Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Friday, 30 May 2008

Margate Harbour postcard 1913

Another colourful postcard postmarked September 8th 1913 sent to a Miss Saunders, 13 Wellington Street,Gravesend and this one is " Dear Philly".

The person who touched in the colour certainly made this postcard attractive.

Margate Harbour Photos 1982

Three photographs of Margate Harbour life 1982 before the whole thing imploded in the early nineties . On the slipway is the Pirates Joy fishing boat and in the back ground Manning's wooden whelk stall. The view over looking the harbour is of some of the 10 fishing boats that worked the Harbour at the time. It interesting to note how busy the Harbour wall is at the time when John Hawkins marine, George Hatcher boat builder and Nobby Clark marine engineer were in business, people would enjoy walking up and down the harbour just for the view and watching the activity .
The fisherman with the donkey jacket, waders and bass is Barry Parker and I could write a book about that bloke.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Margate Harbour finds.

When it comes to finding things in Margate Harbour I can put my hand on my heart and with all sincerity and say been it, dug it and found it. Since I was a small boy I have aways kept a watchful eye over the Harbour looking for anything historical I can find.
The arm of the Harbour has shielded layers of history in the silt from the ravages of the sea for centuries, the only problem is the constantly silting harbour is keeping it buried.
Personally I believe some parts of the Harbour if accessible are on par with the Thames embankment and like the Thames mudlarks I know where to go looking. It is hard work and I have built up a collection over the years and some of my finds are on display in the Margate Museum and a small amount like Amber and weird things in the Grotto.
Pictured in the palm of my hand is perhaps one of the most common finds to be found in any old working harbour, broken clay pipe bowls.

Margate Harbour 1951

This black and white picture was taken in 1951 of the coal boats being unloaded at the Harbour. At the time the square head was constantly dredged and a channel was kept open for the coal boats to enter the Harbour.
Today worn smooth pieces of coal originating from the unloading can be found in the Harbour of diffent varieties. One such type is one of the varieties that is used for gas production, it is harder than normal coal and can be crafted. In fact it has been known to be polished and passed off as fake whitby jet.

Finding Amber in the Margate Harbour

This piece of Baltic Amber was found in Margate Harbour many years ago along with many other pieces which I have given to Sarah at the Grotto for display. On certain winds and tidal conditions the arm of the Harbour acts as a natural trap for amber of the Baltic colours.The formula is easy, the wind needs to be blowing a strong north westerly for at least 24 hours then fines away to the west then a south wester.
At the Harbour just follow the strand line of the small pieces of weed and sea coal from Mannings cockle stall to the tunnel. It is not easy to find but does turn up as my collection at the Grotto prooves. The piece in the palm of my hand weighs 24 grammes and it about the size of a golf ball.

Margate Harbour Arm

It was so refreshing walking along Margate Harbour and seeing the changes taking place. After years of restricted access and nothing going on , I was just pleased to see something happening.
The harbour is still a little rough around the edges but that is the way things are when something is constructed to work against the elements. Personally I think the whole concept has every chance of success, and can even more successful if it can recapture the maritime charm the harbour once had.
This postcard dated May 1907 is very much a artistic view of Margate Harbour as a working harbour, one of many in my collection.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Museum accounts

11th January this year the Gazette published an article about the TDC grant funded East Kent Maritime Trust's failure to produce accounts on time to the Charity commission. Out of interest I looked on the Charity Commission website tapping in the EKMT charity number 288702. It appears after four months since the article appeared no accounts of the public money spent have been published only the word "estimated ". So what on earth is going on, being a critic of the EKMT and TDC at the time I found myself no longer welcome at the Margate Museum along with a few others because we dared to have a point of view. So it is hardly suprising that people haven't rallied around the Margate Museum, unlike Ramsgate where the support for museum facilities is strong. Unfortunately, this is not helping heritage in Margate one bit. The museum service is on its knees regrding finance as I am led to believe, the Tudor House has had shoddy repairs done on it and very little in the way of maintenance. But TDC did remove the tree that would have cause serious problems to the building. The so called summer season is begining and to be honest what has TDC done for culture and the whole thing is a mess. Where is the leadership, after all TDC does have cabinet member for culture.

Under the old oak tree.

On the corner of Charlotte Place, Margate, in the grounds of George Warren Court, there is a large Oak Tree. For years this Oak Tree remained in the corner of the car park which was soon to be developed in the mid 1980's to become George Warren Court. When the building work commenced excavation unearthed all the cellars of the previous dwellings that were demolished in the so called 1930's "slum clearance". Around the Oak Tree a trench was dug for a pathway.
Living close by at the time I was able to get on the site in the evening with a metal detector and dig around the Oak Tree and in the freshly dug trench. I had many strong signals around the roots which turned out to be very small horse shoes and a few coins from the 1920's. The trench however was more interesting. Running the metal detector along the side of the wall I found two coins one was a George II halfpenny 1729 and the other was a George 111 halfpenny dated 1775, both are pictured. The ground was also made up of shards of pottery and other debris of a pre Victorian nature. Finds like this are not uncommon and with so much development in Margate from the early to mid twentieth century it does make me wonder what happened to Georgian Margate. Fortunately the Theatre Royal and surrounding buildings are a reminder, especially Union Crescent but there does seem to be very little local artefacts from the period.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

The Victorian Chemist Shop

This photograph was taken in the late 1890's of the Chemist shop belonging to Wotton & Son, 76 High Street , Margate. A fine example of the Victorian chemist shop in its full glory with a multitude of coloured and oddly shaped bottles displayed in a shop front made up of small pains of glass. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the small chemist shop became the main suppliers of medicines to the nation. With the growth of Margate as a health resort the need for medicines and other associated articles became a lucrative business. To capitalise local chemists produced their own perfumes, toiletries, remedies and even mineral waters for the visitors to the town. The bottles used were often embossed, coloured and decorative. Poison bottles were designed along the theme of the Victorians fascination with death, they could be coffin shaped or even carry a skull and cross bones, but in general poison bottle were often coloured , fluted and sinister.
Whenever a local bottle dump is found chemist bottles always make up a large proportion of the find. They also make up the most value, especially if they are locally embossed or even carry extravagant cures.
The recent bottle "find" I had the pleasure of interpretting had many chemist bottles, some local but most were national brands. Part of the collection was sold off on behalf of the owner and the remainder are now on the shelves at Westbrook Antiques Canterbury Road Westbrook.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Land Raising and old bottles

Recently I have been looking at the areas of Margate that have been land raised using Victorian waste with the intention of finding Victorian Bottles. One such site that has caught my attention is Park Road linking Dane Road to Park Crescent. Park Road was constructed prior to the opening of Dane Park in 1898. It is highly unlikely chalk was used as infill, as chalk infill was generally used in promenade construction like the Westbrook promenade construction completed in 1901. A photograph of the Westbrook promenade construction actually prooves this.
Park Road is definately land raised as the picture in the Mayor of Margate parlor "Margate from the Dane" shows clearly before Park Road existed. Today from Park Road you are actually looking down into Dane Park and Dane Park Road and on one side there is a small strip of wooded land banked up. The small strip of overgrown land gives the best clue that it is a Victorian waste site because when Seaboard carried out electrical work there , the guys who had to do the digging unearthed many bottles which were predominately earthenware ginger beer bottles. It is interesting to note that close by is Addiscombe Road which was known as Chaucer Road at the time and that was the manufacturing factory for Michael James Harlow mineral waters. Therefore it is possible that for a short period the Park Road infill may have been a dump site for MJ Harlow.
On another point MJ Harlow was bought out by Barretts in 1924 enabling Barretts and rivals Reeve & Co to dominate Margate mineral water trade.

Talking Bottles

The Dreamland site is on the site of the old tivoli brooks to the back of the Dreamland site is the old Barretts factory in Eaton Road. Across the back of the old Barretts factory site is the railway line which is raised land (1845). The Barretts mineral water factory was built on raised land beside the railway at Eaton Road and this raised land was extended seaward filling into the Brooks. If you look at the Dreamland site the land raising is evident and infill was definately used. When the Barretts site was demolished in the 60's it became a garage,then a few years back the garage was demolished the whole area of the site was properly excavated to make way for flats. The area on the boundry of the Barretts factory was also dug up and some Hamiltons were found. I suspect the hamiltons were dumped when they were outdated. It is interesting to note that M.J.Harlow mineral water manufacturer ceased trading in 1924 when Barretts took over the business in Addiscombe Road. Would Barretts have continued using MJ Harlow bottles for MJ Harlow contracts or were they dumped ? If they were dumped I couldn't think of a better place.