Sunday, 14 February 2010

Valentines day ramble and more old Ramsgate pictures.

This picture looking up the road with White & Ellis to the right is not High Street as stated it is Harbour Street.

To all of you that sent me valentines card, thank you, but I should point out that I am happily married.

The main visual theme of this post are a new batch of old Ramsgate pictures that a customer of mine scanned from the Ramsgate library collection before the library burnt down and publishing to the web, I am hoping that we will conspire in a book of them soon.

An interesting thought here about using other people’s pictures to illustrate blog posts is that the pictures you see here are not actually published on this blog.
Anyway click on the link for the rest of the pictures

Benton's Cash Stores is number 5 Ashburnham Road

What is happening instead is that the html code on this blog is telling your web browser to display the pictures on his website.

For me this raises some interesting questions about the way copyright can be applied on the internet.

A bit of a reflection on the weeks blogging something that started off for me with the incredible amount of money that KCC are prepared to spend on running the Turner Contemporary.

To be honest I am a bit of a slow thinker, one reason I think that I couldn’t get on with twitter, one of the things that I like about blogger is that I can read something and let my feeling about it coalesce, sometimes even sleep on it before responding.

This picture of number 58 High Street was Mr Snowden's (the town's formost surgeon) residence until 1867 after which it became a skating rink then George Sanger built his ampitheatre now Argos. The picture was taken from Hardres Street looking across towards George Street. The picture states Church Hill this is incorrect Church Hill runs from St. George's down to number 91 High Street a good 100 yards further up.
I think the biggest problem I have with government heavily funding much of modern art is that when the majority of people have to be told that something is art, rather than just recognising it is such, then that art is elitist.

One way or another my bookshop has become one of the last remaining large secondhand bookshops in Kent, most of the others that remain are either, very expensive and aimed mostly at the collectors market, too small to have enough stock to be worth a regular visit or are buildings full of books most of which are of the sort of quality that one find at a jumble sale or in a charity shop.

I have always aimed at having the sort of stock that one would expect to find in a quality bookshop selling new books at the full price, but my stock is for the most part secondhand and at secondhand prices.

What this means is that as the recession bites I am seeing more customers from further away, as far as I can make out this is partly because of bookshop closures in other parts of the southeast and partly because more people are buying secondhand because of the recession.

Now when people are buying a non-fiction book they are registering their interest in a subject with their own money, and from this I am able to get a fairly good idea of where people’s interests lie across the county.

I can say without a doubt that the subject that interests the people of Kent the most is history, with the people interested in ultra modern art being about one in a thousand of those interested in history.

So with local government at the moment seemingly intent on closing government funded museums while pouring money into funding modern art, that is only art to those who are told it is art, seems to me to be somewhat incongruous.

In Ramsgate the situation seems to have reached a ridiculous situation where the council isn’t even being asked to fund the maritime museum, but still seems to be doing its best to force the museum’s closure.

Perhaps this is because the people at the council are made from the tiny elite that considers a group of people waling round in circles to be art. Perhaps somewhere within local government is a ministry of Silly walks.

Well Canterbury City Council are the most recent to consider closing their museums, something that makes me wonder if they have any understanding of how ordinary people consider cuts should be made.

The people who I talk to consider for the most parts that local government cuts should start with the highly paid local government officers and the enormous local government pension commitments.

Personally I think that some sort of decision needs to be made about what should be the maximum salary and the maximum pension for local government officers.

We then come to the snow, as far as I can see from personal experience the council just didn’t use enough salt.

Here in Ramsgate two thing were most notable, one being that they didn’t use any more salt on the hills than on the roads that were relatively flat and the other was they didn’t use salt on the pavements or the pedestrianised part of the town centre at all where they used sand instead.

The net result of this was to bring the town’s economy virtually to a halt, what with that and the closure of most of the schools for a day the cost must have been colossal.

Quite a bit of both the blogging and the news recently has been about standards in public life, nationally the MPs expenses issue and locally the kitten issue.

It must be obvious to the people at all levels in government that the standards that electorate are prepared to accept are not those that the people in government had assumed.

Certainly for me that the only way that a councillor is automatically removed from office for committing a criminal offence, is if that councillor is sentenced to three months in prison, seems a bit rich.

Grange Road Mill An early mill stood at Ramsgate in 1719. Then, in 1819, as evidenced by the early Ordnance Map, there were two standing. One of them must have disappeared many years ago, for the 1858 map does not show it and there was no sign of it in 1905 although remaining mill was still there, by 1930 the body of the remaining mill was completely gone and the wreckage of the base alone remained. This base was then being used as a motor garage. Its “black-timbered walls are smothered with advertisement posters. Grimy mechanics grapple with cars in its bowels.” To quote William Coles Finch the notable antiquary and mill historian.
Ludicrously as the councillor would be removed for failing to attend council meetings for three months, even this doesn’t seem to send out the message that there is some crime that would be bad enough to exclude someone from office.

What is needed is a major clean up of government with the electorate deciding what they want by referendum, both to decide what sort of political reform we want and at what level of unacceptable behaviour people should be dismissed from public office.

At the moment we seem to have a situation where we have a group of people governing us who appear to think they are above the law and that this group of people seem also to think is should be them who decide both how they are elected and what standard they should uphold once elected.

Many thanks to Terry for providing me with corrections for the wrongly captioned pictures, I have added the corrections in red and some notes on the mill one.


  1. Hello Michael

    Fantastic pictures of old Ramsgate. Is it possible to download these? If I go to the other blog it just offers the chance to buy through Snapfish. Is this right?

  2. At school in the early 60's there was an art master who framed some wrapping paper that had previously been used to try out various paints rollers. He took great pleasure in asking visiting dignitaries what they thought about the paintings. If the replies were anything to go by, they knew less about art than I did and that was damn all.

    Fast forward to the present day. Decision makers don't seem to have progressed very much over time. I wonder if it was a relative of my art master from the 60's who sold the idea of Turner Contemporary in Margate.

    So far I haven't yet met anyone who is even vaguely enthusiastic about Turner Contemporary, but I suppose I must be mixing with the wrong crowd.

  3. The album is hosted by Windows Live and pictures can be downloaded by right clicking and "Save Target As".

    As publisher of the hosting blog I intended the pictures to be freely available as they belong to the people of Ramsgate - thanks to the late Charles Busson (former librarian). I hope to include titles at some stage.

  4. Trouble is when anybody posts this sort of stuff on the web the research is not up to much. Take the picture High Street from Church Hill - incorrect it is the High Street but the building where Argos now stands no where near Church st!

  5. Oh! Next one no.29 is not High St but Harbour St.

  6. Another problem with publishing “this sort of stuff” is someone always crawls out of the woodwork and criticises. As mentioned, the scans are from a collection which was held at Ramsgate Library and I've no idea where the pictures (and titles) originated.

    I spent many hours with Charles Busson identifying various views of Ramsgate, and as previously mentioned I hope to put titles to the pictures at some stage. Perhaps Anonymous 19.05 is suggesting I take them off of the internet until I’ve done this.

  7. Funny thing is Phil I think 19.5 19.09 is talking about the two pictures in the blog post High Street from Church Hill and the one below it, both of which are correctly labelled.

    If you look at the full size version of the first one you can quite clearly see the sign for St James Hall which is in Broad Street an extension of Church Hill and in the one below it the lamps were outside Sangers Hotel which was in the High Street where Argos is now.

  8. yes - and at least I can crawl

  9. Yes St Jame's Hall was in Broad Street but viewing High St from Hardres Street doesn't make it Church Hill!!

  10. How can Broad St be a extension of Church Hill Broad St is Broad Street!?!?

  11. 00.19 00.22 Point taken I will amend the post accordingly, amendments in red.

  12. Since making the pictures available on the internet they've had 213 unique visitors, and Anonymouse is the only one who has felt it necessary to criticise. I trust he found the other 130 photos to be satisfactory! Thanks for the link Michael.

  13. If you are to paste pictures then attack anybody who asks for them to be correctly headed then I make myself the second to criticise. No title is better than the wrong title. Good on you anonymousE!

    Terry Wheeler

    The Ramsgate Historical Society

  14. Michael, this is all getting a bit personal for me. Visitors to the site are invited to comment on the pictures for all to see, but Anonymous and Terry chose the criticism route instead. I've deleted all the pictures except those you've linked to - anything for a quiet life!

  15. As I said the about Ramsgate blog this is foolish gentlemen and has resulted in many not seeing the pictures. I love Thanet and to see old pictures is a thrill the fact that Terry has a greater knowledge than the rest of us is to be applauded.I feel it is the person who originally an-noted the pictures is at fault and not Phil but then I live in Margate so what do I know.


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