Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Royal Sands Development Ramsgate potential for storm damage 1.

With the renewed activity on the old Pleasurama site in Ramsgate I am doing series of posts about the problems faced by the new contractor. This one is about the potential for storm damage caused by a high tide and a storm.

The factors here are the static tide height (how high the tide gets without a storm) and the severity of the storm, these two factors can be mitigated by the height of sand under the sea as this tends to dissipate the waves.

The picture taken this year shows a very high static tide without a storm.

Click hare to enlarge the picture

It is these factors that determine the severity of the damage.

There is another factor and that is if objects are swept along in the storm, as say in the 1953 storm a large crane was swept over the sea defences where the new development will be, the impact of these objects can increase the damage done.
The picture here taken in 1978 is of of the damage to Ramsgate harbour wall caused by the sea alone it also gives some idea of the type of heavy objects likely to be thrown about by the sea. The granite blocks that the upper harbour wall is made of weigh about two and a half tons.

The other factor is the wind direction, it is this that mostly determines where the damage occurs.

The particular point that I am making today is that a combination of a high tide, a severe storm and a southerly or south westerly wind could lead to severe damage to the Royal Victoria Pavilion.

Were storm damage to occur to the pavilion the resultant rubble would be swept towards the western end of the development making escape difficult.

Unfortunately the large amount of sand, in front of the Pavilion that protected it during the 1953 storm was used for the construction of Port Ramsgate.

As far as I can see there are two possible solutions to this problem, one is demolishing the pavilion and the other is improving the sea defences in front of it.


  1. Michael, you forgot the third possiblity. Do nothing...... as usual

    I will support improvements to sea defences and renovation of the Royal pavilion. Also the whole of Harbour Parade could be threatened!


  2. Readit the harbour as we know has been there since the late 1700s, and previously the smaller harbour arm rather like the one at Broadstairs, roughly out to where the dry dock is certainly since Elizabethan times and it is this that has prevented the sea damaging Harbour Parade so I don’t think you have any worries there.

    For instance Harbour Parade survived the great storm of (I think it was 1897 round about that time anyway) that demolished all of the buildings where the pavilion now stands. Margate was not so lucky in that one the harbour wall was demolished and many buildings at the bottom of the High Street area were demolished and quite a few of the residents were drowned.

    So the dead body bit is not so very far from the point as the previous contractor laid the new road, between the eastern end of the building and Augusta steps, out of lose slabs on sand. You have to appreciate that this is on top of the sea defences that are regularly overtopped by the sea.

    Now you have seen the two photographs in this post and presumably like me can see that you don’t really need rocket science to understand the potential danger.

    So the question is, during an souteasterly storm combined with a high tide, with the sea at the western end full of road slabs and the sea at eastern end full of pavilion, how do the thousand or so people trapped inside the new development get out?

    To put this in a more realistic perspective, the last resident of flat over The Marina Restaurant vacated it because the fire brigade said they were no longer prepared to drive their vehicles through sea water to rescue him every time there was a moderate storm, you probably recall seeing this building surrounded by sandbags during the winter as recently as five years ago.

    I may be cynical but I have felt for a number of years now that Margate based TDC would see a refurbished Royal Pavilion operating as a major public venue as serious competition to Margate and that the very vulnerable position that the pavilion is in suits them.

  3. As you quite rightly say, Michael.
    This is not rocket science other seaside resorts have solved the problem. Felixstowe has a metre high wall along the low parts of the sea front with gaps used in summer but with water tight doors for use when exceptional tides are expected. This could be installed from the eastern harbour arm to the rising ground at Marina Road, protecting all the properties behind it.
    As far as waiting for Margate to restore the Royal Pavillion you may as well wait for hell to freeze over or the next storm surge. With a refurbished Royal Pavillion there would be no competition !!!

  4. "Felixstowe has a metre high wall along the low parts of the sea front with gaps used in summer but with water tight doors for use when exceptional tides are expected."

    So does Minnis Bay.

  5. There is an article in the Royal Society of Engineering journal “Ingenia” issue 40 about offshore sea defences and calculating the probability of flooding. The downloadable pdf has additional photos and graph.


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