Sunday, 29 August 2010

Sunday Ramble Ramsgate History Book, Margate Lifeboat’s 150th Anniversary and a few other things

I am engaged in the task of producing another general history of Ramsgate in book form, the last time I did this was about five years ago when I produced The Ramsgate Story, on this occasion I started with John Huddlestone’s unfinished manuscript. I think the result has been useful to people, certainly the feedback I have received about the book has been very positive, click on the link if you want to buy it  

Recently several local historians have died taking their knowledge with them, in one case the historians collection of Ramsgate material was lost too. What happened was a case of good intentions going wrong, mixed with there being no really satisfactory custodian for a local history collection relating to Ramsgate.

The historian in question left everything to a church in Ramsgate and in monetary terms the most valuable thing he possessed was of course his house. In practice leaving everything to the church means, leaving everything to the diocese and with the charity commissioners there to ensure that the most money is obtained with some haste, the main objective is to get the house cleared and ready to go on the market.

My understanding is that the diocese has a house clearance firm from out of the area that they always use and I think it likely that the Ramsgate material, which I believe contained among other things the manuscript for a history of the town, was lost. Probably thrown away.

A big problem with local history books is that anything substantial, in this instance I mean anything larger than my staple bound books is liable to be produced in a limited run and when that run has sold it is very difficult to get a reprint done.

The two main Ramsgate books published in recent years being, “The Ramsgate Millennium Book” published in about 2000 and “The Book of Ramsgate” by Charles Busson, published in 1985. Both books are very hard to obtain and would be expensive (in a three figure sort of way) if you can find them at all.

Then there are of course the 130 local publications that I produce and manufacture here in a sustainable way, however I am finding that I am spending much more time answering people’s questions about local history, than getting more information into print.

Much of the problem here is that none of the books about this area have been produced with answering a lot of these questions in mind. One of the difficulties being that many people are trying to run long before they can walk, by this I mean they are engaged in the most difficult aspect of history, in that they are either trying to trace the history of one person, usually an ancestor of theirs who isn’t in any way famous of the history of one building, namely the one they live in.

Anyway for my sins I am trying to write some sort of general history of the town, that also tells them how to use the information, that is available, to help them with this task.

One of the problems with any general history is where to start, you can’t reasonably start a history of Ramsgate from the beginning i.e. the big bang and move forward.

Apart from some of the information not being available, there wouldn’t be much point.

Another problem is how quickly recent history seems to be lost or forgotten, significant things that I can remember in Ramsgate from only 30 or 40 years ago seem to have just vanished. No pictures no one local that remembers them, just gone, a good example is a boat I worked on, see

The thing was over 100 feet long and over 100 feet tall, was a hive of activity in the harbour for several years and frankly if it wasn’t for the pictures I took, I think Ramsgate’s involvement would have been a lost forever.

Back to now, various pictures on the camera card are publishing to the internet as I write and I will add some comment related links etc as I ramble on.

Due to the rather lazy way I publish pictures to the internet, essentially copying and pasting about 100 at a time to a webpage, when they appear on the internet it is the first time that I see them.

This link takes you to the first page of pictures taken last week here are my thoughts about them:

Washing off work has started on the Pavilion, well with the workers van actually.

The Pleasurama cliff façade is getting noticeably worse and I do wonder if weeding it will be sufficient before building so close to it.

Once again it looks as though number three slipway is essential to the smooth operation of the windfarm, so I don’t know what will happen if the proposed development there, is built rendering it unusable.

They are rapidly building a new Georgian house in Kent Terrace, on top of the Belgian Café.

The next lot on this page are from Thursday in Broadstairs.

Several rather weak attempts to photograph the squirrels in the park, without a telephoto lens and in poor light.

One of the most electrically illuminated pedestrian crossing posts I have seen yet, only the public sector can waste money by putting one illuminated sign, saying exactly the same thing, a few inches above another.

Here is the next page of pictures

Our one and only beach hut, that faces the wrong way, is still in operation as a command post for Stalag Ramsgate Harbour, pity they don’t spend the money on a manned diving station, then perhaps some of the Ramsgate lads and lasses would be competing in the 2012 Olympic diving team.

I don’t understand the traffic lights on Harbour Parade, as the only thing in the traffics way there, is the traffic lights.

The teenage adventure park on the Pleasurama site is improving, I am tempted to put my roller skates on and have a go.

The pictures continue with my walk in Ramsgate early this morning.

There are some new problems appearing with the cliff wall adjacent to Marina Road.

I gather that various developments are being discussed with TDC for the Marina swimming pool car park, this will be a very demanding site both from the point of view of cliff stability and storm protection.

I have often put it to the council that this site would be the best for Ramsgate’s new swimming pool, as it would make our seafront an all weather swimming leisure site.

Work on the Marina Restaurant seems to have met with some sort of delay and I am still annoyed about losing the parking spaces there.

The activity going on from the railings, of what was the deck for Ramsgate’s beach huts, is apparently exercise for the rugby club. Gossip about this that I heard on my walk follows: “Some of them can hardly walk afterwards. The homeless couple camping under the deck get a bit of a rude awakening, rugby players and loud music.”

My understanding is that they have refused temporary accommodation as they would be split up, my understanding is that this involves single sex accommodation with drug addicts and so on, I suspect the winter weather will get them in the end.

Some of the rules of the welfare state would be much better if the people who make them had to try them out.

The beach shower on the main sands is permanently turned on with the resultant waste of water, I know if I report this to TDC it will be the responsibility of some other organisation, something that puts one off.

Work is going on to repair the roof of the pavilion, it would be nice if the council told us exactly what is going on with this building, rumour suggests only half a job, leaving the inside an asbestos contaminated mess, with the modern buildings still inside that formed the old casino and night club.

The final page of pictures at

These are of Margate Lifeboat’s 150th celebrations, perhaps I should have been more loyal to Ramsgate and gone to the Summer Squall art festival, sorry to say that if it is a choice between modern art and a lifeboat I have a very good think. If the art doesn’t seem to involve conventional materials then usually the lifeboat wins, as it did today.

As I said before Margate is looking a bit better this year, I think more is being spent on basic infrastructure, roads, drains, etc, than is being spent in Ramsgate, it certainly didn’t feel as depressing as it did last year.

The children wanted to go to McDonald’s and the "Last Airbender" toys that came with the Happy Meals may be the subject of some hazard among the adults, when the children have gone to bed, I will be running the book and may be taking fixing bribes from children as the afternoon progresses.

For those of you without children McDonald’s has nothing to with the farmer oft the subject of song, his name is spelt differently, this is an American food café chain imported with the needs of the young in mind.

Like many things imported from the new world, it contrives some unusual features with its Britishness, the most notable being cold slow, fast food combined with being told to “have a nice day” a phrase that sounds artificial on the Englishman’s sorry unsex me here, or is it now, to quote the bard, as I have been politically incorrect.

This is the first time I have succumbed to my children’s wishes since they have introduced Wi Fi, they have also introduced improved coffee perhaps the two are synonymous.

A word of warning here you have to fill in an online form in order to use it and also succumb to their advertising, the connection time is limited to half an hour, this may relate to usage in America where they have fast, fast food.

I was trying to find out what time the Red Arrows were due in Margate via their connection, when I finally made it I did get a very strong signal and concede that I probably won’t have to fill in the online form, if I ever go there again, but anyway I failed to find this information.

An unfortunate incident happened with my digital camera when I was filming the antics of the RNLI vessels, the batteries failed and while I had it apart for inserting new ones, a rather large wave hit the sea defences, landed in the camera and on me.

I will ramble on some more later I expect, Sunday dinner is imminent, sorry about the rather wide spacing in the post, I am using the new post editor and this happens when you paste from MS Word. I post this way as I touch type quickly and badly, so it is the best way.

I think the pictures of the various parts of the rescue display speak for themselves, sorry about the bits in the camera, strange really there were loads of other people taking pictures, some with much more advanced cameras than mine, I wonder what happens to all the pictures.

Margate now has a dedicated charity bookshop, I couldn’t buy much in the way of books for stock as the prices were too high, but the quality of the stock is very good for a charity shop and the prices reasonable if you aren’t buying books for resale.

I would say that it is well worth a visit for any bibliophiles among my readers.

My children were somewhat disappointed that they couldn’t go into the sea and be rescued by the RNLI so thanks are due the firemen who allowed them to play with their fire tender.

1 comment:

  1. I was the organiser of the margate lifeboats 150th anniversary and was so pleased so many people turned out as the weather was torrential rain and high winds. Must admit the crew of the lifeboats loved it. We sold just overt £500 in lifeboat souvenirs and received donations to. Sorry it didnt last as planned but maybe next year we may do another and fingers crossed for good weather next time.

    There was a display boat and the inshore lifeboat which children could go into and try on lifeboat clothing. Sorry your children missed this.

    Thanks for coming to the event.


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