First my cliff safety concerns
At the moment the contractor is working next to the part of the cliff wall that appears to be the most professionally constructed part, in the technical information about the façade this part is called the arched feature and consists of 12 concrete pillars or buttress going up the front of the cliff, joined by 11 arches, these have a concrete apron above them and above that railings to stop people from falling off the cliff. Between the arches is bricked up with concrete blocks, which has had steel mesh put on the front and has been renderd over with the cement.
This part has the appearance of 11 tunnel entrances from Thomas the Tank Engine, that have been bricked up by the Fat Controller, to imprison naughty engines.
Unlike the rest of the cliff wall this part isn’t sprouting vegetation, all in all it looks like a fairly well built and maintained structure.
This is a detail from the design drawing, A Adlingnton was Ramsgate’s borough engineer in the 1930s.
The problem with this structure is the nature of its foundations.
This is another detail from the same drawing of one of the pillars or buttress viewed from the side, the bit that looks like a giant boot is supposed to stick out of the front just below ground level.
Just like your foot this is supposed to spread the weight at the bottom of your leg.
In the last few days the contractor has dug away the chalk at the bottom of the cliff wall, something that I think should have exposed a line of giant boots.
This is a picture taken this week of the digging work.
Now I am going to put my engineering hat on and waffle on for a bit, if you are not that interested in the rest of this, my recommendation is to stay away from this part of the cliff until I have concluded my dialogue with, the council’s engineers, the developer and the health and safety executive.
There is a good chance that there is nothing to worry about here and at the end of this I will look a bit a of a twerp and you will have avoided about 50 metres of cliff top path for a few weeks for no reason.
OK here goes the further reading, with hard hat on.
On Monday I emailed the developer’s contractor, thus.
Hi xxxxx, I have just received a great mountain of information about the cliff safety issue from the HSE via a FOI request.
It goes up to this February and seems to be pretty inclusive, I will attach the list at the bottom in case there is anything you haven’t got, which I will of course send you.
It does contain clearer design drawings for some bits of the façade including better design drawings of the façade footings. That is what the footings should be like although as far as I can see they just confirm that the footings either don’t exist or are of a different design.
All in all there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation that any of the façade has foundations going down to load spreaders on solid chalk, not further mention of any tests or investigations.
I have also noticed that you have cut back the chalk at the base of the arched part of the façade, see picture attached.
Before I make a lot of fuss about this one could you let me know if you have actually discovered any foundations there or if you are cutting it back to underpin it.
Obviously my main concern is a combination of the cutting back and the absence of any weight restriction on the footpath above.
Yesterday they replied, thus.
Thank you for your email. The cliff face remains Thanet District Council’s full responsibility and I am therefore unable to comment further in respect to your correspondence. The column foundations do appear to have been constructed as per the original design but suggest under the circumstances that you make contact with TDC for further clarification.
Now to my mind something isn’t quite right here, the boot shaped footings would have had to have been put in by digging a hole big enough to as it were put the boot in.
Then boot shaped shuttering would have had to have been made, concrete poured in, when the concrete had set the shuttering would have been removed and the hole filled in, if you are not following me this would probably be a good time to give in.
This would mean that the soil round the boot would be all lose and crumbly and would have fallen away when the digging was done in the last few days.
Instead the chalk at the bottom of the cliff wall looks like undisturbed chalk meaning that there isn’t any easy way I can see they could have put the boot in.
There does seem a reasonable chance that the hundreds of tons of cliff wall are sitting on the little chalk shelf you can see in the picture and not on a load spreading foundation as it should be. This combined with there being no weight limit on the footpath above, there was a council vehicle up there collecting rubbish today.
Here are the rest of the pictures from the camera card, sorry there are rather a lot of the bottom of the cliff, I was searching for the boot you see.