that very few people could possibly want.

Joseph Croom Petit born at Wingham Kent in 1742 he came to Ramsgate in 1820 and lived as a hermit in a cave at the rear of Hollicondane Tavern, on land that now belongs to St Lawrence College.

I have put up a few sample pages click here to read them it’s rather like the type of sermon that one would hope to sleep through.

Monday 3 November 2008

Art books on the shelf and photographic problems

This is a bit of a Monday morning meander between customers so excuse me being off the plot a bit. I was going to put up pictures of fiction on the shelf but where the fiction is in the bookshop it’s too narrow to get far enough away from the books to photograph them as you can see.

Well here are the art books on the shelves in the shop, the usual mix of secondhand, reps samples, other people’s bankruptcies in fact anything I can find to have a reasonable art stock at prices that are a lot cheaper than anywhere else.

The architecture books are lurking in with the art books at the moment, architecture is a section that moves around to where there is space for it.

The shop is fairly busy at the moment, lots of Christmas shopping especially in the local history section, I was amazed on Saturday the number of people who made it through the torrential rain to buy their books. I had rather expected most people shopping to be at Westwood Cross where one can get from shop to shop pretty much under cover. I mentioned this to a friend of mine who is young single and employed and therefore has plenty of disposable income, he said. “Having spent a long time in the inevitable traffic jam last week, I had to wait for 20 mins for a parking space, I’m doing the rest of my Christmas shopping in the town or online.”

Back to the photography as you can see lots of bits in my camera again which is a pain, I will have to get one of the youth of today, with better eyesight than mine to clean it out again. Does this only happen to me I wonder I try to be careful when changing lenses is there any technique that could help to reduce the problem?

Saturday 1 November 2008


As Adscene has published a front page article about the leak directing people here for further information I have copied the post that did I when the Isle of Thanet Gazette published an article about it. I still haven’t had any satisfactory answers to the important I questions raised from the council.

I sent a letter to the Gazette, based on the post below, which they published this week with a response from the environment agency. The environment agency failed to answer the important questions below too, I have labelled them X1, X2 and X3, the only assurance that they did make is that it isn’t coming out of our taps now.

How dangerous is Cyclohexanone? The affects of exposure to this chemical are thought to cause neurological damage, damage to unborn children, altered immune system function, adverse effects on the respiratory system and affect the sensory system.

How much of the chemical would be dangerous? If you have to work in a contaminated environment in industry, you would have to wear a chemical protection suit and breathing apparatus where the concentration of the chemical exceeds 20 parts per million.

How much was spilt? No one really knows they have been extracting it from the chalk under Westwood since 2007 and have so far recovered about 500 tons of the chemical from the water pumped out of the chalk.

X1 Has it got into our drinking water, water used for crop irrigation and washing or water used for industry? No one really seems to know the complete answer to this one, most of the water used in Thanet is pumped from the porous chalk underground, as the leak went undetected for nearly 30 years and as there seems to be little regulation of private boreholes, it’s a bit of a grey area.

X2 Is the vapour coming out of the ground? I have asked the council and some of the local politicians, but haven’t yet received an answer

X3 Have there been any surveys of the health of the people living and working in the effected area because of the spillage? Once again I have asked the council and some of the local politicians, but haven’t yet received an answer.

What is this information based on?

The freedom of information request response from the environment agency click here to read

The International Labour Organization, part of the UN that produces regulatory information for member states click here to read

Scorecard the web's most popular resource for information about pollution problems and toxic chemicals click here to read

The British Geographical survey’s internal report on the Thanet underground water reservoir click here to read

Ramsgate All Change

Plenty of comment on the other blogs about Ramsgate’s latest railway project so here is some from me and Dave Richards. HSBC Rail (UK) Ltd have constructed a £34,000,000 maintenance facility on the existing Ramsgate Traincare Depot site. This will provide a modern, light maintenance facility complete with bogie drop, trainwash, controlled emissions tanking, and stabling for the existing Kent railway stock. Overnight stabling and servicing facilities will also be provided for some of the new Hitachi class 395 trains. Works comprised of the demolition of existing heavy lift shop and removal of eight existing sidings. The construction is an 8,000 square meter, five road maintenance shed with attached three storey office, stores and workshop.

The new main shed area is capable of accommodating thirty-six cars and incorporates two heavy lift roads, including a bogie drop facility. The remaining roads within the shed are located within a ‘swimming pool’ type area with the track on stools allowing under-train inspection and maintenance work. Outside, seven new sidings, with a six car train wash to accommodate 66 cars are being constructed. Work included the diversion of Ramsgate’s drinking water ring main which ran under the proposed new facility. The depot is sited above a major drinking water aquifer.

The Hitachi-built class 395 will cut at least 20 minutes off the journey time from Ramsgate to London via Canterbury West. The Javelins are capable of 140 miles per hour.

Dave Richards has taken some pictures of the construction work in progress for anyone who missed it click here to look at them.

Click here for sample pages of his book about the history of railways in Ramsgate

Click here for Southeastern Railways website about the new fast train service.