Over the period of time that have been interested in The Royal Sands development on the old Pleasurama site, I have developed an interest and some understanding of the various cliff structures here.
This has reached the point where I can now identify situations where there are likely to be problems and have started reporting potentially dangerous situations to the various authorities that deal with this.
The last bit of dangerous cliff I reported was in October of last year, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2010/10/is-thanet-district-council-prepared-to.html I reported this to the council, and they assured me that it was safe, as it didn’t look safe to me and there is a public footpath under one bit and the people building the Royal Sands development working under the other bit, I reported this to the Health and Safety Executive. That was at the beginning of the week, by the middle of the week nothing seem to have happened so I rang the HSE up, they told me that the council’s engineer had assured them that there wasn’t a problem and that they were going to take no further action. Over the following weekend a lump of masonry, big enough to kill someone underneath it, fell of it. Now it has safety fencing round the bottom of the cliff.
This area of the cliff at the is a bit of a hot spot for cliff problems, I don’t think the guns helped, all shook up is phrase that come to mind.
The bit where Augusta Steps is collapsed in the 1960s whatever it is about this area of the cliff confused the civil engineers that repaired it as it collapsed again halfway through the repairs.
Pugin the architect had a bit of a problem with one of the Ramsgate cliffs, I don’t think anything else he designed actually collapsed.
He put this gallery into the cliff next to his house The Grange, so that he could observe the shipping and get down to the sea.
As you can see from the pictures it collapsed in 1947, I am not suggesting that he was an incompetent architect, just that our cliffs are not very predictable.
One of the few places that people have attempted to build against the cliff in Ramsgate is Pegwell, usually any building is incorporated into the cliff part of it being an arched structure, like the existing buildings on Harbour Parade, Marina Esplanade or beside the harbour.
As you can see this didn’t work out too well.
The power of these collapses can be quite astonishing, hundreds of tons of chalk and concrete goes where it wants to.
As you can see in the pictures of this collapse at The Paragon in 1958 the bent things are steel girders.
Finally the problem with the Royal Sands Development on the Pleasurama Site at the moment.
At the moment things are not looking so good there as the foundations seem to be missing and the concrete cliff wall undermined. I have been discussing this structure on and off with the council for some time.
The first time I noticed there was something odd about its foundations was in January 2008, at this time the council had just started the major repairs to the cliff and had contracted a firm of specialist engineers to supervise the £1m contract to repair the cliff.
I went onto the site and had a chat with the site engineer and a look at the foundations of the cliff wall, wasn’t happy with what I saw and wrote to their chief engineer who I had already supplied some historic photographs of the cliff to.
This is what he had to say:
“The foundations of the facade is on a mass concrete base some 2 metres thick and founded on what would appear to be good sound chalk. I shall be very surprised if there is any cause for concern. *** would not be party to the development works as his brief is to act as the Resident Engineer on behalf of Thanet District Council for the facade improvement works only, however he is employed by ****.
There is no need to underpin the facade, as the original site inspection showed that there is no evidence of subsidence. I will be on site on Thursday to carry out an overview of the works.”
The next time I went on the site and made a thorough inspection of the cliff wall was in November 2009, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2009/11/royal-sands-development-how-dangerous.html this eventually resulted in a repair to the repair.
There have been other occasions but I won’t bore you with any more.
Now we have a situation once again where I have reported a problem with the cliff wall and am awaiting events. I expect sooner or later I shall be wrong and there won’t be a problem.
What worries me this time is that I have asked the council to close the footpath above the cliff because I think there possibility of a cliff collapse and a danger to human life, I have only asked them to this while they assess the situation as a precaution, so far I haven’t even had a reply from them.
Blogger is behaving a bit strangely at the moment, a lot of the anonymous comments are going into the spam folder and I haven’t deleted anyone’s comments recently, but if you comment and it doesn’t appear immediately, please accept my apologies.
There are so many pictures in this post that it was easiest to put them all at the end and label them up afterwards.
Pictures of the collapse at The Paragon in 1958 below
Pictures of the collapse at Pegwell in 1947 below
Pictures of the collapse at Pugin’s gallery collapse in 1947 below
Pictures of the Augusta Steps is collapses in the 1960s below
The guns at Wellington Crescent