Tuesday 30 November 2010

Pictures of the inside of The Royal Victoria Pavilion Ramsgate

Originally built as a Concert Hall and Assembly Rooms in 1903. Designed by Stanley Davenport. Adshead and built by F.G. Minter of Putney.
Ostensibly in the style of a Robert Adam orangery and based on the Little Theatre at Versailles; the whole was aimed as an exercise in the Adam style. Designed in 1 week, to be built in 6 weeks in time for the 1903 season.
Sounds fantastic doesn’t it and the council have issued a press release saying:

“Repair work has been completed on one of Ramsgate’s most familiar seafront buildings.

Work has been carried out over the last four months to the Royal Victoria Pavilion on Harbour Parade by the Rank Organisation. It follows lengthy discussions with the council, which owns the building. It is Rank’s responsibility, as the tenants, to ensure that the building is kept in good repair.

Since work started in the summer, the roof of the pavilion has been repaired, partly recovered and redecorated. The external rendering was fractured and in poor condition in a large number of places, which was allowing weather penetration to occur in some of these areas. To avoid deterioration of the structure, these areas have been repaired, re-rendered and redecorated.

Cllr. Roger Latchford, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Most people in Ramsgate know the pavilion building and have wanted to see something happening with it, as has the council. We’re delighted that finally work has been completed on the exterior of the building to bring it back into good repair. Hopefully, now that this work has been undertaken, we can look forward to it being re-occupied.””
Anyway I thought I had better go and take a look, sorry the pictures didn’t come out as well as I had hoped, it was darker than I expected inside.
Here are the links to the rest of the pictures



I am a bit lost for words at the moment, but I will add to this post later on today.

Monday 29 November 2010

Thanet District Council Leader, consultation or chaos?

Over the next fortnight the council are asking you about how you want to select a leader of the council.

Do you want to vote for a leader when you vote for the councillors, or do you want the councillors to chose their own leader instead?

At the moment our national government seems to be supporting much more local consultation, I am pretty sure that they are sincere in this intention.

In this instance I take the national government to be the MPs who are part of the coalition supported by the government civil servants, represented by the cabinet and prime minister.

Locally things appear to be at odds with this, the council seems to be against local consultation.

In a way this depends on what you call the council or even what councillors and council officers mean by the word council.

If you take this to be the majority Conservative group, supported by the council officers, represented by the cabinet and council leader, then all is not well when it comes to public consultation.

To quote Bob Bayford the leader of Thanet District Council:

“This new government has promised to cut down on public consultation, decisions should be left to elected members because that is what we have been elected for, there is far too much of this consultation going on”.

I did email Bob to check that he wasn’t misquoted or quoted out of context there, click on the link for the email http://www.thanetonline.com/1110/id5.htm

He didn’t reply, I don’t know is this was because he approved his comments, is just plain rude or is a computer illiterate, so until I hear to the contrary I can only assume that this is the view of the council.

By the council in this instance I mean the officers and councillors collectively.

Back to the consultation about how the leader is selected, I posted about this last week see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/11/new-style-of-leadership-forced-on.html now I am particularly worried about how this consultation is being run, more so now in the light of the leaders comments on public consultation.

I have emailed the council’s democratic services about this see http://www.thanetonline.com/1110/id6.htm

Sunday 28 November 2010

Sunday Ramble, You’ve Never Had it so Good, Indoors.

Snow outside today, much to my children’s delight and yes we are warm enough indoors, have enough to eat, a reasonable internet connection provides more indoor media/leisure activates than we have ever had before.

Apart from now on the laptop my leisure has mostly been reading, my airship comparisons last week caused me to revisit the author Nevil Shute whose autobiography “Slide Rule” covers the construction of the R100 and the R101, he was the stress calculator for the R100 team so this is very much an inside view.

His novels, now a bit dated, were some of the first grown up books I read, so the reread is as much a glimpse at my own past through his books as the enjoyment of reading them.

I have just done one of my minor chores, putting up the recent planning applications on my press release site, I couldn’t put up the council’s recent documents as this part of their website isn’t working at the moment.

Still on the subject of the council, there is a new press release on their website about the new Ramsgate swimming pool, see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/new_swimming_pool_plans.aspx

I can’t find the new plans for the pool on the council’s website, this may be because they are on the bit of the council’s website that isn’t working at the moment or it may be that they just haven’t published them.

It is quite likely that this important document about a major Ramsgate project is only available if you go to Margate if you want to view it.

I don’t seem to have got many of the council’s press releases for publication this week, there is another one in their website saying that work has been completed on the Royal Victoria Pavilion, see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/news/latest_press_releases/pavilion_work_finishes.aspx

This is another of those cryptic messages that come out of the council as the outside of the building has been repaired and painted but no mention is made of the inside.

I think one is supposed to assume that the inside is in someway usable and ready for a new tenant, I suppose this could be the case, but this isn’t what I think. My understanding is that the inside is mostly a semi derelict mess.

The council leased this building back in the 60s on a long lease to one of the firms that was eventually swallowed up by the Rank Organisation, what has happened to the inside over the years, when you consider that it is a grade 2 listed building is pretty bad.

I can’t find any planning history for the building, so I don’t know if what has happened to it over the years was done with or without the council’s consent.

The council has obviously come to some agreement with the Rank Organisation about repairs to the pavilion, perhaps only to decorate the outside, it is often difficult to know with the council.

I think though the underlying problem here is not about scoring points off the council but trying to find some sort of way forward with the building, much of this revolves around what would work in this part of Ramsgate.

At the moment I think another bar, café, restaurant complex would probably only put pressure on the existing ones, in what are difficult trading times, I suppose our best hope here is for some sort of part grant funded leisure complex, based around either, sport, arts or history, very difficult when Margate seems to be at the front of the queue for this sort of funding.

Pleasurama is still progressing slowly, the HSE have now conceded that there are some problems with the cliff façade and intend to investigate them, once again I find myself in the vague situation that occurs with government departments.

By this I mean you make a series of efforts to get them to take some sort of action about a problem but it is not possible to extract any sort of time frame for when these actions will occur or any accurate details about what those actions will be.

I think that probably the main danger with the work on the Pleasurama site relates to what work is done before the condition of the cliff is properly determined. The worst situation, I think, would be to get part of the building there and then for the cliff to be examined and for it to be discovered to be in a condition where the building can’t be built economically.

If this happens we could be in for another thirteen years of a derelict site, what I can’t understand is why the developer is prepared to continue to spend money on this site without first determining both the flood risk and the risk of the cliff collapsing.

The whole business of empty council owned sites is a problem in Ramsgate that causes the town considerable problems, this is made so very much worse by the council’s reluctance to say what is being done about these sites.

The Maritime Museum, pavilion, Pleasurama, Westcliff Hall, Albion House, Eagle Café, tourist information office, town partnership office are the obvious ones, perhaps there are many others, unfortunately it is not easy to tell.

Harvey’s fish restaurant has reopened as Jack's Cantina see picture above, unusual external colours.

Saturday 27 November 2010

New style of leadership forced on Thanet District Council

The council has to change the way that it is governed, the present system of cabinet and leader has to be changed under the 2007 act.

The council is going to change this at the May 2011 elections and this change will be to one of two types of leadership.

Either the new style stronger leader appointed by the councillors, or a leader elected by the ordinary voters, hopefully at the same time as they elect the councillors.

The council is obliged to engage in a public consultation about this issue, if you want to take part in this consultation your views have to be sent to the council by 15th December 2010.

Oddly enough the council doesn’t seem to have one of their normal consultation forms or interactive websites, that I can find, they don’t seem to have sent out a press release about this, in fact information on the council’s website about the whole thing is a bit on the sparse side.

Here is their webpage about it http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/cllrs_democracy__elections/governance_models_consultation.aspx
Strange that this consultation doesn’t appear in their list of consultations either, see http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/consultation.aspx

In the past all of the councillors who have expressed a view on this seem to be in favour of keeping the status quo. Well that isn’t an option anymore, so it would be interesting to hear what they think.

I have discussed this in some detail with some of the senior council officers and they seem to very concerned about the prospect of us, the electorate, choosing a leader.

At the moment they seem to be saying that no matter what the result of the consultation they wouldn’t allow a new leader to be elected at the same time as the councillors, as this would make the electorate electing a leader more expensive, what we apper to have here is a rigged consultation.

They are in effect saying that if you want to choose the leader of the council they will ensure that it is more expensive.

My main gripe with the current system is that the cabinet chooses the leader and the leader chooses the cabinet.

OK having written this, I have to admit that the workings of local government is not something that I understand that well, so it may contain mistakes and corrections would be welcome.

Friday 26 November 2010

Who do you call? Police? Council?

I suppose that most of us periodically have the problem when there is some sort of problem that doesn’t warrant calling 999 but need some sort of fairly urgent action. In my case this week it was an unsecured empty building, and old taxi office and associated commercial garage.

This when open is a potential hazard to children during the day and with the way the town centre is at night, a potential hazard if a group of drunks get into to it and burn it down.

This garage has its doors right on the street in the town centre and I first noticed one of them was open on Monday, so I called the police.

I went through all of the rigmarole that one goes though today, if one telephones some large organisation, once upon a time this would have been the local police station, and the person you spoke to would have know the geography of the town.

Eventually I got there with woman on the switchboard on the other side of the county navigating a virtual map of Ramsgate, I got a reference number and a promise that officers would attend the building and sort out the problem.

Anyway I thought job done and hopefully both expense and anything nasty happening had been avoided, so I was quite surprised to go past it on Wednesday and see the garage door still wide open.

So I thought I would report it to the council this time, so I phoned them up and was told that it would be passed on to a team who would deal with the problem.

Anyway this evening I went past the building and it was still open, not good news.

I think that much of the problem here is that when you talk to the professionals in this sort of instance, they take it over as though that is what they are, professionals, give a confident answer as though they deal properly with this sort of minor problem regularly.

Anyway I phoned the police back with my reference number, and asked them why they hadn’t dealt with the problem, the reply was they had, officers had attended, forms had been filled it.

I asked the person I spoke to what the officers had actually done, the answer was that they had shut the door, not secured it but just shut it. In other words they left the thing in a condition that was dangerous and had the potential for crime to occur there.

So then I phoned the council on their out of hours service, the response I got was both helpful and apologetic and about half an hour later they phoned back to say that a team would go out and secure the building.

Now I suppose that securing a building must be something that both the police and that council have to regularly, rather in the way I sell books regularly.

Equate this situation to me posting you a book, in a commercial business if I behaved like this I would just go bankrupt.

A few pictures that were on the camera card here http://thanetonline.com/1110/id4.htm

Thursday 25 November 2010

A motorcycle diversion as it’s my day off.

I am putting together a book about Thanet motorcycling experiences in the 1960s at the moment, normally when I publish a book I try to add some sort of publishers note where I can.

Obviously in other cases like the last two books I published, one about the Thanet Home Guard and the other about Thanet’s Civil Defence Sirens, where I don’t really know anything about the subject, there isn’t anything much I can say.

With motorcycling in Thanet, as I have had several motorcycles here I thought I ought to add something to the book, so here’s a first draft.

I think it will take me about a week to get the book out and will post about it when I do.

I have had considerable enjoyment reading about Les and Ken’s motorcycling experiences in the sixties and am only too aware that I missed the golden era or British motorcycling.

I came to motorcycling sometime early in the 1970s, I was 17 in 1970 so I don’t think it can have been long after that.

I must have been between jobs at the time as I remember that money was very short, my mother had a guesthouse in Augusta Road at the time and during periods of poverty, money was made up by doing chores in the guesthouse.

I had, had some experience with a Mobylette moped before a proper motorcycle, this thing was a sort of bicycle with an automatic clutch like a lawnmower, so really the only extra control, not found on a bicycle, was a twist grip.

You twisted the twist grip past the least throttle opening, where there was some resistance, this opened a valve that decompressed the engine, you then peddled like crazy and the automatic clutch engaged causing the engine to rotate at which point you turned the twist grip to open the throttle. At this point sometimes it started and went marginally faster than a bicycle. The rather primitive two stroke sooted up the plug badly, so more often that not you cleaned the plug instead.

My first proper motorcycle was a BSA C12 this was the final variant of the BSA pre-unit 250 singles. Pre unit meaning that the gearbox was separate from the engine.

This was the swinging arm suspension variant of the C11. with the C11s that rear suspension was either fixed – no suspension at all – or was plunger suspension, with no shock absorbers.

The swinging arm swung from about where your feet went with the back wheel on the end of it and shock absorbers going from the wheel end of the swinging arm to mounting on the frame under the seat.

This was the conventional form of suspension for most motorcycles from about 1958 and for the most part very successful. The C12 however was a fairly early version of this and the swinging arm part of the frame was bolted on to a slightly modified C11 frame. The frame was in fact made of various pieces of tubing brazed into sections that were then bolted together to form the whole frame. Rigidity is an important factor in motorcycle handling – the motorcycles ability to go round bends – needless to say the C12 didn’t handle well.

The one I bought had been taken to pieces completely by another young lad who had put the pieces into a series of cardboard boxes and carrier bags and then given up, needless to say it was very cheap indeed.

The chrome had mostly rusted away on the wheels and various other parts so I painted these bits light grey and the rest red, this was done with a brush not a spray but it didn’t look too bad.

This type of motorcycle is fairly primitive and I managed to assemble it, I didn’t quite know what it should look like, as there weren’t any others of this model in Thanet and I hadn’t got a manual. It was indeed several months after I had been riding it around before I saw another one and realised that I had mounted the toolbox and electrical switch assembly on the wrong sides, under the seat.

I managed to get it running and took it for an MOT, sympathetic MOTs at this time were still with Peter Norcott in Broadstairs, after politely agreeing with his ideas about using a rocket to split the moon in half, something that apparently would solve the world’s energy problems, he suggested a few on the spot modifications to my amateur motorcycle assembly and I duly left with an MOT.

I rode this bike around for some time with great difficulty changing gears, once you had managed to get it into a gear it was very difficult to get it out and this made it a difficult ride.

I eventually bought a secondhand gearbox through the post, I think it was more expensive than the bike had been. Having put it in the bike I discovered that the thread on part of the clutch mechanism in the replacement gearbox was stripped so I cannibalised both gearboxes.

Doing this I discovered that the problem with my old gearbox had only been a spacing washer on the end of the lay shaft – when you tried to change gear the lay shaft moved along with the cogs on the main shaft and so it was nearly impossible to get it out of a gear – in the bottom of one of the cardboard boxes was the offending washer that had ultimately cost me more than the whole bike.

With a top speed of about 60 mph and a fuel consumption of about 80 mpg I went a quite long way on this bike for its age and size, I toured much of Southeast England and East Anglia although I remember that the journeys took a very long time.

I think I had some notion that a journey of 100 miles was a very long way, so I would stop frequently for a cup of coffee.

It took the test on it in Margate, with the examiner hiding behind things, I am not sure if it was possible to fail this unless you either hit something or fell off. The brakes had a lot to be desired and although I had removed the brake shoes, boiled them in washing powder – the best way to remove the grease that was distributed by the wheel bearings onto them – the major stopping power in the emergency stop was facilitated by changing down through the gears. Fortunately the examiner owned a Big Port AJS with similar problems, so I passed.

Various motorcycles passed through my hands during the 70s and 80s all of them British and manufactured before 1960, I think my favourite look wise was a BSA Super Rocket that had most of the cycle parts chromed, and my favourite as an overall ride was a Norton 88 Dominator in a Wideline Featherbed frame.

I was never involved in the competition side of motorcycling, mainly I suppose because the British motorcycle era had pretty much finished by the time I got my first motorcycle and anything fast and reliable enough to compete, would have been too expensive.

With the British motorcycles I owned that were manufactured between 1939 and 1960 the main factors that made them go wrong and to some extent more difficult to drive, made little sense to me. With the time that I am talking about these problems had been resolved in British cars of the period and it surprises me that they were never resolved in British motorcycles.

Most of the machines I had, had overhead valve engines, single and twin cylinder machines made by Norton, BSA or Triumph, and the main reason for mechanical failure was poor cylinder head lubrication. This problem was resolved in most British cars with overhead valve engines manufactured after 1935 and I have never understood why it persisted in motorcycle engines. Basically the failure was due to not taking a pipe containing a pressurised oil feed to the cylinder head, if there was I pipe at all it came from the return side of the oil system and therefore had hardly any pressure.

Even the Morris Minor car had a pressurised oil feed to the cylinder head and yet none of the motorcycle designers, in these three competing firms, managed to do this until about 1960.

The other problem was their electrics, the biggest fault with them being that they were 6volt instead of 12volt, the most interesting effect of this was that a motorcycle capable of over 100 mph, had a headlight that produced a dull pool of light on the road a few feet away.

Those machines with magnetos had the advantage that the electricity supplying the spark to the engine was independent of this ineffective system, but those machines fitted with coil ignition that got its power from the 6 volt electrical system, tended to get more unreliable ass the battery aged.

Once again the designers could easily have learnt from the British cars of the period, I have owned three Morris Minor cars and would say that their 12 volt electrical system, although simple was as reliable as most modern cars electrics.

Of course what really finished the British motorcycle industry was the faster speeds, for engine size that the Japanese motorbikes produced, although these Japanese bikes were much more reliable, I think it was the speed that did it.

Some of the funny things that occurred with motorcycles I had now.

As I said the Super Rocket was a stunning bike to look at, not so easy to deal with when stationary, the handlebars were very low clippons mounted just above the front wheel on the sides of the front suspension “forks” the foot controls and foot rests had also been moved back. This meant that you didn’t sit upright on it, but more took up a position lying on your front, to reduce the air resistance at high speeds.

It was also quite a heavy machine with very little in the way of unnecessary parts on it so as to reduce the weight as much as possible, so there wasn’t much to get hold of to get it off its parking stand.

It also had a racing carburettor, manual ignition advance retard and very high compression pistons, making it difficult to start, but easy to get to kick back.

I left it at the MOT station and when I came back for it one MOT man was sitting down nursing his leg and the other was lying on it in the riding position making brumming sounds. They hadn’t been able to either start it or get it of the stand.

I did fall off a few times playing about with a Greeves trials bike, this was an off road machine and eventually I broke it in half misjudging jumping out of one rubbish skip and into another.

The only time I ever fell off of a road bike was in the petrol station in Queen Street, it had my brother and all of our camping equipment on it, when I got it off the stand, standing astride the bike, I just couldn’t hold it upright.

The Super Rocket was certainly the fastest bike I have ever owned, I don’t really know how fast as it is inadvisable to look away from where you are going, to look at the speedometer when riding a over a certain speed, the only time I have ever been prosecuted for speeding was on that bike.

I had a rather lucky escape with the BSA Super Rocket and decided to sell it, in the end I swapped it for a Norton Dominator, a BSA B33 and £200, the chap I swapped it with belonged the local branch of the Norton owners club. He only had a provisional licence though which meant he had to attach a small sidecar to it to ride it legally because its engine capacity, when I met him after a week he told me had been thrown out of the club because he had burnt them all off with sidecar on.

My brother had a Norton Dominator 99 and for a while he had to work in a firm of accountants as part of his university economics course, this necessitated wearing a pin striped suite, rather an incongruous outfit with a large and somewhat oily motorcycle.

If we went to a new biker pub everyone would ignore him until we got into the car park and they saw his bike, I think by this time we were well up into the 70s and these big 50s bikes were becoming something of a rarity.

The picture is of my C12 outside the back gates of our guesthouse in Augusta Road.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Government Cuts and Thanet District Council goes Bing.

For some time now I have been trying to get the council to make various aspects of their website work properly, well going there today I notice that they have finally replaced the search facility that never worked properly with one provided by Microsoft called Bing.

Looking on the front of the Thanet Times, I noticed that the headline is, Axe to fall on top jobs in the Council Cost savings to total £1m. it goes on to say that a quarter of the senior management jobs in Thanet council are to axed.

Well I know that our top officers in TDC earn a fair bit, in fact I had quite s tiff reprimand from the chief exec of TDC when I used nicknames based on their weekly wages to illustrate a point, see http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/foi/id17.htm

But even so the top TDC officers earning £4m per year seemed a bit of an exaggeration so I thought to check this one out, first port of call the council’s website, confronted with the new search facility I duly entered the search terms “officers pay” one of the pages on the council’s website that came up was entitled “STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL” here it is http://www.thanet.gov.uk/pdf/Parking_Enforcement_Policy_%202008.pdf so I was somewhat distracted for a while.

Funny thing about the attraction of things one is not supposed to read.

Sorry I digress, pay at this sort of level is actually called remuneration, so with a slight adjustment of my search terms I finally came to this page http://www.thanet.gov.uk/council__democracy/council_budgets__spending/statement_of_accounts_2009/core_financial_accounts_notes.aspx which does indeed list their pay.

All in all it is a bit difficult to see what the paper is saying here, the “top jobs” cost £843,952 so the cost savings wouldn’t reach £1m if you sacked the lot of them, so how the paper thinks sacking two of the top seven jobs in the council will slice £1m of the budget for the next financial year eludes me.

As with so much to do with the government cuts, it is explanation that is lacking, like today’s scrapping of HMS Ark Royal, there may be an explanation but our politicians seem reluctant to divulge it.

The civil servant who only generates sheafs of paper is a problem that has to be reduced, for every two serving members of the armed forces the government employs one civil servant in the MOD.

Don’t get me wrong here some of these will be essential, but the problem has got out of hand and there is a limit to how may people whose life is funded by taxation, be they paid wages by the government or living on benefits paid by the government.

There is also another differentiation to consider here and that is the one between doing any sort of job and doing a job that actually produces something that wasn’t there before.

I am conscious that much of my time is spent buying and selling books that were produced by someone else, however some of the time I do produce something, mostly in terms of the local books I publish.

There are two aspects to this, one is the writing and editing that eventually produces a file that can be sent to one of my printers and the other side of this is the actual manufacturing of the books.

As far as I can see most of the tangible wealth of the country has to come from producing something that wasn’t there before, in the world as it is, the proportion between this and other forms of work needs to be in balance.

Coming back the problem of cuts, I suppose the underlying problem here is that it is the system of government that has to remove parts of the system of government and it is probable that those highest in that system of government will be the most resistive to this removal.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Scams spams and funny experiences in bookshops

It seems that the other day the staff of Albion secondhand bookshop in Broadstairs managed to go to lunch locking one of their customers in the shop, adding a new and interesting risk to book browsing.

I don’t close my bookshop at lunchtime so I haven’t ever managed to do this, come to think of it though I don’t think Albion used to close for lunch, maybe it’s a sign of the times in retail.

I have been lucky with review copies and reps samples this year so am quite busy with people picking up early and extra cheap Christmas presents, in fact lunch time is generally the busiest part of the day.

With shops at the moment I have to admit that I am finding it increasingly hard to find one to hide in during my lunchtime and other times out and about, what with the cold weather coming on and early forays into what should be Christmas shopping.

This is an increasing problem for someone who doesn’t like conventional shopping, what I like to do is to browse bookshops, antique shops record and cd shops and increasingly they are going.

I am afraid the essential food and clothes shopping that we all have to do, isn’t my idea of enjoyment and as I said it’s a bit cold hanging around outside. There are plenty of charity shop I know but these seem mostly to contain old clothes and books that wouldn’t make it into most secondhand bookshops.

I have a section of this sort of book with prices ranging from 5p to 10p, not much fun to browse though.

Fraid to say one of my favourite shops in Ramsgate the camera shop is having a closing down sale, probably another victim of the internet.

Shopping on the internet though can have its problems, compared to shopping in a shop in the ordinary way, sometimes it seems that one the one hand one saves about 20% of the cost of the item, but on the other hand about 20% of the transactions go wrong.

I think this is more about the scammers out there than anything else, although scamming is moving out into the real world, often scams that have been going on for some time on the internet are now appearing in a non internet form.

One at the moment is the card through the door, saying that the postman has tried to make a delivery, but you were out, this card tell you to ring a premium rate number to arrange delivery.

Call the number and as soon as you start to hear the recorded message you will have been billed for £15.

This one effects me in a roundabout way, due to another sort of internet crime, this one is people who order books from legitimate secondhand booksellers and then say the book hasn’t been delivered, obviously if you are selling a secondhand book, you are only likely to have one copy, so the only thing you can do is refund their money.

We overcame this problem by sending out secondhand books that people had ordered over the internet via sites like Amazon, where you can’t view buyer feedback, by sending the by registered post.

This of course isn’t a problem with new books where you can send them another book, or with sited like Ebay where you can view the buyers feedback.

Other internet scams are moving onto the phone, I heard of someone recently who was phoned up concerning a compute virus that they were supposed to have, having removed some essential files from there computer, they then bought some supposed anti virus software that did even more harm to their computer.

I should point out that there is very good free anti virus software available online and also if anyone directs you to your computers error log, the indeed you will be able to see files that have had errors.
Well despite the imminent closure of the camera shop a new florist http://www.thesecretgardenflorist.co.uk/ is opening, I am afraid that a florist won’t really do it for me though.

What has happened to the independent shops and what I do when I go out for a bit of relaxation during my lunchtime is of considerable concern to me and I am beginning to think that it is the internet that that has tipped the scale here.

The factors that have lead to the demise of our towns are pretty mixed, out of town shopping centres haven’t helped, form the bookselling point of view though and speaking from my own perspective, in many cases they can’t compete either on price or range in some areas.

Another factor here is the increased cost of shop buildings and as I said the other day this hasn’t been helped by the way housing benefit has raised the value of housing that no one particularly wants to live in.

This is an old problem really, it comes up in many areas when the government pays for something for people, you often don’t get value for money when the consumer isn’t doing the spending.

Whatever the pros and cons much of the shop property on the edges of our town centres has been turned into undesirable housing.

It is when you add all of these factors together that things really start to go wrong.

Here in Ramsgate I don’t think that it is a problem with the underlying prosperity, as the independents selling things that you can’t easily buy via the internet seem to be doing OK.

Monday 22 November 2010

Moaning Minnie Thanet's Civil Defence Sirens New Edition

Newly published today a revised edition of Steve and Alan Moore’s book about Thanet’s Sirens.

Click on the link for some sample pages, http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/MoaningMinnie2/ this is a larger edition with much new material.

Click on this link to buy the book http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/moaning_minnie___thanet_s_civil_defence_sirens_revised_edition.htm

Once again a very good job and an interesting book on an unusual subject, which has local interest and also the geographically wider interest of those interested in sirens.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Sunday Ramble

Getting the children up for church this morning I suppose like the rest of us I gave some thought to the pope’s new position on condoms, ineffability is always a difficult thing and the proposition that their use is acceptable to the church in some circumstances seems to have left some Catholics I know in difficult position.

Having spent the last few years defending what looked like an untenable position, they now seem to have had the rug pulled out from under them.

Strange really is the Catholic Church’s position on this matter, it seems to have come out of some notion about contraception that developed about three hundred years ago, prior to that time the church actively condoned abortion.

History is a funny old thing and looking into it in more depth, this seems to have been OK during the first forty days after conception. Life wasn’t thought to start until that time, that is for males it was considered that the life of females didn’t start until eighty days after conception. This was given as the explanation as to why men are more intelligent then women.

Times change of course, one lunatics, criminals, women and members of the house of lords were not allowed to vote, now it is only members of the house of lords.

I think I had better get back to local matters before the trouble starts, I am afraid that I didn’t buy a local paper this week, hence the national news comment. I was distracted by the shape of Margate seafront, somewhere that I once worked and have to admit that I hadn’t given any thought to. As you can see from this week’s posts, it would seem that at one time the sea in Margate came up to about halfway through Primark, which is where the cliff face once was.

The original level there would once have been about the low tide mark, this raises the question, why does the sea get progressively deeper further from the shore? Obviously there is the exception of the geology that existed before the prehistoric movements of our geology, that as it were produced the ups and downs, hills and so on. Although with Margate the valley that slopes toward the sea is not thought to have been produced by movement of the earths tectonic plates, but by water erosion. This of course raises another question, why didn’t the water soak into the Thanet Chalk? The current answer to this one is that it was rendered impervious to water during the permafrost of the last ice age.

Back to the sea getting deeper, well costal erosion of our chalk cliffs has always been down to about the low tide mark but because of rising sea levels since the last ice age, this low tide level is further down the further out you go.

Costal erosion at Margate is about 30metres per century so if you go out to sea 600metres and are standing on chalk that would be about the low tide level at the time of Christ.

Considerations about Pleasurama now, I was talking to one of the councillors this week who said the situation there has come down to; after many years of me disagreeing with the council’s civil servants, most councillors taking the civil servants position on this.

There are various factors here, with the flood risk the position seems to be on the one side me and the environment agency’s expert taking the view that to proceed with the development, without a flood risk assessment, could be dangerous and even result in loss of life and the council’s civil servants and the developer taking the view that as they have ticked all the right boxes, the development can go ahead without one.

My contention here is that the council officers should have know that the site had historically been subject to flooding and storm damage and should have insisted on one. The problem here is that there isn’t really a way that civil servants can admit to a mistake in this country without putting their jobs at risk.

Historically they have chosen the route of killing people rather than admitting their errors, and all of the checks and balances that exist within out system of government to prevent this sort of thing have been ridden over, when one government department comes to examine the doings of another.

A fine example here is the way that airship safety operated, I am using this example for several reasons, one being that aviation safety is supposed to be something that the government controls very tightly and this has been the situation since WW1, another being that people were actually killed because it was one rule for commercial aircraft manufacturers and another for government run aircraft manufacturers.

Back in the 1930s it was generally assumed that intercontinental air travel would be done by airships, this was quite reasonable at a time when commercial aeroplanes hadn’t managed to cross the Atlantic and commercial airships had.

The leading country in airship design was Germany and British government run manufactures produced a series of British airships with a design based on scaling up German airships that had been shot down during WW1.

What I mean here is that they produced a series of aircraft without the fundamental engineering principle of calculating the mechanical stresses acting on their structure, instead they copied the German design scaling it up, without understanding it.

The culmination of this project was the production of the R38, on her third flight various problems were observed and made light of by the civil servants, who were supposed to have designed it, but had actually just scaled up the structure of a smaller German ship.

On her fourth flight her structure failed causing her to break in half and crash, this resulted in 45 people who were onboard being burnt to death.

The problem here was that the inspecting government body was inspecting a government department and a government owned engineering structure.

The civil servants who, well designed is the wrong word here, were responsible for her design, well you may well wonder what happened to them, ordinary commercial aircraft designers who designed an aircraft without making stress calculations would have gone to prison when that aircraft failed.

This group of civil servants weren’t prosecuted for manslaughter, the documents showing that there had been no stress calculations didn’t in fact come to light until years later, government documents can be like that.

No ultimately they were rewarded with being given another airship design project to be in charge of, the R101, this eventually crashed due to faults that were passed through by the ministry because they were inspecting the work of another government department.

The civil servants involved issued an airworthiness certificate for this aircraft without it even having had a test flight at full speed.

This aircraft crashed on her maiden voyage and 48 people on board burnt to death.

This brings me to the safety of the cliff behind the Pleasurama site, a situation where I am trying to get the health and safety inspectorate to examine problems with the cliff façade, another government owned structure.
What we are talking about here is checks and balances, the normal checks and balances are operated in this instance by various government departments and if a private company were to have a potentially dangerous structure, then the first port of call here would be the council’s development control department.

The problem with the cliff is that the structure belongs to the council and to get in to the condition that it is in now has cost the council about £1m, the work involving this spending of this was overseen by the council’s development control department.

As I said I have been trying to get across the message for a number of years now, the message has been that I want the cliff examined by experts that don’t have anything to lose if anything is found to be wrong with it.

Back in 2008 I thought I had finally got through to them when I went on site and took various photographs of parts of the cliff façade that looked visibly dangerous.

Now as the result of an foi request I have discovered that the council didn’t have the façade professionally examined as I had asked, but instead asked the same team that had said the £1m contract was ok, to visually examine the façade,
I am told that no report was prepared, so there was nothing I could foi however as a result of this visual examination the council spent £10,700 making the façade look visibly better, weeding it and replacing a panel that was badly cracked and bulging.
Now I tried to get the council to make a proper inspection and failed there, so I approached the health and safety executive, I was surprised by their position on this one which was that their remit was the health and safety at work, so that until work started on the site there wasn’t anything much they could do.

There doesn’t seem to be any government department that oversees public safety of a structure apart from the council, so I was stumped until work started there.

You have to appreciate here that I am not saying that the structure is dangerous or liable to imminent collapse, just that after the council and the council’s specialist advisors had supervised the £1m contract the work didn’t appear as it should.

It shouldn’t, for instance, have needed another ten grand spent on it for one thing and there should have been some signs of foundations that weren’t visible where the design drawings said they should be.

Anyway time went on and at the other end of the cliff a drain got blocked, now this part of the cliff façade is much older and part of it has collapsed in the past, the most likely reason for this collapse was water getting into it due to poor drainage.

Well eventually work started on the site and so I contacted the health and safety executive pointing out that I thought the most dangerous bit now was the bit by the blocked drain.

The health and safety executive then asked the council if they thought that their cliff was safe and the council replied to them that it was safe.

Then a lump of masonry fell off the cliff façade and the workers left the site, so I asked the health and safety executive what they were going to do about it.

I expect you guessed their answer, that was, as there in no one working on the site then it isn’t their remit.
Well the council came along with a cherry picker and knocked the lose bits off the façade so that they couldn’t fall on anyone, I believe this could be called reductive maintenance, anyway what they didn’t do was unblock the drain.

Well time went on and another bit of came loose and was left hanging over the site.

At about the same time I received from the council the results of my foi request for reports on the cliff condition and in it was one prepared by the developers contractor confirming my contention that at least one of the main façade supporting pillars had no foundation.
This was helpful to me as when I pointed this out when work first started on £1m contract the councils supervising engineers told me that I was mistaken about this and it was sitting on 2metres of concrete and not on what I had observed, a pile of muddy soil.
Anyway work has now started on the site and I have once again contacted the health and safety executive, who tell me that they are looking into the matter.
Now I come to the problem of where our elected representatives the councillors fit into all of this, with the R101 airship the main elected representative involve was Lord Thomson the minister for air, essentially he accepted the word of the civil servants that this airship was safe.

Aspects of it though were visibly wrong, essentially the main factor in the safety of an airship is its disposable lift, the amount of upwards force it has, so any unnecessary weight effects its safety.

When this airship was designed the idea was to stop it by changing the pitch of the propellers, this didn’t work so that the design team resolved the problem by having one engine put in backwards.

In other words on a journey of thousands of miles it would carry one diesel engine weighing several tons just to be used for the final few hundred yards to stop the thing.

Something like this would have rung alarm bells in the mind of anyone with the most rudimentary understanding of engineering, I would have thought that most car drivers would be suspicious about buying a car that had a separate engine for going backwards because the designer couldn’t make the gearbox produce reverse gear.

In the end this problem was resolved but the airship didn’t have enough lift for the weight of fuel, so the designers cut it in half and inserted an extension in the middle so that they could get more lifting gas into it.

Lord Thomson was one of the passengers who burnt to death and I wonder if this is something to do with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance syndrome, I don’t suppose he would have trusted a designer who couldn’t produce reverse gear in a car, but the airship was so large, as big as an ocean liner, so perhaps he assumed that people working on something so large must be competent.

I am reminded here of the size of the Pleasurama cliff façade, I suspect that most of the councillors wouldn’t have any problem if they had a garden wall, that had produced a large bulge and cracked just after they had paid for an expensive repair to it, if they had I suspect they would have taken some action if lumps had started falling off or two different people had probed around and couldn’t find the foundations.
I think another problem here is that some people consider that I am hostile towards the council in these matters, an interesting point here to consider is that I know quite a few civil servants, among them several Thanet District Council officers.

I would say that of the people I know, these are the ones that understand the problem here the best.

The nub of the problem is that any civil servant, who criticises another civil servant, is likely to be the one who is looking for a job, not the civil servant who has made the mistake you understand, but the one who stands up and points that mistake out.

In a world where every human being makes mistakes this is a very difficult situation to get in.

The R101 is a very good case in point here, now the civil servants who were responsible for designing it must have known that it was dangerous, must have known that it hadn’t been tested properly.

The problems mostly stemmed from the fact that when public money has been spent on something and that something doesn’t work properly, then it just isn’t possible for one of the government employees responsible to say. “We have spent a million pounds of public money and the project is an abject failure.”

In business when this happens there is always both the checks and balances imposed by some sort of government department and the customer who won’t buy the something.

Often the customer is the government and then we get into a sort of grey area.
This seems to be regulated not so much as to how bad or unsuitable the something is, but much more how much government money has already been spent.
Back to the condoms, well I suppose contraception of one sort or another must go back pretty much to the dawn of time, documentation about it certainly dates back to 1850 BC. The condom however although it probably dates back to before this time, the first documented mention of it is not as a contraceptive, but in the 1500s as a method of preventing disease.

However in the here and now I suppose the biggest problem that we face as a species is population expansion.

In the time the world’s main religions have developed the problem has changed from there mostly not being enough people to there being too many.

As far as I can see there isn’t anything to suggest that contraception is a bad thing in biblical times, I think it can be taken for granted that back then and up to quite recently expanding the human population, of the community that one was part, of was a good and beneficial thing.

I would say that most religions have generally supported good and beneficial things and their rules and regulations have been modified to encompass this.

Now I suppose we are coming to a situation where the habitable parts of the world are filling up because of human occupation.
I suppose the problem for the Catholic Church is that while it may be acceptable to say that adultery is a bad thing or prostitution is a bad thing, they either have to say that sex is a bad thing, or that the unlimited expansion of the human race, to the ultimate detriment to every other species on the planet is a good thing.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Pictures of Margate in 1820

Some time ago I published a cheap reprint of W C Oulton’s book, picture of Margate and its Vicinity, click on the link for the book http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/picture_of_margate_and_its_vicinity.htm

Anyway last week I bought some of the pictures from it that that have been coloured and as part of my interest in Margate this week here they are, click on them to enlarge them.

Old Margate Map Madness

The publication of the two old pictures of Margate this week which I think date from the period between 1860 and 1870 has meant that I have gone in search of a detailed map of Margate for that period.

The nearest I have been able to come up with is the one printed on the endpapers of David Scurrell’s book, The Book of Margate. As far as dating this map goes, if the date is mentioned in the book I haven’t found it. The part on the back endpaper shows both Margate stations so the map must be after 1863. I am guessing that it is about 1870.

Update I now have the date for the map, I found it in the book 1873.
For comparison here is a snapshot of the Google map which is up to date.

Searching for old maps of Margate I also came across one for this part of Margate in 1809 from the book I publish http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/id322.htm

If you click on the maps they will enlarge and if you click on the enlarged map it will often enlarge again, you can then do what I have been doing, placing the photographs and speculating about the changes to Margate seafront.

Friday 19 November 2010

Another Old Picture of Margate

Many thanks to Andy who has sent me another old Margate picture click on it to enlarge it.

I think what we are looking at here is the back of the buildings in the High Street, below are some pictures of pictures in Margate Museum to help work out where you are.

Looking through my computer for pictures of old Margate I came across these ones, I don’t think I have put them on the web before, am pretty sure I got them from Tony Beachcomber but seem to have lost the text document that should go with them, here is the link http://www.thanetonline.com/1110/id3.htm
I suppose I really must do a book of old photos of Margate as I have done plenty of Ramsgate ones.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Work Starts on the Royal Sands Development Ramsgate at the Pleasurama site again.

After the work to clear the site of piles of dirt and rubbish that stopped at the beginning of October the same week as a lump of masonry fell off of the cliff façade, leaving a small mountain of dirt, work has started again.

This time it is to investigate the pipes and electrical wires on the site prior to piling, obviously this is necessary as they wouldn’t want bore a pile through the main sewer or an electrical cable.

Apparently the plan is to start pile boring in December, this isn’t official information but just comes from asking the chaps working on the site what they are up to.

Speculation about this project is a difficult one, perhaps a crystal ball would be more appropriate than asking the council.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Is this a picture of Margate?

Reader Andy has sent me this old picture, click on it to enlarge, he thinks that it is Margate, I had my reservations and couldn’t quite place it, but now I am inclined to agree with him.

Anyway I thought placing it would amuse other bloggers.

Anyone care to hazard a date?

Update due to comments, the picture is definitely Margate and is looking to be about 1860 to 1870 see Tony’s post about Margate then http://thanetcoastlife.blogspot.com/2008/12/marine-terrace-1860.html

Simon’s old photos also gat a mention, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmoores/sets/256119/show/ they are on flicker making it a bit hard to copy them.

A naughty note about copying pictures from Flicker and other websites that don’t let you copy pictures from them.

Get the picture as big as you can on your screen, with flicker it’s best to hit the pause button first or the picture will flicker away.

Press the Print screen button on your keyboard, go to start, All Programs, Accessories, Paint.

Once you have opened Paint, hit paste, pressing the Ctrl and V key at the same time will do this, the picture should then open in Paint and you can save it on your computer.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

The Turner Contemporary Goes Boing

I found myself with one of those bizarre questions today which is, why has the clock on Margate’s Droit House started chiming again?

Thanet district council are responsible for public clocks in Thanet, not my words but theirs, but having gone on the usual somewhat eccentric journey around their telephone system I was told that this public clock is not on their list.

The repairing of public clocks is a very strange business, you see although the council are responsible for them, the council isn’t eligible for grant funding, something that is apparently quite easy to get for repairing public clocks.

Let us say, for example, you notice that the clock on the church has made a final clonk and no longer goes boing, what you do is this.

Contact the council and if the clock is on their list then they can start the process of getting it repaired. They will then go and look at the clock and work out how much it will cost to repair. As they are not eligible for the grant funding, although they are responsible for the clock, they then write to the vicar asking him to apply for the funding. At this point you will probably have to give the vicar a nudge, I am at the nudging stage with one of the Ramsgate vicars. Once he has obtained the grant funding the council will arrange for the clock to be repaired.

The Droit House clock isn’t on the council’s list and the Droit House belongs to Kent County Council, so I rang them up, their phone system also takes one on an interesting journey, unfortunately none of the people at KCC knew anything about this clock.

No one I spoke to there had heard of the Margate Droit House, although they had all heard of the Turner Contemporary, KCC officers seem to be somewhat in awe of this project that seems to be able to get vast amounts of funding, regardless of cuts in other places.

Certainly none of them seemed surprised that the clock had been repaired, it seemed likely that KCC had funded this, although exactly how I wasn’t able to discover, I think that this may be because of the gallery having been given a blank cheque by the council.

I then phoned Turner Contemporary, I left this last as I find it a bit embarrassing because of their telephone system and its tendency to make me giggle. The problem is that it has a lot of options, you know you get one of those recorded messages telling you that if you want to press 3 press 5, I have to be careful here or our Ken may take umbrage like he did before, oh yes back to their telephone system, despite all of the impressive options you always seem to get through to the same person.

I think they all must lead to the phone on the desk in the Droit House, I always get the feeling that I am speaking to someone who has to live on a very particular bed of eggshells that can only be generated by modern art.

There is the fear of having their lunch, umbrella etc venerated to consider, combined with living in that peculiar state of nervousness where any unusual event could be anything from an act of modern art to an art theft.

Or even the next person through the door may be a man disguised as woman because they are an art thief, or a man wearing woman’s clothes because he is a famous artist, or even just a transvestite requiring a politically correct approach.

Difficult questions like why has your clock started chiming can result in some degree of nervousness, this could be for instance be interpreted as a surrealist phone call, anyway after tactfully ensuring that I was neither a great artist or a nutter they did concede that it had recently been repaired and was indeed going boing every quarter of an hour.

They didn’t know anything about the clock, they were fairly certain that the boings didn’t have an artistic significance, best to be careful when you have a neon sign that does.

They didn’t know if the clock had any historical significance, they didn’t know who had been responsible for mending it.

I have some sort of bizarre mental picture of our Trace going binggly boing dong into a microphone, followed by skilled artisans casting bells to match, Emin she had me made.

Well the gallery opening date has been announced 16th of April, to open on the first would have taken some nerve and to open on the 23rd of April 125 anniversary of Turner’s birth would probably have put them in local election purda or some such nonsense, what a missed opportunity, perhaps they weren’t even aware of it.

Thanet Home Guard Booklet and some thoughts about buying books online

KT6 – An Informal History of the 6th (Thanet) Battalion of the Kent Home Guard by Ian Smales.

Newly published today at £3.99, available in my bookshop now, I can also post this to anyone who can’t get to the shop. Post free in the UK overseas post at cost. I haven’t yet set up the page on my website with a buy it now button due to the web hosting problems that I have been having, although this facility should be available soon.

If you can’t wait for this email me MichaelChild@aol.com and I will send payment instructions.

This is publication No. 138 of my local history publications, to view the rest go to http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/catalogue/ most titles are also available via Ebay although I charge postage to cover the extra costs involve in selling them this way, see http://stores.ebay.co.uk/thanet-books

These days so much of buying on the internet is about trust, which is one reason that I also sell via Ebay, you can also check my Ebay feedback by clicking on this link http://feedback.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback2&userid=thanet-books&&iid=370456753563&sspagename=VIP:feedback&ftab=FeedbackAsSeller

Anyway here is the beginning of the of the booklet:


A range of books have already been written dealing with the origin and development of the Home Guard in Britain during WW2. There are a number of unit histories and an invaluable book which concentrates on the Kent Home Guard but there does not appear to be any record of the Thanet Home Guard – those charged with guarding the stretch of coastline from Westgate round to Pegwell; deemed one of the most likely areas for a German invasion.


After several months of the “Phoney War”, events in Western Europe took on a more ominous tone when in May 1940 the might of the Wehrmacht swept into Holland, Belgium and France.

After what Churchill termed the “miracle of deliverance” when the British Expeditionary Force was rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, it seemed only a matter of time before the Third Reich would turn its eyes to Britain. Indeed, on 16th July 1940, Hitler - growing impatient with England’s recalcitrance - issued Directive No. 16, which sought to finalise the plans, which had been drawn up several months earlier for a seaborne invasion of Britain. Operation Sealion as it became known initially planned for the landing of 260,000 men along the coastline between Ramsgate and Lyme Regis.

Even without this inside knowledge, it seemed obvious to the British Government that the coastline around Thanet formed one of the most obvious sites for the Germans to land. With most of its military hardware abandoned on the beaches of Dunkirk, Britain looked to the resourcefulness and determination of its citizens to help fortify and defend this country; the aim being to ensure that if Hitler did land, the progress of his forces would be harried and hindered at every turn with whatever resources could be pressed into service.

FORMATION OF THE Local Defence Volunteers (LDV)

Our story starts with a radio appeal by the Minister of War, Anthony Eden. Broadcast on Tuesday 14th May 1940, he asked for male volunteers, aged 17-65 and reasonably fit to join a new force which was to be called the “Local Defence Volunteers”. Their main role was to be one of observation – a human early warning system aimed at the Paratroops who were expected to be dropping in large numbers from the sky at any moment.

Even before the broadcast had finished, a burgeoning flow of volunteers – all eager to do their bit – flocked to sign up at Police stations throughout the country. Nationwide, over the next 24 hours, 250000 men responded to Mr Eden’s appeal and 100,000 of these were from Kent.
By Friday the 17th, close on 2000 men from Thanet had volunteered, including one 81 year old from Margate, who was indignant when his declared age of 65 was questioned! By the end of June, a total of 1.5 million men throughout the country had volunteered for the new force.

At Ramsgate, enrolment for the LDV was undertaken by the Special Constabulary at the Conservative club in Cliff Street. In Margate, the Aliens office had to be re-opened to cope with the flood of volunteers.
The desperate nature of the nation’s plight had given little time for preparation and it was several days before any sort of organisation could be imposed on the men. The HQ for Kent’s LDV was established at the TA centre at 67 College Road Maidstone.

The South East Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence - Sir Auckland Geddes and a General Staff Officer (at GSOIII level) had the task of dividing up the existing Military Areas into Zones and Groups and in order to choose suitable men to take command of the LDV they were assisted by the Lord Lieutenants of each count (Kent’s at that time was John Pratt 4th Marquess of Camden)
On 17th May Brigadier General Franklin (appointed on 15th May as LDV Kent Zone Commander) was ordered to have 1500 men on armed patrol by the next evening. Some 3500 Lee Enfield rifles of WW1 vintage, coated in thick grease and with around 5 rounds apiece were obtained from military storage at Chatham and distributed to police stations in Canterbury, Ashford, Tonbridge & Maidstone. By 10:30 on the following night (18th) the shores of
Kent, including Thanet were being watched over by over 1000 armed men who therefore had the honour of forming the very first armed patrols on duty as part of the LDV.”

More about the booklet and some thoughts about buying online now.

The booklet is A5 size, that is about 6X8 inches, it has 40 pages of text and black and white photos, it also includes an up to date list of my other publications.

I found the booklet an enjoyable read and I learnt some more about our history.

There is much less information about WW2 in Thanet than I would like there to be so this one adds to what there is, I have another 3 of my own publications about the war, here are the links to them.




I can usually come up with a few WW2 in Thanet related titles published by other people, that said there isn’t enough in the way of titles to satisfy the demand.

As I promised now some thoughts about buying books online, the first rule of thumb here is don’t give your payment card details to anyone you don’t know.

I would say that you are as safe in this respect paying a large online company as you are using your card in a reputable shop in the high street.

If you wish to use your card to pay an unknown business or individual online I recommend using one of the well know intermediaries like PayPal, you can pay me money for books this way.

Using this intermediary for payment means that the person you are paying doesn’t get your card details sent to them, so if I they are a criminal with no books to actually sell, your card details wouldn’t be compromised and you would probably get your money back.

Back when I first started using the internet to buy and sell books about twelve years ago, internet crime was very rare in the online bookselling world, credit card details were regularly sent all over the place often by email.

Now I would say that most people are much more careful.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Sunday Ramble Royal Sands Development Ramsgate Pleasurama and so on

I will endeavour to add to this a the day goes on in the normal manner, that is between children F1 bits of shopping and even a walk if the weather clears up for a bit.

I didn’t post last week, for a number of reasons, top of the list was that most of what I did manage to write was fairly depressing, spending cuts, failings of the council and so on.

Pleasurama one again and it’s just the Royal Sands of embarrassment as far as I can see, a sort of emperors new clothes situation that can only happen where government is involved.

I have to discuss this thing with councillors and council officers where it is as though if they comply with all their rules and regulations this will hold back the sea and hold up the cliff.
The flood risk situation is best expressed by the development next to it being built on a metre high plinth, this is to keep the high tide out of the building, something that won’t be a problem for the Pleasurama development with its floor a metre lower, the sea is to be held back by a planning regulation.
The business with the cliff is equally absurd, after several weeks of my concerns that a lose bit of the cliff will fall on someone and kill them the council have finally put fencing at the bottom of the cliff stopping people from going where the lumps of cement have been falling.

Apparently this isn’t because there is any danger to the public, my email to them below in blue.

Unfortunately despite the work carried out on the cliff façade by TDC on 8th October (removing vegetation lose masonry from the portal blockwork on site and from the area either side of the site boundary at the eastern end of the site) more of the render has come away from the façade, I think over the last couple of days.
One again this is over the site boundary, so any of it that falls to the ground will do so from about 50 feet and probably land partly on the site and partly on the public highway.
There is a ledge immediately below the part I can see that has come away which may prevent part or all of it from falling to the ground, I would think this would depend on how far up the delamination extends.
As you know my concern is that the rapid deterioration of this part of the façade is due to the blocked drainage and damaged surface above it and my main concern is that water has entered this part of the cliff making its stability uncertain.
I am also concerned that both the council and the council’s advising engineers Jacobs have a considerable vested interest in the cliff façade within the site boundary being shown to be in good condition. I am further concerned that any survey of the cliff by ***** or the councils engineers after the main contract to repair and coat the façade would be influenced by the liability were the cliff to found defective.
I am also uncertain as to the situation relating to work on the site, by this I mean that all work on the site seems to have stopped since the weekend 2nd 3rd October when the piece of render fell off.
Is it your contention that it is safe to work on the site at the moment?
I have attached a picture with the loose part outlined in red, the render seems to be about 50 mm away from the brickwork behind, because the surface of the render hasn’t cracked this suggests that the delamination extends some considerable way up.
I am asking that you take the following action.
1 Cordon off and sign the effected area until the problem is investigated.
2 Institute a weight limit topside.
3 Investigate the localised area and remove the lose render.
4 Arrange for a full and independent survey of the cliff behind the site extending beyond the site to Augusta Stairs.
5 Please register this as official customer feedback.
Best regards Michael
Their reply below in red.
Dear Mr Child
Customer Feedback Reference:22375/1533347
Thank you for your recent communication which was received on 2nd November.
The section of render to which you refer was noted as being delaminated during
the inspection on 8th October, it is not a new defect and due to its size and
location was not considered to pose an immediate Health and Safety risk.
The inspection undertaken on the 8th October did not suggest any more serious
issues were present however the Council intends to carry out a further
inspection of the wall to test the bond strength of the render over the whole of
the rendered surface. To ensure that the whole surface is tested thoroughly it
will be more appropriate to use a scaffold to provide access. Any further loose
areas will be identified and removed through this work and repairs can then be
carried out to all such areas as necessary.
The area of unmade ground immediately below the cliff has been fenced to allow
these works to be carried out. I would like to thank you for your interest in
this issue. Whilst I cannot agree with your hypothesis on the cause of the
delaminated render your concern and reporting of the issue is appreciated.
We hope that this resolves the matter to your satisfaction.
If you are not happy with our response, you may write to us with your reasons
within the next ten working days, requesting a further review.
In order for us to respond as efficiently as possible, please ensure that you
quote the above reference number and address your communication to ******
- Customer Feedback Co-ordinator, Regeneration Services.
Yours sincerely
Building Control and Property Manager
Both pictures were taken today, due to the weather they are a bit gloomy, it’s easier to see what I mean if you click on them to enlarge them.
Anyway at least the whole of this dodgy bit of cliff is cordoned off so that it is difficult for the public to get below it.
Sorry I am not having a very good time with internet publishing at the moment and some of my line spacing isn’t appearing.

How I reply to the council on this one I just don’t know, the cliff is clearly dangerous and the firm of experts that they employ at great expense have said quite clearly that bits of it have foundations where they just don’t.
Some sort of expert opinion of the condition of the cliff before people have to live below it doesn’t seem much to ask.
Much talk about benefits at the moment with housing benefit near the top of the list.
The whole benefit thing was a bit on the odd side from my point of view inasmuch as the various tax allowances for having a family were replaced by various benefits and it took me some time to realise this, at some considerable cost.

I will ramble on about how benefits may have effected shops for a bit, sort of unclarified thoughts.

The housing benefit has rather a peculiar side effect in the part of Ramsgate where I live, I am not saying that it is deliberate just that it is what has happened.

The English were a nation of shopkeepers and King Street in Ramsgate was typical of this, now much of it has been converted into a residential street and it sometimes makes me wonder if we have become a nation of claimants.

While on the subject of shops I notice that the camera shop in Ramsgate is going to close, another victim of interesting times. As far as bookshops are concerned Canterbury Bookshop is closing next month, this is a secondhand and antiquarian shop, the last remaining Albion Bookshop, the secondhand one in Broadstairs seems likely to as well as the owner has recently died.

The problem here is a simple one based upon the value of buildings, and the way shop rents relate to this.

For many years the rent of a shop has been about 10% of the value of the building.

In Ramsgate and Margate a medium sized building on the edge of the town centre was worth about £40,000 or about £30,000 if it was in poor condition, the smaller ones that were a bit on the grotty side £20,000 or less, when I moved here just over 20 years ago.

No one much wanted to live on the edge of the town centres, as it is noisy at night so the flats over the shops didn’t really make much difference to the shop rents.

So a shop that you could live over the top of had a rent between about £40 and £150 per week, more in the town centre where rentals were more related to how busy the site is.

Now along comes grants to do up residential properties and housing benefit, combined with a lot of people who will live where they are told so long as the government pays the rent.
So a medium sized building on the edge of the town centre becomes worth about £200,000 converted into flats producing a rental of about £20,000 per year, all this for a part of the town where no one really wants to live.

There is a problem here too relating to housing benefit which is of course that the shopkeeper living in the whole building probably wouldn’t get it for the part of the building he lives in if his business produces a low income.
Fragmented town centres with relatively high rents during an economic crisis combined with the effect of the internet and out of town shopping on town centre shops, you could say we are in difficult times.