Sunday 30 March 2014

The Turner Contemporary Margate and photographing the ghost of Edmund De Waal

A first attempt at a review of Atmosphere the new exhibition at The Turner Contemporary Margate by Edmund De Waal.

I hope you can see the whiteness, the ghost, whatever it is in the middle of this photograph, it is was flickering (wrong word) frisson is the wrong word too, but then the right word would obviate the point of visual expression.

Edmund De Waal, apart from being the heir with the amber eyes who wrote The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance, he is renowned for whiteness and or pots.

Edmund De Waal looks a bit like this sketch.

I enjoyed his book very much, his recent pots, like a lot of contemporary art I don’t understand, whiteness, on the other hand; it’s four fingers and a thumb isn’t it.

Anyway it was the whiteness I went looking for.

Here is the link to the rest of the photos I didn’t take a decent camera as I thought it would be tempting fate and that photography would be banned, but it wasn’t, so these are only mobile phone snaps.

In a sense I was, or thought I was, photographing something that perhaps wasn’t there, my hope is that some people will also be able to see it in some of the photos, or better still go and have a look at the exhibition. 

Friday 28 March 2014

Friday ramble

I am trying to get back to sorting out my book on the Ramsgate fishing smacks and popped into the sailors church in Ramsgate to try and get some reasonable photos of the pictures of them in the church.

As you see usually operated by two men or two men and a boy, with much of the hauling done with a steam winch, hard work but rewarding.

Market day today, which is Ramsgate’s busiest shopping day, I had a fairly busy day in my bookshop not helped by having the rubbish and recycling collection.

As you see from the picture, which was taken after the rubbish had been collected, the pedestrian route from the centre of the town to my shop isn’t easy.
A sign of windfarm relocation 
in this case relocated to Mostyn Flintshire

I don't think secondhand booksellers although scarce are an endangered species like red-throated divers. Oddly enough you see a lot of red-throated divers in Ramsgate Harbour.

RAW 42 from Hazeleigh Prebble on Vimeo.

On to the business of the council destroying Little Oasis Crazy Skate in Cliftonville words fail me at the moment.

Here is their facebook page I supose now the council have destroyed it there isn't much that can be done.

On the health and safety front if you expand the picture below you will notice a basket attached to a small crane
 on the left of the picture, getting into Ramsgate harbour under sail requires similar judgment to skateboarding 
in cases of misjudgment the smack, smacks into the harbour wall the basket was for fishing out any survivors.    

Thursday 27 March 2014

Lunch at the Belle Vue Pegwell Ramsgate and a watercolour sketch after bookbuying in other shops.

First the watercolour sketch of the Belle Vue Pegwell Ramsgate, I only really enjoy doing these from life, I find something rather bizarre about taking a photo, then making a painting of it, then taking a photo of the painting and putting it on the internet.

I did do a very rough pencil sketch on the paper first, most of which either got covered with paint or rubbed out after the paint had dried.

Here it is about half way, if you click on it and expand it you can probably see there wasn’t much in the way of pencil.

All the equipment goes in my pocket, the sketch is about A4 size and took about an hour. Winsor and Newton fold up field brushes and field box the paper pad is a £2.99 one from The Works the expensive bit is the paint as I pick the cheap paint out of the box and squirt artist’s quality Winsor and Newton watercolour paint. This is because the artist’s quality paint has a lot more dye in it which saves time.

Lunch at the Belle Vue next lunch and drinks for two from the bar snack menu £17, plenty of it and very high quality, can’t fault it at all, highly recommended.

Next the books we bought this morning, mainly as people are always asking what sort of books we buy, click on the picture to expand it, I suppose going around various charity shops and junk shops we looked at thousands of books mostly priced between 50p and £2 and these are the ones we actually bought.  

Relative Space, David and Cathy Harvey at the York Street Gallery in Ramsgate.

Another exhibition well worth a visit, click on the pictures of the pictures to expand them.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

The As and Bs of paperback fiction, the insanity of war, the madness of blogging and of course the wretched airport, a midweek ramble.

The whole business of selling secondhand paperback fiction has shifted once again, this time it’s due to Amazon changing its free postage. As anyone who buys secondhand books online will probably know, a book listed on Amazon for 1p isn’t necessarily the cheapest, for about a month now the golden year of secondhand books being available for as little as £1 including postage from Amazon has ended. Well not exactly as they still are if you want to buy a tenners worth at one time, but gone are the days of finding the book you want in Waterstones, pointing the amazon app at the barcode and buying is very cheaply. 1p on amazon means £2.81 which with most ordinary paperbacks means that if I have it it will probably be considerably cheaper and it is also likely to be cheaper on Ebay, but this means a lot of fiddling about.

This means that Ebay is fast becoming the biggest player in the world of cheap secondhand paperbacks, form the buyers point of view I think the main factors in it’s favour are that the feedback is easy to follow and most listings are accompanied by a photo of the book.

From my point of view it is the sold listings that are particularly useful at the moment I have just been through the As and Bs in our paperback fiction, the main task being to make sure the one on the shelves in my bookshop are cheaper than you could buy them online.

The other task is to try and work out which books should go on the fairly rapid journey to the 50p section, on to the 5p section and then to recycling, this is where Ebay sold listings come into their own. once you have looked a book up on Ebay set the dropdown “sort” top right on “price +p&p lowest first and dot the circle that says “sold listings” on the left.

I am reading “The Ghost Road” by Pat Barker as part of my trying to understand WW1 this is the third book in the regeneration trilogy, it is exceptionally good, I would put it in the top hundred of fiction written in the last half of the 1900s. It is centred around the treatment of insanity caused by fighting in trenches and focuses on some of the war poets. Dear reader, it is a readers book.

We had two copies on the shelf, one with heavy scoring at 50p and one in good condition at £1.50 which isn’t there now as I am reading it.

Looking it up on amazon the cheapest copy is 1p or £2.81 including postage, on ebay £2.50 including postage. Ebay sold listings show that 19 copies have sold from there in the last three months the cheapest having sold for £1.74, which shows to me a realistic price for someone who is prepared to take a little time and trouble.      

Obviously fiction needs pruning in some way otherwise the non sellers build up to the point where there isn’t room for the books that sell, most of the decisions relating to which books go on the short sharp journey to the being pulped at the paper mill, used to be made by me based on how good the book was, this seemed a bit hard on those books that I hadn’t read. Now I am basing this decision also on whether the book has sold on Ebay in the last three months, that is of course assuming that there are lots of copies listed for sale there.  

So here is a picture of the offending books from the As and Bs which take up about two bookcase in the shop, pulling them out gives me nearly another shelf of space.  

My reading of various books about the first and second world wars is changing my view on the matter, it does seem that the reasons the first world war started were relatively minor and that they could have been avoided.

Sassoon’s Statement raises some interesting questions (Germany wanted to negotiate a peace at this time):

“Lt. Siegfried Sassoon.
3rd Batt: Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
July, 1917.

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.”

One has to appreciate that this was just after he was awarded the MC for gallantry in the trenches.  

The various airline companies that were using Manson Airport seem to be rapidly pulling out, which indicates closure next month. The Thanet conservative group seem to be blaming the whole thing on Labour not changing the terms of the s106 agreement made in 200 preventing nighttime flying.

I have tried to get some answers her in Simon’s blog about the Conservative lead rescue package, mainly asking the question: Along the lines of if Roger Gale manages to put together a rescue package, would this be based on the Che conservatives offering considerable nighttime flying as soon as they regain the balance of power at TDC.

To me the whole business, why the Conservatives didn’t change the nighttime flying rules when they were in power and why they didn't come up with a better buyer for the airport earlier seems all a bit odd.

I guess in Thanet where most of the floating voters seem to either vote Labour to keep the Conservatives out or Conservative to keep Labour, this about what we would expect.

I is looking as thout the airport is going to close in April, that it isn’t for sale and that as it’s a brownfield site there is very little that government at any level can do to influence development there.

Bit of an update on the Manston front which seems to be saying that Ann Gloag intends to sell the airport and not develop the land as we had been assuming.

I have notice that much of the comment on the blog recently seems to be about my administration of the comment left by others, please apricticate I manage the comment here mostly with my mobile and apply the comment rules under the comment box. Comment that is off the subject matter gets deleted if I am not sure about it.  

Sorry if there are any typos or grammatical error in this i typed it up very quickly on the cloud mostly using a bluetooth keyboard with my phone.  

Just noticed that The Shipwrights Jazz Bar has sprouted a scaffold

The soon to be opened Italian in King Street a sign

Monday 24 March 2014

Chatham and Clarendon School, not a sinkhole but what is it

As you can see from the picture the shape is an oblong with curved ends and the brickwork extends down about 2 metres.

I guess it must date from somewhere between 1800 and 1900 and was in the grounds of Townley House and Townley Castle when it was built, click here for a potted history of both

The picture above is Townley castle built around 1800 it was on the Chatham House School site.

 I am pretty sure that this was a water well, but the shape is unusual, possibly that shape for a chain pump.

The water table there would be about 70 feet down so a suction pump wouldn't work.

This 1872 map shows the location of Townley Castle

and this map the sheet to the right or east of the previous one the red oval is roughly where the hole is.

Brick lining the top metre or so of a well is fairly normal practice.

I guess the nearest building was St George’s School so it could have been related to the water supply for that. I think Chatham House and St George’s School shared the playing fields

Looking at this map which I need to check the date of.  

I think Townley Castle may have been finished off WW1 bombing although the information from the time is a bit vague

I will add to this post as thoughts occur to me.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Sunday ramble, Manston Airport, Blind Faith and other closures

I guess before I get going on this one I had better state my position on Manston, there are several years of blog posts to back this one up, see

My take is that the best option would have been a fairly small regional airport with a high emphasis on historic aircraft, in retrospect with running losses at the moment of around £10,000 per day I can see this wouldn’t really be viable.

My take on the night flights business has always been that any night time flying allowance would have to relate to the amount of daytime activity and handing the airport the same night flying allowance as a major hub airport was never on.

There is always business that no one else wants, live animal exports being a case in point at the moment, and if you produce a situation where you open the way for what no one else wants without insisting you also get attractive business, it is very easy to wind up exclusively serving unattractive business.

The recent KLM business seemed to be founded mostly on avoiding uk airport taxes, which isn’t necessarily the best way forward for Thanet.

So now we face the situation where Manston Airport is most likely to close within a month or so and I guess the way to go with this one is to do anything that will benefit the local area.

I don’t think there is anything much that government could do to stop an unprofitable business from closing down.

Now although Manston looks green, in terms of future development it counts as a brownfield site, this means that there will be considerable limitations on what government could do to prevent or control development there.

Another aspect is that Manston is on the water abstraction source protection zone, which makes it more expensive for business development there.

Another closure which happens today is AMF Bowling in Margate, something I find particularly concerting as This is a leisure business in a town where the councils are doing all they can to expand leisure.

I also gather Edinburgh Woollen Mill in Margate is closing. 

I am wondering if in terms of what local government can do the focus should be more on supporting what is viable and taking a more realistic approach to what is inherently doomed to failure.

The desire to be a transport hub, both with Manston airport and Port Ramsgate does seem to be related to a long term failure to accept the geography of the area.

One of my family injured their ankle recently so was on crutches for a while and when I asked how this was going, the answer I got was, no real problems apart from Ramsgate town centre where the pavements are dreadfully uneven and the incidence of dog poo very high.

This seems to be at odds with Ramsgate really being the last remaining market and shopping town in Thanet. Perhaps the owners of Westwood Cross have been lobbying the council. Perhaps this explains the town centre rubbish collection on market day and the pavements in the town centre being much worse than they are in the residential parts of the town.  

We are now one month on from the council’s decision to terminate the Pleasurama development agreement, which involved them going down the road of them presenting the developer with a definite schedule of works that the developer had to comply with or open the council’s position to terminate the agreement for non-compliance.

I don’t know how this is going, but there has been no activity on the site, so obviously the developer hasn’t done anything to show their intent to do anything with the site. 

A bit more research on drinking water in Ramsgate before Ramsgate had a waterworks possibly around 1880.

“TR 3764 NW Ramsgate SOUTHWOOD ROAD Water Tower of Ramsgate Water Works. Water tower Erected 1881, Stevenson + Valon, engineers. Red brick and terracotta with cast iron water tank 80 feet by 50, 60 feet high.”

The water is held in the Thanet aquifer (underground reservoir in the porous chalk) by the surrounding seawater, the water back about as far as St George’s church is brackish and not drinkable. So I guess before a piped water supply the drinking water was taken from wells and distributed by horse drawn water cart.  

I know I have read an article in Bygone Kent magazine on the water wells in King Street but it doesn't seem to appear in the index, the issue number would do as I have a full set. 

I will ramble on here.


Saturday 22 March 2014

W. W. Martin 1838 – 1934. A prolific builder of houses and public buildings in Ramsgate. A guest post by Ben Kelly.

William Woodgate Martin was born in 1838 in High Halden, Kent in 1838.  His parents were Alfred and Elizabeth Martin.  William had three brothers (Alfred, John and Charles) and three sisters (Elizabeth, Jane and Sarah).   His mother died on 5th June 1852, aged 36, and his father, Alfred Martin, died on 17th March 1910, aged 97.
The following is taken from the Ancestry website.
1861 census: Recorded as living at the chequers inn, Halden Street, High Halden, Kent.

July 1866:  Married Elizabeth Homewood at Maidstone.

1871 census: Recorded as living at Collier Street, Yalding, Kent.  Occupation: Builder, employing 4 carpenters, 3 bricklayers, 6 brick and tile makers and 1 boy.

1881 census:  Recorded as living at The Ferns, South Eastern Road, Ramsgate.  Occupation, builder.

August 11th 1881.  Elizabeth Martin (nee Homewood) died aged 38.  Source, Kent Coast Times, 18th August 1881.

12th Jun 1882, Married Elizabeth Lane.

1887 Kelly’s Directory:  Recorded as living at Beechwood, Holicondane Road, Ramsgate.

Around 1890, Elizabeth Martin (nee Lane) dies.

1891 census:  Recorded as living at Beechwood, (Dane Park) Holicondane Road, Ramsgate, (widower), head of household, occupation Builder.

23rd Feb 1892.  Married Caroline Haydon Atterbury, St George’s Church, Ramsgate.

1895 Kelly’s Directory:  Entered as:  W.W.Martin, builder and saw mill, Margate Road, Ramsgate.

Martin moved to Carlton Lodge in Deal (now a nursing home) and died on 28th January 1934, aged 96.

His obituary is taken from the Isle of Thanet Gazette, February 3rd 1934, page 9.
The last surviving member of the Town Council formed on the incorporation of Ramsgate in 1884, Mr William Woodgate Martin, of Carlton Lodge, Marine Parade, Deal, died at his home on Monday at the great age of ninety-six years.  He shared the honour of original membership of the Council with Mr R. E. Hodgman until the latter’s death a year ago.
A native of High Halden, near Tenterden, Mr Martin carried on the business of a builder and decorator near Maidstone, and secured the contract to build old St Lawrence College, at Dane Park House, Ramsgate.  He had been in indifferent health for some time, and moved to Ramsgate, where he founded the business of W. W. Martin in Dane Park Road, residing at Homewood, Penshurst Road.  Among many buildings erected by him was Chatham House School, and the block of buildings at the corner of Chatham Street and High Street, and he also planned and developed Truro Estate, East Cliff.
At the first Town Council elections Mr Martin was elected to represent the Sir Moses Montefiore Ward, and he continued to do so until 1902, when he retired from municipal work.
He was interested in cricket, and was a vice-president of St George’s C.C., of which one his sons, Mr A. W. Martin, is a prominent member of the club.  Mr W. W. Martin’s XI will be remembered as being one of the best teams in the old Ramsgate Cricket League.  He was also associated with the Lewises Lodge and the St Lawrence Lodge of Freemasons in Ramsgate.  He left the town in 1916 and for three years returned to the Tenterden district, moving to Deal on account of his health.
Mr Martin was married three times, and leaves a widow and nine children.  Mr Ernest W. Martin, one of his sons by his first wife, is head of the firm of builders and contractors in Victoria Road, Ramsgate.  The funeral took place yesterday (Thursday) at the Walmer Parish Church Cemetery.

Number 33 Penshurst Road, Ramsgate.  Martin purchased the land for his house in 1897 and lived here until 1916.  It was named Homewood in memory of his first wife Elizabeth Homewood who died on 11th August 1881, aged 38.

W. W. Martin’s grave at the Church of The Blessed Mary, Walmer.  Martin was also an author, he published The Chequers Inn: Memoirs of a nonagenarian in 1929.

Extract from burials in the Parish of Walmer in 1934.

Friday 21 March 2014

Costa coffee Ramsgate rumour

I have an unconfirmed report that the Costa Coffee shop chain have bought the Vista building on harbour Parade in Ramsgate and are intending to buy out the Gifts Galore lease so that the whole thing can trade as Costa Coffee.

Thursday 20 March 2014