Monday, 21 August 2017

Two photos of Ramsgate Sands taken before 1860 and a bit of a ramble.

I think these two old photos have done the internet rounds of being copied and appearing on most local history websites about this area since I first put them online about ten years ago.

The main snag with this is the image sizes get smaller and smaller meaning you dear reader can see less and less detail.

I thought it was about time to republish them at a reasonable size, for those of you familiar with this blog, you will know that a bit of compulsive clicking will get them up to a reasonable size so you can home in on the detail.

Ramsgate photo wise there isn’t a lot that predates these ones, so they really are a bit of a look into the other country that is our past.

The only reason I know they were taken before 1860 is that Ramsgate Sands Railway station was built in 1860 on the site where the coast guard station stood before 1860.

The station carried on being a station until the early 1920s  when it closed and the bit where the railway lines were was turned into a funfair with the station building being turned into an indoor amusement arcade called Merrie England, Olympia, Pleasureland and eventually Pleasurama.

This eventually burnt down around twenty years ago and became a deserted building site, which it still is.

I think it possible that this is part of the plan to regenerate Margate, i.e. degenerating Ramsgate, the main rival holiday leisure in Thanet will give Margate an extra boost. Another alternative is that there is no plan and this like Westcliff Hall is just another dreadful accident delivered by our accident-prone district council. 

It may look like I am having a bit a dig at the council but I have been sending them emails asking for an update on the situation with the site for several months now and I haven’t had any replies.

Anyway back to the history, assuming the photos were taken some time around 1850, based on the very latest it could be would be 1859 – because of the station and the very earliest it could be around 1840 because of the development of photography, it may be helpful to have a look at the street map of Ramsgate for 1849.

This is a very big picture, but is should open fairly easily on most devices, because of the way I have published it online, here is the link

The cart things on wheels are bathing machines and relate the management of Victorian modesty before the invention of the bathing costume. Basically you got into the machine, stripped off while someone pushed it into deep enough water to cover you up, then you got into the sea.

This was enhanced by a group of people on the harbour wall with telescopes, and eventually developed to the bikini in Ramsgate in about 1939, see

Staying on the subject of Ramsgate visitors and residents, you may wonder what is happening inside their minds in the here and now, I don’t think you could get much closer than looking at the pictures of the books that went out on the shelves in the bookshop in Ramsgate today.

My take is that as they are mostly replacing copies of books that people have bought recently, this is the closest the amateur anthropologist can get to looking inside now, so here is the link 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Thanet area Maps of the Sea usually called Charts

One of my jobs as a shop assistant in the bookshop here in Ramsgate is publishing books about this area. I have all sorts of jobs that come under the general heading shop assistant that I don’t talk about, like cleaning any dog poo off the pavement in the morning. There are seven of us shop assistants working in the bookshop and some of us have specialist tasks and some tasks we all do, like cashier, we can all use the till although I am not very good at using the credit card machine but I am allowed to use it albeit slowly.

I do the publishing and the poo, with the publishing other people do the hard bits, the scanning, image enhancements, printing, guillotining, etc but the actual publishing I do. OK I am a bit vague about what the process of publishing entails – perhaps “sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits” is as near as I can get.

As well as books I publish maps and I am thinking of branching off into charts. Now most of these are crown copyright, but HMSO are very good about expiring the copyrigt and I can do reprints when the following applies. 

1  It is a photograph created by the United Kingdom Government and taken prior to 1 June 1957; or
2  It was commercially published prior to 1967; or
3  It is an artistic work other than a photograph or engraving (e.g. a painting) which was created by the United Kingdom Government prior to 1967.
HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide.

So here is one of our local charts for 1806, you will need to click on it to expand it and then click on it again to expand it again.
I you wondered this is our bit of a bigger picture
By 1955 things had evolved to something like this

and this

Back in the bookshop, here is the link to the books that went out on Saturday

Back to the chart, depths are measured in fathoms which are 6 feet or two yards 
This is for anyone suffering from youth, don't worry about it guys soon you will be old and then a very long time dead.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

180 Years of Thanet Social Media and Some Thoughts on Getting Paid for Writing

John Mockett farmer and churchwarden in St Peter’s Thanet around 1800 was the first person in Thanet to have a go at something very like social media albeit without the internet. Fortunately he did get his writings published in 1836.

You know this is going to lead to a buy it now button, sample pages – bad for Thanet local history addicts, but what the heck here it is

I don’t think John got paid, my guess is he paid the printer, not sure how he feels about me producing a cheap reprint, ok I suspect. There will be automated print on demand e-books and so on; but you know how it is.

An original copy Published by The Kentish Observer, in 1836 will set you back about £500; but you know how it is.

Another extract from his writing 

Every so often because I am in the bookshop business I have to speak to an accountant, this often starts with a sucking air in through the teeth sound, which indicates to me there will be a bill at some future time, from the accountant.

These days in the bookshop, despite my efforts to look out to lunch, among the bookshop customers, who can be described as roughly falling into the following types:-

Local history addict. Someone who despite my warnings has become addicted to the history of this area and has to use the bookshop as a local history resource, most of these also buy local history books form time to time, with the proviso that I have the ones they want, need haven’t got, have a worse edition, copy of.   

Interester. Someone who has an interest in something to the point they have a collection of books about the subject. This can be anything from Napoleonic military uniforms to unidentified flying objects. You would think the internet and all the modern technologies would have finished off, but it hasn’t.

Fiction Reader. Someone who to a greater or lesser extent is always reading a story. There has been a bit of a bumpy ride with this one, due to the Kindle, e-book and various bits of technology taking up so much time. slowly things on this front are settling down and I think our fiction book sales are higher than they have ever been.

Where was I oh yes among bookshop customers, who don’t necessarily seem to fit in to anything, is a group of people trying to. What? Perhaps they are trying to work out what’s going on. Perhaps they are anthropologists even without knowing it. Perhaps they are shoppers looking for the – long closed shops in King Street, selling, furniture, handbags, plumbing equipment, fishing tackle, pharmaceuticals, etc. recent in particularly. I have had some surrealist conversations with people in the bookshop who it transpires, want to buy one of the seats, pens, pencils, which are at least there, although obviously not for sale, to people who want to buy something that obviously isn’t here. I am coming to think of these people as the deprived, they want the shops that aren’t here anymore – however there aren’t enough of them, not enough demand for the shops to be here.

Anyway the other day I wrote a post about Homebasics going on the market  and in the complex way the internet works the comment wound up on Facebook, and some of the comment had misinterpreted what I said into me saying the bookshop would close, I have no plans to close.

The whole can of worms surrounding how the relationship between the writer and the reader works, and particularly how the writer and the people facilitating this relationship get paid, is something I find interesting.

It’s complex, I write this blog and don’t get paid, however as I mention my bookshop, people presumably buy books, however accountant types generally seem to be of the opinion that bookshops, in fact most shops, are not a good idea in terms of making money.

The whole business the writer writing something and people reading it and the writer getting paid something, so they can live and write something else, seems to confound them, accountant types - that is. I think they see a future here where the writer writes something and puts it on the internet beside an advertisement for something, often something someone else has written, which somehow pays the writer.

There are parallels here where there is an isolated community with an economy based on stealing each other’s washing. There is also a sense in which the problem extends to other non food shops.

But I will stick with the book business, because I understand it better.

Literature is to some extent an art form, a lot of people think reading, particularly reading books is good thing, libraries are mostly paid for out of some form of taxation and the other arts are often heavily subsidised.

Before the recent advances in technology most writing had to be paid for, because it was too difficult and expensive to copy. Battles over copyright tended to be between giants.

Also before advances in technology the money seemed to be spread out more evenly, now some authors get huge amounts of money, while some very good new authors who once would have at least got enough to go on writing in a garret, after the acceptance of their first book, well they don’t anymore. Get enough money that is.

Now when it comes to how many people read what I write on my thanetonline blog, the counter wosisname on the side is an option that Google provide as part of the blog and I don’t think it would be easy to fiddle. So if I were to claim a lot more hits than I get I think people would soon start to say something. What it says is that it gets about 1,000 hits a day, so this begs the question, how many hits a day would it need to stop me starving in my garret?

So if I were to have Google advertising on this blog (don’t worry I don’t intend to) and assuming 1,000 readers a day, anyone want to have a guess at roughly how much I would get in advertising revenue?

The answer appears to be about 30p, making a giant leap in maths I think if this blog had 10,000 readers a day this would produce £3. I think a living wage is about £400 per week, in the £60 a day ballpark.

Tenuous stuff but of course all related to your price, and the answer is yes of course I would, at some level.

I think the most pressing areas of this are local news and specialist non-fiction, both areas where I have had a bit of try at. On this blog with the news, where the constrictions because of the small area the news relates to has a limited number of readers and of course with local physical books where the same thing applies.

Friday, 18 August 2017

London visit by train from Ramsgate

I had to go up to town yesterday and so such photos as there are, are of London and therefore probably less interesting than most photos of London already on the internet.

It did occur to me that some aspects of this, particularly the trains business could be useful to other local residents, so here we go.

So what does it cost? The answers are ballpark here based on what we paid, just turning up at stations and paying there, in a fairly disorganised and relaxed way. Adult return from Ramsgate £30, with senior railcard £20, not sure about the children this time as we met them already ticketed. This was for the fast 1 hour 15 (most expensive train) and covers all of the trains.

Waiting at St Pancras over a cup of tea I got out a paint brush and tried to sketch the ceiling.

My destinations BL and V&A was walk to the BL note the Antony Gormleys in the photos – more to see in the sea at Margate.

Obviously if I had only been going to the V&A I would have taken he other train to Victoria and walked to the V&A, how long the train takes to get to London being balanced about which bit of London you arrive in.  

The walk to the V&A is 4.6 miles, so the company split, me leading the underground component, I wasn’t there for Uncle Floyd – but the free stuff so the V&A was freeish.

The contactless credit card used at the tube barriers clocked up about £3.50 for the rerun journey and I think this would have been around £5 buying a ticket.

The journey home was done using the St Pancras, Deal Sandwich, terminating at Ramsgate route, over supper bought at the M&S at St Pancras station, this takes about 1 hour 50 and is usually the quietest train, that doesn’t involve incidents that can wake you up, should you doze off, but as it terminates in Ramsgate does offer a high probability of waking up in Ramsgate and not Margate.  

My main difficulty in London was finding a quiet spot, with a comfortable table and chair, near a loo, with a view I could paint and a decent pot of tea. On this visit I failed.

The nearest I got was at the V&A where is started to sketch, but was defeated refrigeration machinery which was too noisy, and decaffeinated coffee in a paper cup.

That said I think I will be able, like Daisy – to pull something orf there next time, perhaps a folding teapot, a Yorkshire teabag, moving round one place, the right hat and interrupting with. “I want a clean cup.” I am developing a pln nomicly.

Here are the photos on my camera card 

Here are the latest lot of books to go out in the bookshop here in Ramsgate

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Broadstairs Folk Week Photos, perhaps a Video this evening and the business with The Captain Digby, The Foreland and The Northern Belle.

I went to Broadstairs this evening for my constitutional after work, camera wise I am afraid there was a fair amount of multiple shots from the waist without looking at the viewfinder.

Anyway here is the link to what’s on the camera card

Next the history which is an excerpt from one of the railway guides All About Ramsgate and Broadstairs 1864 if you want to risk the link, sample pages, buy it now button, here it is

If I have pressed the right buttons then it should be next.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Ramsgate and the Napoleonic Wars + out and about pictures in Ramsgate today.

I know this picture of Ramsgate was drawn during the Napoleonic Wars as it is the one in the 1809 guide to Thanet, for those of you who know about my stealth advertising plan and still want to go further up this particular tree, here is the link that leads to the inevitable buy it now button.

Next some of  the Ramsgate pages from the guide.

Now at this time – oh sorry the wars – Waterloo, Trafalgar type of kidney spanned the period from 1800 to 1815, Ramsgate was supposed to be a military embarkation town. I am pretty sure I read somewhere that the area where Wellington Crescent was eventually built in from around 1820 and up on the westcliff where about 60 years later Vincent Van Gogh would eventually sketch the Churchill Tavern; was covered with tents.

I am also pretty sure that the Ramsgate Clifftop buildings that date for this period were built to rent out to officers, “can’t go anywhere without my, horses, servants, don’t you know”

Reading the guide I can only assume that this military centred, marry off your daughters social whirl was what they meant by the season.

However no mention of the war in the guide.