Monday 31 May 2010

Bank Holiday Ramble

Another dull and dreary Bank Holiday on the type of weather front, we took the children to a boot fair this morning and I have just finished doing a few chores and reading the local blogs.

A few rather rambling thoughts here on this and that as I try to work out some sort of strategy to get a bit more for Ramsgate out of local government, in terms of the council owned assets in Ramsgate.

First the council leadership and cabinet reshuffle, I gather that the intention here is to reshuffle it again and that Simon Moores will probably not retain the Ramsgate Marina portfolio.

I think the intention here is to move this responsibility to the leader of the council Cllr. Bob Bayford, at the moment this presents me with something of a problem as so far he doesn’t appear to acknowledge or respond to emails.

To be fair this is just as likely to be due to some glitch in TDCIT as any intention to ignore local people. I do think however that there is some something wrong with the way that the leaders office is working when emails from local people about local issues to don’t get any response at all.

The harbour and most particularly the marina is the key to regeneration in Ramsgate and at the moment it is in a fairly rundown state, there are some fairly controversial plans for closing two of the slipways and building a leisure complex on them.

The problem here is that with competition from the ports on the coast of northern Europe it is becoming increasingly difficult to run the slipways at a profit, conversely the slipways are essential for profitable aspects of the harbour, like the expanding windfarm business.

There is also the council’s peculiar attitude to heritage, failure to grant security of tenure to the maritime museum and the reduction of the concessionary mooring fees for historic vessels, meaning that they have all left their dedicated pontoon.

I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding in local government about the way the marina and royal harbour relate to the town, tourism and heritage.

The heritage aspect of the harbour, if properly managed should attract considerable grant funding, bring plenty of tourism and make the harbour more a more desirable place for people to keep their boats than other harbours without the strong heritage aspect. Driving the heritage part away, not only makes it less interesting for tourists but also is likely to mean less revenue for the council.

Partly I think the problem is that the council has got itself into a situation where it considers that the greatest return and therefore the best way out of the present financial problems, is to view every council asset as something where they are looking at the maximum return in terms of either disposal or rental return, that will produce the most overall short term return in terms of income for the council.

The Council legal bill for fighting the Montefiore Village Green Application see is a case in point. Now I know this is an opposition press release and as such may have over stated the point, the problem is however one looks at it, when adding up the figures, it looks like there is an uncomfortable parity with the amount of money the council has spent so far in a legal wrangle over selling it and the amount they would ultimately realise if they sell it. I say this setting aside any thoughts about what local peoples wishes are and just looking cold and hard at the balance sheet.

I would imagine that the council’s legal and financial departments must have understood the cost that would be incurred before embarking in this procedure.

Management of council owned assets in Ramsgate seems to have gone a bit wrong, Westcliff Hall, The Café on the end of the east pier, the dry dock, slipways and winding houses, the marina, the maritime museum, Albion House, the pavilion, the Pleasurama site, well the list could go on. Perhaps one or two of these could be excused but all of them seem too much to be a coincidence.

I am hoping that the new cabinet will have a new direction when dealing with these things. Perhaps the first step should be much more openness about what they are doing and why.

To expand on this a bit more, the thing in terms of local council assets that I have the most in depth understanding of is the Pleasurama development. Information about this comes my way in dribs and drabs and frankly much more of it doesn’t make sense than does.

Now one aspect of this that is pretty much beyond me are the financial arrangements between the council and the developer, unlike the cliff façade and the flood risk problems that I understand, up until now I have had to take the councillors word that they are taking the best advise and acting in the public interest.

Now I have firm written confirmation that the council’s director of finance advised the cabinet not to proceed with the development and that the cabinet in a secret closed meeting decided to ignore that advice and allow the development to proceed.

It is now almost a year since that decision and still we have the situation that we have had for the last few years, when asked the council says the development will start within weeks.

No proper consultation, no accurate information for the people of Ramsgate, nothing approaching open government, but worse of all when things like this leak out and as open government becomes more widespread they surely will, no sensible explanation.

I have put this to two cabinet members, past and present, one who normally replies didn’t and the other replied with, no comment.

I should remind people that at this time the cabinet members were aware that the environment agency had strongly recommended not proceeding with the development without a flood risk assessment and emergency escapes to the cliff top.

I believed their position on this was that although they didn’t like the situation they had no alternative but to let the development go ahead even if the environment agency considered that it could be dangerous.

There is of course the issue of the cliff façade too but try as I have there doesn’t seem to be any government agency willing to comment on that one. I should point out that the various faulty bulging bits get this way because of cliff falls building up behind the concrete until there is a sufficient weight of chalk to shift and crack the concrete.

Let’s suppose that there is nothing much wrong with the cliff façade for a moment, if any of you have a few moments to spare go onto the TDC planning website and look at the latest plans F/TH/03/1200 ground floor sheet 23 Jan 2009, take a kook at the lorry in the 70 foot deep 13 foot wide canyon and consider what would happen if it caught one of the protruding support pillars, for the cliff façade.

The picture is of the café on the end of the east pier, one of the long-term empty council owned assets.

Friday 28 May 2010

Both of Ramsgate’s beaches have been named in the UK top 10.

Well that’s what it says on the Good Beach Guide website, I am not sure that this can be right, or even quite what it means click here to go to their website, just close the window asking you to fill in some sort of form.

Ramsgate’s main sands prime leisure site being a deserted building site for the last 12 years, just doesn’t fit with this evaluation.

Ramsgate’s are definitely two of the best beaches in the area despite the Pleasurama site at one and the lorry parking at the other, but no I have to say I am confused over this one.

Thursday 27 May 2010

A Dark and Dishonourable Day For Ramsgate.

Sundowner’s failure to cross to Dunkirk with the other little ships is nothing short of a national disgrace, a dishonour to the town of Ramsgate and the Dunkirk veterans.

For some time now our local council in Ramsgate has treated our heritage here with what appears to be indifference and now we have reached a situation that is quite unacceptable.

Despite this I really did think there would be some last minute reprieve and she would be allowed to go, well she hasn’t and the council have achieved what Hitler and the Luftwaffe failed to achieve.

When I went down there this morning the crew of volunteers were standing around explaining the situation to people there and frankly it isn’t an easy thing to explain.

I have written to some of the councillors involved and now await some sort of response.

Pictures of The Dunkirk Little Ships Leaving Ramsgate 27th May 2010

About 300 pictures of the little ships leaving Ramsgate this morning, it was a bit wet but at least the sea was calm for them.

Click on the links below for the pictures, they are publishing to the internet as I write, about 10 am so I would imagine it will be a couple of hours before all of them are visible.

I never really know which pictures to delete so once again they are all there, so I suppose you can make your own minds up about what you don’t want to look at.

Here are some of five years ago sorry they are pretty dreadful, the moral here is don’t by a camera without an optical viewfinder if you wear reading glasses.

Sundowner didn’t go but I am told that they have the anodes and would be happy to put them on and go at any time if only they could get permission from the East Kent Maritime Trust.

Sad really as Hitler couldn’t stop her from going, the whole situation begs some very serious questions about Ramsgate’s maritime heritage.

Much of the problem is about getting the people in charge of the harbour and the various projects there to realise that it is only by having a combination of a commercial marina, leisure and maritime businesses combined with a strong and visible local and marine historical presence that a sensible way forward can be found for the harbour.

Proper management of the museum and historical vessels, concessionary fees and rentals to things that enhance the historic atmosphere not only attracts tourism but also much needed grant funding.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Pictures of the Dunkirk Little Ships in Ramsgate Harbour for the Operation Dynamo Commemorative Crossing to France May 2010.

Here are the links to the pictures taken this morning

they are publishing to the internet as I write so you may have to wait a while for them all to appear.

Some thoughts on the pictures at

The first event was at 1100: Dedication of the George VI Memorial Pontoon, Ramsgate Royal Harbour by Celia Sandys, Grand Daughter of Sir Winston Churchill. This pontoon was put there to display historic vessels.

I should point out that this pontoon isn’t a desirable mooring being immediately opposite the late night hostelries, it is subject to ate night noise and projectiles, glasses bottles and even on occasions pub furniture. It has no proper plumbing and a very limited electricity supply.

The idea was that by granting historic vessels free of or concessionary mooring fees an otherwise useless part of the harbour would have a display of historic vessels opposite the emerging café culture.

Recently by raising the mooring fees there until they are now pretty much the same as the rest of the harbour, Thanet District Council have effectively evicted all of the historic vessels and now have an empty pontoon.

The Visitor Information Centre.

After Thanet District Council closed Ramsgate’s Visitor Information Centre a new privately run one has opened in the Custom House, this is to be funded by an associated gift shop, which among other things will be stocking some of my publications about Ramsgate.

I was somewhat amused to see Thanet District Council officers erecting a temporary visitor information tent right outside the Custom House, as were the people running the new centre inside.

The William and Katy Johnston lifeboat.

This historic vessel is due to take part in the run to Dunkirk tomorrow and has been on one of the harbour slipways that were built for the maintenance of costal command vessels during WW2, this seemed rather appropriate to me.

She was on the slipway when I first arrived this morning, the topsides had been given a new coat of paint but not the bottom, so I was quite surprised to see her being tied up at the George VI Memorial Pontoon an hour later and just in time for the dedication.

To my mind a protective coat of paint on her wooden hull while she is out of the water is far more important than having here there to decorate an otherwise abanond pontoon.

The Sundowner Ramsgate’s Historic Little Ship.

What I feared would happen and have mentioned a few times on this blog Sundowner won’t be going to Dunkirk this time, there is a post about this here from some of the chaps at the council.

To me as someone with some experience with historic vessels, from a purely practical point of view, what they have to say doesn’t entirely make sense. There are two reasons for this that are visible and suggest and suggest short term fixes for this event rather than a long term concern for an historic vessel.

The first is that although all of the part you can see has been repainted, the bit under the water hasn’t, this seem a bit strange as she is out of the water but isn’t life threatening.

What is life threatening is that the sacrificial anodes haven’t been replaced, so despite what they say she isn’t ready to go into the water.

Bit of explanation, wooden boats are held together with metal fastenings (screws nuts and bolts etc) and the effect of the electricity and the salt water is similar to what happens with electro plating.

This electrical action means that the fastenings just dissolve over time and the boat falls to pieces. One over come this by fitting sacrificial zinc anodes that dissolve instead and the ones on the Sundowner are almost completely dissolved.

I managed to get out of the bookshop for a bit and take some pictures of the military vehicle display and the some of the reenactors click on the link for them

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Dynamo Day in Ramsgate and the secondhand bookshop.

I would imagine that some of the people coming for tomorrows celebration of the 70tth anniversary of Operation Dynamo will be considering visiting the secondhand bookshop and that they are most likely to be interested in the military and transport sections.

I have just photographed the stock in them, not easy to get everything in focus but I hope it is of some help to people, click on the link for the pictures of the books on the shelves today

Prices of books in the bookshop start at 5p per book, I would say the average price being about £2.50 for a paperback and about £7 for a hardback, although some of our more collectable and scarce books are much more expensive.

The picture (click on it and then click on it again to make it big enough to read) above is from one of these collectable books, “Aide Memoire to the Military Sciences. Framed from contributions of officers of the different services, and edited by a committee of the Corps of Royal Engineers.”

Second Edition revised, enlarged and corrected. 3 volumes published between 1853 and 1862. viii and 545 pages; ii and 589 pages; ii and 800 pages. with numerous plates and wood-cuts. Tall 8vo. All three volumes rebound with marbled boards and marbled endpapers, maroon half-leather, with raised bands at spine and red leather labels with gilt titles.

I never know if this sort of post is seen as advertising, or just bringing to peoples attention another cultural facility in Ramsgate, anyway what you see is what there is.

Oh and just a reminder that we are closed on Thursdays and Sundays.

Dunkirk evacuation model tug display at Ramsgate maritime Museum

One of the high points of Saturday and Sunday’s events at Ramsgate Harbour was the display of models of some of the tugs that were at Operation Dynamo.

The models were made by members of the Chantry Model Club that meets at Bluewater (lake 7). Contact details George Boyd (Chairman) 01474 323398 Paul Smith (Secretary) 01474 351361. if they have a website I can’t find it.

Click on the link for pictures of the model tugs

Monday 24 May 2010

Ramsgate Maritime Museum pictures and reflections.

As I promised I spent a couple of hours yesterday photographing the maritime museum and the Cervia. The first batch of pictures are of the Maritime Museum, considerable problems with reflection as like most museums a lot of the exhibits are behind glass, anyway I did my best to record the museum as it is now.

As far as I can see things with the museum could go one of two ways. Either the council will fail to grant the museum sufficient security of tenure to obtain grant funding and it will close. Or the museum will be granted a lease on The Clock House and the first thing they will do will be to expand the museum into the parts of the building that are not used for anything much, so either way I won’t be the same again.

Anyway here are the pictures, taken yesterday.

We had a very similar situation with Ramsgate Motor Museum, the council made promises of support and then broke them, I think the final straw there was the council moving the bucket and spade run to Margate, of course now the museum has closed they have moved it back to Ramsgate. The owners then removed all of the exhibits and since then a large council owned building has remained empty. Before the Motor Museum closed I wrote their website for the museum, I am afraid at the time digital cameras were not what they are today so the pictures of the exhibits are rather small, click on the link to see what we lost

There is a ghastly irony here that the council are spending £2m on a heritage project in Margate, when people of Ramsgate are asking to be allowed to keep their last remaining museum.

It would seem from experience that the council’s most likely agenda here, is to have another iconic Ramsgate building empty for years, progressively becoming more derelict.

This link takes you to a few pictures round Ramsgate taken yesterday and this morning, they got a bit muddled up but the point here is how busy Ramsgate is in the area around the museum, and how much having it open with events on there enhances the town’s economy

Sunday 23 May 2010

The Steam Tug Cervia Progress.

As I pointed out yesterday both Ramsgate Maritime Museum and the last remaining ocean going steam tug are open to the public in Ramsgate harbour today and well worth a visit, entrance is free.

This link takes you to a few pictures of her that I took late yesterday afternoon as you see a tremendous amount of work has been done since I last took pictures of her in July of last year, click on the link for the pictures of her then

Saturday 22 May 2010

Ramsgate Maritime Museum and Steam Tug Cervia open today and tomorrow, free entry

My understanding is that a group made up of the museums volunteers, from when the museum was open, have taken matters into their own hands and opened the museum without getting permission from Thanet district Council.

There is something of an Ealing film atmosphere, reminiscent of “The Titfield Thunderbolt” to the occasion. Very much a sense of the museum belongs to the town of Ramsgate.

Many the people engaged in this act of civil disobedience are local old age pensioners, this is what it has come to here in Ramsgate where the Dunkirk spirit is still alive.

There even appears to be a Dunkirk exhibition, there is also an historic lifeboat on the slipway, various Little Ships to look at and of course the sea and the sand.

I will endeavour to take more pictures tomorrow when I hope to have more time here are the ones of my lunch time walk they include several of the harbour event.

Friday 21 May 2010

Thanet blogs and some Ramsgate pictures

Having just updated my little used blog Thanet Blogs
and considered the sanity of blogging, posting can become something of an addiction and I sometimes wonder if I post when I really haven’t got anything much to say.

At least this wasn’t the case over the last couple of days, I see the Gazette has published an article about the Pleasurama cliff façade repairs, I couldn’t find it on their website though.

They seem to be a lot more certain of their information than me, saying definitely that two more panels are bulging and going to be repaired.

Nothing about the maritime museum or the hijacking of the Little Ship Sundowner by TDC, as you see from today’s pictures both the steam tug Cervia and the maritime museum are adorned with flags for the Operation Dynamo commemorations so perhaps the situation there is better than I thought.

Anyway having deleted the dead blogs I had a trawl around for some new Thanet blogs, to replace the ones I had deleted, the criteria being that they must have local content and a reasonable amount of both posts and comments within the last month.

It would seem that local blogging is diminishing, if anyone has any ideas on this one please let me know.

A few thoughts on the pictures, first sorry the camera needs cleaning again, the pictures taken inside are of the Custom House where Ramsgate Town Council have taken up residence.

The Amco Express shop in Queen Street is to be a European supermarket, I am told it is owned by Poles, with the connivance store opening in the old Boots building last Mad Max’s in Harbour Street Ramsgate is getting rather a lot of food shops.

Here are the pictures

Thursday 20 May 2010

Royal Sands Development Ramsgate, the Pleasurama saga goes on.

As I do periodically I have done my best to ascertain the situation with the development, always the main problem here is that although this is such a major development, that will have a significant effect on the future of the town, it is very hard to find out much of what is going on.

It appears that we are now going to have more repairs to the cliff repairs, although this seems to be uncertain, the picture above was taken a few days ago and shows the state of the cliff façade now.

The council officers don’t want to say much about it, the developer is very difficult to contact and the contractor due to actually build it, doesn’t have much to say about it either.

My main concerns are those of public safety, because the intention is to build it between an unsupported chalk cliff and a foreshore that has a history if severe storm damage that occurs about every fifty years.

Firstly I have had a response to the internal review of my freedom of information request see what I got was a pretty useless document, imparting information that was already in the public domain and at the last possible moment within the period to respond.

I haven’t bothered to publish it online as it relates to what was going on four years ago before the cliff repairs that it relates to, however it does mean that I can now forward my request to the information commissioner for investigation.

This combined with the fact that the local government ombudsman is now taking up my complaint about the cliff façade repairs and the delays to the development, something that directly effects my business as it is located directly behind the site, means that I am hopeful that we will soon see some positive results.

Before I go on I should stress here that what I am trying to achieve here is to break the deadlock that has occurred because the council has passed plans that don’t appear to viable.

The two main obstructions to any further progress are that there still hasn’t been any flood risk assessment, something that was strongly recommended by the environment agency and the problems associated with the cliff façade.

Without the flood risk assessment it is just not possible for anyone to say that the building will be safe from damage caused by the sea during a severe storm.

The problem with the cliff façade is fairly similar, what happened here was that the council spent about £1m of our money having the façade repaired and coated (painted to you and me) and very soon after this was done it was obvious that the repairs had been unsatisfactory.

Cracks appeared in the façade and weeds started growing out of them, one bit was so badly cracked and bulging that the council had to have it replaced and now doubts exist about the structural integrity of the rest of it.

Initially it appears that the council acted properly, they had the cliff façade surveyed by a large multinational firm of civil engineers, their report described the structure as being of a short serviceable life, in very poor condition and in need of urgent repairs.

In fact not suitable to build a large residential development close to, even after the repairs, this was evidenced when the council had the bulging bit replaced, it was a relatively small part of the façade and fairly low down, however when the bulging bit was pulled down they needed to use a demolition vehicle like a crane with a big spike on the end. As the lumps of concrete were falling down, the cab of this vehicle needed to be about thirty feet away from the cliff to avoid the shower of concrete.

Now it appears that some more of the façade is going to have to be replaced and I believe the concerns are more about who pays, than more fundamental question of how the façade can be maintained, once it has a building thirteen feet away from it, seems to have been missed.

The underlying problem here is that the council approved the plans before the environment agency strongly recommended a flood risk assessment and before the cliff façade was surveyed.

This means that the developer has permission to build a development that is potentially dangerous, without both a flood risk assessment and a survey of the cliff to determine just what has gone wrong since it was repaired, it isn’t really possible for anyone to say how dangerous it is, in fact to be honest it could all be perfectly safe, the problem however is that no one really knows.

Now we come to an area of speculation, where I put together some suppositions based as much on what people haven’t said as what they have, any more information to improve the accuracy of this would be appreciated.

I think that the councils main concern is that if they admit that the site isn’t suitable for the building that they have approved plans for, then they are concerned that the developer who has already spent the best part of £3m on planning, road layout and drainage, may take them to court to recover this money.

I think that the developer has accepted the councils reassurances that there isn’t that much wrong with the cliff, that a flood risk assessment isn’t really necessary and that he would probably put up the money to patch up the cliff repairs and get on with the development.

I think that the contractor that is supposed to build the development, would like to have the work at the moment, during what are difficult times in the building trade. Certainly if the development could go ahead it would provide much needed local employment.

The rub here though is that the contractor is a reputable firm, local, large and with a good track record, in fact any firm large enough to take on the project is going to employ people who are experts in civil engineering and will be only too aware of the problems.

It is my contention that this is why the three previous contractors have pulled out of the project, to walk away from a £22m project is no small step.

The problem for us in Ramsgate is that it is now six and a half years since the developer applied for plans, to build what appears to be a development that just isn’t viable on that site.

During this time the main leisure site in Ramsgate, immediately behind the main sands, has remained a building site on which nothing has been built. This is a problem that blights the economy of the town.

So far it seems that about £5m has been spent about £1m from our council tax, around another £1m for the first road layout that I think may have been publicly funded and what we, the developer and the council taxpayers have to show for it appears to be as follows.

Cliff repairs done at considerable expense, that have obviously gone wrong, to a greater or lesser degree.

Plans drawn up and re drawn about seven times, approved and pored over by me, the council planning department and the architects, also at considerable expense, that still do not appear fit for purpose.

Two new road layouts built at considerable expense over the last ten years, one for a previous development there that never happened and now torn up and the latest one, built on the sea defences without the flood risk assessment strongly recommended by the environment agency.

How anyone can go ahead with any work on the site without first knowing the exact condition of the cliff and the exact position regarding flood risk defies common sense.

These links are about the need for a flood risk assessment.

these relate to the cliff façade issues

and this one to the crazy plans

of course there is much more on this blog and my other websites because of how long the saga has gone on and anyone wanting to trawl through it all is quite welcome.

Sorry it was rather a long winded post, I am inclined to put my ides together while writing, besides I suppose you don’t have to read it unless you want to.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Is Thanet District Council taking up piracy at sea? The sage of Ramsgate Maritime Museum update.

The museum’s artefacts and the vessels Cervia and Sundowner are owned by a charitable trust – The Preston Steam Trust - that already runs another museum.

For the museum to be able to function, obtain the grants necessary to fund it needs security of tenure for the council owned building that houses, “Ramsgate Clock House,” it and my understanding was that the museum wasn’t to open again until that security of tenure was granted by the council.

So I was very pleased when an Isle of Thanet Gazette reporter interviewed a council spokesperson about this and was told that the council were prepared to grant the museum a 25 year lease, this was published in the Gazette three weeks ago.

I was further pleased to hear that the Little Ship “Sundowner” was being prepared to take part in The Operation Dynamo commemorations see

Anyway wandering around Ramsgate with my camera I noticed that some of the people restoring The Steam Tug Cervia were onboard, so I mentioned to the how pleased I was to see things finally moving forward.

They were surprised at my comments and pointed out that all was not well, this is one of those only in Thanet stories that one would never have the imagination to make up.

What seems to have happened is that the council, not wishing to face embarrassing questions about why the museum was closed and the Sundowner not taking part in the commemorations, have started to engage in some unusual activities.

The most bizarre of which is taking over the Sundowner without the owner’s permission and preparing her for the commemoration voyage to Dunkirk.

They have also advertised that both the museum will be open over the Operation Dynamo weekend and that The Sundowner will be taking part in the voyage.

My understanding is that this is pretty much the last straw for The Preston Steam Trust and that they will pull out unless the council comes up with a reasonable and workable future for the museum.

This is a strange story and one that I have pieced together as best as I can, so any corrections would be appreciated.

Any of you who aren’t aware of the story so far may wish to read my previous posts about it by clicking on the links below.

Monday 17 May 2010

Spitfire Hurricane Memorial Museum and Manston History Museum and West Bay

Having had a difficult weekend thus far it was our intention to take the children to Birchington and enjoy the gardens at Quex Park.

The idea being to go to West Bay near Birchington, get lunch at the café there and eat it watching the sea and then go on to Quex.

As soon as we arrived at West Bay it started to rain, so we ate inside the café, why the café there?

This one offers a mixture of reasonably good food that comes quickly, children’s food that children understand and eat, a bright airy non claustrophobic atmosphere, they allow dogs, there is a large fairly comfortable shelter adjacent where one can have a smoke without feeling like a third class citizen and excellent value for money.

I had sausage and chips, one child had a children’s portion of same, one child had a cheese and tomato sandwich with no butter as ordered, my wife had a Mars bar and some of our chips, two bottled Cokes both children had branded bottled drinks that they evidently understood, both children ate all of their food and were awarded branded ice creams of their choice, total cost £16.

Well you can see what I mean from the pictures at

Having decided that gardens were not on due to the rain we went on to do the museums at Manston, first The Spitfire Hurricane Memorial Museum this has free entry, toilets, baby change facilities and a cafeteria.

This museum takes about an hour to do, which is about how long we were there, the children weren’t bored, however they did buy a raffle ticket each, prizes included a flying lesson and a helicopter trip to a gourmet meal, so there may be some difficulties if they win.

The pictures of the museum are pretty self explanatory see

Then on to The Manston History Museum, entrance £1 adults and 50p for children over 5, this is a fairly large museum and takes about one and a half to two hours to do, once again we were there for about that time and the children didn’t get bored, they particularly liked the part that is set out as an air raid, with sound effects and lighting that my photographs don’t show properly.

Once again the photographs are fairly self explanatory see

Saturday 15 May 2010

Saturday Ramble Margate and Modern Art and Photographs of Margate in Kent

Thursday’s visit to Margate I have to admit to having a burger and chips at BeBeached (click on the link for their website ) while she who must be obeyed went shopping.

BeBeached offers good quality food, drink, Wi Fi connection and is situated on Margate Harbour Arm, I am afraid that most of the shops that I used to visit in Margate have long since closed.

Where the harbour arm also scores over and above most of the reasonable costal eateries with a good view is the absence of traffic combined with the view across Margate Harbour to the town.

Sitting in the sun overlooking the town it is hard to imagine how things could have gone so badly wrong for Margate but a mixture of losing Dreamland and gaining Westwood Cross seems to have pretty much finished it off.

Apart from Tracey Emins recollections of teenage sex something I had just been made only to aware of see , the only other thing to mar the day was the increasing smell of rotting seaweed as the tide went out, perhaps it had been left to rot as a further assault on the senses related to some bizarre aspect of modern art that I didn’t understand.

Anyway I reflected on what our Tracey was trying to achive with her reminiscences of sex at 13, was it supposed to provide art though shock due to her age? I concluded that this was unlikely in view of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet’s age is as specified by the Nurse and Lady Capulet in Juliet's first scene as not-quite-fourteen.

Well I suppose if one was going to name the world’s most famous lovers she would come fairly near the top of the list, so this is hardly something that is likely to shock as we have had the last 400 years to get used to the idea.

While I am certain that Shakespeare’s play is art I wasn’t quite so certain about the video that Tracey had produced and by the nature of the Turner Contemporary’s funding I had had to part pay for without being consulted.

The Turner Contemporary appears to have pushed Margate Lifeboat into a somewhat difficult position, so in view of what happened to my car when I visited Margate recently see I thought that this important item looked somewhat vulnerable.

There are very few rubbish bins on the harbour arm the two I found were situated next to each other, this also seemed to be a bit bizarre and I wondered if it had some sort of artistic significance.

In view of Margate’s aspirations to modern art and philistines like me having some difficulty identifying some of the artistic works, perhaps some sort of labelling scheme ought to be adopted.

Before leaving Margate I should warn you that what looks in the pictures like a traditional sweetshop, is actually an empty shop that used to be one with a picture of a sweetshop window display stuck to the window.

I believe this concept is known as inverse surrealism, and would be double inverse surrealism if the picture was entitled, “This is not a Sweetshop.”

Such is the nature of Margate at the moment that one feels it ought to have warning signs saying, “Do Not Adjust Your Mind Reality is at Fault.”

In case any of you are curious I gave the shell lady a light tap and she went boing suggesting that it's made of cast bronze.

Click here for the pictures of Margate

Friday 14 May 2010

Thanet District Council cabinet reshuffle

Thanet Council's new Cabinet, Shadow Cabinet and Committee Chairmen for the forthcoming year have been formally announced.Last night's (Thursday 13 May) Annual Council meeting saw Cllr. Bob Bayford elected as the Leader of the Council. Cllr. Martin Wise was elected as the Deputy Leader. The Leader of the Opposition is Cllr. Clive Hart and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is Cllr. Alan Poole.

Sorry about the gap I don’t think blogger likes my encoding, table of who’s who below.

The Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet details for the council year 2010/11 are:


Cabinet Member

Shadow Cabinet Member

Finance and Corporate Services (also includes communications and policy, procurement and audit)

Cllr. Bob Bayford

Cllr. Richard Nicholson

Regeneration and Economic Development (includes the Margate Renewal Partnership, asset management, strategic planning and the Port of Ramsgate)

Cllr. Roger Latchford

Cllr. Alan Poole

Customer Services, Regulatory Services and Ramsgate Marina (includes IT services, revenues and benefits, planning enforcement and applications, licensing, land charges and general estate management)

Cllr. Simon Moores

Cllr. Linda Aldred

Community Services (includes council housing, strategic housing, housing need and homelessness, housing renewal, private sector housing, community safety and environmental health)

Cllr. Chris Wells

Cllr. Iris Johnston

Environmental Services (includes waste collection, recycling, street cleaning, public toilets, parking, parks, allotments, cemeteries and crematorium, sports development, arts development, museums, foreshores, Thanet Coast Project, indoor and outdoor leisure, play services, tourism, events and Environmental Action Programme)

Cllr. Martin Wise

Cllr. John Watkins

The Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of the Council's Committees and Boards for 2010/11 were also appointed at the Annual Council meeting:

Planning Committee Chairman Cllr. Ken Gregory

Planning Committee Vice-Chairman Cllr. Jo Roberts

Overview and Scrutiny Chairman Cllr. Mike Harrison

Overview and Scrutiny Vice-Chairman Cllr. Alasdair Bruce

Licensing Board Chairman Cllr. Mick Tomlinson

Licensing Board Vice-Chairman Cllr. Mike Roberts

Governance and Audit Committee Chairman Cllr. Jason Savage

Governance and Audit Committee Vice-Chairman Cllr. Judith Russell
A new addition to Chemistry's Periodic Table Research has led to the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science.
The new element, Governmentium (Gv),has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons,and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert; however, it can be detected, because it impedes every action with which it comes into contact.
A minute amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second to take from four days to four years to complete. Governmentium has a norma lhalf-life of 2-6 years; it does not decay, but instead undergoes a reorganisation in which a portion of th eassistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places.
In fact, Governmentium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganisation will cause more morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.
This characteristic of moron promotion leads some scientists to believe that Governmentium is formed whenever morons reach a critical concentration.
This hypothetical quantity is referred to as critical morass. When catalysed with money, Governmentium becomes Administratium, an element thatradiates just as much energy as Governmentium since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Thursday 13 May 2010

The Turner Contemporary Tracey Emin Exhibition

I thought I would go over to Margate and look at the exhibition in The Droit House, this time no one prevented me from taking photographs.

This link takes you to Tracey’s website

There was also a video playing in the gallery by Tracey called, “Why I Never became a Dancer”, about her sex life as a teenager in Margate.

The pictures could have been better but I didn’t want to attract too much attention by using the flash, I am also doing this from my notebook as it is my day off so I haven’t enhanced them, anyway here is the link, what you see is what you get

Agreements reached between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on a range of issues.

With all of the press coverage about the new coalition I thought I would publish the full text of the agreement between the two parties.

Click on the link for it

I am still trying to come to terms with what this new direction in British politics will mean in practice.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

A few pictures of Ramsgate and the odd thought.

The gasworks demolition seems to have reached a point where they are fencing off areas and assessing some of the pollution implications on part of the site.

I take the things that look like big dustbin lids to be some sort of attempt to monitor the toxic gasses coming out of the ground.

I wonder what visitors to Ramsgate feel having followed the signs to The Visitor Information Centre only to be directed to Margate, quite a few of the somewhat bemused visitors to the area who wind up in my bookshop, have just come from Margate.

What some of them have to say is hardly printable, tourism with our climate, at this time of year seems to involve walking round the town and harbour and visiting shops cafés and restaurants.

On a day like today (drizzle and a cutting northeasterly) having visited the Turner Contemporary and addressed the themes raised by Tracey Emin’s work, ones options are somewhat limited.

The work on the wall and railings around the eastcliff bandstand looks to be complete.

Sorry that the pictures didn’t publish in exactly the order they were taken, my computer seems a little grumpy this morning.

Here is the link for them

At the moment none of the three main political parties seems to have managed to form a government and I have mixed feelings about the whole issue, particularly the electoral reform aspect.

On the one hand electoral reform is obviously necessary but as to what voting system would work best for the UK I am not really certain.

Monday 10 May 2010

Ramsgate tunnels update.

For any of you unfamiliar with our main tunnel system first click on the map above to enlarge it so that you can see the extent of the system.

Then read my previous posts on the subject by clicking on

One of the readers of this blog has sent me some links to various pictures of them that he has published with some explanations, the combined pictures revealed by scrolling down the pages you arrive at by clicking on the various links below, form the most comprehensive and up to date view of the tunnel system that I know of:

This is the length of the original railway tunnel from which you can access the shelters as far as the St. Luke's entrance (before Cannon Road?) where a roof collapse now blocks progress round the system.

It was obviously this section that was being worked upon by the council recently. About August time the asbestos tiling in that section of tunnels had began to be put into bags for removal, there were also suits and wheelbarrows, these must have been there for a few months, a few body suits and some wheelbarrows are still left.

This is the Westcliff section as of a few months ago. Obviously this section has always been much more difficult to access, a large amount of original graffiti and some other period features remain.

This is the Cannon Road section (on the far side of the blockage)

Sunday 9 May 2010

Sunday ramble and another old map of Ramsgate.

Click on the map above to enlarge it then click on it again to enlarge it even more.

I suppose the results of the general election are fairly high in most people’s minds at the moment, so a few thoughts on that first.

I have been an advocate of electoral reform for some time, although what shape that reform should take is something I am not certain about.

Had the election taken place with proportional representation and people voted roughly the same way, we would now be being governed by a Labour, Lib Dem coalition, or at least cooperation, of some sort I would imagine.

Is that the will of the people? Well I don’t know the answer to that one.

It does look as though, at the moment, if the Lib Dems get into bed with either of the two major parties, it will be to make a short term government, members of which are likely to have made themselves unpopular, by the time we get another election, probably in less than a years time.

Certainly at the moment it does look as though, with Europe coming unstitched economically, we are in for interesting times.

I terms of local issues, I have already forewarned our new incumbent, here it Thanet South, that I will be sending her a multitude of problems and have had a positive response.

Pleasurama is still not going anywhere much, I am pretty sure that pile boring should be well underway at the moment as I was assured by TDC planning on the 13th of November last year, that this would start early this year.

Perhaps the developer is waiting like me, for some sort of written report on condition of the cliff façade from TDC, perhaps they haven’t yet had one done and I suppose they would require some sort of reassurance that it won’t collapse on them before they start work.

My complaint about this to the local government ombudsman is coming to fruition and one aspect of this surprised me; the following is a quote from their latest letter to me.

“The Local Government Act 1974 says that the Ombudsman shall not investigate a complaint that concerns something that affects all or most of the inhabitants of the area of the Council involved. It seems to me that the situation you describe affects most Ramsgate residents to some degree.”

As when I complained about the flood risk implications, they acted on this and this produced the EA letter at it raises some interesting thoughts, not the least of which, is did they act outside of the act last time?

I am putting together information about Ramsgate gasworks at this is in the early stages and any help on this one would be appreciated. I have just received the land registry documents for the site and have discovered that it is still owned by two different gas companies.

That’s enough about public safety issues here for one day, so on to other things.

I am hopeful that the council will be granting security of tenure for the maritime museum, before the Operation Dynamo commemorations, so that the museum will be able to be open for them and The Sundowner take part. The promise from the council to grant a 25 year lease, in the week before lasts Isle of Thanet Gazette was encouraging, but I haven’t heard any more yet.

Update I have just noticed a sign on the maritime museum saying that it and the steam tug Cervia will be open for the two days of the Operation Dynamo commemorations.

I have had a positive response from the council that the café on the end of Ramsgate’s East Pier will soon be back on the market and hopefully open again.

I may ramble on some more, depending on how the day pans out.

Saturday 8 May 2010

1872 and 1849 street map of Ramsgate.

As many of you will know I published a copy of my 1849 map of Ramsgate at it’s a fairly good scan and as I have put it up as a series of pages, should you so wish you can right click on each of them, click on print picture, print them all out and stick them on your wall.
I have just done this with the 1872 map of Ramsgate at and am printing it out as I write, Phil published it at but I found it fairly difficult to copy and print from there. So many thanks to Phil for letting me republish it in this way.

This is part of the 1872 Ordinance Survey of Kent it says that it is 10.56 feet to one statute mile, if any of you come up with any of the missing pieces of what would make a truly remarkable jig saw puzzle please send them this way.
The Maps are fairly large files especially the 1849 one, if you think I should have put the 1872 one up bigger let me know and I will oblige.
To make the maps bigger or smaller press + or- while holding down Crtl use the arrow keys to navigate around.
Update I have just opened both maps in Firefox and I am afraid to say that they don’t display properly as they do in Internet Explorer. What happens is that all of the map sections appear beneath each other, instead of where they are supposed to, I had assumed that not putting breaks between the ones I wanted to appear next to each other would work for all browsers.

Any help on this one would be appreciated, I hardly ever use Firefox as there are difficulties when pasting from MS Word into Blogger when it is open in Firefox.
As I have said before I have to use Windows based programs as the secondhand book trade standard database, will only work in windows.

Friday 7 May 2010

The General Election and Thanet South Constituency Video of the two Main Candidates reactions to the result.

First my congratulations to Laura Sandys and commiserations to Steve Ladyman and the other candidates who lost.

The local implications here in Thanet South would suggest that we are likely to have a Conservative MP for some time to come, a majority of 7,617 is not something that would be easily overturned.

I can honestly say that in my dealings with Laura I have found her to be responsive and helpful and I am hoping that as a Conservative MP living in Ramsgate she will be influential in furthering Ramsgate’s case at all levels of government.

Many thanks to Your Thanet for the videos.

Here's the results footage, and speeches, from last nights count for Thanet South

Here's the results footage, and speeches, from last night’s count for Thanet North

Thursday 6 May 2010

Sandwich Secret Garden, St Peter’s Church Sandwich and Sandwich town pictures

Once again a blog post about things to do in the local area, Sandwich Secret Garden is another one, this link takes you to their website

We took a picnic lunch and ate it in the garden, there is a tearoom there that is fairly expensive, glancing inside it looks pretty good, I was limited to two hours there and wanted to spend all of it in the garden.

The pictures are publishing to the internet as I write there are over 500 of them so it may be a while before they all appear, below are the links to them.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Betting on the general election in South Thanet and some pictures of Ramsgate with some comments on them.

One of the aspects of press coverage about the election that interested me this week was the Daily Mirror’s guide to tactical voting, see with so many people talking not so much about who the want to win the election, as who they don’t, I was surprised that Thanet south didn’t figure in this guide.

The betting odds see have the Conservatives as odds on favourites.

Talking to local people this doesn’t seem to be the case so at 7/1 a bet on Steve Ladyman may be quite a good price, or perhaps a flutter on the Lib Dems at 100/1.

Once again I am reminding people of the BBC poll indicator (click on the poll and it shows the result) at as I look at it every day it’s handy to have the link near the top of the blog.

On to today’s pictures of Ramsgate see AMCO Express another small supermarket is to open in Queen Street, something I find interesting, one wonders if Tesco were wise to pull out when they did. The centre of the town was too busy to take photographs today.

The council seem to have got rid of all of the large unnecessary and unsightly road signs in the harbour area apart from one, I wonder if they just missed it.

The town council still haven’t appeared in The Custom House.

The roof drainage pipe is still being laid from the Pleasurama site to the harbour, I gather they keep encountering problems.

Where the trees were planted on Harbour Parade has been paved over, so presumably there will be no more trees going there.

Work still hasn’t started on the Pleasurama development, despite assurances from the council that it would start in January.

The Maritime Museum is still closed, let’s hope there is some progress on this before the Operation Dynamo commemorations and it would be a great shame if it wasn’t open then.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Not Tracey Emin, I never stopped loving ice cream.

One of Thanet’s neon signs that I find hard to resist is the one on Morellis in Broadstairs, this ice cream parlour established in 1932 sells some of the best ice cream you are ever likely to come across.

After spending much of yesterday learning about contaminated gasworks, I headed off to Broadstairs for an ice cream, it was high tide with a moderate wind, not a good time to park on the harbour wall.

I should stress that this wasn’t an exceptionally high tide or anything like a storm, but still I managed to get a few pictures of the waves that weren’t too bad.

Click on the link for the pictures

The last of the pictures are back in Ramsgate, both of the sea yesterday and progress on the gasworks demolition this morning.

I noticed on the Turner Contemporary’s website it says. “I Never Stopped Loving You is commissioned by Turner Contemporary with the support of Thanet District Council.” An amusing aside to this is the first time that planning permission was sought for Tracey’s neon sign TDC planning turned the application down.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Sunday Gas about Ramsgate Gasworks.

The main thing that I have taken an interest in over the last week, has been the demolition and remediation work taking place at Ramsgate Gasworks, this is very important as there is an intention to put 100 dwellings on the site.

I am gathering historical information about the gasworks and any help with this would be much appreciated.

I got involved in this one because neither the gas company nor the demolition firm contacted TDCs contaminated land officer before the work commenced, as they had previously promised to do so, this made me concerned that the decontamination wasn’t being supervised in the proper way.

There are several aspects of this that concern me, one being that disturbing the site that contains some chemical nasties could mean that some of them come our way, the other day there was dust blowing from the site. I have since heard that the contaminated land officer has visited the site and that they are now damping down to prevent this from happening.

The part of the site where they are working is still uncategorised, I take this to mean that they don’t know what is there in the way of contaminants, putting on my science and engineering hat for a moment, Cyanide and Arsenic are two of the many unpleasant chemicals that would be likely to be there, not something that we want blowing over the town.

Another aspect is the long term implications could be for the people living in the 100 dwellings if the decontamination is not done properly, as some of the chemicals that would have worked down through the porous chalk under the site would give off vapours that would leak up through the ground, long term exposure to these would lead to health problems, including genetic ones.

There may also be drinking water contamination issues here, it is fairly close to an adit (underground horizontal tunnel) leading to The Lord of The Manor pumping station. This combined with the likelihood that the gasworks would have had a well to provide water needed for processing the gas, my concern here is that if it is not properly plugged it could provide a path for the nasties down to the water table.

One of the problems associated with these sites are the gas holders, the older ones consist of a brick lined pit filled with water with a metal gas tank without a bottom floating on top. As more gas is pumped into the tank it rises up floating on the water, the main problem is that a lot of chemical nasties accumulate in the water and that brick lined pits leak. The water carries the nasties down through the chalk below.

So far I have discovered that the gasworks has had six of these gasholders, since it was established in 1824.

When it first started the gasworks was on the other side of Boundary Road, where Aldi Supermarket is now, for a time it operated on both sides of the road and then moved completely onto the site that is being demolished at the moment.

When Aldi supermarket was built I hadn’t developed an interest in local history, so I don’t yet know if the people who built it were even aware that they were doing so on top of an old gasworks, or if the site was properly decontaminated.

I will endeavour to gas on as the day progresses.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Thanet South marginal constancy the third element

The Liberal Democrat Candidate visited me in the shop yesterday and had much to say that I found interesting, at the moment, with the way the polls are going, there now seems a possibility that he could wind up our MP.

To understand the polls the bbc website is useful see

Like the other two main party candidates he seems a reasonable sort, who would probably make a reasonable constituency MP, I particularly liked the way he dealt with my awkward question about raising the tax threshold.

I pointed out to him that doing so would leave the poorest, those below the tax threshold just as poor and it would give just the same to millionaires as it would to me.

His answer was, “I don’t know and I am an accountant, but I will find out and come back to you”, I look forward to his answer.

If you follow this blog you will know that I published the before and after boundary change maps at and due to the fairly large changes in the boundaries it is quite difficult to predict the outcome here, as we really do have a very different constituency to the one we had in the previous general election.

I suppose that like a lot of people up and down the country I am starting to seriously view this election as a three horse race for the first time, the question for me is becoming less one of, the lesser of two evils in terms of a national government and more who would make us the best MP in the case of a hung parliament.

This is made more complicated by not having any idea of what sort of government would be formed in the case of a hung parliament.

Trading this afternoon with all of the problems made considerably worse by local and national government over the past 22 years since I have had a shop in Ramsgate, thinking selfishly as a small shopkeeper for a moment, these include:

24 hour shopping in supermarkets.

The no smoking ban, meaning my customers have to fight there way through several pubs customers smoking on the pavement outside.

The local leisure facility council owned sites, from the silted up marina to the Pleasurama debacle.

The obvious breakdown of civilised behaviour, from dangerous dogs to the nonworking class.

I wonder really if any party has either the will or the ability to put things right.

Pinch and a punch it’s the first of the month Thanet blog popularity chart.

Once again the web statistics for where visitors to this blog came from which is as near as I can get to a popularity chart for the other local blogs that have links to this one.

I suppose to most people this has to be about as boring a blog post as you can get, but personally I have a considerable interest in these sort of statistics and I believe that the other Thanet bloggers look at them