Sunday, 8 November 2009

Ramsgate Bookshop Goes Bust and other Sunday rambles.

Well its not a post heading that I would appreciate, it would hardly encourage customers to turn up, anyway I am still here and likely to remain so, the fact that nearly all of the other independent bookshops in the southeast have gone in the last few years isn’t really of great significance.

Truth of the matter is that I have the range of books at the prices people can afford and as more bookshops close I am seeing customers from further afield.

I suppose what I am thinking about here is the power of any sort of media and the effects that can have on businesses and peoples livelihoods, my concern here is particularly about information published that is plainly not true.

I think of all of the bits of negative Ramsgate publicity that have been published recently the comments in The Independent:

“The once-thriving royal resort of Ramsgate should, in theory, be the perfect destination for a daytrip to the seaside, thanks to the imminent high-speed rail link from St Pancras. I had it all planned: a blustery walk on the beach, fish bought straight from the boat, perhaps a little antiques shopping, before a hearty lunch eaten in sight of the sea. I was thinking, it turns out, of Whitstable. Ramsgate is not, nor could ever be mistaken for, Whitstable.

The short taxi ride from station to harbour (courtesy of a driver with "Love" and "Hate" tattooed on his knuckles) took us past boarded-up shops and repossessed properties. It was clear that the flood of wealth which washed over south-east England during the last decade has largely by-passed this far easterly corner. As my fellow day-tripper Harry said, taking in the blighted landscape, "Suddenly I see the point of Brighton".”

Have most annoyed me, they certainly made me think is it possible for a newspaper to libel a town, perhaps the town council should take legal action.
Oh sorry I forgot click on the link if you want to read the whole article

I suppose from the point of view of a national newspaper this sort of thing is just another cynical way of selling a few more papers, from the point of view of a small shopkeeper running a business in the town it is just a kick in the teeth.

Frankly for its size I think Ramsgate still has more quality shops and restaurants than most towns in the area, in fact I think the criticism was most unfair, something along the lines of they couldn’t be bothered to take a look so they just made up what they though their readers would appreciate.

A question that you may want to ask yourself, is do you buy a newspaper in order to read something that someone has just invented?

Sorry I couldn’t get any good pictures of Remembrance Day in Ramsgate today there were just too many people in the way, so only the back of their heads.

When it comes to information and who it comes from I am very reluctant to mention peoples names, but seem to be coming up against quite a bit of anonymous comment suggesting that I have just made it up.
I was talking to the people that look after the Royal Victoria Pavilion today, the picture of the ladder is really just to confirm this.

One very worrying thing that was mentioned is that the amount of deterioration is rapidly increasing, the problem being that the building is made of an iron frame with brick infill.

What is happening is that water is getting in and the iron is rusting expanding and causing the brickwork to burst out of the frame, the distortion is causing more leaks and more water to get in.

What we have here is a wrangle between a wealthy company (The Rank Organisation) and the council causing the destruction of one of Ramsgate’s important pieces of heritage.

I do wonder if it would be better for a national newspaper to point out this sort of thing, perhaps it would be cynical to imagine that The Rank Organisation has the potential to be a good source of advertising revenue and is best left alone.
Ramsgate was busy again today with quite a few shops open and the choice of places offering a meal quite astonishing, with considerable competition obviously helping with both the prices and the quality.
Click on the link for today’s pictures


  1. Michael,

    While I will remain one of the aforementioned anonymous respondents.

    It a shame when national newspapers write such articles, however I would suggest that your readers click on your useful link to the complete article in question and read it in its entirety.

    While the first couple of paragraphs do somewhat paint the wrong picture of Ramsgate, the remaining paragraphs are a testament to one of our local restaurants’ and those willing to bring investment into the town and surely worthy of a mention?

    Some visitors maybe put off by the initial paragraph, coverage of a local restaurant in a national paper on a dreary November day must be a positive….

    As they say “Don’t believe everything you read”

    (Defiantly not written by Michael)

    Yours Anonymously

  2. A different AnonymousNovember 08, 2009 11:22 pm


    It's not only the national newspapers that are working against us. Here are a few headlines from this blog that probably won't benefit our tourist trade or increase inward investment ...

    Royal Sands Development Ramsgate, more on the most dangerous bit.

    Royal Sands Development Ramsgate, what are you drinking, the water or the wave?

    Would the council be prepared to kill local residents by negligence or incompetence?

    Airport noise pollution and Steve Ladyman, is he missing the main point?

    Thanet District Council spent nearly £1,000,000 on a repair that hasn’t worked

  3. Anon 23.22

    Strange isn't it but I would cite the same headings as reasons to take interest in Thanet re investment.

    Reluctance to invest is about Thanet sub text not its blog headlines.

  4. EG

    Would the ferry walkway have collapsed if there had been a Michael questioning design at each negligent stage ?

    Would it not benefit Thanet that people can check the internet and see that in Thanet the locals second guess the authorities to try to ensure such tragedy does not revisit the town ?

    And do you really think anyone would be impressed by an area in which the anonymous voice says Sshhhh let's keep quiet and con visitors to come to this area as if we care ?

  5. It seems strange that the pavillion has suddenly deteriorated, shouldn't the landlord inspect a property on a regular basis, or is it another case of "oh dear the horse has bolted lets shut the stable door"

  6. Richard Card 08:37

    I recon you and Michael should be able to work wonders for Thanet, if only you had the courage of your convictions and did something positive about it rather than snipe from the wings. Perhaps your 'angle of dangle' (catenary) calculations could be put to good use in calculating Thanet's future.

  7. Just a few general thoughts here.

    There is a very different effect between what I say on this blog, according to the web stats only 500 people read this post yesterday, presumably most of them locals and a national newspaper with a much larger and wider readership.

    Now as far as saying bad things about the town goes and as we don’t live in utopia there will be bad things to say about any town and most people would know this, there is a considerable difference between bad things that are true and bad things that are made up.

    No point in telling people that they will find anything but a boarded up and deserted building site behind the main sands, or that viable plans exist for something to be built there.

    I am not saying that something won’t be built, in fact something that is neither safe nor viable may be built, stranger things have happened.

    With the ferry walkway collapse what came out of that was, The Port Safety Organisation confidential reporting scheme, so if I or anyone else sees something in the port that looks potentially dangerous, it is just a matter of informing them.

    No fuss no adverse publicity, just a direct line to an engineer who will check it out.

    The problem with the safety concerns surrounding the Pleasurama development is that we have a mixture of different people involved, but the developer is an absentee developer who you can’t contact.

    As an example of the daft things that have happened because of this, when the cliff façade work started and the fact that there were no foundations was revealed there was no one to contact to stop the work going ahead anyway, this was nearly a million pounds of the council’s money.

    You don’t really need to be the brightest pup in the litter to see that this work hasn’t succeeded properly, if you had had a house painting job done that had deteriorated so badly and so quickly is I suspect you would be making a considerable fuss.

    Sorry I will have to curtail this one for the moment due to other commitments.

  8. Surely the best thing to do with the Pavilion is to demolish it and build a nice trendy cafe/bar in its place ? No-one is going to want to spend that sort of money on repairing it. Yes it is a lovely old building but let's move on.

  9. £1,000,000 of our money wasted? If there is real evidence to support this it should be produced and action taken. Failure to do this just adds to the problem.

  10. Michael,

    It would be refreshing if from time to time for you allowed yourself the odd moment of positivity in certain aspects of your blog, as I’m concerned that the negativity often shown is similar to that you identified within the first paragraph of the Independent report. Similarly behind your negativity on many aspects there are potential positive benefits that you tend to ignore.

    The Royal Sands development is an opportunity to provide employment both during and after it`s construction, provide additional choice to locals and visitors, extend the café culture area along the seafront, turn a derelict site into a visually pleasing area.

    Throughout history mere mortals have constantly taken risks, calculated or otherwise but all that succeeded were based on positive thinking….”We think we might go to the moon” wouldn’t have set Neil Armstrong running towards his seat in Apollo 11.

    Given your Gusto, can I suggest that you take positive action in saving the pavilion, it’s an historic building of note, it’s situated with a conservation area and like the Royal Sands development it could provide employment.

    I note that unlike Broadstairs, Ramsgate doesn’t have a Conservation Area Advisory Group and I’m sure your aware TDC would be more than willing to work with you in its formation….who knows something positive could come out of your involvement.

  11. 23.18 The EA report said the Royal Sands need a FRA and emergency escapes to the cliff top, the architect prepared new plans after this report without either. The council commissioned report on the cliff facade says that it has a short serviceable life i.e. not as long as the development’s.

    Both of these problems, there are solutions but to build without first resolving these issues, at best means huge bills for the future and at worst means death and injury for the inhabitants of the building.

    I am not against the development but do consider that acceptable risk for a building should not be in the same bracket as acceptable risk for space exploration.

    I am afraid any committee would need someone with more time on their hands than I have, my contribution to our heritage is 120 local history publications so far and it’s all I can manage.

  12. Your alluding headline omitted the inverted commas from 'Goes bust'. There's a difference.


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