Friday 31 July 2009

A difficult week and some more pictures

I am afraid that my blogging may be a little sporadic at the moment and some of you may have to wait a while for answers to emails.

Since Saturday I haven’t been able to sit comfortably for more than about 5 mins due to the unfortunate roller skating accident, I really cant seem to be able to type standing up.

It gets worse I have just heard that my father has been diagnosed as having motor neurone disease so I will post when I can.

He has been ill for about the last year but was wrongly diagnosed so has been getting the wrong treatment so things may improve.

There have been some comments about the crud in my camera and I can’t find the cleaning kit so I took some of yesterdays picts with my old digital camera, unfortunately it seems to be about half a pixel but here they are

This morning’s picts were taken with the one with the crud in it but here they are a couple of interesting ones of a building firm getting their sand from Broadstairs beach that made me chuckle.
As you can see Ramsgate Market was setting up when I wandered through it this morning.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

More Thanet pictures these were mostly taken today but a few from the beginning of yesterday

After my roller skating accident I am still unable to sit for long enough to write anything coherent so have been out and about again talking pictures of Thanet.

There is also quite a lot of news stories that I ought to be posting and about 100 emails that I should have replied to so please accept my apologies if you haven’t had a reply, I think I should be OK by about Monday I think.

Once again the pictures are warts and all. I have also quite a lot of video footage that I will get up eventually.

Anyway click on the links for the pictures.

Monday 27 July 2009

Sunday 26 July 2009

More pictures of Thanet taken today

I hope I am not boring you with these pictures, many are just in preparation for future blog posts.

There is also a fair amount of video footage I will try and bung some of this up too but am having a fair amount of trouble sitting after yesterdays roller skating experience.

Sorry I am not in a very political mood at the moment and there in not much news, I am working on an overall review of the Thanet tourist facilities. Beach food kiosks, toilet cleanliness, beach cleanliness, inviting atmosphere etc.

On the whole things are much better than I expected.

Much has been done with my children in tow so much less concentration on camera settings and picture composition than I would have done otherwise. This and I am better at photographing people than scenery.
As it is the school holidays you can expect a lot more of my picture proofs.

Saturday 25 July 2009

More pictures for Tony, Bertie, Don et al

I spent a lot of today wandering around taking pictures and once again here they are in low definition for the internet.

Some are for promotions for the two Westcliff cafés and will do some more detailed posts about them later on.

All the pictures are reduced in size to fit fairly easily on the www none have been enhanced or deleted, something I will try and get around to.

All were taken today the first lot Ramsgate and Broadstairs between about 6am and 9.30 when I came back to open the shop.

The next lot about 10.30 when I went into Ramsgate to buy some stationary.

Then this afternoon I took my children roller skating on the Westcliff, I fell over about 25 times on concrete and am a little bruised now.

It has been some years since my skates came out of the cupboard as you can tell from the antiquated design.

We finished up feeding a pony that had gone for a swim in the sea.
Well here are the pictures warts and all

Friday 24 July 2009

Just for Tony Big News

his was today’s Morning walk mostly for the chap who is geotechnologist that supervised the repairs to the Pleasurama cliff façade repairs, the most boring but important ones show that it’s all cracking up and TDC have binned best part of a million pounds.

There are also some for KCC about a drain they have mended so the water comes out instead of going in.

My eyesight isn’t what it was but I tried to turn a few in the camera so most are the right way up this is set on 3.5 mega pixels and ftpd straight from the memory card with all warts.

If I publish them full size they come out a about 2 metres wide, bit difficult to view.

So you see I am fairly restrained on my web publishing.
Anyway here is the link

Pictures of local people

Walking around with my camera yesterday I promised a few Ramsgate people that their pictures would appear on the internet today, I am afraid one or two may have to wait until tomorrow.

The ambulance was because some old chap had got drunk jumped of the harbour wall and broken his jaw, the local lads were a bit concerned about this and I hope the pictures of them help to cheer them up in some way.

As I said to them no copyright considerations use them as you like.

Click here for the pictures.

Secret Thanet District Council Meeting votes to go ahead with Pleasurama

Last evenings secret meeting of full council voted to go ahead with the developer that can’t get insurance from their bank to protect us taxpayers from financial losses incurred.

I seems to have been voted through unanimously.

At the moment I feel that it is best to see this round as lost so I shall put up a few somewhat more relaxed posts.
At the moment I feel that it is best to see this round as lost so I shall put up a few somewhat more relaxed posts.



Another impromptu performance from Tory TDC Leader Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel caused pandemonium in the council chamber at Thursday evening's meeting of Thanet District Council and at one point there was even an open attempt to ban opposition councillors from taking part in the proceedings.

Firstly, Cllr. Ezekiel tabled a written Leader's report to which opposition councillors were told they would have no verbal right of reply. This in itself caused uproar in the chamber with serious concerns raised that such procedure could well be against the TDC constitution.

Not content with silencing opposition to his written report, Cllr. Ezekiel then tried to give a further power point presentation which, with only one slide up on the screen, was clearly shown to be a party political stunt.

Despite a torrent of calls from the chamber for Cllr. Ezekiel to abandon his blatant attempt at a Conservative party political power point broadcast, he simply would not give in and at one point he even begged the chairman to let him show his slides without commentary.

Cllr. Ezekiel's desperate pleas eventually proved futile, the council chairman was having none of it and after several minutes of chaos, she finally accepted Opposition Leader Cllr. Clive Hart's earlier proposal to simply note the written part of the Leader's report only and to move on.

Opposition Leader and Labour councillor Clive Hart said "I was appalled by Cllr. Ezekiel's behaviour and what happened here in the council chamber this evening. We deal with written reports all the time at TDC and wherever necessary we firmly debate them. The Leaders written report was supposed to be a new item for the council agenda but no-one had informed members that verbal questioning would not be permitted, that simply can't be right. If ever there was an attempt to gag opposition councillors this was it!

Then, as if that weren't enough, we had the shameless attempt by Cllr. Ezekiel to use the council chamber and its equipment, all paid for by ratepayers, for nothing more than a party political stunt. You can rest assured, I will be seeing the TDC Chief Executive ASAP".

Published by Thanet Labour Group Press Office, 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent, CT9 2RW

For further information contact Cllr. Clive Hart on 01843 298770 or 07980 652 896.

Thursday 23 July 2009

The Steam Tug Cervia in Ramsgate Harbour

A few pictures of the steam tug Cervia that I took today, restoration work is well underway and she should be open to the public next month as soon as she has been made safe.

I am sorry that some of them didn’t come out too well and I will endevour to delete the worse when I get time.

Do feel free to enhance any you like, let me know if you want any in high definition please quote web address as the top if the page (url) and send me the picture so I know which one it is.

No need to ask permission to use them just credit me and include this blog post address so people can look at the other ones.

The pictures there are about 200 of them Click here to look at them use the links at the top of the pages for more pictures.

I also took some video footage on the Cervia embed here, sorry there is no voice over, walking round the works of a steam tug while trying to see where you are going through the viewfinder of a camcorder it would have been something like this:

“Whoops I tripped over a pipe.” “Ouch my head.” So on and so on.

Sorry about the bit where the video goes all blurry for a moment, I had a senior moment with some technical part that was harder than my shin.

I gather that volunteers can get involved with this project and would recommend standing alongside and hailing ahoy Cervia would be a good starting point.

The hull doesn’t appear to be leaking, hardly a drop of water in her when I sounded the well and that tasted a little brackish but definitely not pure seawater, a bit oily too, I believe this came mostly from leaking hatches on the decks.

One has to appreciate that the hull plating of a tug is much thicker than most vessels due to the impacts they encounter when working.

From what I can see of the engine and boiler they seem to be in fairly good order.

Parts of the hull are definitely rusted and a little thinner than they should be.

I have some experience of boats and engineering so this isn’t just wild guess work.

I believe the plan is to slip her in Ramsgate next year and replace the plates that need it, by riveting not welding.

the craft of hull riveting has all but died out so this should be a major international tourist attraction.

Notes for enthusiasts:

Built 1945-6 by Alexander Hall and Co. Ltd., Aberdeen. YN709. Steel Screw Tug. Length 105.2 Ft B 27.1 Ft D 11.7 Ft 233 Grt. 900ihp 3 Cyl TE oil fired steam engine by builder. Official No.180997. Call sign GDPM. 21-1-1946 Launched as Empire Raymond for Ministry of War Transport. Foremost class. 30-4-1946 completed and handed over to Townsend Bros. Ferries Ltd. for onward delivery. 12-1946 Sold to William Watkins Ltd. for £36,000, 1947 renamed Cervia. 1-2-1950 Transferred to Ship Towage [London) Ltd. 26-10-1954 Capsized and sank whilst assisting P & 0 liner Arcadia at Tilbury. The Skipper and four crew were drowned. 28-10-1954 Raised and towed to Ramsgate for repairs. 27-1-1969 Transferred to London Tugs Limited. 1971 Sold for preservation at Medway Maritime Museum. 1973 returned to towing with International Towing Ltd., UK/Europe coastal towage and North Sea oil rig moves. Last in service as port tug at Ramsgate. July 1985 loaned to East Kent Maritime Trust's Ramsgate Maritime Museum, for preservation

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Euroferries Bonanza Express on the move

I have just noticed that Bonanza express is on the move, despite rumours that she had been laid up and all her crew had been laid off she is moving towards Santa Cruz de Tenerife at 17.4 kn course 288 degrees.

Any ideas what this means for the Ramsgate Boulogne service.

I gather negotiations are continuing between TDC and Euroferries but not much else.

Click here to trak her

Displeasurama and Ramsgate Royal Sands Under Development

One of my relations got his 2.1 in economics (it would have been a first but he had student digs at the end of a international airport’s main runway) he went into accountancy and was certified.

He could easily wound up in a bowler hat playing a gorilla in Monty Python, had he been born at the right time, but as it is he seemed the best chap to explain the business aspects of the Pleasurama saga, one is never certain with accountants about very much, apart that at some point their bill will be larger than you expect.

If an accountant can be called respectable, (do such things exist?) he is. I mooted the financial aspects of Pleasurama having just paid for two unreasonably expensive coffees.

Things didn’t get of to a very good start, conversation thus.

I said. “Would there be any special problems associated with dealing with a British Virgin Islands company?”

Rising to leave he replied. “If you intend to have dealings with a BVI I cease to be you accountant forthwith”

After a bout of soothing, a banana may have been involved (Monty Python had a disproportionate effect on my generation as did Terry Pratchett on his) I don’t think he can really differentiate exactly between librarians and secondhand booksellers. He understands the new breed of Waterstones et al, as a marketing operation with over priced snacks and books. But as my accountant he is only too aware that I am somehow involved with the shuffling around of books that have already been read, where any financial gain is incidental.

So in some subconscious way we partly see each other as orang-utan and gorilla.

This conversation about BVIs first occurred all those years ago when I first realised that SFP might cause problems for Ramsgate as a developer.

Now after 11 years of the main council owned leisure site in Ramsgate being trashed with many chances to opt out of the insanity, tomorrow our councillors have another chance.

I am going to stick with the performance bond on this post, and forget the other ludicrous aspects of the last 11 years, so ridiculous is this bondlessness that I find I am unable to write a totally serious post about it.

In the sane world of normal developers the developers bank issues a performance bond, this is an insurance policy to protect the land or property owner if the developer goes bust. A £5,000,000 bond costs about £10,000 of the bond value.

Say your house is worth about £500,000 and take the same ratio house insurance (just building not contents) of £1,000 wouldn’t sound unreasonable this is about the same ratio as I pay here, contents insurance is extra.

The developer is saying that their bank want £500,000 for a £5,000,000 performance bond.

This is equivalent of it costing £50,000 to insure your £500,000 house.

Yes 10% of the of the value, this means that if 9% of the buildings my insurance company insured burn down they would still be making a profit.

Or if 9% of the developments the banks issued performance bonds resulted in the developers going bankrupt the banks would profit. Assuming that the average developer builds at least 10 developments covered by performance bonds that means all developers going bankrupt.

Perhaps my maths is wrong anyone care to correct me?

In view of tomorrows vote perhaps some of you could try and get across to your councillors that if SFPs bank don’t consider SFP safe to insure then perhaps they should consider the implications of this, before TDC take a huge financial risk with them.
If any of you have missed the point the council officers are recommending to the councillors going ahead without a performance bond.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

More efforts to get Thanet District Council to promote the big local events.

I haven’t even tried with the smaller ones, but with Paul Laws already twittering about Dippers and Dunkers I thought it could be worth a try.

I sent the following missive off to the likely candidates at TDC and will do my best.

Having discovered the council funded after last week’s correspondence about Thanet Pride, it is featuring The Big Sky Jazz Festival on its home page.

No sign of Dippers and Dunkers on visit Thanet nor is there any sign of Sound Island Music Festival

The Quex Spitfire Prom is listed but the link leads to the wrong page of the Quex website.

Way down below events like belly dancing classes and girls night out.

Anyway apart from Dippers and Dunkers there are a few other major events this weekend that the council may feel justified in promoting on their website.

July 24-25 Big Sky Jazz Festival
July 24-26 Sound Island Music Festival
July 26 Quex Spitfire Prom

Once again these are major events and I believe some government funding is involved.

Ed. Many thanks to ECR for listing them on his blog invaluable for this sort of job.

Monday 20 July 2009

One small step for blogger but one giant leap for Thanet District Council IT

The council's website now has feeds on its news page they haven't got them onto the documents part of the site yet but it's a start and hopefully I will eventually be able to stop publishing their stuff for them.

I wonder if they will ever reach a stage where the public can comment on their site and the comments be visible after moderation.

There are a few teething problems one being that not all of their press releases appear in one place, some only on the councils home page others on their press release page and most on both.

It also seems to have effected the way their search box appear in Internet Explorer 8 this doesn't matter much as the search box doesn't work properly yet, but I am confident that they are working on improvements.

Good Graffiti and bad Graffiti at the Vue Cinema, fragments of Haine Hospital.

One somewhat unusual source for the historian is graffiti in this particular case at the Vue Cinema at Westwood Cross once the site of a hospital.

This hospital founded in 1902 operated under various names:

Isle of Thanet Joint Isolation Hospital (1902-1948)
Ramsgate Infectious Diseases Hospital (1902 - 1948)
Isolation Hospital, Haine (1948 - c.1955)

All that remains of the hospital now is part of the wall that formed the entrance gateway and inscribed into some of the brick is the graffiti of soldiers who were patients there during both world wars.

The worry now is that this may be obliterated by modern graffiti iscribed into the bricks by people waiting for films.

The customer of mine who voiced his concerns about this gave me these photographs of the names inscribe into the bricks.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Sunday ramble mainly reflections on another aspect of TDCIT and leisure promotion

Work has started on the Cervia to make her safe for visitors to go onboard, which is most encouraging.

My main Ramsgate objectives this year, to get the Pleasurama site cleared for leisure use, to get a foot passenger service to the continent, to get the maritime museum and Cervia open, is all a bit of an uphill struggle.

It looks as though Euroferries may be in difficulties, which is worrying, as Ramsgate would benefit considerably from a foot passenger service from the continent with the exchange rate as it is.

I do a lot of writing to council and councillors but frankly it is often hard to tell if it makes much difference so I was pleased on Friday, during my struggle to get Thanet Pride onto the councils website, to be told by the TDC officer in charge of council communications that the officers in that department appreciated what I have been doing and found it helpful.

In the course of the Thanet Pride business I discovered that the council have another website this is run for them by and frankly could do with considerable improvement.

As they host the publicity videos on Youtube one can see from the small amount of viewings they get that the site isn’t very effective; Margate - 272 views, Broadstairs - 232 views, Ramsgate - 553 views, Thanet - 316 views.

All the videos were uploaded 6 months ago during which time most people would have been looking for leisure events for the summer.

The same company produces the website for the Yorkshire Moors their publicity video has had 8,254 views.

So one question here is what does it cost to have four vidios professionaly made for such a small number of veiwings.

The visit Thanet website has many flaws one comes to associate with TDCIT the search box on the home page doesn’t work properly for starters.

Very little use is made of modern IT resources, there are no feeds for examle.

With the events, the large events have no priority over small ones and major events are not promoted on their homepage.

To put this into perspective this video I put up a year ago has had 3,322 views, the main reason it has been viewed so much is that I have used it before on this blog.

Now the four Thanet publicity videos have picture link on the visit Thanet website homepage which makes me suspicious that no one much uses the site.

I have just noticed that the counter on this blog has just passed the 100,000 mark so a thank you to my readers for putting up with my ramblings.

I will endeavour to add to this as the day progresses.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Pleasurama more delay confirmed by Thanet District Council’s boss.

Now it’s to be early 2010 according to Richard Samuel chief executive of Thanet District Council, no word of the site being cleared for leisure and parking use this summer.

I have just published this information on it comes under the heading of 17/07/2009 - Agenda supplement published - Agenda Supplement : Agenda Supplement: Meeting of Jul 23 2009 7:00PM, Council in case you wonder how the council announced this news.

That will make it twelve years since the old Pleasurama building burnt down, I wouldn’t have thought it much to ask to get the site tided up until they actually start work.

This agenda supplements is the chief executives report and like so many council documents is only published as a pdf file, all very well if you are wealthy and own a modern computer that can manage this sort of file, not so funny for some of the pensioners I know that have computers designed for Widows 98 struggling to run XP.

So here is what he has to say:

“Pleasurama: in the light of the impact of the recession in relation to borrowing, the
council has investigated the ability of the developer to carry out the scheme. Officers are
satisfied that the company is in a position to proceed and later in this meeting, members
are asked to ratify that we proceed with the proposal. Work on site is expected to start
early in 2010.”

I have left it in the funny format it came in when I copied it from the pdf, just irritating really.
Back to Pleasurama the developer can’t obtain the normal business insurance from their own bank to protect the council’s financial interests.

The new, 6th set of plans I think, don’t comply to the environment agency’s basic safety recommendations click on the link to read their letter about it

The council officers are recommending the councillors to ratify that the council proceeds with the proposal.

Some of the councillors are not happy about this see
Most of course will probably tow the line, I am beginning to wonder if most would put their heads in the fire if officers recommended it.
I have just been down to the site and there are obvious problems with the cliff façade repairs, vegetation is already growing both from the drainage holes and much worse new cracks that have appeared since the paint job with vegetation growing in them.

Click here for the pictures

You don’t need to be Einstein to see that once the building is built the road between the cliff face and the back of the building is going to be too narrow to repair the cliff.
Click here for the detail from the latest plans showing this crazy two-way road that is too narrow for a car to pass a lorry.

Friday 17 July 2009

Thanet Pride on the TDC homepage

Many thanks to all of those at Thanet District Council who managed to get notice of the Thanet Pride event onto their website homepage today.

Why Hide Thanet Pride Thanet District Council

Once again a major local event partly sponsored by Thanet District Council and nothing on the council website.

I have contacted all the usual candidates at the council bur don’t expect much.

Update, many thanks to Dr Simon Moores who managed to find it on one of TDCs websites that is hosted by a private company, it’s nearly as bizarre as the TDC planning site.

It lists Ramsgate as only having one shop “Ramsgate Town Partnership” it lists Margate as having 10 shops I haven’t been there for a while so this may be accurate.

Here you go see if you can find the link to Thanet Pride.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Still with a 1930s theme however this time a video made in Nazi Germany

It really is a truly amazing film commissioned by The International Olympic Committee, Leni Riefenstahl's epic two reel film about the 1936 Olympics in Berlin pretty much stopped my day for two hours.

I should warm anyone that could be offended that it does contain some mild nudity.

Many thanks to “Interesting” for commenting on yesterdays post and drawing my attention to it.

Click here to view it

Councillor, MP? Having a spat on the blogs make sure you are you.

I believe this is particularly important for our local politicians when they comment on the local blogs and as the internet becomes more important to local politics, with TDC now coming up with a protocol on blogging I thought I would add what I think is an important point.

Unless you join blogger and sign on when you post then anyone can impersonate you, not so bad for ordinary members of the public but for politicians I would think this could be dammed right dangerous.

Frankly I would recommend that all of our local councillors get themselves a blogger id and comment on the main local blogs to the effect that they will only comment using their identity, so that the blog administrators know if someone is impersonating them.

I should also point out point out that anyone can obtain a blogger id for themselves and yet keep their identity confidential.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Broadstairs beach, the tambourine dancer and two world wars.

Staying roughly on the theme of yesterday’s post, 1930s guides, I have put up more pages from, Come to Sunny Broadstairs the official guide for 1937.

This was a period of considerable social change mostly caused by WW1, prior to WW1 it would have been considered quite shocking for a woman to show her leg above the knee and bathing was done using bathing machines to prevent this from happening.

Between 1918 and 1937 we had advanced to the bikini as evidenced in yesterdays post.

From the historians point of view this is helpful when trying to date pictures.

There is another rather different effect caused by WW2 clothing rationing which meant that what people wore didn’t change significantly from 1939 to about 1955.

Looking through the 30 pages from this guide that I have published online I don’t think I could have dated many of the photographs closer than between those two dates.

Click here to look at the pages from the book

Government IT

As you will know if you read this blog recently I have been trying to get the the council to drag TDCIT kicking and screaming into the twenty first century, one thing I pointed out to them was that parts of their website didn’t work on the later versions of Internet Explorer.

Having countered their unlikely argument that most people that used their website, used older versions they eventually put this right.

I should point out to all of my readers that using older versions of Internet Explorer means that your computer is not secure when you access the internet and that you could easily have something nasty happen to you.

Many thanks to reader Keith for pointing out this article click here to read pointing out that the MoD are using insecure browsers, presumably this could even lead to members of the armed services being killed.

I am told that our own dear council are slowly coming round to the idea that not all is well with TDCIT and more improvements will be made eventually.

Below is the gist of what I said to them today about it.

As far as what is visible to me goes the councils website search still doesn’t function it won’t even find things on their homepage, I just tried typing in Gary Rhodes who is the subject of an article there.

There isn’t any reason why they couldn’t use the Google one as many other councils do.

There are still no feeds for their press release pages, an embedded blog with the press officers having access to post on it would do the trick for free.

At the time of writing 4 pm today neither of the last two press releases that I published yesterday at had appeared on the TDC website although I do concede they are getting better with pretty much all of the press releases getting up within three days.

There does seem to have been some increase in the documents available in html, although where the document is an image of a document i.e. it has been scanned it always appears as a pdf file. It is as though they lack the ability to publish ordinary image files, this may be the case as they make so little use of their press release photos.

They are still bouncing back emails that they shouldn’t be I just tried in a normal sane world and in any other organisation I have come across from the house of commons down they only use one format for email addresses derived from a persons name.

Still no linier scales appearing on planning documents, this is something that could be solved with a few rubber stamps. At the moment you can’t tell the dimensions of any building if you view the plans online making the whole expensive business of putting them there almost pointless.

In all of this I discovered that TDC have their own Utube account many of the videos are produced for them by professionals and most of them never appear on the TDC website. Just another wasted resource like the press release photos.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Miss Joydays Ramsgate and the French lie about bikinis

The French claim that the bikini was invented by French engineer Louis Réard and fashion designer Jacques Heim in Paris in 1946 and first appeared on July 25 of that year at a fashion show at Piscine Molitor in Paris.

As you can see from the cover of this 1939 guide to Ramsgate we didn’t seem to realise it would require the expertise of and engineer to produce one.

I am afraid to say that when I trained in engineering I didn’t know that bikini engineers existed or I may have made a different career choice.

Anyway having ploughed through the local blogs just now there is rather a lot of political infighting going on it’s all a bit sad really and has reached the point where Tony Bignews Margate has had to turn comment moderation on.

So I thought I would stick up a few more pages of Miss Joydays guiding us around pre-war Ramsgate would cheer people up click here for them.

Bizarre and secretive working party in Thanet District Council

O.K. this is probably just me and my perception of the council but having just put up the latest TDC documents I psyched myself up to the task of reading them just in case there was anything there of great import.

If you have the pdf reader required for many government documents you may wish to click here to confirm what I am about to say the Local Development Framework Working Party meets on Wednesday, 22nd July, 2009 2.00 pm and I have just published the link to the agenda at they are to discus:






The caps are theirs I just pasted them in and don’t mean to shout, for every item this group are to discuss all of the documentation is secret, the public and the press are excluded from the meeting.

I can see that they may wish too keep the airport masterplan or the core strategy for Westwood a secret but what could they possibly want to do to the cemeteries that they would want to keep a secret?

Update I have discovered that Matt Clark of KIA will attend this meeting and that Martin Cassell, TDC, will be there to give a presentation on sporting facilities.

When one sees the things that TDC seem to feel the need to keep secret from us the mind truly boggles.

Monday 13 July 2009

Sunday afternoon dodging traffic in Ramsgate High Street.

Due to the rather peculiar rules that surround the pedestrianisation of the centre of Ramsgate on Sundays we have a situation in some ways reminiscent of the 60s.

As most of you will know Ramsgate is a busy shopping centre even on Sunday when some of the shops are closed but on Sundays traffic is allowed into the pedestrian part of the town centre.

As there are no yellow lines, cars park just about anywhere and pedestrians dodge around them trying to avoid what can be quite fast traffic.

Click on the picture to enlarge it, it was taken yesterday afternoon at about 3 and is fairly typical of the situation.

The pedestrianisation of Ramsgate turned into a total mess as the special organisation set up to design it and consult with local people left before it was completed, so TDC stopped the work where it was three quarters finished.

Sunday 12 July 2009

The man from the ministry, Pamplona bull run and other thoughts for Sunday.

An old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for some time dropped in for a chat today, he now works in what we once would have called the ministry of education but is now probably made up of a great many government departments, at local, national and European level.

We had quite a considerable chat about the coming of the end of the public service gravy train, partly as the government department he works in is one that David Cameron says he will close if he gets elected.

My notion that the whole UK education system could be improved for nothing, just by ensuring that the teachers took the examinations with their students and that as long as the same examiner marked all of each classes and their teachers exam papers, many of the problems in our education system would be resolved, went down quite well with him.

Interestingly he considered that many civil servants including him were grossly over paid, he considered that pay in the public sector was now markedly better than in the private sector, for similar jobs.

Catching up on this week’s news, “Man gored to death by bull in Pamplona run,” was one I had missed click here for story and video footage, it seems hardly credible that this should still be going on in modern Europe.

Having read the article and watched the video I am trying to get my head round how I feel about this, I suppose this is probably the most dangerous legal public event still in existence.

From the point of view of the young chap who got killed, I don’t suppose he really thought of the danger or the awful consequences for his family. I would like to say that when I was in my late teens or early twenties, especially if goaded on by my friends, I would have been too sensible to what he did, but am not so sure.

From the bulls point of view as the bulls that are bred for Spanish bullfighting are just that and wouldn’t exist without the sport, this is more difficult for me than just saying it’s barbaric and has no place in a modern world.

If I had been born a bull in the UK, castration, intensive farming and the slaughterhouse would have been my lot.

The bulls bred for Spanish bullfighting however pretty much range freely, as close to the bovine natural habitat as one is likely to find in Europe today, I think reaching maturity intact and dieing relatively quickly has more appeal for me.

Anyway moving away from the Hemmingwayesk to the more mundane, I have just put last weeks planning applications on and am once again pondering the bizarre nature of TDC planning online.

The most ridiculous aspect of the plans as they appear online is that pretty much all of them are scans of scale drawings, the only way one can work out any of the dimensions on them is to use a scale ruler against the paper sheet.

This means that when viewing the planning drawings online it is impossible to tell how long any of the lines are i.e. the height, width or depth of any of the proposed buildings, rendering most of the documents published on the site next to useless.

I have been asking TDC to get linier scales added to the drawings before they are scanned for some time, this wouldn’t be difficult, it could be done as simply as having a rubber stamp of each scale made and applying it to the plan.

I know that TDC are working on a new planning site, which should be working by now, however they tell me that this has been beset with technical problems. Not having got as far as putting liner scales on the sheets yet suggests there will be quite a long wait before we get anything really useful.

Pondering our local water contamination a question that occasionally flits through my mind is, would the combination of government agencies that appear to be incapable of insisting in basic safety measures, like a flood risk assessment for Pleasurama, combine through incompetence or design to supply contaminated tap water in a first world country click here to read.

Still on the water issue, some of you may be interested to see how Thanet Earth have addressed some of the problems that China Gateway will have to solve click here to view, as you can see it will a mammoth and expensive task. I believe something like this sort of solution will have to be used for the car and lorry park runoff, looking at the size of these parking areas the tanks will have to be massive

I will endeavour to add more as I get time today.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Margate and Ramsgate all about and round about them. A gossiping guide to some pleasant places in the Isle of Thanet

This is an unusual guidebook to The Isle of Thanet, written by By Chas. H. Ross, it comes from the Victorian satirical publishing house that produced Judy magazine. Judy was an offshoot, possibly a rival to the better-known Punch magazine that started in the 1840s.

As far as I can tell this book was first published in about 1880 its humorous approach equates to Gilbert and Sullivan and Diary of a Nobody. Judy started in 1867 and seems to have vanished in about 1900.

As a child I lived in a Victorian house, bound volumes of Punch lurked in the corners of bookcases both at home and in my friend’s houses. I read through them, as they were obviously supposed to be funny; you could tell from the pictures. I suppose as a child I assumed that humour was something that one learned, as the other things from the adult world. I don’t think it ever occurred to me then that as the volumes of Punch were mostly around 100 years old, they had ceased for the most part to be funny to anyone. We didn’t have any bound copies of Judy, I don’t think my Victorian ancestors many of whom were still alive at the time, would have approved of it.

Always for the local historian one of the greatest difficulties is extracting from histories and guidebooks what the place was really like at the time they were written. For the most part the books about The Isle of Thanet try to tell us about the past as it was perceived at the time of writing.

This book goes one step further, in that aspects of it are so quintessentially Victorian that one finds oneself starting to think somewhat like a Victorian.

I found during reading it that I was to some extent travelling in that foreign country which is called the past.

The original book was a piece of cheap, throw away, publishing. The pages were not very well printed, so I have done my best with it to make it all legible. Most of all though I have endeavoured to retain the atmosphere of the original in my reprint.

These ephemeral guidebooks are extremely scarce, they appear on the secondhand book market far less frequently than the more respected academic histories of Thanet.
The price of one of the original copies would be very hard to judge. I bought mine at auction and was pleasantly surprised to get it for just under £100 as neither you nor I will probably never find another copy so its price is unlikely to be of great import.

On the other hand the value of the book is not diminished in this modern reprint. The humour is there both intended and created by the passage of time, if one sort don’t make you laugh the other probably will, hopefully a little of both.

It is as well to remember that at this time both Ramsgate and Margate were two of the busiest resorts in the world. The Granville hotel in Ramsgate ranked among the top hotels in the world. The tower on the Granville hotel houses the tanks to supply pressure for the many types of bath available in its astonishing spa. Politicians, celebrities and even royalty wandered our streets mixing with the crowds down from the London season. Even special luxury trains ran from London.

Anyway so much for my rambling on click here for sample pages from the book and click here should you wish to buy it.

Friday 10 July 2009

The mystery of Thanet District Council TV

One of the things I post regularly on are the new videos that Thanet District Council put up on Youtube, some of these are obviously professionally made for the council, probably at considerable expense.

Don’t get me wrong here they are very good well made videos and the latest batch to go up here water-safety-code.html on an important subject that may save lives.

When I first started posting them I noticed that many of them had hardly been viewed at all, the problem being that in quite a few cases there doesn’t seem to be any discernable use of them made on the councils website.

Occasionally one may appear embedded in a news item on the council’s homepage but these items vanish after a relatively short space of time, strange really like the councils press release photographs.

Here is the latest one, Youth Matters meet Gary Rhodes at the National Junior Chef competition 2009, not something you would think they would want to hide, it shows Thanet College in an exceptionally good light.

when I embedded it here it had been up for two days and only had 7 viewings three of which were me messing about getting it to embed properly.

The pedigree of the family of Curlinge, Curlying or Curling, of Chilton in the parish of St Laurence, in the county of Kent.

One of the local history books that I publish is The History and Antiquities of the Church and Parish of St Laurence Thanet in the County of Kent.

Click here for sample pages from the book.

Click on the image to enlarge it the pedigree of the family of Curlinge, Curlying or Curling, of Chilton in the parish of St Laurence, in the county of Kent from this book.

This book has an index of people named in it so it can be a useful tool for those researching their family history.

Click here to view the list of names.

One thing this leads to is questions from people who are trying to track down information about their ancestors that once lived in this area, often I find I can’t answer them so I have posted some of them here in the hope that others may.

Below today’s question.

“Dear Michael

I don’t suppose you’d have a book which would tell me anything about a school run by a Rev G Abbot in Ramsgate in 1819? I have a copy of a letter dated September 4th 1819, written by my 4x great grandmother Catherine Curling to her grandson Thomas Curling and addressed to

Master Curling

The Rev G Abbot’s



As you see my answer below may have had something useful in it though not exactly what was asked for.

Good news and bad no mention of a school run by school run by a Rev G Abbot in the only book I know of that covers the Ramsgate schools during that period. Information is sketchy and mostly drawn from old averts and maps.

However Richarson’s Fragments of History of Ramsgate 1885 does mention several Curlings mentions as sea captains that went to sea from Ramsgate between 1750 and 1754 William Curling of North End Thomas Curling of North End and William Curling of East End.

We have in stock a cheap reprint of this at £6.99 + p&p or a first edition at £120 + p &p.

There may be some mention of Curlings in Mockett’s Journal links to the whole thing published online here

I will make your enquiry the subject of a post on my blog as a lot of people interested in Ramsgate History read it and someone may come up with further information.

Thursday 9 July 2009


I have just published another article from Don Long’s book Occasional Ramsgate Writings click here to read it.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Granville Marina Restaurant recommendation to compulsory purchase.

Thanet District Council officers have recommended that the planning committee approve the compulsory purchase of Granville Marina Restaurant.

Click here to read the recommendation to compulsory purchase, click here and here for pictures of the initial restoration work carried out by Goody Demolition.

It occurred to me that some of you would find the correspondence I had with one of TDCs heritage experts immediately after this incident, it does show in a little more detail what appears to have gone wrong click here to do so.

I should also add the I only picked this one up because it published the links to the documentation on today where I have recently put up quite a lot relating to other Thanet planning applications and some of you may wish to check on any in your part of Thanet.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Euroferries Ramsgate to Boulougne ferry service

I have been delving the web and phoning around trying to find the present situation regarding this issue.

The ferry they intend to use Bonanza Express is still in port at Las Palmas de Gran Caneria.

Work hasn’t started in Port Ramsgate to modify or replace the roll on roll of equipment that would be needed.

There is a signature missing from the documentation at TDC, this is delaying things.

It seems pretty definite that Bonanza Express now has Euroferries painted on the side, suggestions have been made that the picture above has been doctored but I believe this is not the case, mainly as it would be counterproductive in terms of any efforts to get the operation off the ground.

She has been moving about in the port at Las Palmas de Gran Caneria today according to so I don’t know if this is significant of anything.

There has been a large investment in Boulougne that appears to be for the Euroferries terminal.

There is a lot of comment about this on The Big Blog click here to view

The bottom line here is that if it is possible to pull it of a Ramsgate to Boulougne ferry service would be of great benefit to Ramsgate.

Monday 6 July 2009

Shop activity in Ramsgate from the 5p book up and some thoughts on competing with internet booksellers.

With the recession biting more severely by the week one of the more active sections in my bookshop is the recession section where all of the paperbacks are 5p and all of the hardbacks 10p, the very low prices in this section cause some rather unusual reactions from some customers.

When I first started in secondhand bookselling most secondhand bookshops had a section something like this and most customers used them without comment.

I have just been up Ramsgate High Street where the old Woolworth shop is due to reopen as a 99p shop tomorrow and all things considered Ramsgate doesn’t seem to be faring too badly at the moment.

Interesting as Woolworth’s started out as a shop where everything was 6d 2½p in new money and in value probably fairly similar to 99p today, things seem to have come full circle.

Very cheap prices are not always what they seem particularly online.

Most popular paperbacks are available secondhand on Amazon priced a 1p, this is because of the fixed price postage charge of £2.75 that Amazon has for secondhand books that third parties sell through their site, as it costs the seller about £1 to post an average paperback if they sell it for 1p they receive £2.76 less the cost of listing on Amazon leaving them with about £1.50 so there is still a profit to be made from the sale.

This also means that about the cheapest you can buy a paperback online is £2.76 in the bookshop I overcome this competition by pricing most popular paperbacks at £2.50 or less. The same usually applies with Ebay where the staring bid and postage usually come to at least £2.50.

It also has the advantage that any title that is always in short supply I can price above the Amazon price to improve the range and quality of the shop stock.

Walking back along King Street with the camera I took some pictures of some of the shops that have opened recently click here for them I did a post about this recently and am surprised that it is still going on.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Restoration of the Steam Tug Cervia to start imminently

Preston Steam Trust has announced that the restoration project will start in the next two weeks in Ramsgate Harbour.

Click here for the history of the Cervia she once worked as the ferry tug at Port Ramsgate.

Panoramic view of Victorian Ramsgate from the sea in about 1885

Click here to view it

Do feel free to print this one out and stick it up on your wall it is made of five separate images published side by side click here for the images rotated for printing, just save each of the five images to you computer.

To do this right click on each of the images click on “save picture as” when you have saved them all print them out cut the white boarders off and away you go.

Alternatively I publish it in book form printed on our very fade resistant laser printer click here for it. The economics of this rather depend on what you pay for printer ink.

The book contains 38 images mostly of Ramsgate but also a few of Broadstairs, I have published the panorama on alternate pages so you only need one copy of the book to cut it out, I have also made a special effort with the images in the book so the panorama joins up well.

I have a copy of it on the kitchen wall and it has given me a great deal of pleasure, it came from the A4 version of the book and is 64 inches long or 160 centimetres for those born after the flood.

A question that often comes up is how to date a picture like this so I will have a go, it’s after the pier was built in 1881 and before the pavilion was built in 1906 it’s not between 1888 and 1891 as the pier had a switchback railway on it and it’s got to be before 1890 as it shows the harbour trustees committee house (just to the right of the clock house with the domed roof) that was demolished then, so between 1881 and 1888.

Perhaps someone else can do better, do feel free to help narrow the date down.

While on the subject of local items to stick on the wall I noticed the maritime museum has a print of the birds-eye view of Ramsgate for sale, I believe this is about 1860 they also had couple of charts one of the Goodwin Sands showing shipwrecks I think.

I mention this as people are always asking for this type of stuff in my bookshop.

Saturday 4 July 2009

Ramsgate Maritime museum is open.

I popped out from the bookshop to check that the museum has actually opened and can confirm that it has (picture taken today) Gavin Steele is running it and it museum will be reopening for the summer season. Opening hours are subject to alteration but will start as 10am till 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

At the moment the entrance fee is £1 however I am hoping to persuade the new owners to make it free.

Some Historical notes on The Clock house that houses the Maritime Museum now that we can get back in it.

In 1805 Samuel Wyatt the harbours engineer was directed to draw up plans for a watch house and clock house.

In 1809 modifications to the plans were suggested by John Rennie the naval architect and new engineer to the harbour.

Completed in 1817 its main purpose was as a navigational aid part being an astronomical observatory, very important in navigation.

There was a brass transit line embedded in the floor, similar to the one at Greenwich used for determining longitude also important in navigation, this was levered out and stolen in 1975.

The original astronomical clock by Moore of Clerkenwell with grid iron pendulum was constructed under the control of the famous pioneer of precision Captain Henry Kater (1777-1835) who did much research into the accuracy of pendulums.

In 1848 records show that there were two clocks in the clock house the one previously mentioned showing Ramsgate mean Time and a new one showing Greenwich Mean Time.

One of the great advantages of having an accurate clock visible in the harbour was that captains could scale their chronometers without taking these delicate instruments out of their ships.

The first floor central room was constructed as a fireproof repository for charts and papers.

The ground floor housing buoy house, carpenters shop and watch house the basement designed to store flammable materials like tar and pitch.

Ernest Cockburn says in his book COCKBURN’S DIARY

“The Admiralty have also fitted up a wireless station at the clock house in the pier yard (Ramsgate.) During the week the public have been allowed on the pier the London boats have run as usual, but we were not surprised on Saturday morning to find the pier gates closed, and the following notice posted up:-

that any unauthorised
person approaching or
attempting to enter the
Navy Office, commonly
known as the Clock House
is liable to be SHOT by the
sentry or police constable.”
It looks very grim to see such a notice on our usually peaceful front. A space around the Clock House is roped off, and a sentry with a loaded rifle and fixed bayonet is stationed there.”

My main source of information is a Bygone Kent article by Robert B. Matkin which I have plagiarised in the tradition of Thanet Historians.

This is what two historians said about our most famous local history book and its author Lewis our most famous historian who published, The History and Antiquities as well Ecclesiastical as Civil of the Isle of Tenet, in Kent .

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

18th century historians mostly vicars had something of the tone of some bloggers about them don’t you think?

Rock Promotion Thanet District Council IT gets it wrong The Birchington Village Partnership gets it right.

I spent a large part of yesterday trying to get Thanet District Council to promote Ramsgate Rocks on their website, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they didn’t, especially as their website still says about Margate’s Big Event that was held last month: “Preview of two days of thrilling free entertainment - Full programme available soon.” Unbelievable? click here to view, I know of one disabled guy that can't stay out for too long that missed the Red Arrows because of this omission.

The councils stance appears to be that this is down to Ramsgate Town Partnership but on the TDC website when you get to their A to Z of services it lists Ramsgate Town Partnership the link takes you to a page on the TDC website that doesn’t exist.

Nothing on the TDC website about the reopening of Ramsgate Maritime Museum either, when they do things that are good you would think they would want to promote them TDCIT just don’t seem to be able to grapple with 21st century IT.

Still the search facility on their homepage doesn’t work properly although they could use the free one provided by Google, like the one my sidebar , a lot of other councils do, but TDCIT seem to think that given enough time and money they will eventually know more than Google about searching websites.

Still their press releases and new documents have no feeds, once again they could embed a blog on the appropriate pages and let the council officers writing the documents post them directly.

Doing both things would probably take less than an hour and would free up their IT officers to sort out the very real problems that TDCIT has.

The Birchington Village Partnership seems to have no such problem using the internet to publicise their events and has been round the local blogs commenting with their Michael Jackson Tribute competition press release click here to read it

While on the subject of Michael Jackson, when his autobiography “Moonwalk” came out in paperback I managed to buy a lot of copies of the hardback first edition very cheaply and sold them in my bookshop for £1.99, as it’s now selling on ebay for anything up to £100 people who bought it from me for £1.99 have been phoning me up all day to see if I have any left at £1.99, I haven’t.

Friday 3 July 2009

Ramsgate Rocks timetable of events.

This weekend Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th July is the time to go down to the Royal Harbour at Ramsgate for a fun packed family weekend.

There is a funfair, a continental market, a small farmers market, a food and drinks area, street entertainment, a fireworks display on Saturday evening amongst other attractions. The live bands on stage across the two days are as follows;

12pm Los Conscious
2.30pm Surfdudegrandad
5pm XYZ
8pm The Interseptors
9pm Stephanie Benson
9.45pm The Interseptors

11am Breed
1.30pm Hot Rats
4pm Broken Biscuit

A School Idol singing competition between students from across Thanet will be held on both days between 10am and 2pm at the Your Voice Roadshow studio, giving under 15’s the opportunity to win and record their own CD to take home.

Thursday 2 July 2009

Ramsgate Maritime Museum to open on Saturday.

I gather that Thanet District Council have arranged for Ramsgate Maritime Museum to reopen this Saturday, many thanks to all involved.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Pinch and a punch it’s the first of the month and here is the Thanet blog chart.

Once again from this blogs web stats the number of people that come here by clicking on a link on another blog the only significant one not listed is Thanet Life as it has no live link to here.

This is not exactly a Thanet blog popularity chart but it is the nearest I can get to one the figures are for Absolute Unique Visitors. / referral 808 / referral 307 / referral 172 / referral 134 / referral 78 / referral 69 / referral 61 / referral 42 / referral 34 / referral 33 / referral 32 / referral 30 / referral 26 / referral 23 / referral 19 / referral 16 / referral 15 / referral 14 / referral 11 / referral 8 / referral 7

I always manage to miss someone please let me know if you spot one missing.

This gives you some idea of this sites usage during the previous month.
5,328 Visits
2,269 Absolute Unique Visitors
9,005 Page Views
1.69 Average Page Views
00:02:41 Time on Site
36.32% New Visits

This is from my new blog as it shows where this blog figures in all of this. / referral 307 / referral 158 / referral 74 / referral 24 / referral 23 / referral 16 / referral 15 / referral 13 / referral 12 / referral 11 / referral 8 / referral 6

1,152 Visits
617 Absolute Unique Visitors
2,078 Page Views
1.80 Average Page Views
00:01:10 Time on Site
53.56% New Visits

This blog doesn’t have links from all of the major local blogs but does give a different perspective.

I put it online primarily so that recent documents produced by Thanet District Council appeared in an organised and timely manner with proper feeds, something I hope the council will eventually manage to do for itself.

Feeds are very important as it is these that make the live links (recent posts on other blogs on my sidebar or sites like work) this is very significant with the modern web as evidenced in that no traffic at all came from the static link on Thanet Life.

As far as I can see the council feels that it is tied up in too much red tape to just embed a blog on there website and let the council officers writing the documents have access to it which would be an easy and cheap solution.

Much of the problem here relates to the fact that for ordinary people IT and the internet has become much more usable and much cheaper, after all if you post a comment here you are publishing to the internet, something that not so long ago required specialist skills and considerable expense.

All you have to do is click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, put your comment in the box and click on “publish your comment” anyone can do so.

From the councils point of view there are many people both council officers and outside agencies that benefit in maintaining some sort of mystique around IT, quite simply if they allowed the modern user friendly and often free IT facilites to be used they would be out of a job.

Various council officers that I know tell me that the situation with TDCs IT is very bad indeed, with access to normal office equipment like scanners being almost nonexistent.

Anyway back to the statistics useful to me as this blog helps to promote my local history publications and bookshop two things I hope are beneficial to Thanet.

Of further interest to me are the statistics from my little used blog as most of the local blogs don’t have a link to it there is no point in showing where the traffic comes from, however the way a very few people use it quite intensively is very different to how my other blogs behave.

312 Visits
51 Absolute Unique Visitors
447 Page Views
1.43 Average Page Views
00:06:12 Time on Site
16.35% New Visits