Wednesday 30 April 2014

Manston Airport Air Pollution, an admission of failure

I guess looking at the picture of The Red Arrows playing Russian Roulette over Manston in 1968 most people would concede that some things people do with aeroplanes are more likely to reduce your life expectancy than others, but this doesn’t necessarily stop people from doing them.

Now this April the government brought out a report called “Estimating Local Mortality Burdens associated with Particulate Air Pollution” here is the link to the report

This report has resulted in various newspaper articles, along the lines of memento mori, news articles are often like this, particularly if the journalist has just woken up, the appropriate phrase is something like; sic transit gloria vino.

Anyway I sought to try to work out whether there were particular particulate air pollution issues related to a freight hub at Manston, for this I used Monday’s blog post where William Epps acted as a devil’s advocate and helped considerably with my understanding of the situation.

This particulate air pollution is mostly associated with burning fuels like diesel and jet engine fuel, I for instance live by a bus stop and vaguely wonder if the fumes from the busses will knock a few hours off my life. William lives in Broadstairs where one of the main dangers to health is probably the folk festival. The conversation meandered something along the lines of; Michael sic at omnibus William sic in at.     

Airport pollution is no new thing although with Manston it’s mostly been noise pollution. In the 60s the noise pollution lead to the American Airforce trying to introduce a color bar, this particular form of apartheid was supposed to work along the lines of Margate is off limits to our “colored boys” they can use Ramsgate where we are making all the noise with our jet fighters and bombers, and wot, can you speak up a bit? here is the link to some of the newspaper articles about this

Anyway coming back to the air pollution, the report says we have higher levels in Thanet, trawling the internet this seems to be due to a mixture of the prevailing wind direction blowing across southern England where all those nice people are rushing around in 4x4s and lorries, the dispersed emissions are in the air blowing this way, pockets around busy local road junctions can be bad.

On the remember you die bit (I may dream in latin but am waking up now) anyone who has hung around the odd nearly departed will notice that it is often breathing that is the problem. The oxygen bottle being much in evidence and the quacks asking did uncle Fred ever smoke, I guess now they will be asking if he lived near a busy road junction too.

Anyway the Manston questions that seem to be mostly unanswered, that relate to the latest notion of a major cargo hub, rather than a regional airport you can actually fly from, are. 1 How many of the big cargo plane movements that burn about a ton of jet engine fuel in the local area would Manston need to make a profit? I think the answer is around 60 a day; a bit of a heavy smoker. 2 Does Manston have the infrastructure, plane parking and so on, to actually be able to operate the required number of flights so make a profit? 3 Would burning 50 to 100 tons of jet engine fuel a day in the Manston area reduce the life expectancy of people living upwind, which is mostly in Margate, Cliftonville and Broadstairs? 4 How much time would knocked off their lives, if this is the case, would people give up to secure say 200 local jobs, a week, a month, a year or two?

Anyway the admission of failure, the answer is, I just don’t know the answers to any of these questions. The bottom line being that while I support a regional airport, I am still very uncertain if I support a major airfreight hub there.       

The picture above comes from the book Twilight of Pistons that I publish, Red Arrows, Russian Roulette, Manston Summer 1968

This map relates to an answer to one of the comments

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Newly published book, Ramsgate Official Guide 1929

From the point of view of the local historian one of the most irritating things about the local historians of the past is that while they attempt to describe what the local area was like hundreds of years before they were born, they do very little to describe what the local area was like when they were alive.

This means that here in Thanet the tourist guides written at different times for people visiting the area are an invaluable tool as they set out to describe the area to people from a different place if not a different time.

So assuming that the past is a foreign country we can make use of a guide for foreigners, the guide I have just reprinted after 75 years even as a two page French supplement, the view from a foreign country can in a sense become the past.

Tourist guides to this area started in the 1770s and as you can see from the picture, which shows some of the ones I have reprinted, I have been busy.

If you want to buy it (post free in UK) here is the link or you can come to my bookshop in Ramsgate (although not on Thursdays and Sundays when it is closed) and have look at it and decide if you want to buy it.         

Monday 28 April 2014

Manston Airport closure issues.

I am posting about this again partly because I have just received an email from Roger Gale’s office saying there will be an adjournment debate about the issue tonight. Partly because there is an online poll about night flights and partly to give my opinion on the subject.

So first here is email from Suzy.

“Please note that Roger has asked me to let you know that he has secured the Adjournment Debate in the House this evening.

The subject is Manston Airport and the debate will START at the end of business in the House - probably any time from 10.00 p.m. this evening if you would like to see it or record it?

The Freeview Channel for Parliament is No. 81 - I am not entirely sure where you find the Parliament Channel on SKY TV.

I hope this is helpful.

With all good wishes.     SUZY
Office of Sir Roger Gale MP
01843 84858)  ”

Next the night flights poll, here is the link

I have checked it and it is fairly difficult to vote more than once.

So what are my thoughts on saving Manston airport? Well the short answer is that it depends what you are saving.

I am all for a small regional airport that I can fly to useful places from and that employees a reasonable amount of people which enhances the local economy, I would also would have liked to have seen the historic airport side of Manston expanded.

On the night time flying front and particularly as night flights over Ramsgate, or the potential for night flights over Ramsgate have a negative affect on the local economy, my feelings are that any allowance has to be linked to real economic benefits in terms of increased daytime activity. Frankly a few people doing a limited amount of overtime to take a bit of nuisance business that that other airports don’t want is not enough. 

Looking at the issue of Manston becoming a freight air hub, the economic and technical negatives are:

The runway isn’t long enough for some freight aircraft to get of fully loaded. For a fully loaded 747 it would need around another 1,000 feet of runway.

It doesn’t have a fuel pipeline to one of the refineries, so sticking with the 747 analogy it takes over six fuel tankers to fill the tanks of a 747.  

The main thing however is that the freight would mostly be heading for the M25 and it would have to do this in lorries from Manston.

On to the economics that caused the closure threat in the first place. At the moment the airport is losing £10,000 per day and added to this it is subsidised by the UK government to the tune of about £8,000 per day.

Recently the most successful operation there was the KLM flights, the main purpose of these flights was to take people to a foreign airport in order to avoid UK airport tax.

So however you look at the problem, there are two pertinent questions:

One is, how many flights per day would it take to make the airport pay?

And the other is how many extra flights per day before the airport benefited the UK economy? 

My own reckoning with freight only flights and just the airport going into the black with the UK government still subsidising it to the tune of around £8,000 per day is around 22,000 flights per year or around 60 flights per day. 

With the freight only option the key question is do the economic and social benefits to Thanet outweigh the economic and social disadvantages? 

A major issue here is to save the existing jobs and a question that does need asking is does the freight hub option save the existing jobs?

I guess another issue here would be air to rail freight, were Manston to be freight only it would be much more likely to need a rail freight terminal than a parkway station. 

Next come the videos from the Save Manston Airport meeting, good on Duncan for his efforts.

I am adding to this post in a fairly random way as I think of things.

One aspect of freight activity at Manston is air pollution, as the wind direction here blows predominantly towards a bit north of east, Broadstairs is most affected by the planes and lorries operating on and in the immediate vicinity of the airport.

Thanet as I guess we all know has the highest death by air pollution statistics for southern England, presumably because the predominant wind direction means the air here has been travelling furthest across the southern England landmass.

But an interesting question, to which I don’t know the answer is; which is more polluting for us here in Thanet, flying the freight to Manston, having the plane movements there and then using road transport to move the freight out of Thanet and the fuel into Thanet or having the plane movements further to the west of us?  

References, the comment is getting a bit complex so I am adding some reference links

Report that says Thanet has the highest air particle mortality rate.

News paper article showing the American Airforce tried to introduce racial apartheid due to aircraft noise pollution  

Saturday 26 April 2014

Ramsgate pen and ink drawing of Harbour Street from Corby's Tea Rooms

Drawing Harbour Street from Corby's Tea Rooms, which is in York Street, may seem a bit odd but this one, drawn this morning, is through the back door of Corby’s Tea Rooms looking across Albert Square at the back of Harbour Street. Oh well I suppose you either know Ramsgate fairly well or the sketch isn’t of much interest to you.

What can I say about Corby's Tea Rooms, clean, friendly, top quality, just about sums it up, here is what Trip Advisor has to say

What can I say about the sketch it took about half an hour, from about 8.30 to about 9am when I had to go off and open my bookshop, so I didn’t get time to colour it in.

Black Pitt Pen size S available from WH Smith, Hobbycraft, Ebay and so on for around £2.50 and lasts for about 500 A4 sketches like this, £2.99 sketch pad from The Works in Ramsgate Garden Centre, this is the black one with the elastic to keep it shut, 48 sheets of 150gsm paper, don’t get the one with the thinner paper. The big snag with pen and ink is no rubbing out, so if you lose concentration you ruin the whole sketch.  

For any aspiring art critics here is a photo of the view I drew.
Spot the mistakes

Friday 25 April 2014

Stonehenge Decoded and other aspects of a Friday blog ramble

In the 1960s when I first visited Stonehenge as a teenager the basic plan was to insert tab A into slot B and try to comprehend some of the deep and meaningless aspects of the stones, whilst also trying to stop the top of ones head from unscrewing.

Anyway provoked by the enquiring minds of the youf of today I revisited the fundamental questions about Stonehenge. What does it do? and how does it do it?

Pretty obviously what happens is that the druid enters the stone circle between two stones and exits between another two into a different reality, I seem to remember at some time in the 60s there was a sign there saying “Do Not Adjust Your Mind, Reality Is At Fault” or something.  

How it does this is a bit difficult to put into words that will bridge the age gap, and drawing a diagram seemed to be a bit condescending, so I painted them a picture.

I thought I would start with a smaller henge with less stones, I have been putting off painting one with more stones as I get the feeling that something strange may happen.

One of the youf of today asked if it is an optical illusion, to which I answered, just a stone circle with all of the stones around the same size. Some measuring then followed and I was informed that that the upright one on the far right is much shorter, so it is an illusion. 

Always useful to the budding artist to encounter the aspiring art critic.

The life of the modern independent retailer is a tricky one, although to be honest that of the secondhand bookseller has always been somewhat tenuous. Despite wearing the uniform (socks and sandals) at 59 I haven’t yet managed to aspire to the dizzy heights of carpet slippers, but gather there will eventually be some sort of secret initiation ceremony involving the retriever of no returns. Despite maintaining a shop with a permanent look of “out to lunch”. I find I am still encountering customers and sometimes difficult customers.

In this case it was a lady who brought back a book of spells complaining that her broom wouldn’t fly; a refund, well obviously made that strange sucking noise between the teeth, always an indicator that something expensive is about to happen.

Anyway in this instance I withheld the ultimate retailer’s weapon (calling her madam) and explained that I had been selling spell books, man and boy for the last fifty years and no one had ever brought one back complaining that the spells didn’t work.

Unfortunately this approach failed, I have been threatened with no less that the trades descriptions act of 1968 and had to issue a refund of £2.50. In some ways this is quite a relief as the book in question is now safely back where it belongs.

 I have added a picture so you can share my relief that the book is now safely back on the shelf in my bookshop after its difficult and unsuccessful adventure.

While on the subject of not flying, since Ann Gloag (who in no way looks like a witch) pulled the magic carpet from under Manston, rumour has been flying round the world. One is that KLM were not actually having a public display of sour grapes but that when Boet Kreiken said. “Now it is game over; we will redeploy the aircraft. We are gone.” This was actually a euphemism for it just wasn’t profitable to run a passenger service from Manson.

Apparently Charles Buchanan has been seen standing on the not inconsiderable coastline of the Thanet transport hub brandishing a model aeroplane and extolling fish to buy airline tickets.  

Another rumour is that the big guns of the local Conservative party have found that the solution to not enough passengers is no passengers and are trying to broker a deal for a huge freight only hub at Manston.  
In the circumstances it may be as well that Ramsgate Sandys is going apparently there has been something of a Gale there over potential freight night flights as apparently magic mushrooms can only be moved at night.

No ramble would be complete without some reference to our own dear councils so I will drop the broomstick and concentrate on the legal highs for a while. At the moment socialist run TDC is working on the disposal of the last remaining high profile council owned Ramsgate building. As good socialists their master plan is to hand it to the largest capitalist they can find. I am told there will be no payment to TDC for the very long peppercorn rent apart from half the rental return on putting a farmers market – as far from the main car parks as possible – in the third of the building that isn’t to become the largest pub in Europe.

What we need here is the TDC Margate Tories to apply the magic solution of grant funding to turn it into the largest public venue in Ramsgate and if that fails the Kent Tories to use a good old fashioned socialist inspired subsidy, like the have with Turner Contemporary.

As things are looking once copious quantities of legal high have been imbibed and the customers have become naughtily inebriate, they will make their way past the bouncers and the regular policing on Harbour Parade to the takeaways in King Street where there is no apparent policing.

The council have licensed these until four in the morning so the worst of the political offenders – who are made to live there in social housing on the ground floor next to the street – will get no sleep whatsoever and are likely to step in an amusing pool of beer and kebab if they do venture out.  

Of course the council have just compulsorily purchased the huge old carpet shop there, but I guess this would be deemed as being far to close to the car park to be suitable for an indoor and farmers market.

Summer being just around the corner and yesterday being my day off, I decided to unfold our folding caravan, which has become a bit retro, by accident rather than design. I thought I had better check everything was ok before unfolding it at a campsite.

The instruction book says that one person can put it up in about 5 mins, it takes two of us about 10 but still amuses people at a campsite so here are the unfolding pictures.  

Now for some photos from the last few days I will endeavour to add some text to them if I get the time. 

Market day in Ramsgate today, something that has a place for all budgets
I tend to go for the Rooks meat or cheese and salad with salad roll, which is very good value at £1.99

As you may know with these rambles, I will add to it if I get time, it’s market day today and my bookshop is fairly busy, at this very moment I am dealing with a trades description issue relating to a lady who bought a book out of the occult section which has failed to make her broom fly.  

Thursday 24 April 2014

Denis Smith exhibition at the York Street Gallery Ramsgate

 The current Exhibition is by  "Denis Smith"
Denis is a ramsgate artist who produces large (And smaller) portraits on canvas using acrylic. Denis is also displaying some of his amazing photo images of Ramsgate.

The exhibition runs -- 23rd April - 30th April

click on the pictures to make them bigger

Wednesday 23 April 2014

St Paul’s Church, King Street, Ramsgate - The remains. A guest post by Benedict Kelly.

St Paul’s Church was located at the bottom of Artillery Road, on Ramsgate’s King Street.  The church had an entrance from King Street and a side entrance from Sussex Street. 
St Paul’s stood here for 80 years.  Part of the curved apse was retained.
1872 Map.  The site of the church was formely Artillery Place, a cul-de-sac of nine terraced houses, that were pulled down in 1873.  St Paul’s was consecrated on 22nd May 1874.
1907 map of St Paul’s Church.

St Paul’s was opened in 1873.  The Kent Coast Times, 20th November 1873 reported:  The architect is Mr R Wheeler of Tunbridge Wells, the builders being Messrs. Smith & Son of Ramsgate.  The dimensions are:  total length 68ft, width 29ft, height to apex of nave roof 83ft, accommodation 250, style, simple pointed.  The church will have a nave, chancel and in one aisle a vestry will be formed at the farther end of the aisle, and at the other end will be a porch.  The walls will be carried up to form a turret, whose height will be 150ft.  The church will be almost lighted by clerestory windows above the aisle roof, the nave roof being an open timber one with tie beams.  The walls are to be bricks of the neighbourhood, built hollow with a lining inside of red bricks.  There will be no internal plastering, the red bricks will be the finished face of the walls.  The nave will be divided from the aisle by columns of polished red Peterhead granite, supporting pointed arches of red and black brick.  The window cills, heads and mullions will be of bath stone.  The cost of the building, exclusive of site will be almost £1,150.
On King Street, this is now a walled up entrance.  Below, the remains of the gate hinge.

The ecclesiastical authorities felt St Paul’s was too small, so it was enlarged and remodelled in 1887.
The tower of St Paul’s on Sussex Street, and the same view today below.

The base of the tower still remains and was incorporated into a garage wall.

Above, the church boundary wall was retained to the rear of Barton Court.

Above, the grassed area was the central nave.  Wall retained to the right.

Above the nave, and the view to day below.  “The seats are entirely free and unappropriated” – Kent Coast Times 27th January 1887.

The demolition of St Paul’s, courtesy of SEAS Photography (The South East Archive of Seaside Photography), and Thanet District Council. The above photograph appeared in the East Kent Times on 13th February, 1959 accompanied with the following text:  Church authorities at Diocesan House, Canterbury, were asked by the East Kent Times and Mail reporter what would happen to some of the more valuable and useful articles in the building.  “Some of the windows have already been installed in St Mildred’s Church, Canterbury,” said a spokesman.  “The remainder are in the care of the Canterbury Cathedral glassworks.”  The spokesman said that such things as pews, desks and Bibles had been given to St George’s and Holy Trinity Churches, Ramsgate.  The Rood Cross, which is in the church’s war memorial, and the Crucifix from the side chapel, had been put in store.  The storing of these articles is under the Church Commissioners’ scheme.
The memorial stone for St Paul’s.  It was acquired by Mr Brian Fagg from the demolition contractors as they were about to smash it up.  It was transferred to St George’s Church.  It reads:  TO THE GLORY OF GOD, THIS STONE WAS LAID BY THE RT HON E.R KING HARMAN MP, JULY 29 1886.
The St Paul’s bell was presented to St Christopher’s Church, Newington, where it was dedicated on Sunday, 26th October 1958.  Around 10 years ago, the bell was gifted to a church in Africa.
Further reading:  St George-the-Martyr, also St Mary’s & St Paul’s Churches, Ramsgate, by Brian R Fagg, August 1977.
Occasional Ramsgate Writings by Donald G Long.  Published by Michael’s Bookshop, December 2008. 

Ed. Here is the link to the previous article about the church

And the good news is that I think I have persuaded Ben to start his own blog.