Saturday, 15 August 2009

Pulhamite or pink cement? Ramsgate Madeira Walk.

I suppose one doesn’t really qualify for full Ramsgate residency unless at some time in ones life one has engaged in some of the towns traditional minor acts of civil disobedience, actually in today’s beleaguered times these are now probably criminal acts so I should probably be careful about what I say.

OK you may not have your name amongst the graffiti in the Ramsgate Tunnels or have committed the felony of tombstoning, although in my time this was just diving off the fish quay and didn’t attract any notoriety at all, but few who spent their youth in the town can claim never to have put washing up liquid in the waterfall.
There was some talk a while ago about restoration work on this whole area and certainly the shrubs have been cut back much more to the levels that they had reached back in the days when the local youth first discovered the pulhamite outcrops, this was before the days of fairy liquid, when the only mythological creatures in bottles were genies, so the had to make do with grated soap, washing soda and glycerine to create the desired amount of foam.
My understanding has always been that James Pulham took the secret of pulhamite to the grave with him when he died in 1898 and restoration was impossible without the help of a medium, so on hearing about the restoration I assumed that TDC had overcome the barrier of death and had acquired the recipe.
Such restoration work as has been completed owes much to the prosthetic limb school of pink with the sculpting appearing to take much from the school of over enthusiastic beginners in pottery. Staying with the occult theme, you just would not want to meet the golem.

All of the restoration work seems to be to the waterfall part, interestingly the parts of it that get wet seem to have been coated with some sort of shiny material, patent leather shoe polish, varnish, fibreglass, polymer, your guess is as good as mine.

Click here for the pictures taken this morning


  1. Regarding The Madeira Walk, my husband, has just said on looking at the pictures of this lovely walk, that it is a shame that it has been neglected, his parents used to love sitting there watching the world go by, they never were able to go on holidays, but loved Ramsgate and this spot.
    My own mother, when she was alive also loved this Madeira Walk, and she used to take two of my grandchildren there onced a week, they loved it also. They were around seven and eight at the time. Twenty years ago.
    This used to be a well looked after pretty aspect of Ramsgate and well loved, and unique.

    Yvonne Chapman

  2. Shepway council have made a lovely restoration to a similar structure in pulhamite by James Pulham at the Leas Cliff in Folkestone.

    But that's Shepway, not Thanet!

  3. James Pulham must be turning in his grave! It looks terrible! We can only hope they paint it all the same colour or something?

  4. Hi Millicent - I so agree with your words, let's hope all will be well in the end


  5. One paragraph I noted in the English Heritage guide:

    "High-pressure water washing is not appropriate for Pulhamite because it is likely to abrade surfaces, affect render adhesion or bleach the original rockwork colours."

    I do hope that the water cleaning that 'community payback' were doing a few months ago was "low-pressure" then ....



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