Ramsgate Harbour

The construction of Ramsgate Harbour began in 1749 and was completed in about 1850. The two most influential architects of the harbour were father and son John Shaw and John Shaw Jr, who designed the clock house, the obelisk, the lighthouse and the Jacob’s Ladder steps.

The harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the United Kingdom awarded the right to call itself a Royal Harbour. This was bestowed by King George IV after he was taken by the hospitality shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour to depart and return with the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1821.

Because of its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate was a chief embarcation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk evacuation  in 1940.

The ferry terminal area is built upon reclaimed land.

History is written on shifting sands and stormy seas.

The port has had it’s ups and downs the ferry terminal closing following a tragic accident

On 14 September 1994 there was a failure of a ship to shore structure for the transfer of foot passengers onto ferries. It collapsed in the early hours, causing the deaths of six people and seriously injuring seven more. The investigation into the accident revealed that the same basic miscalculation had been made by both the designer – Swedish firm FKAB, a subsidiary of the Mattson Group and certifying organisation Lloyd’s register. The parties involved, including the client, Port Ramsgate, were prosecuted and fined a total of £1.7m, which at the time was the largest fine in the United Kingdom for a breach of health and safety laws. The Swedish firms refused to pay the £1m fine and as result pan-European law enforcement was changed in 2005.

Hoverlloyd ran a crossing from Ramsgate Harbour to Calais Harbour from 6 April 1966 using small, passenger-only SR.N6 hovercraft. When the much larger SR.N4 craft, capable of carrying 30 vehicles and 254 passengers, were delivered in 1969, Hoverlloyd moved operations to a purpose built hoverport in Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate.

Mothballed and unloved standing largely unused 2019 has seen the winds of change forge a new dawn for the fading fortunes of Ramsgate Harbour. Transport supremo Christopher Grayling MP has summoned the dredgers to clear a way through the confusing clutter of post Brexit Britain.

Seaborne Freight has three months to source the vessels, recruit and train staff, and put all the infrastructure in place to launch the service before we leave the EU – it sounds like a very tall order – Richard Burnett

A company with no vessels a port currently with no access.

There’s only one pilot and that is the Harbour Master. The security fencing is laughable – travellers broke into the port and occupied it for a week not so long ago.

So all is well with the world – we await further developments with a fervour unseen since the previous fervour.

Let’s take a short walk back to my walk around in 2015 – see you on the other side.

Margate – Tidal Pools

Margate a town of two pools.

The first tucked in by the prom, a moments walk from the station and overlooked by the imposing Arlington House and the shimmer of the Turner Contemporary

– alas no longer the domain of the wild swimmer.

A large delicious expanse of seawater, now sadly designated as a boating pond.

I was drawn magnetically to this elemental artifice, where untamed waters meet a controlled concrete geometry, waves temptingly lapping the walls.

Would that it could be open again to the town’s swimmers.

I am latterly reliably informed, that the pool is well used by local aquarists, despite the Local Authority’s prohibitions and ministrations – bravo!

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The second at Walpole Bay still open to the swimmer and what’s more it’s listed.

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, one of two tidal pools designed by Margate’s borough engineer in 1937, constructed in concrete blocks reinforced by reused iron tram rails, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Structural engineering interest: an ambitious project because of its scale, the weight of each concrete block, and that work needing to be carried out day and night because of the tides; * Scale and design: impressive in scale and shape, occupying 4 acres and three sides of a rectangle, the sides 450 feet long diminishing towards the seaward end which was 300 feet long; * Social historical interest: provided an improvement to sea bathing at the period of the greatest popularity of the English seaside; * Degree of intactness: intact apart from the loss of the two diving boards which do not often survive; * Group value: situated quite near the remains of the 1824-6 Clifton Baths (Grade II), an 1935 lift and the other 1937 tidal pool. 

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North Foreland Estate – Broadstairs

Where the lone lawn ranger, meets the top of the range Range Rover.

Yippee ki oh ki-yay!

Forever out to out Lutyens.

I think you’re probably out to lunch.

To walk the shoreline path through North Foreland Estate, is to walk an intentionally unintentional free market, mash-up of architectural history.

Hey ho let’s go!

To begin at the beginning, 1636 a lighthouse is erected – leaping forward somewhat:

During World War II a number of radar stations were set up by German forces in France and the Netherlands to detect allied aircraft flying across the English Channel and a chain of top secret radar jamming stations were set up by British scientists along the south east coast of Britain. An array of transmitters was set out around gallery of the lighthouse controlled by equipment in the lower lantern as part of this chain.

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The North Foreland lighthouse was last manned lighthouse in the UK, but was automated in a ceremony presided over by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1998.

It seems appropriate that the DoE should preside over the automation, however, I digress.

This is a gently rolling coast line, low chalk cliffs harbouring sandy coves and spies.

And the wealth of nations, £2,000,000 gets you this shiny hunk of real estate.

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A gated community, double negated through further gating, ornamental railings, well clipped hedges, picket fences, high grey stuccoed walls, and attendant dogs.

Big dogs, very big dogs, fortunately with even bigger walls.

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As is often the case in such areas the residents are short of nothing – excepting residents.

There was but on lone lawnmower owning owner to nod to.

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Last seen, receding towards his quasi sixties, semi-dormered detached, hat intact.

So accompany me now through the New England homes of the new England, admire the Mock Gothic, Super Krazed Moderne, pseudo Tudo-Jacobethan delights that await us.

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Too rich for your undernourished pockets, have you considered a drawing of a house?

High concept, conceptual housing for the under-housed.

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So farewell the North Shoreland I’ll leave you to get on with your high value, property based, rise and fall bollard lifestyle I, like Felix – kept on walking.

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Pegwell Bay Hoverport

Once, for a very, very  long time indeed there was a shoreline, then sure enough, eventually there was a Hoverport – then there wasn’t.

Opened in 1969 just outside Ramsgate along the Kent coast, Hoverlloyd a Swedish owned company began a cross-channel hovercraft service to Calais.

Along came Prince Philip:

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/prince-philip-opens-hovercraft-at-ramsgate

Can came:

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And went:

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The passengers’ every need was attended to with alacrity and style.

“As a Stewardess your appearance was paramount, a beautician would come in during training to teach us how to apply make up.”

 

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But it simply wasn’t enough.

The life of Christopher Cockerell’s bold British invention, was short and bumpy.

Genevieve Payne, a former stewardess:

“I remember the summer of 1979 as a year of really bad weather and rough seas.”

“I was working on a craft in a force 8, so on this day we were literally hitting the ceiling, passengers were throwing up everywhere.”

“One lady became hysterical I had to slap her to calm her down.”

By the 1980’s Pegwell and the hovercraft were in terminal terminus decline.

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It’s a lot less bother without a hover.

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What prevails is the shoreline, a concrete landing skirt and the slow process of reclamation, as nature decides that the council is quite right to decide to create a nature reserve.

Thanks to and for further information http://www.hoverlloyd.org/index.html

Here it is today:

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Margate – Batchelor’s Patisserie

Idly meandering through Cliftonville, along Northdown Road, I chanced upon the most delightful of cake shop windows. Being something of an aficionado of cakes, shops and windows it seemed like an ideal opportunity to snap away, with customary broad-smiling, wide-eyed enthusiasm. Furthermore why not go in? I was met with the most charming of receptions from the patron Stuart Turner and staff – not unreasonably inquisitive regarding my impromptu picture taking, I explained my particular interest in the patisserie. The interior of the 50’s bakery, shop and café is perfectly preserved, with a little sympathetic restorative work. Well upholstered and formica topped the furniture is the finest of its kind, each table graced with fresh flowers, condiments and loving care and attention. An exquisite array of breads, pastries and cakes, resting on delicate doilies, displayed in glass fronted cases. I encourage you to visit, take tea, take cake, take away the fondest of sweet memories.

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