Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ramsgate Maritime Museum, full steam ahead?

I was most encouraged to see in yesterday’s Isle of Thanet Gazette an article that quoted a Thanet District Council spokesperson as saying, that the council are prepared to offer The Preston Steam Trust a 25 year lease on Ramsgate Clock House.

The article hasn’t yet appeared on the Gazette’s website so I am unable to link to it.

This is the building within the harbour area that has housed the maritime museum since it first opened, and because of its proximity to Smeaton’s Dry Dock, which I believe would also be likely to be leased to the museum under the same terms, is really the only practicable building to house the museum.

I have made some enquiries and gather that a 25 year lease would be sufficient to allow the museum to obtain the grant funding that it needs for the work it intends to do to the steam tug “Cervia”, the dry dock and museum.

The steam trust has the resources to offer a considerable amount of leisure activities for Ramsgate apart from the museum and the vessels I gather that it intends to hold a series of events in Ramsgate.

For those of you that are interested in what this could mean the following links take you to some pictures and videos of past events that they have held, adjacent to the other museum they run, at Preston near the village of Wingham in Kent.

For those of you interested in the last surviving ocean going steam tug “Cervia” click on the link for some pictures video below, these were taken before the recent restoration work, I promise to get down there and take some updated ones soon.

For those of you who prefer something more professional, than the disorganised web publishing of a deranged shop assistant, here is the link to The Preston Steam Trust website

For those of you who haven’t ever visited Ramsgate Maritime Museum click on the link for some pictures of inside it.

For those of you interested in the early history of Ramsgate harbour and Smeaton’s dry dock click on the link to read Smeaton’s report.


  1. Michael I am at a loss what to say regarding this issue. TDC dont want to run the museums yet they hamper those that do. They put every obstacle they can in the path of anyone who wants to do anything to enable the towns to go forwards. the museums are one of my pets but so was Margate football club and I lay the blame for them being in the position they are now firmly at the door of TDC. I wonder if the chap who's business was being ruined in Ramsgate harbour has up sticks yet because TDC dont help enterprise despite all the headline beneath the spin they still walk on their knuckles.

  2. Thanks Michael great news which I almost hesitate to add a sour note to, but does anyone else think given what was originally offered 25 years is a trifle mean and grudging.

  3. Not sure it's the last ocean going steam tug. It ain't going anywhere at the moment, whereas the twin screw steam tug Portwey is:

  4. That is good news. I wonder if the commemoration of the Dunkirk evacuation coming in a week or two concentrated minds? I seem to recall that it had been intended to mark the occasion at the museum.

  5. Pat TDC work to different set of ideals than the rest of us they dont give a flying fig about history let alone it being commemorated

  6. Sorry if this gets posted twice - my first attempt seems to have vanished. Re: Portwey, she is a lovely ship but much smaller and less powerful than Cervia and intended only for harbour and estuary work - not really sea going, never mind ocean going, which Cervia was. ST Challenge, from the same yard as Cervia, is a closer surviving 'rival' but without an enclosed wheelhouse and originally limited range from her now-converted coal bunkers she was not ocean capable.

    Cervia was built as part of a class of Empire ships for WWII and specifically for Western Approaches convoy work and D-Day tasks like towing Mulberry harbours. Without tugs like Cervia to manage bigger ships, one could argue that a different outcome to the war might have played out.

    Cervia was, of course, completed after the war but is probably the only Empire ship of any class to survive in British waters. She is, therefore, a very special piece of our national Maritime Heritage and with her strong links with Ramsgate, which was the main refit yard for her owners from the 1920s to the 1960s, she deserves local recognition and support.

  7. The other bits in the paper weren't so good though, no classic ships because someone couldn't get their finger out to arrange the dredging.
    Having to go with the begging bowl out to Kent CC please sir can we not pay you the 2 million we owe we made a bit of a cock up, after all its only the Chief Exec and the Finance director on the board, and they have well and truly f**ked up TDC accounts, so i guess its only fair they do other peoples to.

  8. Don they certainly seem to have a very strange attitude to leisure facilities particularly here in Ramsgate, they always seemed to want to close them or run them down even before the economic downturn.

    12.05 I think 25 years would be what would normally be expected nowadays, some of the very long leases that were granted in the past have caused problems, the pavilion and Pleasurama being cases in point.

    14.49 This is about the difference between ocean and sea and is down to the fundamentals of ship design, thanks for the web address which I have converted into a link if you email me I will send you the instructions for how to do this in a blog comment. I can’t write them here as they would appeat as a link and you wouldn’t be able to see them.

    Pat M it certainly wouldn’t look good if The Dunkirk Little Ship Sundowner were to be lost to Ramsgate at around the time of the commemoration.

    Don it really is peculiar to me particularly running a bookshop in Thanet where history book far and away account for the majority of non-fiction book sales.

    20.13 Thanks for the explanation, having worked around boats and ships on and off I can see it in their lines, putting it into words, much more difficult.

    23.47 it was pretty grim reading I have to admit the links take you to pictures of past visits.


Comments, since I started writing this blog in 2007 the way the internet works has changed a lot, comments and dialogue here were once viable in an open and anonymous sense. Now if you comment here I will only allow the comment if it seems to make sense and be related to what the post is about. I link the majority of my posts to the main local Facebook groups and to my Facebook account, “Michael Child” I guess the main Ramsgate Facebook group is We Love Ramsgate. For the most part the comments and dialogue related to the posts here goes on there. As for the rest of it, well this blog handles images better than Facebook, which is why I don’t post directly to my Facebook account, although if I take a lot of photos I am so lazy that I paste them directly from my camera card to my bookshop website and put a link on this blog.