I remember my first walk on the West Cliff of Ramsgate, gazing across Pegwell and, shock, horror, seeing three ugly cooling towers looming like squat ogres in the distance. But, it wasn’t long before I came to regard them with great affection. True, they won’t win any beauty contests – they are what they are – 1960s industrial architecture. Nevertheless, there is a pleasing symmetry to them. They have grown into their surroundings and give scale to an otherwise flat and featureless landscape. I love to watch the play of light as the sky changes above them or see them gently enshrouded in early morning mist. They are affectionately known in our family as The Three Fat Sisters (the chimney is the anorexic!). When returning from our travels somewhere, there is a contest to see who can spot the towers first, and a sigh of contentment goes up that we are almost home.
Now, of course, this is all sentiment and progress isn’t built on sentiment. If, as has been suggested the towers are unsafe then, of course, there is an argument for tearing them down. If they can be replaced by an industry that will bring employment into the area, then I can see the logic in that too. However, I wonder if the full potential of the towers has been explored, if, for example they could be turned into a museum, art gallery or restaurant, the land roundabout landscaped into a pleasant park or designated an official nature reserve. There are, I believe, some plans to build a recycling plant, including an incinerator which, presumably, will require chimneys with ensuing blasts of pollution. Is this likely to be any less a blot on the landscape than the towers? Surely not.
My position is plain. I like them and, ideally, I’d like them to be given a new lease of life, long to reign over us. On the other hand, the devil on my shoulder tells me that I am not an engineer, I have no knowledge of what is entailed in such a venture, the feasibility or the expense. I just hope that whatever decision is made, it will be the right one for the area and that we will all be happy. But, what are the chances of that?
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PS. A page on Facebook has been also been set up, Save the Richborough Towers,