Saturday 31 August 2013

Two seaplanes in Ramsgate Harbour August 1914

The original photo is a bit on the small side so the definition isn’t that great, even so it should expand fairly well when clicked on.

I think they are Sopwith type S seaplanes, the date is about right and they look like pushers with radial engines, I know most were supplied to the Greek government but I think two were RNS. Anyone else got any better ideas?

Friday 30 August 2013

Pleasurama and the Ramsgate Tunnels.

Today’s news is centred around this area of Ramsgate, so starting with the tunnels, here are some pictures of the inside of The Ramsgate Tunnels

About seven years ago I published a book about The Ramsgate Tunnels and of the 150 or so local history books I have published about this area it is this one that that sells the best.

I guess in terms of people putting their money where there mouth is, then this is likely to be a major visitor attraction when it opens next year.

There is a relationship between the Pleasurama site and the tunnels that goes back to 1860 and so it is interesting that they should both come up in the local news at the same time.

The railway first came to Thanet in 1846 the station being at the top of Chatham Street and very soon after this the line was continued to Margate the station there being on the seafront.

In 1860 one of the rival railway companies extended their line from London to Herne Bay, via Margate and Broadstairs to a station on Ramsgate seafront where the derelict Pleasurama site is now.

Prior to 1860 the beach had extended to the cliff where the Pleasurama site is now, although part of it had a primitive wooden sea defence with the coastguard station on it.

To get the railway to the seafront an inclining railway tunnel was dug from Dumpton to Ramsgate seafront, the chalk spoil from the tunnel being used to build up the level of what is now the Pleasurama site to above the high tide mark so the station could be built there.

Although the tunnel was dug in 1860 the actual opening was delayed until 1863 as parts of the civil engineering works were initially condemned and had to be rebuilt, however on 5th October 1863 having been passed by the government inspector (Captain Rich) Perhaps the 150 year anniversary in about a months time should be celebrated in some way.  

During the First World War Ramsgate was bombed more than most places in the UK, mainly because the zeppelins and primitive aircraft of that time couldn’t get much further, so at the beginning of the Second World war the townspeople, lead by ABC Kempe (the mad mayor) and dick Brimmel the borough engineer, were keen to have a substantial system of public air raid shelters.

The railway station on the seafront and the associated railway tunnel had been closed in 1926 in 1936 a spur tunnel had been built to Dumpton Park Station enabling a narrow gauge link railway to tunnel from that station to the tunnel entrance on the seafront.

So we already had a substantial tunnel system to use as an air raid shelter and in 1939 this was extended under most of Ramsgate.  

There was a plan to reopen the tunnels as a tourist attraction in the 1980 but at that time the entrance was on the Pleasurama site which was leased to Jimmy Godden, my understanding is that he wouldn’t allow the council access to the tunnel entrance unless the council sold him the freehold for the rest of the Pleasurama site.

This information is mostly hearsay so may not be exactly true, trying to unscramble even recent local history isn’t easy.  

Going on to The Royal Sands development on the Pleasurama site, the council have finally published the secret cabinet papers relating to the 2009 decision to grant the developer an time extension and financial concessions, here is the link this is the much leaked and discussed document that I first received a copy of just after the cabinet meeting where the cabinet decided to grant these concessions against the advice of the offices.

I endeavour to stay within the law so have never published this document in full before, although I was able to publish the parts I was sent under my foi request, the parts that made me so concerned about the cabinet doing this were not included.

The one on the page numbered 186 being a prime example of a Mickey Mouse aspect of the documentation that concerned me greatly, it’s the reference to star rating that clinches it for me.   

I will endeavor to continue this post if i get time.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Art, zoo and shopping bank holiday weekend pictures, Wingham Wildlife Park, Angela Malone exhibition in York Street Gallery Ramsgate, Summer Squall and some sort of Ramble.

Here are yesterdays pictures from my mobile phone and here are Sunday’s pictures of Wingham Wildlife Park

My youngest children start secondary school next week, so the weekend revolved around shopping and going to the zoo. In terms of local attractions Wingham Wildlife Park has developed into a considerable zoo with plenty of play areas for children of various ages, so the £40 family ticket represents a reasonable value day out for a family of four.

With these attraction we generally take a picnic lunch so I haven’t tried the café there.   

I was fascinated by the capybara, which is the worlds larges rodent.

Personally I am not a zoo person, or for that matter a shopping person, with the exception of bookshops, caged animal and clothes and shoes and stuff isn’t my bag.The Oxfam Bookshop in Canterbury was closed because the floor had collapsed when we went last Thursday.

Back in Ramsgate the artist's impression of the latest plans for a development on the harbour slipways has appeared.

My apologies here I still haven't got around to looking at this one properly, as ever my main reservation being the unanswered question. Does the harbour need the slipways in roughly its existing size and form in order to continue to function properly as a harbour? 

There is another key question here that relates to cafe, bar and residential development on Ramsgate's waterfront, which is something like, will it all continue to work without something else to do there? I guess I haven't got this one framed properly yet, the area used to function, firstly around the picturesque operation of fishing and commerce in the days of sail, later we had a funfair, swimming pool and plenty of one armed bandits, now there is a real sense of where do we go from here?

Just down the road in Margate we already have The Turner Contemporary and will soon have Dreamland, I guess I would be happier if senior councilor were buying up real estate in the Ramsgate waterfront area. 

I am going to turn on anonymous for a bit and see what i get in the way of spam, it would be nice to think the massage had got through.    


Wednesday 21 August 2013

Midweek Ramble

I have to admit to having glance at the comments on the last post just now and deciding not to bother turning anonymous comments back on for a bit.

Work is progressing rapidly on Ramsgate’s new Morrisons, which I am hoping will give King Street a much needed boost.

I am still working on reducing the books in my bookshop to prices cheaper than on the internet, the “True Crime” section today where for the most part the books on the shelves took a bit of a hammering with few left over £2.50 and a great many down to £1.50 or 99p.

The true crime customers, many who look as though they may very hard men under some circumstances, are some of my most charming and pleasant book customers.

I am still reeling a bit from Margate on Sunday, the bottom of the High Street is really showing signs of economic recovery. I guess this is the legacy mostly of the Sandy Ezekiel administration. Having, as a taxpayer, contributed to the several thousand pounds spent in keeping him locked up, the only benefit that I can see being that it will probably make things easier for him should he lose his car keys, I have some contradictory thoughts about the modern world.

Ramsgate has some particular problems at the moment with the disused council owned sites on the majority of the waterfront, Pleasurama, Pav and Port. Perhaps it would be possible for the council to find some temporary solutions for all or part of this next summer so we could attract a few visitors next year. 

I wonder would it be worth them paying for a flood risk assessment for Pleasurama, it would at least let us know if the foundations and pillars there would actually serve any function in an future development and if they wouldn’t, which seems likely to me, the site could at least be cleared for parking and leisure for next season.

Perhaps a lage funfair on the port site next year with some water attractions wouldn’t go amiss either and possibly get the Pav’s sun deck open. After looking at Margate on Sunday perhaps Sandy in the man for the job.

On thing is for certain with all these sites, both the freeholders and the leaseholders gain nothing from the whole area going downhill, all they get is a reduction of the value of their interest. I may ramble on here.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Margate’s Vintage Weekend pictures and ramble

Thanks to Margate Architecture for posting that this event was on today, I tried to check the details on the council’s visit Thanet website, but even knowing that it was on I couldn’t find it there.

Presumably the tourist information office knew the event was on as it was happening all around them and the office was open today.

I had a cup of tea in the café above the food shop that may be Polish on Marine Drive, this is next to the new Sands Hotel and also has a balcony overlooking the beach, pot of tea for one which was very good £1.50. This was while the fairer sex were shopping next door but one in Primark and is information that others may find useful. Sorry I failed to get the name of the place.

There was a Beatles tribute band performing on the seafront I think called The Electric Beatles and there should be a video of them in with the pictures, my phone and the way it automatically puts pictures and videos on the internet has a bit of a mind of its own, I think I may need to change the apps so the videos automatically go on youtube.

I am really sorry about this failure to promote local events properly on the internet, I have complained about the council’s tourism website in the past, but frankly it is a bit of a waste of time. I think the problem is that the last council run tourist information office, the one in Margate, has a fairly accurate list of events but they don’t have a way of managing the website. It seems that if the event organiser fills in the appropriate forms the event appears on the council’s website, bot often in a way that you can’t easily find it.        

I would do a local events website myself, but frankly I have neither the time or resources. I have enough difficulties with the Thanet Press Release Blog, trying to get people to email press releases with the phrase “press release” in the email subject, so I know to publish them and to send them to me as text with a picture seems to be impossible. 

Update the name of the café/restaurant is Rickus 

Saturday 17 August 2013

Phone Home. Cheap smartphone solution

As I have a wife and four children the business of providing the family with phones and computers which dates back to about 1998 is a fairly expensive one and I have, over the past few years bought various duff lumps of technology, learnt some lessons that may be worth passing on.

The result of this, is that every so often I do a post for those blog readers who don’t get the experience and have to get their technology on a budget. I guess one of the great problems with new personal technology is that you can’t try it before you buy it.

Smartphones now have, for the most part replaced the technology that we carry round with us all the time, camera, walkman, calculator, torch and mobile phone if you go back to 1998.

I think I have had some sort of internet mobile phone for about ten years, some of the early one weren’t very smart, I think this one that I turned into an artistic joke, was the first to be smart enough for the accolade.

My smartphone, at the moment, is a fairly old one now, a Samsung Galaxy Note 1, you can buy these new for about £250 and secondhand for a little over £100, it suites me well as it has a large screen and a reasonable camera, I think when I got it, nearly two years ago it was the best phone for what I do and for me, that I could have got.

It is highly suitable for the older man with large fingers and reading glasses, it is big enough to manage this blog with when I am out and about, dealing with inappropriate comment isn’t as easy as on a conventional computer.

My previous post about this shows the kit I carry around, that allows me to blog, paint watercolours and so on, see

The Note has never gone wrong and is far and away the best smartphone I have had so far, the snags are, short battery life and fairly weak wifi, this boils down to, I have to charge it every night and when I take a cuppa back to bed and watch the morning news on the phone, Iplayer sometimes cuts out.

We have, or have had, in the family, several other makes of smartphone designed in about the same period as the Note, I phone 4, Sony and HTC, the Note has been the best of the bunch. As an example here the Iphone has no bluetooth and very limited memory with no memory card slot and no sim slot, also difficult charging connection if you leave the charger behind. I am only saying this to emphasise the point that they all have snags.

Anyway this week the old problem of replacing one of the family member’s phones came up, and yes budget was an issue. For the most part I wouldn’t recommend buying a secondhand phone. Partly because you get a year’s warranty with a new phone and partly because the majority of people sell smartphones when they become not so smart.

We all use the T-Mobile pay as you go with the 6 months internet access for £20, mostly using WhatsApp for texting and Skype we don’t actually make many paid for calls. To those who can’t follow me here, by owning the phone myself and being a bit savvy with use of the phone’s internet, I use a large amount texts and video calls, including international calls from my mobile, but only pay the service provider about £5 per month. This charge includes managing the blog, watching TV and so on.

Anyway after various false starts and buying another make of phone that is off on its fourth visit to the makers for repairs, we went into the EE shop, which is the new name for the t-mobile shop in Canterbury and bought Samsung Galaxy Fame.

It cost about £95 and does all the business very well, amazingly good camera, very stable wifi connection, allowing one to watch TV, listen to the radio or browse the internet in bed, on trains, cafés etc, well anywhere really, within the data constraints of around £1 per week.    

The acid test for me is could I manage with it and the answer is. Yes. I have also tried to find any snags without success, so am recommending it. 

Friday 16 August 2013

Pamela Beamand & Margaret Lees exhibition at The York Street gallery in Ramsgate and a ramble..

Here are the pictures of the pictures which should expand if clicked on.

Looking down at the now defunct port Ramsgate this evening I was conscious of how desperately we the council so sort out some temporary uses for some of the seafront property they own.

It is all very well seeking recrimination about old mistakes, but it doesn’t benefit us in any way, perhaps a large fun fair on the port site, getting part of the Pleasurama site cleared if it was only used for parking, getting the sun deck of the pavillion open, would be good starts.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Midweek ramble blogs, folk week, buying and selling books, well wherever it leads really.

I have been very tied up with the sale in my bookshop, taking about 25,000 books, the contents of over 100 bookcases and checking their prices and condition against those for sale online, is no small task, but I am getting near to the end of it.

One interesting factor that works both ways for me is that a great many books are now available online at a price including postage that is less that the cost of posting them.

I would say that for the average person with an average collection of books to sell, putting it on Ebay wouldn’t cover the postage, packing and listing fees, let alone the time involved.

From my point of view this means that while the prices of the books in my bookshop have dropped considerably, I am being offered a lot more books than I was and peoples expectations in terms of payment for them is much more realistic than it was.

We – wife children and myself that is – have been going over to Folk Week in Broadstairs most evenings since it has been on, so not much time for blogging, life has been, work, folk and bed, with the odd break to eat.

From what I have seen there has been a good and sympathetic police presence and very little in the way of trouble this year. Fortunately I haven’t been persuaded to participate and so am not languishing in the cells charged with “aggravated morrisment”

There are more pictures going back on The Great Wall of Ramsgate, although the number of people on Ramsgate Sands this year seems to much less than I would have expected, given the fine weather.

I find it odd that Ramsgate town centre has become the best place in the area to do food shopping, while most of the food shops in Margate seem to have closed and yet there is a noticeable improvement in both Margate Old Town and the lower High Street this year.

It is almost as though in some areas what one town has the other hasn’t. A noticeable exception here is visual art with both towns having plenty of art exhibitions that are worth visiting .

If anything there is probably a greater turnover in new visual art to see in Ramsgate than there is Margate and I am beginning to think that we need some sort of mapped guide for people who have come to the area mostly to look at visual art.

I have two new local history books coming out this Friday, one on Ramsgate Cemetery and the other a second one on The Granville here in Ramsgate, so I am expecting to have my work cut out in the shop for Friday and Saturday.   

I am still reluctant to post on this blog as often as I used to, the mixture of spamming and cyber bullying in the comments frankly puts me off , the cyber bullies seemed to have move to institutions like folk week and the coastguard, all rather sad really.

The non commercial spam has moved into the realms of the almost comical where posting about newfoundlands leads to a link about training terrorists in Wales and ads for car hire and buying online businesses, once again a bit sad.  

I will ramble on here and add some more pictures if i get a chance. 

It's 9pm and we have just got back from Broadstairs I took some videos with my mobile phone, they take a while to upload, but here is the first one; well that didn't work, auto upload a video with Google play and then it won't embed in Google Blogger. 

this may work in a shred Google album, here is the link