Sunday 31 October 2010

Sunday Ramble

Once again a major event in Ramsgate and scant publicity on the Thanet District Council website, I was tied up this week with the bookshop and half term and just didn’t get the time to deal with it.

Here is the link to the event details hidden in plain view on the councils websites. You can of course have a go at getting to it from the councils homage, something that the cynical would say would have been splashed all over their homepage had the event been in Margate.

The night flights and Kent International airport is in the forefront of the blogs, local media and politics at the moment, a difficult one for me as the town centre where I live is so noisy at night anyway.

There is also the problem that there is a lot of statistical and technical information, mostly emanating from the airport operator and much of which doesn’t really make sense, the problem here is that if I come down heavily on one side or the other it is very difficult to make a dispassionate assessment of the information.

Anyway at the moment I will continue to publicise all the information that I can find.

It is still difficult to work out what the airport operators want, they seem to be saying on one hand that they want to get out of operating European airports and on the other that they want to increase their activities at Manston.

Much of the airport argument seems to be centred around local jobs ant claims that Infratil are making in this respect look very strange indeed, their graph relating to this seems to be, well just plain potty.

It looks like a big slab of red and blue cheese fairly near the bottom of this page at the moment they employ just over 60 people who live in Thanet and going by what Don says on his blog see there is a fair amount of slack to be taken up before they are going to need any more.

The strangest part of this though is what they call, indirect, induced and catalytic jobs, it would seem that the current 60ish Thanet jobs are supposed to be generating about 100 of these at the moment, it doesn’t say how many of these indirect, induced and catalytic jobs are in Thanet. The graph goes on to say that the same airport producing about 600 jobs for people in Thanet will produce about 5,000 indirect, induced and catalytic jobs.

The noise business is just as difficult to work out at the bottom of the same page, they describe the really noisy area around the airport as 57dBLAeq,8hr, they then go on to say that there are no dwellings in this area.

Now my understanding is that 57dbl is about the level where noise starts to get annoying, the sort of thing that would wake you up or make you raise your voice to be heard.

The trouble here is that when a large aeroplane taking off or landing flies over Ramsgate it is so load that you have to raise you voice to be heard and indeed it would wake you up, so something here doesn’t make sense.

This business with decibels also doesn’t make much sense 57db using the scale I learnt many years ago is about the noise level of ordinary conversation, you could say that the whole thing is much more complex that I expected.

At a rough guess I would say that a large plane taking off and being noisy over Ramsgate, as happens regularly makes a noise in about the 100db range.

On the other hand there are the flybe planes like the one Don went on, these fly over Ramsgate regularly and don’t seem to be louder than normal road traffic, in fact the flybe operation seems to be beneficial to Thanet, improving our connections with the rest of the UK.

To me the argument seems to be much more along the lines of it’s fine to drive past my house in the middle of the night but please don’t use a chainsaw outside my house at 2am.

Back to TDCIT you may be interested to know that Thanet District Council have joined Facebook, see!/pages/Margate-United-Kingdom/Thanet-District-Council/83700846372?v=wall they seem to have one friend and 16 people who like this.

They also have a youtube account, see and a twitter account see they don’t seem to have embraced blogger yet.

Some thoughts on Halloween and the way faith schools approach this, my youngest children go to a faith school, so they had an all saints party, this involved dressing up as a saint.

This was obviously a costume party and from the point of view of the youf the costume, well as it was obviously Halloween this needed to fairly gruesome, fortunately the church’s history of martyrdom managed to come up with the goods.

I thought though that the slash across the neck, St Agnes, just wasn’t in the same league as St Lucy resplendent and carrying her eyeballs on a plate in the usual fashion.

A bit of a glance at the other local blogs now.

Simon Moores has more concerns about how the government cuts are going to cause problems for the council, I would like to be able to find something flippant to say that would make this all sound like a storm in a teacup, the trouble is that it just isn’t like that. I will instead just jest that I couldn’t understand his quick mental calculation, which I can’t, 21m divided by 167k sees to suggest Thanet has a population of about 126 people, enough teasing, fortunately Simon takes this sortof thing in good spirit.

The council officers I talk to have very genuine concerns, not only that they will lose their jobs but that some of the departments just won’t have enough staff to operate effectively.

Planning is a part of the council where I know more officers than most, and it is genuinely looking as though the mixture of unworkable legislation and shortage of staff may well mean that the whole thing pretty much grinds to a halt.

Simon is also getting on to the business of voting for faster broadband in Thanet see worth voting for this and for once it seems to be something that all the parties agree with.

Dave Green on has an article that is very similar to Stella Creasy’s and one like this must be great minds thinking alike.

But the news there is that the Thanet Labour Group are to oppose night flights from Manston, jumping on a band wagon or listening to local people at last, I am not so sure.

Six months to the local elections and the feelings against night flights seems to very strong talking to the customers in the bookshop, but then there is the question of what is the Conservative Group’s position on this one?

I had a chat with Don recently, his latest post reminds me of the literary quotation “Il Porcupino Nil Sodomy Est” which roughly translated means don’t muddle your balls with hedgehogs, see

Don seems to have come out in favour of night flights, I think the problem here may be to do with confusing the relatively quiet passenger planes with the very noisy cargo planes.

Tony Bignews has an interesting article on the ongoing saga of the demolition site in Northdown Road, see this sort of public safety issue is something needs drawing public attention to.

Tony is another one who seems to be coming out for night flights and I get the feeling that the airport issue could be turning into both a political football and a sort on south Thanet v north Thanet issue.

I will add to this ramble as the day progresses.

Saturday 30 October 2010

British Beach Cross Championship Ramsgate Main Sands Pictures

A few pictures of this weekends event, sorry but work commitments meant that there weren’t many, click on the link for the pictures

I will endeavour to go tomorrow with more time camera battery even a telephoto lens.

Friday 29 October 2010

Kent International Manston Airport Ramsgate Night Flights Meeting Videos

Videos of parts of Monday’s meeting about night flights have started to appear on youtube and I have put them below.

Sorry the blog seems to have changed colour, I tried to make it a bit wider to fit the videos in and will sort it out later.

With the night flights, well in fact the airport in general, I am not making much in the way of comments at the moment as I am still looking at the information.

The main problem being that most of the data has been produced on behalf of Infratil and some of it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Pictures of the gardens at Quex Park Birchington

An autumn view of the gardens, as you will know if you follow this blog I quite often put a few pictures on the web of this garden at different times of the year, clicking on this link and following the links in some of the blog posts that come up should take you to the older pictures and enable you to change season.

The following links below should take you to yesterdays pictures

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Night Flights Public Consultation Meeting

As no one else seems to have posted about this, here we go.

Dave Green mayor of Ramsgate has put the following on Facebook:

“Thank you to the 400 or so Ramsgate residents that attended the Town Council's "Night Flight" consultation meeting. Points needing consideration included:
More evidence of the true net economic benefit of the airport.
Resolution of the problems surrounding enforcement of the existing 106
The impact of Public Safety Zones
The need for accurate noise contours
Windfarms and Radar
Health effects of night flights”

I didn’t go to the meeting, so there isn’t much I can say about it but will add anything I find out.

Sunday 24 October 2010

Sunday Ramble

I think today it may be a case of what do you say when there’s not much to say, I got up rather late and am watching the F1 on i payer in the background while typing rather vaguely into the lap top.

A quick glance at the blogs reveals Simon Moores with typo of the day “shopping at our shiny new Coop in Station Road”. Or is it a typo at all in these days of text and the email, for me it’s, what a difference a dash makes.

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To shop at the Coop.

When it comes to the local press and the blogger, there is sense in which the news media in itself becomes news, so here it is.

I met Your Thanet’s new Thanet news reporter this week, Florence Tennent, she has replaced Tom Betts who has moved to being their leisure reporter.

You can see from last weeks issue, the link should take you to the online edition that her articles are prominent and professional.

Her newspaper has a sort of in-house blog, here is the only post I can find from her

As a blogger who produces the odd news story I am at the bottom of the journalistic tree when I do this, so the people who engage in professional local journalism here in Thanet are of particular interest to me.

With the last post I seem to have got myself a bit embroiled in the night flights issue, truth is that I am looking at local industry in general at the moment, this is particularly in the light of the economic situation and the general state of Thanet.

I have been particularly been looking at those companies operating locally that have lots of money and the nature of their business means that they have to take environmental risks, to see if it would be possible to get some serious local sponsorship from them.

The stance so far has been that they produce local jobs and this compensates for what they do to our environment health and so on, or looking for another perspective the risk they are taking is a gamble and part of what they gamble with is ours, so what do we get out of this.

A good example of this is the bunkering off of Margate, here we have a wealthy multinational pumping two million tons of hazardous material between ships at sea five miles from a badly rundown town.

My first question then is, what is Margate getting from this wealthy neighbour, doing about half a billion bucks worth of business so close to it?

With the airport Infratil are a multimillion buck company and like all airport operators the nature of their business involves both risk and environmental damage, their closest neighbour Ramsgate is another run down town.

In a general sense I suppose that these big companies would like to be seen as part of the local community, with local people supporting what they are doing, the argument that they should stop their operations seems unlikely to get very far.

Obviously their operations should be properly regulated but they have been operating for some time and Ramsgate doesn’t seem to have benefited much from this wealthy neighbour.

I had a bit of a check on the major council owned assets in Ramsgate this week and the following is a résumé of how things seem to be, in a sensible world the council be a great deal clearer about the state of play with these. What I have to do is to talk to various individuals and try to put together a best guess.

The main ones that concern me are the pavilion, the Pleasurama site, the Eagle Café, the slipways, Westcliff Hall and in a lesser sense the harbour arches and the various council owned shop premises around the town.

Bit of an impasse there with i player and the F1, it just stopped because of overrunning ,so we went for a walk in Broadstairs, I took a few pictures but had my hands full so they weren’t much good, see

Back to the ramble, I am reading, Confederacy of Dunces, at the moment and I think some of the characters are rubbing off a bit, even so I will have a go at the state of Pleasurama first.

Once again work has stopped, the underlying problem here I think is that the councillors and the developer would like to see this development go ahead but the plans are just no good.

Every time a contractor to build the thing gets involved, then because of the size of the development they are by definition going to be large and experienced contractors, in this case a very reputable local contractor, Cardy Construction of Canterbury, on the face of things this looks to be a good contract in a prime site.

In the background there is of course me and in the first instance I think that an incoming contractor sees some sort of local shop assistant commenting on aspects of the development as a sort of humorous aside.

In this case I understand that Cardy Construction made £1m commitment to the development so they must have thought they were onto a good thing and from my point of view, a quality local contractor employing local labour on a major development in Ramsgate, would be very good all round.

I think with the cliff façade foundations, wobbly bits, bits turning into a hanging garden, well the council and their advising engineers, who after all are a multinational company, saying that there is nothing wrong with the cliff façade, well the sad truth takes a while to sink in.

To be honest I think it is only when the contractor starts to work on the site that they begin to realise all is not quite as it should be, well Cardy Construction stuck it out down there for about a month (the surface drain pipe along Harbour Parade was done by a subcontractor) so this was their first experience of having their own workers on site.

Now when it comes to the chaps on site, the ones with the hard hats actually doing the work, then they have a common interest with me and that is the history of the site, it is unavoidable.

Now some shop assistant bloke who knows what the things they are digging up is worth humouring and even putting up with his comments about staying away from the cliff wall at the eastern end of the site can be humoured.

I suppose a bit falling off the cliff wall, from high enough up to penetrate a hard hat, was well enough to penetrate a hard hat.

I think though what finally did this was the attitude of the HSE who had passed on and confirmed the council’s position that it was perfectly safe to work under the cliff three days before the lump fell off.

There is also the other side of the problem, the flood risk, when you look at all of the things relating to the flood risk, the only calculations that I can see that have ever been done on both how high a static tide will come up relative to the floor of the building or how high the waves could get there, then the only calculations apper to have been done by me.

Now the council’s stance is that the site is perfectly safe to build the development on and they can back this up with assurances from people with both hard hats and letters after their names.

The contractor went into the thing knowing both my views on the safety of the cliff and the flood and storm damage.

We now seem to have several possibilities:

1 The contractor will go ahead with the development, if this is going to happen they had better be quick as they are nearly a year behind schedule.

2 The contractor will review the situation and insist on a proper survey of the cliff and a proper flood risk assessment.

3 The contractor will decide to pull out of the project, at this point I think it rather depends on if the developer decides to pull out too, what the outcome will be.

Either the developer decides to find another contractor, there have been several that have pulled out already. In this case I would say the contractor does their best to recover such losses as they have from the developer and we are back to square one.

Or the developer decides to pull out too, if this is the case then the contractor and developer may decide on some sort of litigation with the council to try and recover the money that they have spent so far. Road works, surface drain and so on.

I think that they could only do this based on proving that the council had mislead them into saying that the site was suitable to build the development shown in their plans.

This would I think either have to be based on the flood risk or the cliff safety, with the flood risk the key document is the environment agency’s letter, see as this was sent to me, the developer and the council back in 2008, I don’t think at this late stage a case would stand up in court.

Or based on the cliff being too unstable to build next to, now this is something that I have been writing about since 2005, to the council, the various contractors and of course publicly on the internet, and yet none of the contractors or the developer seem to have done much about investigating the problem.

The only contractor who seems to have done anything at all is Cardy Construction who made a few investigation holes in the façade and where the foundations should be.

On the other hand there is the council, now their stance appears to be that there is nothing wrong with the site and that the contractor could start building work tomorrow.

It is very difficult for local authorities in a situation like this as one thing that they can never do is to say that they have made a mistake, so I don’t think there will ever come a point where they will say something like, if you are going to build down there then it needs to be a smaller development further from the cliff.

But the council does have a problem because the work isn’t going to the time schedule agreed in the development agreement, so that they once again must be reaching the point where they say to the developer, look here you are too far behind and we want to take back the land and find another use for it.

November is just around the corner and this is the time that I usually ask the council to make arrangements for temporary leisure use for the site during the following summer.

There answer usually is that this can’t happen because the developer is about to start putting in the foundations, frankly it is an answer that is wearing a bit thin.

The decision to pull out of the development would have to go to cabinet as it did this time last year, when the council officers recommended to the cabinet that they pull out, but the cabinet decided to put this to full council who decided to let the developer go ahead.

Next the Eagle Café, that is the one on the end of the East Pier that has been closed for several years, as far as I can see the council don’t have any idea what is going on here either.

I think the only way to get this one moving will be some sort of official complaint combined with a foi request to find out if the council is receiving any rent for it, the trouble is that this may be one of their old leases where the rent is very small so that the lessee doesn’t have to really worry that much about keeping it empty.

Next Westcliff Hall, my understanding is that there is a plan to use this as some sort of community centre that is going to be put to cabinet, if you remember when the town council were in the middle of supporting this project the district council put the building into a residential property auction.

The district council withdrew the property from the auction although I believe the council officers thought disposing of it in that way was the best thing to do.

Westcliff Hall is a difficult property, integrated with the cliff, here is a quote from the councils development services, “this site required major repairs and that at this time the cost looked prohibitive. The fact that the roof to the Hall effectively formed the upper promenade was a further complexity. The Working Group agreed that though not part of the Port Estate, this structure could usefully be considered in the context of the proposed Port and Marina Review.”

My understanding is that at the moment the council officers consider that this one could go either way.

The slipways an interesting aside here is that is that while it is the subject of a planning application the council can’t negotiate the lease, but on the other hand the conditions of the lease i.e. that the site can only be used as a boatyard is likely to a very strong reason to reject the planning application.

These Catch 22 situations seem to be quite common in local government, for all I know this could be a more important factor than the lowest floor of the development being under water at high tide.

With this one we now have to wait and see what the planning department has to say.

Next the one I forgot to mention The Maritime Museum, the council seem to be happy that this one is progressing well and I think they hope to complete the lease before the end of the year.

Two factors here are the condition of the building which I think is going to be settled by letting the museum operator have a rent free period in lieu of the cost of repairs, something that makes sense as then the council won’t have to pay to repair it. The other is setting a rent that can be afforded by the museum, so I believe there will have to be some clause in the lease that says the rent can never rise above a proportion on the museum’s income.

I will ramble on as the day progresses

Friday 22 October 2010

Kent International Airport, Manston Airport a ramble

Various questions relating to the airport are either up for consideration or will be soon and I have been putting together some links and stuff for my own use, this isn’t supposed to be a coherent blog post, just a tentative look at the situation and a sharing of information.

If you want add more links or information please either post it as a comment or email it to me if you don’t know how to add a link to a comment and want to add one, email me either for instructions on how to do so, or email the whole comment.

The background to this is that here in Thanet we have an airport, this isn’t something that was planned for and constructed as part of the areas transport infrastructure, but is about something that started in WW1 and has grown into what we have.

Over the last 50 years different companies have tried to make use of this historical accident and turn it into something commercially viable.

Personally my main interest with the airport relates to its safety and environmental considerations.

With safety there are two considerations that are particular to Manston, one being that the town of Ramsgate is at the end of the runway and the other that it is right on top of the most sensitive part of our underground drinking water reservoir.

You can’t really get away from the fact that more aviation accidents happen near to runways than happen in other places

Accident wise over the years Manston has had its ups and downs. As an example of what I mean the picture above is of a DC 4 loading at Manston, several of them operated out of Manston and most of them left Manston and arrived on runways at other airports, apart from the Oscar Golf that flew into some trees on the approach at Frankfurt killing everyone onboard, and Kilo Yankee that flew into a mountain killing everyone onboard.

For this area the airport represents a balance between the advantages and disadvantages combined with risk management.

The airports website is

Changes to the airports radar due to radar clutter caused by The Thanet Offshore Windfarm and The London Array.

Night flights

The airports night flight consultation pages

TDCs night flight consultation pages I think these are the same, a little easier to follow as the links have titles.

My own simplified version, this should be the same but much easier to open, please let me know if I have missed anything

Manston, Kent's International Airport Master Plan

Comments and Responses to the draft Master Plan

Surface water and drainage


Racism and Aircraft Noise

I hope to do a more comprehensive post about this in the near future.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Midweek ramble

First the previous post, Gerald has done a draft transcription of the document that I used in two of the illustrations the rest of the pictures of the document are at these are the ones that are not available by enlarging the pictures in the blog post.

Very much the sharp end of local history this and is the way to view our local history without historians getting between you and it. Gerald did some more of this relating to some documents on the Rising Sun public house in Ramsgate, see and for his full transcription see

You may also be interested in the text of one of the books that I publish see this is not recommended for those who have trouble following what the local blogs are saying.

I have to admit to being a bit lax over taking photographs recently here are the latest ones on my camera card some Ramsgate ones.

As you can see work on the roof of the Granville is progressing.

The Pleasurama site remains deserted, messages from the council about the problems relating to the cliff are difficult to comprehend, it is as though the council are reluctant to deal with this issue.

The fundamental problem here is that the cliff is about as safe as most of the other Thanet cliffs, safe to walk under but not safe to stay under for any prolonged length of time.

Work is progressing on The Marina Restaurant, once again this involves problems related to building in front of the cliff face, I am not entirely certain that the people doing the work fully understand the problems involved here.

The cracks in the road surface above Augusta Stairs seem to be getting worse, which suggests that there may also be a problem with the cliff there.

The windfarm drilling rig is back in the harbour after the completion of this part of the project. As this is the largest offshore windfarm built so far I presume that to some extent it must be viewed as a prototype and I wonder how it will be viewed in a few years time.

All of the scaffolding has come off the Pavillion’s roof, so one can assume that battleship grey and magnolia is what we are going to get.

I went to Birchington and Westgate today as you can see from the rest of the pictures.

Much of the architecture in these places is very distinctive and defines their identity, yet Westgate only has eleven listed buildings including the churches.

Birchington is about the same if you discount the Quex estate.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

King just sane enough to make Ramsgate Castle Georgian

After the last post I have had several discussions in the bookshop today about the Liverpool Lawn, Adelaide Gardens development.

I suppose some of Adelaide Gardens and Liverpool Lawn could be called technically Georgian as by the time some of it was built the Prince Regent had become George IV most of both were built between 1822 and 1830. Anything built between 1720 and 1840 is generally called Georgian, although anything built between 1800 and 1830 is generally called Regency, if you are not confused you are probably not following this.
As you can see they weren’t there on the 1822 map and I think Regency is fair enough, of course if George III hadn’t become too insane to rule in 1819 all this would have been Georgian.

You have already been warned about clicking on images twice to make the problem bigger.
Pier castle was built in 1819 according to Charles Busson and as the Regency didn’t start until 1820 then in my book it’s a Georgian castle.
You can see it clearly on this map of 1837 it also appears on the 1822 map, the castle belonged to Mary Townley,
her signature is on the back of the document, with the map on it, that is about flogging some of her land behind it, As well as the business over the footpath, you can’t be to careful about this sort of thing.
As a bookseller I could say, that this is (the castle that is not the footpath) to do with Mary’s reading habits and the 19th century genre of medieval poetry, which stems from the pseudobardic poetry of Ossian, perhaps it would have been better if I hadn’t.
Sorry I digress here, I have twice today found myself defending why a mock gothic castle fits in quite well with what the people saying were Georgian Terraces and others Regency.
I seem to be a bit short of old pictures of Pier Castle (Pete’s Fish Factory and the Belgian Café) strange really it must be about the only Georgian building in Ramsgate not to be listed, I wonder why.

This picture is from the plans to convert the upper floors into flats, sorry it’s a bit splodgy my laptop seems to be allergic to the council’s planning website.

Monday 18 October 2010

Alidade Gardens Liverpool Lawn planning appeal granted

This link takes you to the planning inspectors decision in full

Here are some before and after pictures to give you some idea of what the development will be like.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.
The application number is F/TH/09/0915 if you go to the council’s planning website and stick it in the application ref search box you can view the plans.

Below is a quote from the planning inspector that has a lot to say about the power of unelected quangos.
“I would clarify that the Council’s officers clearly recommended approval of the scheme and that elected Members overturned the recommendation. Concerns about the Council’s handling of the applications are beyond my remit as is making observations on an alternative sketch plan showing less dwellings and dedicated parking and amenity spaces. Having taken account of all relevant written representations on file and having taken into account the reasons for refusal, the issues raised in these cases do not require me to hear a discussion or ask questions; the written procedure is adequate to determine these cases.”

Sunday 17 October 2010

Shipwrights winning the jobs struggle with Barstewards, this is not a blog and other Sunday rambles.

Once again not much in the way of local news on the Thanet blogs this week, I notice the Isle of Thanet Gazette has dropped its thoughtful blog spot this week, perhaps because we had nothing much to say.

Looks like Tony Bignews is trying to get a reaction from Simon Moores here

Story of the week goes to the Gazette this week, their website is crawling so I will do the link later, how the various bureaucrats in local government can waste their time deciding if it is a good idea to put a roundabout at the other end of Margate seafront is beyond me.

The slipways development business seems to be attracting almost universal opposition, though what is interesting to me is how many people avoided actually criticising the design as unattractive.

It is very difficult to criticise contemporary art or architecture, this is the closest to come out of TDC that I have managed to find:

“The underlying reason why Ramsgate Harbour is so visually satisfying is the harmonious relationship between the harbour structures and the boats that populate it. Ocean-going ships display no features that are not essential for their efficient operation. Likewise, the structures that make up the harbour, the Lighthouse, Clock House, Obelisk, Magazine etc, are made up of simple ‘platonic’ forms, cubes, cylinders etc. The design of the proposed building is one of a series of colliding fractured forms. This would be totally at odds visually to the rest of the Harbour and considerably to it detriment.”

Plenty on the shipwrights v barstewards side of the issue but very little on the building being ugly, the nearest most people seem to get is something like “nice design, but not in our harbour.”

This business over contemporary art and architecture is a difficult one, I posted about it earlier in the week at and I sometimes wonder if the distinction between contemporary art and modern architecture, isn’t the best place to start.

In terms of actual buildings I think on the whole architecture has not progressed from modern to contemporary.

If you make the distinction that art assumes the artist will take materials and produce something whereas the architect puts his ideas on paper and other people construct it.

As I said a comment on the post.

“Hi Sixtus you hava mi lucre.”
“Mea culpa Ghirlandaio, Bernini he say he painta alla Cappella Sistina”
“Mama mia suba contractor”

So I have to take it that Tracy Emin produced a piece of contemporary architecture with the neons.

Mind you the ten grand commission on the deal suggests that some of us are in the wrong business.

Sorry I digress, the problem here is one of aesthetics, in the west we are in a fix to start with, as language and therefore our thought structure is platonic. By this I mean that it is much easier for us to decide if something is logical than to decide if something is good.

This seems to produce, for the most part, those who say contemporary art or architecture is all good or all bad.

With modern art this is not so bad, one has terms of reference but when it comes to contemporary art, to make the judgment that this piece is better than that piece, very difficult.

I can handle, “this is not a blog” but am still having difficulty with, “this is a chicken”

Back to the blogs, Mr Earplugs has the news that Kent International Airports bosses are coming to Thanet see

In a way the whole airport expansion thing is just another, only in Thanet story, as anywhere else it would be the subject of a public enquiry, this is not based on being for or against the expansion but purely on the size of it.

Simon Moores has a pleasant local history post, see this glances on Cliftonville becoming a conservation area.

I would say to the good people of Cliftonville, make sure it extends all the way to the sea as the developers are looking at the vacant sites on the foreshore, especially look for any wiggly lines going round sites between the cliff and the sea.

Here in Ramsgate we have had years and years of the Pleasurama nondevelopment, with the prospective view from the cliff top of acres of ribbed grey rubber it is likely to become known locally as Cardy’s Condoms.

At least if the site is in a conservation area you stand a chance of getting something in keeping with the area.

Back to the slipways development, Ramsgate Town Council decided to object to it this week. I wonder if there comes a point with any developer where they decide to go along with the wishes of local people, in this instance I would say that is improving the boatyard facilities there.

Would there be a lot less money in a £2m state of the art boatyard than a £2m bar complex I wonder.

Mark Nottingham has only put up the notice of the death of Roy Ford this week, so there is only sad news coming from the Labour camp this week.

There is a rumour going around that Mark may not be standing for re-election as a councillor next year, perhaps because he intends to stand in the next general election.

I am still working on the oil bunkering issue in The Queens Channel 5 miles off Margate, despite reassurances from The Port of London authority, pumping two million tons of oil between ships, in a marine conservation zone seems unusual to me.

There doesn’t seem to be any restriction on the weather that they can do this in that I can find, which as the dedicated oil spill response capability in the Port of Ramsgate, seems to consist of The Thanet Fisherman’s Association and fishing boats can’t put to sea in very bad weather, well you could say I have my concerns.

There is a rumour that a chunk of St Augustine’s Monastery (picture above) in Ramsgate has been sold to The Landmark Trust, the Landmark Trust already run Pugin’s Grange.

The rumour, and it is only that, is that the monks for some reason didn’t want to sell it to the Landmark Trust, who had already made them a reasonable offer, so they spent a considerable amount of money putting it on the market through an agent who sold it to the trust.

I shall probably ramble on a bit more.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Why has the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate gone grey?

Anyone got any idea why the roof of the pavilion has been painted battleship grey?
Its bad enough that so many bits have been chopped off since it was built in 1903.
Some things about it remain a bit of a mystery, like the picture above (click on it to make it bigger) perhaps sandbags for the war effort, does anyone know?
As you see from the picture above it could really do with a flood defence like Margate is getting.
The pavilion was designed by Stanley Davenport Adshead, more about this later on when I get a bit more time.
Here are a few more pictures before I get going on this one some of what was there before the pavilion and some showing bits that were added on but mostly taken off since it was built in 1903.
Some of the official opening, I think it was opened by Princess Louise in 1904, but will have to check that.
What is happening at the moment is one of those only in Thanet stories, it could probably be resolved by spending several days formulating information requests and formal complaints.

Ridiculous as it is the council don’t just tell us what is going on, what if any the plans are for this iconic Ramsgate building.

What happened with the building is that it was leased to a firm who were running it as an entertainment venue, live music, concession seaside shops, café etc. it’s all rather a long time ago and I was a teenager at the time with other things on my mind.

A series of takeovers and possibly unwise control by the council meant that the building’s use changed to an amusement arcade and casino and then to a nightclub and casino.

The operators gutted the building and built separate buildings inside to house their various ventures.

They then closed the nightclub that became derelict, followed by the casino, leaving this listed building an asbestos contaminated wreck.

Eventually the council got around to trying to enforce the terms of the lease, I assume that these were at the very least to keep the building in a reasonable state of repair.

Some deal has been struck between the casino firm and the council, although what it is, well that is of course some sort of secret. From what I understand the casino operator have agreed to decorate the outside of the building but leave the inside a wreck.

I don’t think they intend to replace the features that they removed, most importantly the domed porch.

Thursday 14 October 2010

I never stopped loving you neon makes £58,850 in auction today

I never stopped loving you neon made £58,850 in auction today, sorry I didn’t manage to get a picture of it actually turned on. I thought I had better not use anyone else’s as I imagine this is a world where people could get pretty excited about copyright.

My own rather cynical thoughts here are, who was the craftsman, whoops sorry person, that actually made the thing and how much did they get paid? Apologies to Tracy if she did all the business of bending the glass tube, as this is something that I have had a go at, making neon signs that is and I found it very difficult.

This all brings into question the business about art and craft and what makes a neon sign, something that is a work of craft requiring considerable skill into a work of art?

Ramsgate Town Council to recommend that TDC turn down slipways development

I have just phoned the town council and received confirmation that the town council turned down the development on heritage grounds.

The basis of their objection goes something like this: While they concede that the buildings design is excellent, they feel that an ultramodern building is not suitable for the site between the listed Clock House and Royal Victoria Pavilion.
I have just phoned the town council and received confirmation that the town council turned down the development on heritage grounds.

The basis of their objection goes something like this: While they concede that the buildings design is excellent, they feel that an ultramodern building is not suitable for the site between the listed Clock House and Royal Victoria Pavilion.
Please correct me if I am wrong here as I didn’t go to the meeting.

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Ramsgate Slipways Demolition and Development 2 Days Left to Comment

There are only 2 days left to comment on this development, you can comment supporting the development or objecting to it, but you have to have sent your comments to the council before 15th October.
The pictures click on them to enlarge are all stills from the developers animated presentation, there are various options for viewing this, depending on your computers capabilities at

Comments can be sent in a number of different ways, one thing is certain and that is if you don’t comment then there isn’t much point in complaining about the outcome.
There are two planning applications on the councils planning website, this link takes there and you then have to enter the application reference I the search box to access them.

A word of warning though, if you have an old computer the planning sheets are large PDF files, I have published the planning sheets on the internet as much smaller files at if you find that your computer can’t open them.
The first planning application is the one to demolish part of the slipways and the boatyard buildings the reference for this is L/TH/10/0736 the second application is the one to build the new bar and restaurant complex there the reference for this is F/TH/10/0737
The first page you arrive at once you have pasted in the application number into the search box on the council’s search box and clicked on the search button has a link called “Comment on Application” this is one way of commenting.
Another is to email your comments to the council if you don’t get a response to your email within one business day I would assume that something has gone wrong, normally the council’s customer services are very good at acknowledging the receipt of emails.
Another way is to write your comments to the council and post it to.

Thanet District Council,
PO Box 9,
Cecil Street,

If you need help producing your comments, telephone the council on 01843 577000 and ask speak to a planning officer about the development. It is important to understand that the planning officers are duty bound to be impartial, my experience is that they are also courteous and helpful.
If you follow this blog you will know that I have covered aspects of this application in various posts, clicking on this link should bring them all up
This is an important development as it could change the café culture, inner harbour, main sands area in a fundamental way, by removing boatyard activity from this part of Ramsgate.
Bar, café, restaurant operations are always going to be more profitable than boatyard operations, they are likely to look smarter and be more sustainable because they are not subject to competition from out of the area.

If you want a drink and or a meal when you are in Ramsgate, you are not going to look for them in other parts of Europe where they may be better and or cheaper, whereas if you want your boat repaired you may and prices will be effected by the exchange rate.
There is a problem here though and that is that if Ramsgate only has food and drink to offer, then people may stop coming here for food and drink.

Monday 11 October 2010

Council weed Pleasurama cliff façade and then say they haven’t

Thanet District Council have been removing some of the weeds from the Pleasurama cliff façade, the bizarre question here though is, why would they say they haven’t?
Weeds on Friday.
No weeds on Sunday.

Sorry about the vertigo, at least no one was on the bike when it went over the edge. This is the bit where the stubborn tree was, obviously they managed to get it out.

You have to admit it looked a bit touch and go, with the spade and the cherry picker.

Strange that they have left some of the weeds behind, some sort of selective gardening I thought at first.

What is really bizarre though is that the council say that none of this work has occurred on the bit of the façade behind the Pleasurama site, I quote, from an internal email so I have dotted a few bits out.

“The email from Michael Child refers to a piece of render (approx 1m2)
which delaminated and fell from a brickwork panel just outside the
fenced Pleasurama site at the East end of the site last week. The area
was inspected from a hydraulic platform last Friday …… and it was found that a short section of lead flashing had
failed which in turn lead to the failure of the piece of render. This
section of cliff facade is outside the construction site and not within
the area which received the refurbishment works in 2008 and 2009. This
was a local failure of sand/cement rendering and was not caused by
ingress behind the cliff facing structure itself.

Some repair works will be required following the inspection which will
involve pointing to the brickwork, re-rendering and repairs to the
flashing. These works will take up to two days to complete and will be
funded from the coastal maintenance budget.

As mentioned above this issue relates to a section of cliff facade
outside the Pleasurama development site which has a very different
method of construction to the cliff facing structures within the site.
There are therefore no implications as a result of this incident for
The development works on the site”

Sorry it was a bit chomped up due to TDCIT.

This picture shows the cliff façade between the Ramsgate Cliff lift and old tunnel entrance by Augusta Stairs both marked in red.

The Pleasurama site boundary fence is marked in light blue.

The cliff façade can be split into three parts

Yellow portals I would guess this bit was built between 1940 and 1950

Green arches built I think in the 1930s

Mauve brick built in the 1860s

The dark blue lines show where the weeding that I noticed has occurred.

Now follows a long rant about the façade for anyone who is interested.

The arched, green bit, of this façade that appears to be normally constructed and looks like a normal piece of civil engineering, apart from at the base where there is no sign of the load spreading foundations being where the design drawings show they should be. The chalk at the bottom of this part of the façade doesn’t appear to have been disturbed in the way one would expect to dig out for the spreaders, but this is a regular arched structure showing no signs of movement and is probably fine.

My guess is that that it is founded directly on solid chalk without load spreaders, I would think that it has also been keyed into the chalk cliff which would mitigate the vertical load.

It was constructed when the ground below it was used as a funfair and is fairly typical of cliff facades in Thanet.

The portal, yellow bit, of the structure has all of the appearance of having no design at all, I believe part of it was constructed during WW2, the low portal served as an entrance to the tunnels used by HMD Fervent. The building below it abutted the cliff and served as an indoor amusement arcade, it was used by costal command as HMS Fervent.

I believe that the inclined chalk cliff was stepped for the portal pillars and that these were cast onto these steps.

The bases of these pillars appear to sit on made ground, in fact I think it possible that some of the façade was built directly onto the concrete floor of the arcade.

The block infills definitely sit on made ground although there may be some sort of concrete shelf keyed into the chalk behind, which forms a foundation for the blockwork.

Various parts of the main concrete structure of this part of the façade have shifted laterally since its construction the worst part of this was repaired using the anchored concrete badge method, there are brown streaks below the badge that think should be analysed and if they contain iron oxide the badge may need treating as suspect.

Rust there could be caused by spalling of the original structure but could also be caused by the anchors, as the rest of the repair contract has visible faults I have reservations about the way the badge was applied.

Normally the drilling and inserting into the cliff of the anchors is done by a specialist contractor and is unlikely to be suspect.

The block panel adjacent to the lift has no drain holes and the coating applied during the main contract is coming away at the bottom of it, I would think that water is entering from above there.

When the block panel was removed for replacement at the end of last year there was a gap visible between the chalk and the adjacent pillar.

It is important to understand that this concrete façade isn’t designed to support the cliff, in fact it is the cliff that supports the façade, so damaged to the stepped chalk could be very significant indeed.

Finally the mauve part, the one that worries me the most at the moment the part in the vicinity of the blocked drain.

Firstly I should say that I don’t think that this was what caused the render to come off at the weekend, I think this was caused by the roots of the plant growing above it and should be treated as a minor cliff maintenance problem along with the plant growth in the blockwork.

There has been some surface movement in this area over the past couple of years, minor subsidence and lateral shifting.

My main concerns relates to the brick pier (the mauve lump) immediately adjacent to the blocked drain and the panel of brickwork sitting on much more recent blockwork, this area is very uncertain and parts of this brick structure collapsed without warning immediately after being investigated by civil engineers just over forty years ago.

As the cliff is south facing the sun tends to dry out the surface of the brickwork.

I think an underlying problem here may be that the councils advising structural engineers were supervising engineers on the main repair contract.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Sunday Ramble

I have just read some of the Sunday papers, this isn’t supposed to be a national blog so I don’t really post about issues that don’t relate mostly to Thanet, there is more than enough about national and international matters on the internet and most of the conventional local media is based in west or mid Kent meaning that it is better covered than Thanet.

Next to the local news blogs in an attempt to find out what is going on locally, in the order that they are on my sidebar now is mostly about national politics at the moment, a bit about the Kent Labour Party which seems to be alive and well and mostly at the other end of Kent. the latest post here seems to be remarkably similar to an article in The Mail that I have just read

This seems to be about a young woman moving up through and across the political world, it is an interesting reflection that a Marxist – British communist background seems help with getting into Oxbridge nearly as much a good public school. posted an article about Kent International Airport recently, this was about Thanet so a point to Tony.

But what is going on here that isn’t in the mainstream media? Or should I say won’t be in it for a while?

I expect I have missed something or there is something yet to appear today, but it does seem to be that the remaining bloggers that post news are looking out of Thanet.

Perhaps the other Thanet blogs that post news or about news are looking to go more national, certainly there seems to be a bit of a hole where ECR and Bertie used to be, there is of course the possibility that nothing much is going on in Thanet this week.

There is a bit happening on the China Gateway front, the company behind it hoped to sell their Dover properties, I think for £5m, I think the plan was to help with their finances, which seem to be a bit heavy on the borrowing side.

This sale seems to have fallen through although I think they hope to retain the £500k deposit. They have now issued some more shares to the value £25k, this doesn’t seem like a very large amount to be issuing a share equity for.

The last time any shares changed hands on the stock exchange seems to have been in June. I wouldn’t have thought they would need this if they had just acquired £500k.

I have to admit that these sort of financial transactions are all a bit beyond me but I keep an eye on them because the development will have an effect on Thanet if it ever happens.

Truth is that I can’t really decode anything meaningful from the financial information and there doesn’t seem to be a new planning application that one would expect if they intend to actually do anything soon.

Ironically while Ramsgate is set to loose most of its boat building facilities the Turner contemporary is going to engage in a boat building project, just bring any bits of wood you can spare along to the Droit House on 27th and 28th November and the artists there will be building a seafaring boat.

They also seem to have an 18 month local history project, I suspect that this will attract more funding than Margate museum ever did, but will it attract more visitors.

This will apparently culminate at the end of the year in a sea shanty sing along, if you don’t believe me here is the what’s on page of their website

For me this once again raises the question, what is art? The problem for me is that the Turner Contemporary seem to be saying that anything can be art, which to me seems to be very close to saying that nothing is art.

What talks a lot and costs, no I had better be pedantic her, what could cost £1,000 per day in Thanet? The answer is Thanet District Council’s councillors, see$SchemeofAllowancesfor201011.doc.htm

If you think I am being a little flippant today, my excuse is that we have had children’s birthday party here today.

Sorry a bit of a miscalculation there it should read nearly £2,000 a day as I missed the basic allowance figure, which adds over £200,000 a year to the figure.

I did go for a short walk this morning and headed of to the wescliff to see if I could spot any sings of the dedicated oil spill response capability in the Port of Ramsgate. This could be important, particularly to Margate now, here are the pictures there is certainly a lot of activity down there, so there but nothing that I could spot on that front.

Roughly speaking for every pound councillors receive in allowances in the coming year 4 tons of oil will be pumped between ships four miles off the coast of Margate, lets say it averages out, the oil that is at £400 a ton, I am working on about 40p a litre here, much cheaper to fill up your car at sea you see, then Thanet oil is worth about 800 times Thanet councillors.

I am probably on the way to trouble reducing these things to money, I certainly invoked the displeasure of one of the council’s senior officers when I did the post nicknaming by what they earn in a week, 2K, 1.5K etc.

I suppose this comes from science and engineering, where it in necessary to be able to visualise things, even very large numbers, to understand the workings of something or other.

At the moment I am trying to understand the risk associated with oil bunkering so near to Margate and the amounts involved are very large indeed
I will endeavour to ramble on during any spare moments during the day.

Saturday 9 October 2010

Hello sailor, an old sea dogs thoughts on the Margate oil bunker

This is about the new oil bunkering facility in the Queens Channel around five miles north of Margate, my concerns here relate to the possibility of an oil spill off Margate.

Bunker oil is usually the term for some of the thickest and nastiest oil there is, it is the residual oil that remains after the oil distillation process that turns crude oil into, petrol diesel and lubricating oil.

It is used in ships boilers and is so viscous that it has to be heated up before it can be pumped.

As far as I can see this facility offers pretty much every sort of oil there is to vessels in the Dover Strait and Thames Estuary.

Operations there involve fuel bunker vessels being anchored in the Queens Channel and 1,000s of tons of oil being pumped between vessels.

Two tankers have been chartered for this operation, The Jamie with a load capacity of 5,775 tonnes and The Christine with a load capacity of 8,673 tonnes, these are supplied with fuel by barges from Rotterdam.

I have put the (old) press release on my press release blog at

Information about contingency plans in the event of a spillage is a bit sparse at the moment, I can’t find details of any emergency standby vessel that would be used in an emergency spill.

In the case of an oil spillage, the facility will use the dedicated oil spill response capability in the Port of Ramsgate.

On the one hand I read about the toxic chemical spill in Hungry, the BP oil spill and part of me thinks something like this is unlikely to happen in Thanet.

On the other hand I find I am writing something like this, posting about bits of masonry hanging of cliffs or local flood risk, where no one actually seems to be aware of the high tide mark.

I suppose I am writing this post with a growing sense of incredulity, thinking that I must be missing or misunderstanding something here, thinking surely people in Margate must be aware of this, the council, local press, local environmentalists.

Perhaps it’s just me and this sort of risk is perfectly normal, perhaps these sort of operations are common close to tourist beaches with busy offshore shipping and a history of large and damaging storms.

I get the impression that refuelling ships in this way is more profitable than doing so in port where the environmental risks would be less, but I do wonder what the benefits to Thanet are, as it is the Thanet tourist economy that is being put at risk.

I will add to this one as I get time.

Friday 8 October 2010

Bit of a ramble about the art police and the HSE

It transpires that the picture above is sort of half legal according to the Gazette and to avoid any confusion here it is going to be painted over by order of the Ramsgate Town Council Great Wall Arts Committee.

Apparently the Ramsgate Town Council Great Wall Arts Committee asked local Graffiti artist Garff to do an artwork for the Great Wall and he did.

The Ramsgate Town Council Great Wall Arts Committee appear to like the work but will have to have it painted over because it’s graffiti, they will have it photographed and turned into art.

Sounds like they are catching some sort of virus from the Turner Contemporary, perhaps the three local councils could use their combined funding to publish regulations for artists and architects working in Thanet.

I have had the most bizarre missive from the HSE yet:

“Mr Child,

After visiting site, the construction inspector consulted the Principal Inspector for Kent and it has been decided that your concern does not really fall within the realm of construction because there was no work activity on site and the facade is outside the site fencing. Your concerns have therefore been passed to the Kent Group who shall receive the input of one of our Specialist Inspectors in Civil Engineering.

I or whoever the investigating inspector, will get back to you once our investigations are complete.


**** ****
Complaints Team E&SE

I really am a bit lost for words replying to this one, the chaps in the picture above are trying to remove a suborn tree from the cliff façade above the Pleasurama building site. This is proving difficult and masonry is showering into the building site below, the cherry picker is parked on the building site. The rest of the pictures are at

Last week when I complained to the HSE that the façade above the building site appeared dangerous the contractors were working on site.

The HSE then phoned the contractor, who they said also had reservations about the safety of the façade, after this the contractor left the site. I wonder if the HSE have considered that phoning a building firm up and saying that someone thinks the 70 foot high cliff that they are working under may not be safe, could be a reason for them leaving the site while the HSE resolve the issue.

It would seem that the HSE are only prepared to look into a dangerous practice while it continues to go on, perhaps they should publish instructions for building firms to do dangerous things so that they can investigate them.

It looks like the Pavilion roof is going to be battleship grey, I thought this was just grey undercoat, but as the scaffolding is coming down it looks like this is what we are going to get.
You would think that this was something to do with Ramsgate Town Council Great Wall Arts Committee. Rumour has it though that there isn’t much love lost between the council and the owners of the pavilion.

The town council are putting on a quad bike event and asked the owners of the pavilion for some cooperation and sponsorship, I don’t believe these people were very helpful.
Back to graffiti it would seem Thanet District Council have taken new approach with the boarding on their empty buildings and are now painting it with blackboard paint.

You don’t even have to bring your own chalk because of our geology.

As the IOTG would say. “Welcome to Smudger’s spot the difference competition”

The Isle of Thanet Gazette has tweeted rather an unusual spelling mistake see lets just hope that they haven’t spelt John Gibson Lockhart’s name wrong on the blue plaque too.

I wonder if you can untweet something, paint out the heart and make it art, oh well I suppose time will tell.
Back to the town council, I have to admit that I am beginning to have certain reservations here, the picture above is at the entrance to their offices and the NO ENTRY, their caps is a permanent feature.

I am beginning to wonder if this is what we all had in mind when we voted to spend extra money on a town council.

One thing I was particularly looking for in this venture was accessible local government.

I was speaking to one of my older customers today who has been a resident of Ramsgate for over seventy years and he asked me about last weeks IOTG story about auctioning of the town’s antiques.

Here it is  I also covered this recently  and have asked a few questions.

The messages coming out of the council are that the only things that are going to be sold are those that are not much use and don’t have Ramsgate connections.

The impression I got from the town council was that they felt the issue had been misrepresented so I asked them to send me the true information and pictures of the items, well they haven’t turned up, perhaps they will eventually.

Anyway one thing that came out of this was that the council said that many of the more important items are now on display in the Custom House.

Back to my long term Ramsgate resident, I suggested that he go and have a look, he said he had already been to the Custom House and spotted the no entry signs, that was enough for him, I don’t think he will go back again.

Next the continuing restoration work on 1 Granville Marina

the links are for anyone who has got lost.

At the moment they appear to be pile boring, something that I had assumed involved plant that was more industrial and less agricultural than the stuff in the picture.

I think what happened here is that before the Granville Marina was constructed the sea went up to the cliffs, then the incline viaduct and 1 Granville Marina was built into the cliffs as part of the cliff support system.

This was all founded on solid chalk with the sea defence well in front of this and then the void in between the cliff and the sea defences filled in with the chalk waste and the promenade laid on top of this.

I think the chaps in the picture may be drilling through the chalk waste looking for a firm foundation.

It will certainly be interesting if the new development subsides at a different rate to the existing part of the old one.

It is a very demanding feat of civil engineering to build against cliff face on the foreshore and doing this with what looks like a farming implement must add to the challenge.

I will ramble on as I absorb local events after a very busy day in the bookshop.

Pleasurama cliff update

Work is in progress removing the loose bits of the cliff wall.