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 http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2010/05/sundowner-gets-ready.html

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.





  1. I heard TDC were paying for the Sundowner to be hoisted and cleaned. See Mark Nottingham's recent guest blog by Cllr Watkins.

    Are they doing this so as not to 'lose face' on such an important commemorative occasion?

  2. TDC Have no face to loose we in Thanet know them for what they are. They lost face to locals ages ago maybe they only worry about outsider's concerns about our museums. I expect the Preston crowd to head for the hills when they realise TDC have no intention of giving them anything that could be considered helpful

  3. The change of TDC leadership and cabinet changes seem to have changed the council not one bit. What is the agenda of these people that think they are doind their public duty in serving on the council? Its clear that Ramsgate is at the bottom of the pile. No tourist office, no museum, a dump of a place along by the Royal Sands,
    crumpling cliffs. no plans for the old casino building. etc

  4. It is very concerning that with less than 2 weeks to go before the ADLS commemorative voyage to Dunkirk that things are still very much up in the air regarding the Sundowner, perhaps its the result of having a planning chief as harbourmaster who is more concerned about glass fronted new developments and houses to the west of the harbour rather than the nuts and bolts or should i say knots and splices of keeping a harbour running.

  5. You may also notice the historic boat Emmanuel is gone. They want to charge her an exorbitant sum to moor in the town slot where she has been for years.

  6. The Emmanuel always looked so nice sitting on that tatty old pontoon ( apparently condemned by tdc 20 years ago), and the owner was such a nice guy to talk to.
    Whats up with the harbour nowadays last year it was such a nice friendly place to walk around.

  7. 16.47 it really is one of the strangest occurrences that I have ever come across them engaged in, on the face of it seems beyond explanation.

    I hope not Don the Preston crowd would appear to be the only contenders with the resources to do anything really significant.

    18.16 I don’t think that you are being fair here as they haven’t had time to do anything much yet, I can assure you that all of the new cabinet members that I have contacted have responded promptly and appropriately.

    You have to appreciate all of their portfolios are large and complex and it may be a little while before they understand them properly.

    3.55 and 23.22 I am on to this issue and will do what I can about it.


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