Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A ramble from Ramsgate

Well as you see McDonald’s has closed, there is a rumour that Burger King are interested in taking over the site, however this is a bit of a tenuous one.

Personally I think that this is part of a much bigger issue that is retail and related to the overheads of shop properties in town centres. The problem being that while all of the overheads (rent, rates, heat, light, wages. Etc) have risen and continue to rise, footfall and shop takings have fallen and may continue to fall.

I am not really sure what the solution is but UK towns take much of their character from the businesses in them and much of the social life of UK towns is based around the businesses in them.

This closure is particularly hard on the Ramsgate’s youth, and I doubt is will improve their behaviour.

I have just finished the proofing stage of Rosemary Quested’s book, The Isle of Thanet Farming Community: An Agrarian History of Easternmost Kent… this is part of the business of turning a 400 page ordinary format paperback, which is not sustainable, into an A4 stapled format which I can print here in my bookshop, making it sustainable.

By way of explanation, I have about 160 local books and maps in print and where I to get them printed by another company, this would mean print runs of about 1,000 to make the cost economical. Multiplying the number of titles by the print run would mean 160,000 books and maps to store, and if they cost £2.50 each to print and investment of over a quarter of a million. 

On the blogging front I have to apologise for the recent lack of contentious posts, the irony here is that with my bookshop being so much busier, I just haven’t had the time.

The Manston Airport site saga goes on, the latest being the current owners new website about it http://yourqa.co.uk/ put together by Pillory Barn.

I guess as a historian one of the questions I ask is, what would Manston be today if the airstrip hadn’t been put there for WW1? Initial research suggests that the soil there was too thin over the chalk and therefore not good enough for profitable farming, in around 1900 Messrs Payne and Thorp came to Margate with the intention of turning the site into housing and by 1916 a large number of plots had been sold but not yet built on when the government cpo-ed them for the airfield.

The Pleasurama saga goes on, as far as I can see the underlying issue here is that the council is selling the site as suitable for building the approved development, I guess the main snag to this is that the council are effectively guaranteeing that the cliff façade will be in a condition suitable for people to live under for the life of the development. I think this will mean a considerable expense to local taxpayers for the next 100 years, because of the costs of maintaining the 70 foot high concrete wall from the base of the 70 foot deep 12 foot wide canyon between the cliff and the development. I guess the main issue from the developer’s point of view was putting pad foundations on the old sand beach without first investigating the structural integrity of the sea defence holding the sand in place, a situation being made more critical by the rapidly denuding Ramsgate Main Sands. All that said, Cardy Construction are a reputable local firm that employ local labour and I am inclined to trust them to produce a good and safe development.

The Thanet South election is still gearing up, we now have a Labour and UKIP shop in Ramsgate and a Conservative shop in Broadstairs, it is a bit hard to tell if they are selling politicians or politics, I presume they are selling something and wonder what the price could be.           


  1. Whilst progress at pleasurama is to be applauded, leaving the taxpayer liable for the cliff face is foolhardy in the extreme.
    Any lender on the property both during construction and ever after will be asking for reports and be unlikely to lend in any event of doubt being cast, is TDC really putting itself up for such an open ended liability, if so it would be better to leave the site as it is, if not this millstone will sink local finances sooner or later.

  2. Surely the main driver on the demise of Ramsgate and Margate as town centres was the decision of the district council to give permission to build Westwood cross shopping centre. Small towns can survive but not with a large out of town shopping centre with 3 pubs and half a dozen eateries within 3 miles.

  3. Artiglio I would rather have had a new planning application that would have been compliant with the standards of 2015 than using the plans that were prepared for a developer who didn’t understand the limitations of this site, particularly the cliff and flood limitations. Leaving the site derelict is not an option that appeals to me, as it is so economically damaging to the town.

    Unknown I guess that WC isn’t doing that well either in view of the recent closures, the problems of towns forming around trading centres and then the traders moving away and now eventually onto the internet probably needs some sort of government intervention, but I am not sure what would work.


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