Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Margate Museum opening 25th June 2011

Today I did my bit as a volunteer for todays opening at the Margate Museum which was also a great opportunity to have a good look around with the intention of seeing what was there from Ramsgate in the Museum archive. It has been four years since I last looked at the archive and it was a bit of a surprise that nothing was dusty and everything was in its place. However, it did take me a while to familiarise myself with the files. It was no surprise the vast majority of the files were Margate related, from Ramsgate there were five main files on Ramsgate in general, two files on Ramsgate pubs, one file on Ramsgate Mayors with research notes and smaller files on subjects like Sally ferries etc., Most of the Ramsgate archive were copy documents all neatly filed with a few photographs and some original material which are all ideal for scanning. Looking at all the files it is clear that the vast majority can be scanned which would easily reduce the storage space by about seventy five per cent or more. The most refreshing thing about the archive being that every part of Thanet is well represented and it all can be scanned and stored on a data base.

There is not much Museum gossip to write about other than that the loans from the Medway Steam Preservation Society are to be returned as the loan period is near the end, which will make some space available in the maritime room.

Overall, the day did go well and considering the economic climate and the pressures on local government finances, I think it is a good idea by TDC to open the Museum to coincide with events using the volunteer base from the Friends of the Margate Museum until firm decisions about the Museum are made.

On July 4th the Friends of the Margate Museum will be having a meeting at the Old Town Hall at 19:30 hrs for those that are interested.

Finally, some time ago I had and enquiry about a "trophy of war" in the Margate Museum , a copper shield taken from the gates of the Italian Naval base at Tobruk Libya during the Second World War that hangs on the wall in the Margate Museum. All I can say, there is no need to worry it is still there.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Starting out again.

Following the disastrous fire a few years ago at the Ramsgate library the question that went through the minds of Margate historians was what would we do if the Margate Museum suffered the same fate and how would we react. This led to a great rethink within the Margate Historical Society which by then had become fully independent from the Margate Museum. The decision was to research and publish quality articles and distribute the findings as far and wide as possible. Very much the same as what the Margate Civic Society is doing at present, producing and distributing quality items. So if the hub of information is affected by a disaster then information can be pulled back in and it can be business as usual. A fine example of Margates history stored outside the recognised hub of the Margate Museum and library and how it can be achieved has to be Tony Lee's Margate history website which is featured on my favourites side bar.

However, this does not resolve the problem of replacing artefact's which does sound a daunting task. A key to this is how the Margate Museum developed in the past ten years and how easy it is thanks to the Internet to acquire historical artefact's. In fact it is now possible to set up a Museum on a relatively low budget and with public donations of items the possibility of setting up a collection within a year or so is achievable.

I could never understand why after the fire at the Ramsgate library that the history of Ramsgate as told in artefact's and exhibits sort of died, and when the Maritime Museum closed it seems as if everyone sort of gave up. Exceptions being, Ralph Hoult who happens to have his own private museum, Terry Wheelers fledgling Ramsgate Historical Society and the Ramsgate History forum on the net.

Now that I have settled in as a Ramsgate Town Councillor, I have been slowly but surely going through every single print of Ramsgate on the Internet, looking at where I can source items should I need to, I have also started a database on Ramsgate artefact's, I have started buying in items and I am researching into Ramsgate items in local authority ownership. In fact I am using everything I learnt through experience at the Margate Museum as a Margate Historian and I am now applying it to Ramsgate. I doubt if I will ever be an "expert" on the history of Ramsgate but I do know I have the minerals to do something about its sad decline.

I came across this excellent engraving from the Illustrated London news which is going through ebay at the moment for £18.50, it is so tempting.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

South East view of Ramsgate at the Margate Museum

I know I have posted this print before, however a few things have changed since the last posting. One of them being my election to Ramsgate Town Council and my remit by RTC to look into and compile data of the whereabouts of Ramsgate art and artefact's in local government ownership that may have been once the property of the Borough of Ramsgate before local government organisation .
This print titled "South East view of Ramsgate from Mount Albion" spent about twenty years of it's life hanging up at the Judges lodgings at Stone House in Maidstone and was returned to the Margate Museum sometime in 2006. The lodgings were sold off in March 2007 , the main complaint about the Maidstone lodgings was about the furniture and style of decoration. 'They are a bit vulgar and naff. Not really to the taste of an elderly gentleman - or anyone for that matter,' said one former High Court judge. "Independent on Sunday".
Amongst the "vulgar and naff" were twenty loan items from the Thanet District Council art collection loaned out some time in the 1980's (not sure of the date). When the loaned prints were returned back to the Margate Museum most of them were hung up in a line above the seating of the upstairs former magistrates court at the museum and can be seen today when the museum is open . Amongst the collection is a modern Broadstairs print and the Ramsgate print which have never been on public display since local government reorganisation in 1974 until 2007.
Today, I had a look at the Ramsgate print in the Margate Museum to glean some further details , the text below the print reads as follows "South East view of Ramsgate from Mount Albion" "As it appears on the morning of July 23rd 1840" "When a beautiful water spout crossed the sky from S.W to N.N.E thirty eight before twelve at noon continuing about ten minutes". To the right of this text is a poem and to the left there is seventeen references to parts of Ramsgate. The artist or engraver was difficult to read but I will return with a jewellers loup to carry out further examination.
On the Margate side of things there are two small oil paintings that caught my eye one on the far right and one on the far left of the line of prints above the seating. The one on the far right I found especially interesting as it is of the stone pier and shows the first lighthouse (pre 1828) and there is no Jarvis Jetty (1824), the cliffs at Fort Point are visible. These three features pre date the painting.
All this line of prints and paintings that have been out of public view for thirty years until 2007 and then that has been for about a year as the Museum closed on a permanet basis except for one offs manned by volunteers. So for any visitor to the Turner center, if the Margate Museum is open I suggest give it a quick look at this line of prints especially the two oils and also the painting by Alfred Clint above the stairs.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A View of Ramsgate

This not the best of photographs but it suits my archive just fine as it is another Ramsgate print in local Government ownership. This print is titled "View of Ramsgate " and is one of the few actually owned by Ramsgate Town Council, the original is painted by William John Huggins marine artist (1781 - 1845 ) and this is an engraving by E . Duncan.
Easily dated by the lighthouse (pre 1842) the print is one of a series of works by various artists of the entrance to Ramsgate harbour in gale force conditions. Judging by the works of the likes of Turner, Cooke and de Loutherbourg, Ramsgate harbour must have been a difficult harbour to enter if the wind was not in your favour in the days of sail.
In a edition of bygonne Kent volume one number four page 229 there is a article on the three cannons found by the East Pier on 21st February 1980. Written by Bill Lapthorne it details the discovery of the three cannons and mentions the amount of vessels that sunk after missing the entrance to the Harbour and ended up hitting either the East or West pier wall.Bill quotes "On 22nd December 1822, seven vessels were wrecked on this spot and fifteen men drowned. Due to this Admiral Spranger published a booklet "Remarks on Ramsgate Harbour".
In Richard Larne's shipwreck index of the United Kingdom volume section two there are many accounts of sinking's at the entrance to the harbour. For example the "Hazard" on 23rd November 1820, " in going into the harbour, struck the West Pier, carried away her bowsprit and part of the bow, filled and sank in the harbour". Reading through further Ramsgate shipwreck accounts , in some cases the vessels were colliers bring in cargoes of coal from the North East which were full to capacity bringing down their cargoes regardless of the weather in what is a lucrative trade keeping Ramsgate warm in the winter months. Mick Twyman of the Margate Historical Society who researched the coal trade into Margate actually found evidence that on these hazardous journeys it was only the cargoes that was insured and not the crew or vessels.
On another point this could also give some arguement to the origin of the sea coal that occasionaly turns up on the Ramsgate and Pegwell Bay coastline.
Last week I was on the end of the West Pier looking across to the East Pier, just thinking how much history could be laying under the sand on the sea bed in the harbour entrance and out side walls, perhaps something we will never know.

Finally, a photograph of one of the Ramsgate cannons found 21/02/1980 outside the East Pier wall. This cannon a carronade is now situated on the terrace of Bleak House Broadstairs.

Parish relief

Like most history leaning blogs in Thanet, I receive enquiries related to Thanet's history. On most occasions I deal with them fairly easily, however on occasions I receive a few that to be honest do leave me scratching my head. This little gem relating to rural Thanet in the mid 19th century is one that falls into that category and is described as follows and will be up for sale "a fantastic old document relating to the Isle of Thanet Agricultural Association est 1836. The document was presented to a "John Gregg" and dated 1848 for"bringing up six children receiving only 8 shillings parochial relief".

The enquiry is from a presenter of a BBC television programme and if anyone can help with information or is interested in the item I will forward you the programme and other details.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A TDC asset

Amongst the items of artwork loaned to the Ramsgate Town Council by Thanet District Council that was formerly owned by the Borough of Ramsgate, is this gem.

Even though it has no TDC reference number for their artefact's list ,the description is "Ramsgate engraved by F. Jukes " with no detail, the print has slipped with the backing of the frame hanging off . So I do get this impression Ramsgate artwork in TDC possession maybe in a bit of a disarray.

However, mustn't grumble as it was decent of TDC to loan the print to Ramsgate Town Council in the first place.

Getting down to brass tacks and a quick search on google and asking around a bit this gem is "Ramsgate from the West Pier" drawn and engraved by Francis Jukes (1745 to 1812) Howland Street, Bryden, Charing Cross , London , circa 1790's with the date to be established.

The work of Francis Jukes is highly collectible and there are many versions of this print including Victorian re strikes. However, this print has been coloured in by a water colour artist and a identical print on a auction site identifies the print as a "Engraving, further inscribed with topographical details of the harbour in pen and ink then executed in watercolour." Francis Jukes produced his own prints and judging by details on him on the net if they are correct it appears he worked with a water colour artist. So there is every suggestion that this print was produced when Francis Jukes was alive. Therefore a closer examination is necessary as this print will be dated. As for value, a identical print badly damaged is up for sale at $200 on a American site and one went for £400 on a British auction site. Which is not bad for a print that has no registration number in the TDC collection. poor identity and was delivered in a pile of other prints in a back of van.

Finally, Ramsgate Town Council will give this print the status it deserves in the history of Ramsgate taking pride of place in the Customs House. On another positive point, Ramsgate Town Council are setting up a working party of which I will be chairing, to look into the status of Ramsgate artwork in local government collections to establish their whereabouts. Especially the items that were once the property of the Borough of Ramsgate and judging by this example I think we can agree there is going to be a lot of work done.

This tatty version of the same print is up for sale for £91.00 on ebay.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Item 7095 Eastcliff Lodge

A few years ago I came into possession of a number list of the art collection in Albion House that belonged to the Borough of Ramsgate that assended to Thanet District Council on 1st April 1974. Dated 12/12/87 it was the audit sheet of the the TDC museums officer who would audit the collection periodicaly up until 1994 when the EKMT took the job on. Numbering 82 items the list is in the order of display in Albion house has no references except a list of numbers. Judging by the loans received by the Ramsgate Town Council from TDC there does not seem to be much supporting information if any to the Ramsgate art collection TDC own, which is an observation and not a critism. This line drawing is currently in the Custom's House and in possession of the Ramsgate Town Council and is numbered 7095 which tallies with the Albion House list. Most of the details of this one are readable, drawn by Vernon K Hood December 1805 "for the beauties of England and Wales", engraved by W.Cooke.

This is the first item I can put to that list with a reference so there is now 81 to go which hopefully one day the collection will be owned by Ramsgate Town Council.

In the meanwhile I came across this factual information on the Ramsgate History Forum on Eastcliff Lodge which I am sure they will not mind me quoting, it reads as follows ,

"East Cliff Lodge was built around 1800 and was used in 1803 as a summer residence of Queen Caroline, then Princess of Wales. It later became the home of Admiral Lord Keith and in 1815 it was sold to a Russian merchant Patrick Cummings. Cummings later leased it to Marquis Wellesley who was the brother of the Duke of Wellington.In 1882 Sir Moses Montefiore rented the estate from Cummings, and after Cummings death in 1830, Sir Moses purchased it for £5,500. During Princess Victoria's visit to Ramsgate with her mother in 1835 Sir Moses opened the grounds to her and presented her with a golden key to a private door of the grounds.Sir Moses lived at the Lodge until his death on 1885 at the age of 101. Sir Moses and his wife are laid to rest in a Mausoleum next to the Synagogue at nearby Hereson.

The final demise of the Lodge follows an all too familiar pattern. The estate was sold to the Borough of Ramsgate around 1952, and the Lodge was demolished in 1954. All that remains today is a new building housing a firm of architects which incorporates parts of the original structure. There are also some outbuildings and the Italianate Greenhouse has been restored to its former glory in recent years."

Ramsgate from the East Pier

I was very fortunate this morning to look at the civic collection of artwork held by Ramsgate Town Council. Even though it is small and I mean small and I know the reason why.
I was taken by this print drawn by J Styles surveyor , 61 High street , Ramsgate, dated 24th September 1830. It reads as follows "Dedicated by permission to the Chairman & Deputy Chairman of the board of directors, of the Royal Harbour & Commissioners of the town as Faithful representation of the same in the year 1830",The printed is engraved by R.G Reeve, 3 Gough Square. coloured by Baldwin and printed by P.R. Tomkins.
Some time ago I made a rough DVD of the collection at the maritime museum held in the clock house on the harbour. In it are 11 prints and water colours loaned to the museum by TDC, this print is also featured in that collection and the only difference is that the TDC one is coloured. It be noted that once upon a time all these prints were the property of the Borough of Ramsgate until 1974 when they were transferred to TDC. However, it does appear that items that once belonged to Ramsgate and transferred to TDC have not been very well looked after and as I mentioned in a previous posting the items loaned recently by TDC to RTC do have that look as if they have been hanging up in a garden shed . I have even found out that when the artwork was delivered to RTC by TDC they were stacked in a heap the back of a van without being wrapped in bubble wrap. Since being elected to the Ramsgate Town Council I have not been hanging about on this issue of Ramsgate art and artefact's and I have been pulling research items off the Internet and from my researched archive to take this issue forward.
On this point I should mention how I am impressed by the Ramsgate history Forum.As a Ramsgate town councillor I will take this issue of Ramsgate's art and artefact's forward preferably working with interested parties, however if I have to do this alone then so be it.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A artefact's committee ?

It is a sad fact of life that in Ramsgate the best exhibition of prints and photographs of Ramsgate's past are not in a Library, or a Museum but in a shop called Farley's that sells beds in Chatham Street. Which really is a sad epitaph for the old Borough of Ramsgate (1884 to 1974) and Ramsgate's maritime past. I suppose the fire at the library and the loses there didn't help matters. However, I still stand by theories that local government reorganisation scattered the civic collections of Margate and Ramsgate like the lost tribes of Israel to the extent that even if Ramsgate was in a position to open a town museum it wouldn't have anything to put in it.Ramsgate does a have a maritime museum which is a centre of excellence built up by the East Kent Maritime Trust which is unfortunately closed. Then there is KCC archives another center of excellence, but when it comes to art and artifacts at local government level it all seems to fall down. The current trend for Museums is now about exhibition of quality exhibits, so when I was invited by the Mayor of Ramsgate Dave Green to look at the art and print collection held by the Ramsgate Town Council I accepted the opportunity.Dave told me that they didn't have much and he wasn't joking either, I was just so glad I didn't bring a flask and sandwiches because the entire collection of artwork is less 24 items and that does include the duplicates and the loans from the TDC collection inherited in 1974. The condition of almost everything is not quality in fact the condition of the frames and condition of the items loaned by TDC look as if they have been stored in a garden shed. The artwork owned by the Town Council is not much better either.I did take down as much info as possible to research what the Town Council owns and also took a few photographs of which I will post in the coming weeks. Compared to the Margate collection this is not good in fact it reflects very badly on Ramsgate it is almost as if we do not care about our past.So what is the way forward ? well trying to pin blame is stupid and pointless. However, as Dave Green quite rightly said to me "we need to form a artefact's committee". So this afternoon I have been working on a plan and I will keep you all posted.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Support the Ramsgate Tunnels

I have received this flyer from the campaign to open the wartime Ramsgate tunnels a campaign supported by Ramsgate Town Council :

"Lets Re-open Ramsgate Tunnels
There are over 3 miles of tunnels under
Ramsgate which became an underground city
and saved the lives of hundreds of Ramsgate
residents during the Blitz in World War II.
They are still there and could become a
fantastic Venue, Tourist Attraction and
Heritage Resource.
6 pm on Monday 27th June and
Your vote can win us the money to get
started on this exciting project"
Ramsgate Town Council, Ramsgate (Heritage Regeneration) Trust Ltd, Ramsgate Tunnels Heritage Group,
Big Lottery Fund - The Jubilee Peoples Millions

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Tip and run - the Margate Sands bomb crater

I have received a reply from John Williams aviation archivist for the Margate Historical Society and he informs me that the prime suspect for the bomb crater could be the raid of 1st June 1943 which was a quick tip and run. Which was Simon's theory when Alisdair said it is a bomb crater and when I questioned what may have been the target.

John's reply is as follows;

"This may well be a left-over from the air-raid of 1st June,1943. The aircraft taking part were Focke-Wulf Fw190fighter-bombers of 11/SKG10. If it had been dropped by a Junkers Ju88 or a Heinkel He111 you would have a stick of bombs,i.e. quite a few craters in a line across the beach and lower town area.The lower part of the High Street received a 500 kg bomb from one of the twelve aircraft taking part (Messrs Tumbersand White Fuller's destroyed). The raid took place at 13.00hrs on Tuesday,1st June,1943. Bombs fell at the following locations;-St.Peter's Road, Thanet Road, Northdown Road, Laleham Road, Dalby Square, St.Mildred Road, St.Pauls Road, Milton Square, Warwick Road, Cornwall Gardens, Approach Road,High Street, Athelstone Road, Dane Park and Lower Fort Promenade. One 500kg bomb failed to explode. One bomb (500kg) destroyed Holy Trinity Church. Total casualties;-sixteen killed, thirteen seriously injured and fifty-seven slightly injured (War Graves Commission lists nine civilians dead.)."

I should also add this very same raid caused the Tudor House to list sligthly and caused the collapse of the north wall in the Grotto alter chamber. However, I am not sure the impact it had on the Margate caves.

It's a bomb crater.

At 19:00 hrs (03/06/11) an hour before low water I carried out a complete search on the site of the ship wreckage and the mysterious hole on Margate main sands. I was soon joined by Simon Moores who recorded the event, Alisdair Bruce local geologist , his partner Kim and Fiona Sherriff who acted as an observer.

My role was to seek out as much historical evidence from the site as possible. Alisdair did a geological survey taking samples and was quick to confirm that the mysterious hole was in fact a bomb crater. Like myself , Alisdair agreed that the wreck was oak and the construction was from the bottom of the vessel , however there was an absence of a Keel that maybe buried. The timbers of the wreckage are in remarkable condition and they are free of worm and I am still content to stick to my 1877 storm theory as mentioned earlier.

Around both the wreckage and the hole the area is littered with shards of china and broken glass which all present started collecting and examining. Considering that metal detector users have already been over the site there was a absence of coins and other non ferrous metals. However, I was lucky enough to find a 1855 penny which I have scanned in. Amongst the broken china and glass was everything I would expect to find associated with Margate's seaside past. There were pieces of Victorian glass from bottles of local mineral water companies, pieces of china from steamer companies that even though there were no motives on the china I knew the company designs like General Steam and Navigation Company. Also I came across pieces of quality china from the Victorian restaurants and caterers from Marine Terrace.

All the finds for that search that I found are are now with the Marine Studios Albert Terrace as they now have first refusal on everything I find in the Margate area plus they now hold all my Margate recent finds. I did find two items associated with Ramsgate which I have at home to accompany my Ramsgate historical research.

Finaly, I have emailed John Williams of the Margate Historical Society on his opinion of the bomb crater which will be informative.

Friday, 3 June 2011

A fresh water spring maybe on Margate Sands ?

Following on from the previous posting about the mysterious clay hole on Margate Sands I also came across water rising up from under the sand about 100 metres east from the clay hole. The water is exceptionally cold and it is drinkable, which does lead me to think maybe it is a fresh water spring. If I am right it could be of some significance as in ancient times human habitation was never far from a source of water supply. About 19:30 hrs (03/06/11) tonight the tide will be out far enough to work on the site, if you are interested I will see you down there.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Mysterious hole on Margate sands

This picture I am sure is for the Archaeologists amongst us, it is a perfectly round hole in a bed of clay that has uncovered on Margate main sands . The last time I saw something like this was when there was erosion at St Mildred's Bay, Westgate in 1988, at the time a middle bronze age hoard was found.

Standing in the hole is solid sand which is a indictor that the actualy dug depth of the hole in the clay could be deeper.