Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Private Haffenden

Most of my life I have been interested in the Thanet coastline being involved in activities like treasure hunting, beachcombing or just investigating the history. Through out the years I must have found many coins and tokens, something in the region of about 10,000 over a thirty year period. Many of the coins I found lost as loose change dating back to the George III period and I know all the hot spots on the North Thanet coastline where to find them, natural conditions taken into consideration of course .

Interesting as they may be they do not tell a story, other than the fact that they were lost in a certain period of history and the last person to hold the coin before I found it was the person who lost the coin. Some coins do have a interesting feature which has nothing to do with rarity of value, it is the way they have been personalized. This could be done in many ways such as a keepsake, for good luck, for practical use or just a memento or a love token. In most cases this was done by people who lived in a time when people didn't own much and the only lasting object available was a coin.

These personalized coins can be found almost anywhere like nailed to a beam in a old house, behind a mast in a wooden built boat, amongst peronal possessions or even just lost.
Above is what is known as a "French penny" dated 1856, a 10 centime of the Napolean III period which was the same size a pre decimal british penny, therefore earning the name. It has been worn smooth on one side and personalized and hand engraved PTE A E HAFFENDEN 405323. A surname familiar to this part of East Kent and obviously a serving soldier. This shouldn't be to hard to trace with name rank and number and I bet there is history behind it.

Below is a George III Cartwheel 1797 2 pence, it has been holed with initials either side, this coin has probably been nailed into a beam of a house or keel of a wooden boat. Mick Twyman once found a third of a guinea nailed into a beam of a house in Lombard Street in Margate. So this is something to look for in a old house.
Coins were often love tokens holed by soldiers and seamen for girlfriends and wives to wear like this George III "kings shilling"dated 1787.
The most popular coin of all for presonalizing has to be the silver threepence, it can be found on bracelets etc, I have found some with the names "polly" and "ethel" which were very popular Edwardian names. I often wonder how many silver three pences are family heirlooms tucked away in jewellry boxes.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Turner Site - The Metropole and Marine Palace

On the Turner site there used to be two oustanding buildings no longer with us, the Metropole Hotel and the Marine Palace. Referring to the 1897 map I published earlier both buildings can be clearly seen on the map.

The Metropole Hotel suffered as a result of the 1930's slump when visitor numbers fell. The Marine Palace however, went out in spectacular style being toataly destroyed in the great storm of 29th November 1897 when the sea defences were breached. Above is the brief factsheet on the Marine Palace and below details of the Metropole Hotel.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Old Margate 1879 and the present day Turner site

This map of Margate is dated 1879 of where the new Turner Center is to built and like the map I published yesterday should give some indication what will lie under the Turner Center when the foundations are dug. The chances of anything archaeological are probably remote because the ground has been made up with hardcore from the previous buildings of the past three hundred years of habitation.
My area of interest for over twenty years is the area known as Great Beach and Fort Point and the the seaward side of the Rendevous car park promenade. Comparing this map with yesterdays map it is noticeable that the original Fort Point was removed during the construction of the Marine Palace and the next point eastwards was renamed Fort Point. To many this fact means absolutely nothing but anyone dating artwork and identifying the area this is something to be taken into consideration. I have seen a few prints of the old Fort Point where people have been unable to identify the location even though the print was clearly Margate, there are views taken from the old Fort Point which are equally baffling to some. Even old pictures of Turners lodgings on the bank side are hard to place.Then there is the Webb painting ( the one that used to hang in the library entrance) of the foreshore of this area looking from the Jetty. All showing features that have long since gone.
These records have proved valuable as reference when digging around the area and over the past 24 years I have dug up many items relating from the George III period , the Marine Palace disaster and the Dunkirk Evacuation. Over a period of time I will feature some of these items.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Fort Point Margate 1897

Following on from yesterday I have attached a map of Fort Point. The map is dated 1897 after the tunnel had been closed and the steps at Fort Point became a seafront feature. On the map to the left of Fort Point is the Marine Palace destroyed during the storm of 29th November 1897.
The black and white postcard is a Victorian view of Fort Point and the steps leading to the shore from the Fort Tunnel are still visable. The coloured postcard postmarked 1911 is a pre Winter Gardens construction view of Fort Point and notice how the Fort bandstand on Fort green has changed. It is interesting that part of the construction of the Fort Point steps were worked into the new promenade when the Winter Gardens were built in 1911 and are still visable today.
On another point, the map shows the developments that were demolished to make way for the dual carriage at Fort Hill. Which is now being removed to make way for Turner Center.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

1860 Fort Tunnel - Winter Gardens Slope

Anyone walking down the Margate Winter Gardens slope opposite the Britannia Pub might well have noticed a set of timber doors on the right. These doors close the opening to the 1860 Fort Tunnel which was the entrance to the beach before the Winter Gardens and the lower promenade was constructed in 1911. This article is by Mick Twyman volume 10 number 5 Margate Historical Society "Bygonne Margate" details the history of the tunnel .
This article is a follow on to the Sebastopol article previously featured.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Storms and Margate Harbour

At this moment in time the Margate Harbour Wall is taking everthing the elements can throw at it. The current construction started in 1810 and there is a long history behind the construction and the storms it had to face. This article is written by Historians for Historians and is very detailed covering the construction up until the ill fated Turner Center proposals. It has been throughly researched and is for downloading.

"Last Orders" at Margate 1783

In 2001 the feature film "Last Orders" was partly shot in Margate about a group of London drinking pals honouring the dying wish of a pal. In July 1783, a group of drinking pals arrived in Margate with a huge coffin also to honour a dying wish of a pal.
The famous Scottish Surgeon John Hunter a collector of human exhibits had other ideas and this article by the Margate Historical Society Vol 8 No2 makes excellent reading. Written and research by Mick Twyman it is for downloading.

Friday, 21 November 2008

The Sebastopol Gun at Fort Hill

A article for those out walking in the Fort Hill area of Margate this week end admiring Tracey Emin's cave. It is an article about the Sebastapool cannon that once stood on the plinth opposite the Fort Green besides the Winter Gardens. This article is from the Margate Historical Society archives and is for downloading. Enjoy

Monday, 17 November 2008

Westminster and Claudine ashore at Margate

One item of interest that appears on ebay at regular intervals under Margate, are prints and postcards of the Westminster and Claudine ashore at Margate. Many are reproductions that were printed by Kent County Council for sale in the Margate Library during the 1980's.

The Westminster and Claudine were ships belonging to the East India Company and they were not shipwrecks, they were run aground in Palm Bay during a storm to prevent them from sinking , the cargoes were unloaded ashore and the damage to the ships repaired on the shoreline. Their are few accounts of the event, leading to the prints being wrongly described when sold on the internet. Above I have attached an account of the event researched by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching of the Margate Historical Society for downloading just to put the record straight.

Below is a cover of a greetings card I bought at the Margate Library in the late 1980's featuring the Westminster and Claudine.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Angela Cobb collection at the Margate Museum

Under the EKMT management of the Margate Museum there were many donations made to the collection. The most valuable in monetary value and provenance were the items donated by the late Angela Cobb. The Cobb family, as most local people will know, was for about two hundred years a powerful local business family that had interests in shipping and commerce, owned a Brewery and their own Bank. There is a large archive in the Margate Museum on the Cobb family available for research.
Amongst the donations from Angela Cobb were banknotes from the Margate Bank of which the Cobb family owned and were passed through the family. The notes were documented in line with Museum practice and placed in secure storage with other items of high value in the Museum collection. One note of special interest was a Bank of Tasmania banknote with a letter attached to it by a brass like rivet. The attached letter was from the printers of the Tasmanian Banknote and was an example for a design change to the Margate banknotes for the Cobb’s to consider. Colin Narbeth a highly respected banknote authority was consulted on the value of the banknotes, and he informed the Museum at the time that at an auction even with the rivet in it, the Tasmanian banknote could fetch something in the region of £5,000. As for the other banknotes I do not know the valuations.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Newgate Gap pumping station

This article is for downloading and is for anyone out walking in the Newgate Gap , Margate area of Cliftonville this weekend. It is an article by Mick Twyman of the Margate Historical Society and it is about the salt water scheme at the Newgate Gap pumping station. The purpose of the project was to combat the the problems of over extraction from the Aquifer and substitute sea water for non domestic purposes.
Today as in the article the site is all bricked up. However, when the tide is out the trench for the pipe work can still be seen. Also there is a visable area of flat chalk, this was man made to allow Pettmans bathing machines to manourve to the waters edge across the chalk .

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Sunbeam Photographs

In the mid 1970's I worked for a company called Dane Park packaging in Rosedale Road, Margate. The premises once used by Sunbeam Photographs and in one part of the building was all the old redundant developing equipment. In another part of the building there were boxes of old postcards in the original bundles and boxes. They were all of the sepia variety and were all pre 1953, the majority had deterioted through dampness and I was instructed to burn them. As I was throwing them on the bonfire I put all the decent ones to one side. Eventually I had about 1500 postcards and the foreman at the time let me have them. Over a period of time I made them up into sets and gave them away to anyone who had a interest in them.

Above is one of the postcards of Palm Bay in its post war glory. In the bottom right hand corner is the Sunbeam shop for Palm Bay situated on the slipway. The shop was cut into the chalk and people could collect their photographs from there. A Sunbeam photoghrapher would always ensure that if he took a photograph and a Sunbeam shop was nearby, it always appeared somehwere in the picture as in this postcard.

On the subject of Sunbeam photographs, I have been featuring on my blog Sunbeam photographs from the Margate Museum collection and expressed concerns about the future of the Sunbeam collection once the Museum is closed . When I looked at the Margate Museum website yesterday, I see that TDC have now appointed a caretaker and the public can still have access to the Sunbeam collection by appointment but the museum is still closed.

It did make me smile when I read that.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The "Tartar" Botany Bay wreck- the sequel

This faded newspaper cutting is of the section of the "Tartar" in the council yard at Hartsdown. Once exposed to the elements the wreck deteriorated rapidly, some pieces could have been conserved, but as in most cases with conserving anything remotely historically it is a matter of working against time. So I was only able to save a few pieces.

In my left hand is a dead eye from the rigging of a old sailing ship I found in Palm Bay at the time, in my right hand is a 9 pound cannon ball found a Foreness point.The dead eye was in the Margate museum maritime cabinet for many years and has recently been returned to me.

In the foreground of the picture is a ships plank which is about 20 feet long, it is very distinctive by the holes to fasten it to the timber frame. These holes are perhaps the only identification when finding timber on the beach that identify the timber to a shipwreck. Many lengths about 20 feet long were washed up at the time, some had recently been badly damaged and I have reason to believe this was caused by the ship "Argus" running aground near the Lido and running through the wreck in shallow water.

All the long lengths were heavily iron stained and I believe the cargo may have been iron. At the same time as the "Tartar" going down another vessel called the "Faithlie" was lost and the cargo was scrap iron. During the summer of 1996 many planks in this condition came ashore at Cliftonville, but any links to the "Faithlie" wreck are hard to prove.

Friday, 7 November 2008

The wreck of the "Tartar" at Botany Bay

During February 1996 Thanet was hit by a series of Northerly storms leaving a flotsam trail all around the coastline. Most of the wood coming from the remains of the Jetty and from a shipwreck dislodged by the grounding of the ship “Argus” off the Lido, Margate.
One interesting find was a section of a wooden vessel found uncovered in the sand at Botany Bay near the Foreness Point pumping station by Harry Field an ex Royal Navy man. Harry instantly identified the wreckage as unusual by the wooden pegged construction of the planks to the timber frame. The story appeared in the Gazette on 1st March 1996 and a photograph AT385/26.
As soon as the news was out of the discovery, John Williams the curator of the Margate Museum and I examined the wreckage. We took photographs and measured the dimension and recorded the details. The construction was pegged to a timber frame (carvel built) with three layers of oak planks and the dimension was approxiamately 19 foot long with an average width of 5 foot, the edges in some places showed evidence of burning.
I decided to research further and took a few planks and some of the wooden pegs (trenails) home to conserve. Later that day I returned with my metal detector and around the wreckage, I found a brass handle from a ships lantern. For days I monitored the coastline for wreckage from Westbrook to Joss Bay and found lengths of iron stained damaged ships planks at least 20 foot long on the strandline which I believe came from the wreck the “Argus” cut through. Using all the resources at my disposal I set out to research the wreckage at Botany Bay. In the meanwhile the section of wreck was reburied at Botany Bay by the elements.
Using Richard Larne’s shipwreck index of the UK and Margate Museum archive, I found information on 12 recorded wooden wrecks in the area and began researching. Then in April I was notified that the Council as part of their pre Easter clearance of the Coastline was going to locate the wreckage at Botany Bay and remove it. With a handful of volunteers (incluiding two councillors), council workers removed the wreckage and transported it to the TDC yard at Hartsdown Road, Margate. The Isle of Thanet Gazette covered the story in the 18th April 1996 edition.
Within days I received telephone calls from two men in their late eighties, who both remembered as small boys playing on the “barge” wrecks during the First World War at Botany Bay in the exact location the section of wreckage was found . One recalled the telling off from his mother for getting smothered in clay which was the cargo of one of the wrecks. From that information I was able to pin point the wreckage as being from the “Tartar” which ran aground in a storm along with another barge “Faithlie” in Palm Bay on 28th March 1916.
I referred to Richard Larne’s shipwreck index of the UK and found that a London registered ketch built by Hunt & Fowler, Hull 1883 called the “Tartar” was on a voyage from Teignmouth to London with a cargo of pipe clay and was wrecked in Palm Bay on 28th March 1916. Further examination of the wreckage in the Council yard I found clay in between the planking and ribs.
From further research in Tony Walter’s book “The Margate R.N.L.I Station “ I found out on page 198 that the Margate Lifeboat saved the lives of three men from the rigging of the “Tartar “that was aground in Palm Bay. There was a further report in his book that the wreckage of the “Tartar” was eventually destroyed by fire on the foreshore which explained the burnt edges of the section found at Botany Bay. Based on this evidence the section of wreckage was definitely that of the “Tartar”.
Sadly the wreckage in the Council yard was already in a bad state of decay and was eventually finished off by sudden exposure to the air borne elements; I did manage to conserve some planks and wooden pegs which were until recently on display in the Margate Museum.

Pictured above is the wreckage as seen from the Clifftop and a closer view.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Dane Park , Margate early 1900's

Two photographic views of Dane Park , Margate. The fountain postcard is post marked 1910 and the view of the pond is dated 1908. On the sky line above the pond is the Royal School for the Deaf and the famous spire. The Pond postcard was sent to someone whose address was Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, London and I doubt we have visitors from that address visiting Dane Park today judging by the state of it.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fawlty Towers- Major Gowan born in Margate

Another one for the Margate scrapbook, Ballard Berkeley who played Major Gowan in Fawlty Towers was born in Margate. This article from the Margate Historical archive was researched by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching and is for downloading. The Margate Historical Magazine on average was published on average 4 to 5 times a years with a circulation of about 200. In order that these little gems are not restricted to such a small circulation Mick Twyman has allowed me to feature his articles for all to share. Margate heritage has been dealt a savage blow with the closure of the Margate Museum. The only official heritage resource in Margate is now the local studies department at Margate library.
On my part I will try and put something on my blog everyday for those interested in the seaside Heritage of Margate and share it with the world.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Tom Campany - A Margate Hero

I am sure around the coastal strip of Thanet there have been many heroic acts by the Thanet seafaring community. Many acts forgotten by time or modesty, this arcticle by Mick Twyman for downloading highlights the heroism of Tom Campany saving the life of a George Abbot on the end of the Jetty in 1904. If you are a relative of George Abbot you have good reason to remember Tom Campany.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Sir William Quiller Orchardson

This article dates back to December 2005 and highlights one of the many important discoveries at Margate cemetery by the Cemetery trust volunteers over the years. It is just incredible that someone of national and international importance in the art world could remain forgotten and buried under a mass of brambles and long grass without any acknowledgement for so long.
Sir Wiliam Quiller Orchardson was a resident of Westgate for some 20 years and looking on google, it appears he had a distinguished career in the art world. This article by Mick Twyman looking into his Westgate connections is for downloading.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The Glass Train at Margate 1938

The riddle of Margate's "Glass Train" in 1938 is a fine example of quality research by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching of the Margate Historical Society. A totally unforgotten visit to Margate recorded and saved by a good piece of detective work for all to down load.

Coastguards and the Smugglers 1834

When a smuggler is caught, administering justice was no easy task in seafaring Margate in the early 19th Century. Especially when dealing with the seafaring folk of Margate who like a bred apart lived by their own code.
This researched article for downloading by Mick and Alf highlights the hostility between the authorities and the sea faring folk when a smuggler is caught.

Local fact and fiction

The autumn editorial of the Margate Historical Society magazine highlights the standard of research locally and how easy it is to get it wrong like the Thanet Times did reporting the menagerie on the Hall by the Sea site. Mistakes like this can often cause problems in the future, like the problems with have today with some local historians relying too much on information from newspaper accounts as correct without conducting proper research first.
The Margate Historical Society has published 11 volumes representing over 55 magazines with articles from regular contributors like Mick Twyman, John Williams, Alf Beeching, Chris Sandwell and others representing proper research, witness accounts and experiences. Overall these magazines are the most factual modern day publications ever published on the history of Margate as they are backed up by archive material and documents.
One glaring error that came from the Margate Museum the editor picked up on was the second world war Margate legend how Margate housewives whose husbands were away on active service would display a packet of OMO washing powder in their front room windows. Representing some sort of secret code “On Military Operations”. The editor points out that OMO came onto the market in 1954.
However, I would have thought displaying a packet of OMO in the front room window could give out the wrong message like “Old Man Out “and could cause all kinds of serious repercussions.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

The Battle of Marsh Bay continued

The final page of the Battle of Marsh Bay 1821 article.

The Battle of Marsh Bay 1821

Marsh Bay in 1821, is St Mildreds Bay, Westgate as we know it today and was the scene of a battle between Smugglers and members of the Coastal Blockade. The most interesting thing about reading the article I have attached for downloading is that I have drawn the conclusion that smuggling in Thanet was on the same scale as smuggling in Cornwall. Yet not many people know about the History and what actually went on in Thanet. Most smuggling historic accounts tend to be folklore or as in the case of the battle of Marsh Bay when things go wrong and there are records of court cases and people are executed as a result.Then there are the romantic accounts of Joss Snelling and "lucky"Dick Ovenden which do seem to have a tourist appeal.
I was always impressed by the Smugggling Museum that was once at Bleak House which was a first class tourist atraction that was run a sucessful business tied in with the Bleak House Dickens Museum receiving no grants from the local authority to survive. Perhaps one day smuggling in Thanet will be revived as a tourist attraction, who knows.