Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bonkers Builders

We had to do Chelsea vs Manchester United this afternoon. A message from Jose Mourinho, "Goodbye and thanks for all the fish", might have been more appropriate in the circumstances but he didn't ask.

Come tomorrow, it's the Labour Conference and I can certainly think of a more striking message than one asking the Prime Minister to support small business. "Vote Tony - Get Gordon" springs to mind!

Mind you, Monday's weather lookds decidedly "iffy" anyway, for both Bournemouth and a birthday message, in part Arabic, over Southend pier.

Did anyone see the BBC politics programme today? It's on the web at the BBC website but the housing Minister, described as "Bonkers", Kent's house building policy, unhappy that not enough houses are being built.

KCC leader, Paul Carter was on the programme and pointed-out that Kent had "over-performed" and that to build houses before the infrastructure was in place would not be sensible. However, the government wants its new houses and particularly social housing, yesterday, 11,000 in Thanet alone and isn't happy with feeble excuses involving roads, environment and more.

Hands up anyone who wants to see 11,000 new houses built in Thanet as quickly as government would like and without taking careful account of our own traffic and infrastructure problems?

I don't see that many.

Photo by Sue


Jeremy Jacobs said...

and where would the inhabitants of the 11000 new homes actually work?

Let me guess, either

The Hoverport at Ramsgate. No that went years ago.

How about all those successful retail shops in Northdown Road, or how about

the new jobs being created in the new regenerated central Margate?

Michael Child said...

Build to kill in thanet.

My research into the safety of the Pleasurama building which has become an ongoing interest has produced some interesting information that may have some useful applications for other projects including the Sandwich costal defence project.

The historical data used to produce the tidal surge related figures for this area come from the old Margate tide gauge the 200 year predicted was calculated for Margate and the Margate figure is used for this whole area.

The problem being here that Margate is in the North Sea but Broadstairs Ramsgate Pegwell bay and Sandwich are in the English Channel and situated at the point where both tidal systems meet.

The current tide gauges in use each side of Ramsgate are at Harwich and Dover, obviously the relationship between the Harwich and Dover tide measurements would be useful when compared to the Ramsgate and Margate tide gauge measurements for 1953 unfortunately the Harwich records were destroyed in the 1953 surge and the Dover records appear to be missing although I haven’t managed to find out why.

I haven’t managed to find anything out about the Margate records the British Oceanographic Data Centre that supply the Environment Agency with the data to predict tidal surges didn’t use the Ramsgate tide gauge measurements as it was an admiralty gauge and they either didn’t know about it or didn’t have access to it.

The environment agency are very unhappy that the acceptable level for commercial buildings above sea level wasn’t raised like the residential level to reflect global warming.

To further complicate matters the environment agency current predicted 1 in 200 year level for Ramsgate is 4.93m ODN. I have warned them that this appears wrong as I believe the pavilion which is about 6 ODN has flooded on numerous occasions.

Chart datum/ordnance datum (Newlyn) for tide levels differential at Ramsgate is 2.58m i.e. chart datum is 2.58 meters above ordnance datum (Newlyn) or ODN.

I asked the environment agency about 2 months ago to check that the ODN levels on the site survey were accurate they haven’t come back to me on it so I don’t know if they have done it


What has changed most significantly since 1953 is the amount of beach, then the whole area in front of the pavilion and where the proposed new building goes had an extensive beach above the high tide mark that had built up on the barbed wire war defences, just below the level of the promenade, this was unfortunately removed for the infill used to build Port Ramsgate.

The best I can work out from studying pictures about 100 yards above 5 ODN between the pavilion and the sea in 1953.

Most of the people I have consulted concur that it was this that stopped the pavilion from being demolished in 1953.

The sand wasn’t there in 1897 so all the buildings where the pavilion now stands were demolished, it wasn’t there in the 1978 storm fortunately this wasn’t combined with a tidal surge so only the harbour wall was demolished.

The existing buildings under the arches below the east cliff are all protected by sandbags during the winter and the people inside would be able to shelter upstairs in their arch in the event of storm and surge.

The rest of the low buildings along the seafront are protected by the harbour.

Thanet Advertiser and Echo 3rd Feb 1953

Hundreds of tons of sand, flints and chalk boulders were washed up on to the Colonnade and the Royal Victoria Pavilion looked as if it was actually on the beach.
Further along the Marina, public seats were smashed and summer kiosks damaged. A twelve-ton crane which was being used for the removal of flints was carried along the promenade and swung into the roadway by the force of the seas.
At the eastern end of the seafront, a door was torn off the public toilet accommodation and a large stone slab lifted.
Ramsgate's Marina Bathing and Boating Pools were filled brimful and dressing accommodation and storerooms completely flooded. Examination of the fabric of the pool's walls showed, however, that there had been no structural damage and their opening for the 1953 season will not be retarded in any way.

This account of the great storm of 1897 from Keble's Margate and Ramsgate Gazette says.

At Ramsgate the gale was not felt with such force as at Margate and other places along the coast, and the tempest lasted, in its worst form, an hour and a half or two hours at the most; or, rather, the bulk of the damage done was confined to that period. The East Pier, which had stood the stress of many winters, was on this occasion considerably damaged. About a quarter to three, when mountainous waves had broken against it for some time, a serious breach was made-about 100ft. in length of the stonework being washed out of position. Huge blocks of granite, weighing several tons, were hurled with extraordinary violence into the harbour; others fell into the water and buried themselves in the sands. The extreme force of the waves can be easily imagined when it is stated that three courses of stonework, the parapet, the base stone, and the half-round moulding succumbed almost simultaneously to the fury of the gale. Several of the large stones forming the paving of the pier were wrenched out of place. Between the inner and outer walls, the material not having the solidity of the remaining portions, as each successive wave swiftly and noisily broke over it, tons of stone and other material were hurled to and fro. But the greatest attention was directed to the colonnade, over which enormous waves broke with tremendous force, reducing almost the entire structure to the ground level. The colonnade was erected some twenty-four years ago. The small shops at each end were totally destroyed, and a great proportion of the wooden material was forced through the rear of the colonnade into the stoneyard. Of the colonnade, all that remained was a few posts and some portions of the iron roofing.
The Esplanade practically escaped scot free, but about 70ft. or 80ft. of the red brick wall at the east end, belonging to the L.C. & D. Railway Co., was demolished together with a portion of the wood fencing separating the railway sidling from the Marina-road. Great falls or the cliff took place between Ramsgate and Dumpton Gap and beneath East Cliff Lodge heavy landslips occurred.


A tidal surge occurs at night time, unpredicted as was the hurricane, the wave action causes the cars to be washed about in the car park under the building damaging the supporting pillars so the building starts to collapse.

One would expect there to be about 1500 people asleep in the building, with the cliff behind them preventing escape and no escapes onto the cliff top they would not be able to get out.

The emergency services would all be busy on the North Kent coast where the greatest loss of life occurred in the 1953 storm.

There is also the danger that one of the several thousand ton coasters which when unladen only draw about a meter could be swept into the building, this could be seen as a good case for an adequate concrete sea defence wall in front of the building.

Nethercourt said...

I can remember standing with my Father in front of the Pavilion during the opening phases of the 53 storm. People on the pier were amusing themselves by putting their hands int the 'green water' which was passing toward the beach.
Dad got the 'wind-up' and we legged it a bit sharpish. Still, he did get work on the sea wall breach at Herne Bay afterwards, even if he did have to cycle out there to fill sandbags every day!!

Michael Child said...

How kind of you to reply. So few people do although this is probably the biggest development ever to be built in Thanet. What I would like is for someone to tell me that I’m completely wrong and everything’s fine.
People come to Thanet and buy an house or an apartment and are quickly absorbed into our community. After a relatively short time they have become Thanetonians. On the morning after the tidal surge when everyone previously knew better, we find the biggest development has turned into the biggest human disaster in Thanet in the past, possibly ever. To these new Thanetonians, the possibility of their children’s corpses on our calm sands in the morning afterwards is the most horrible thing that I can ever think of.

Anonymous said...

Michael - you are completely wrong and everything is fine.
Also - there was never a Holocaust - there is no such thing as global warming and Margate FC are going to win the World Cup next year.


Do you feel better now?

Anonymous said...

I suggest we build these new homes on that attractive beach resorts just off Ramsagte called the Goodwin Sands. We can offer good wages to the persistant prison offenders who could dig the footings and build the units and offer them at low rental to those people who want to settle in the UK from other EU countries, who do not want to work. Beachcombers can search the shore line for lost treasure and Mr Brown can also build his other home there, for which we will give him additional allowance, but no insurance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6am - you forgot to mention that Kent Police are an effective police force and make us all feel safe in our homes and on the street - and that TDC are a competent and caring council with dedicated hard working council officers and one of the best in the country.
I bet we all feel better now.

Mr Friday said...

I would recommend that all Thanet residents dispose of their window-boxes just in case the Government suggest some more people could be housed there.

Anonymous said...

I too remember the 1953 storm and the damage done but at Margate.
What makes me angry is that no one will recognise history. It is just dismissed as 'one offs' when according to the experts about global warming we can expect more storms not less or none.

Michael Child said...

I have to admit to making a stupid mistake, which the admiralty’s deputy head of tides pointed out to me “Regarding your statement about the connection between Chart Datum and Ordnance Datum (Newlyn), the connection is actually the other way around, i.e. Chart Datum is 2.58m below Ordnance Datum (Newlyn).” Not a man to suffer fools lightly.

Still unfortunately what happened to Ramsgate’s tidal records remains a mystery.

I have also had no luck finding pictures of Ramsgate storm damage apart from those at and would appreciate anything.

Anonymous said...

Michael, for somebody so knowledgable your punctuation is atrocious.

Michael Child said...

My apologies anonymous I hardly went to primary school due to illness, as an engineer it didn’t matter and as an antiquary I can call spelling and grammar a modern fad.

It has occurred to me that this could be the reason why none of the people supporting this development has refuted my assertion that they are building a Titanic without lifeboats.

There is however some progress council and developers have now admitted that the building will be liable to occasional flooding during tidal surges, see the account of the ERA meeting at as tidal surges are accompanied by storms it would seem that the next step is to get the council and developers to admit that the sea has waves.