Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Pamela Brisley Wilson (nee Pamela Howie)

It has been a long while since I reproduced anything from the Margate Historical Society archive on Thanetcoastlife. However, yesterday I received news that earlier on in the year a regular contributor to the archive Pamela Brisley Wilson had died. Pamela's contributions were very detailed accounts of living in Margate in the 1930's and the account I have reproduced is from the day War broke out in 1939.
Pamela's family had a gift shop in Marine Terrace at the outbreak of the Second World War which adds a nice little touch .

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A tragic accident

The car pictured above was pictured at a Police road safety exhibition and I am sure the Police will not mind me using this picture. This is because the driver of this car was using a mobile phone when they pulled out into the path of a oncoming motorcycle. The driver, passenger and the motor cyclists were killed instantly. A picture like this can speak a thousand words.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The skies over Thanet

Hands up if you think this photograph was taken over Thanet.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Another man of the moment

On the Margate Museum website which came be found on google there is an excellent piece of research in "our regular feature" into the life of Bruce Fleet. Who ? you may ask .
Well Bruce Fleet like George Hoare and others before him gave his all for the town of Margate when it was needed most.
And like George Hoare he played a major role during the Second World when the town was faced with the Dunkirk evacuation.

I have copied part of the research by Bob Bradley and others at the museum for you to read.

"During the first part of the War, Chief Inspector Fleet was deputy
sub-controller for ARP services, taking over as sub-controller when
the Chief Constable left Margate on promotion within the Kent force.
His big test came on 27th May 1940, when he was awakened at
2.40am, at the Winter Gardens, the ARP headquarters. He was
called to a secret meeting with the Mayor and senior Police Officers,
who were told by the local Military Commander to prepare to
receive troops being evacuated from Dunkirk.
Chief Inspector Fleet took up his duties on the jetty as Liaison
Officer to the Royal Navy, which established its headquarters in the
Droit House. The next day, 482 troops were landed from two
vessels. During the next nine days, one-seventh of all
troops evacuated from Dunkirk were landed in Margate, over
46,000 men, and provisions were transhipped from Army barges
into smaller ships to be taken to Dunkirk to feed the men still there.

Several thousand stretcher cases were sent to the Winter Gardens
for attention, whilst the remainder were sent to Dreamland and
officers to Margate College. All were provided with a cup of tea,
chocolate and biscuits, and clothing where necessary. Bruce Fleet
was in charge of these activities and stayed on duty continuously
for over nine days, until 5th June."

There is more but I do not wish to spoil a good story.

People knock Margate and its people and its past, so this wet and windy weekend I suggest a good read of the Museum archive will give some sort of perspective and better understanding of our past.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A man of the moment.

Reading the Isle of Thanet Gazette report on the budget problems Thanet District Council is facing makes grim reading and my first thoughts were have things ever been this bad before. Well in fact they have.
In late May1940 Margate had its own town council, the seafront was boarded up and the hotels and guesthouses were closed. The towns economic lifeblood , tourism had been abruptly cut off. Many people had left the town as the threat of invasion became a reality and the revenues to the town council had plummeted as Margate like all coastal towns became the front line. To make matters worse troops from the Dunkirk evacuation were arriving in the town and the local town council had a very serious dilemma on its hand running local government as it faced bankruptcy.
Someone had to take responsibility and make the tough decisions. This responsibility fell on the shoulders of Cllr George Hoare a local businessman who had a photography business and ran a milk bar along the seafront. Somehow through beg, steal or borrow he managed to keep local government running during those dark days which was nothing short of a miracle. Unfortunately he died lateron during the war and was buried in Margate Cemetary.
There is a file on him in the Margate Museum and his name is on the roll of honour in the old town hall when he became Mayor. George Hoare's achievements are not widely known except in a file in the Margate Museum, but Margate really has a lot to thank him for.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Irish Hospitals Sweepstake 1948

We are always hearing about unclaimed prizes on the national lottery and unclaimed prizes on the premium bonds. Well recently I came across this Irish Hospitals sweepstake ticket for the 1948 Derby, whether it was a winner I will never know. Did Betsy win the Derby in 1948 ?
Win or lose is certainly has a lovely celtic appeal about it, almost like a work of art, something worth keeping.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

"Should the Kaiser come"

Like most people I spent today pottering about the house, my job for today was to sort through archive which I have stored in the loft to decide which can go and what will stay while occasionally reading the odd item that took my interest. One article that caught my eye was one written by local historian John Williams on the subject of the First World War titled "Should the Kaiser come". It appears from the article which is for down loading that the Borough of Margate Town Council had put in place a plan to evacuate Margate in 1915 in the event of a invasion by the Kaiser's forces, something not many people are aware of.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Moby Dick

Living on the coast all my life I done many things associated with the sea. One of my favourite memories has to be spear fishing under Margate Pier for Mullet and harpooning Rays on the offshore sandbanks during the exceptionally hot summer of 1976. This picture was taken when I was nineteen and my hair was a bit longer then ,the fish pictured is a Thornback Ray which I harpooned on the surface in the bight of the Margate Sand off Birchington.
In case anyone asks the pink thing dangling is the fishes tale.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A human tragedy

Over the course of this year I have been scouting the low water mark behind the East Pier Ramsgate to about half way along the main sands on a regular occurrence. I have found a piece of human vertebrae, a piece of a crashed spitfire and many pieces of wooden ship wrecks amongst other things. However, everything I found does have one thing in common in the fact that everything is a result of a tragedy. Although I cannot link most of the found items to any specific event in history apart from the spitfire part , research into the history of the recorded maritime losses at the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour in the days of sail is staggering. The loss of life of mariners attempting to reach the haven of the harbour in stormy weather runs into many along with their vessels.
Board of Trade returns at the time give brief reports of these tragedies which today would be headlines. One such example is the loss of the "Daring" a fishing smack lost entering the harbour 13th March 1867.

"During wind conditions E force 10 with heavy seas , was dashed against the East Pier Head, where her bowsprit was carried away and later the vessel was dashed to pieces. The steam tug"Vulcan" put out to sea to save survivors, but all five have drowned. Mr Rigden, the Whitstable diver, was employed to recover some ballast"

The loss of the "Maria Ann" 20th October 1855

" Whilst attempting to enter the Harbour in wind conditions SW force 10, was thrown against the pier head and foundered within only a few yards of the mast. A lot of other vessels were attempting to enter at the same time, the pier was full of people. One crewman managed to reach the pier via the rigging before the wreck fell over, another was drowned after being injured when the bowsprit broke.The remaining three crew members took to the rigging, but despite attempts to throw heaving lines to them from ashore , due to the force of the wind, although the distance was thirty feet, none could reach them. There only hope was the lifeboat, already engaged with the tug "Aid" in helping other vessels. The French man 0' war gun boat " St Barbe", then drove athwart of the mast of the wreck, so preventing the lifeboat getting closer, but one more crewman was able to clamber into her rigging. The lifeboat saved one other man, but the third crewman, lashed to the mast drowned,"

Another report from the 19th December 1814 is as follows "In a heavy gale three vessels, including th Dutch galliot "DRIE KEIDEN", the French brigs "ROSIE" an "AGALE" and the "ORION" missed the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour and went ashore. The "ORION" is still ashore and bilged, her cargo landed and may be at total wreck" . There is no recorded loss of life for that incident.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Loss of the "Greypoint" off Broadstairs

Every winter along our coastline there is always at one point after a storm that debris from the sea bed ends up washed ashore somewhere on the coast of Thanet. As most fishermen will confirm the sea bed offshore is littered in debris in many places and there is no shortage of History waiting to be discovered. The unfortunate thing is that it is almost impossible to identify the items and piece together the History. Thanks to the Internet it is now so much easier to research and pool information together to identify marine loses and provide factual Historical links as the previous article on the SS Montgomery proves.
Trawling through archive I often come across lesser known maritime incidents off our coast that have faded into memory and become forgotten or folklore. One such incident was the loss of the steamship "Greypoint" of Broadstairs on 18th March 1917 the position given is 50.20.20N 01.29.38E. The report is as follows.

"Whilst of anchor off anchor off Broadstairs, four German torpedo boat destroyers went past at full speed firing one or more torpedo's each at the steamship as they past, one of which struck the "Greypoint" just aft of the engine room. The enemy vessels turned and came back whilst the steamer was being abandoned, the destroyers then firing about 30 shells at the ship, the attack commenced at 00:30 am and the "Greypoint" sinking 30 minutes later. The crew were picked up by a patrol vessel, one man being slightly wounded by shell fragments"

Source : Lloyds confidential war loses 1914-1918 page 106.

As in most cases wreckage of this size would have been cleared by demolition salvage teams after the war, but not everything would have been cleared so the evidence must still be out there on the seabed. However, it does make me wonder where the torpedo's that missed ended up and where they could be.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Thanet Amber coast

Even though Thanet has no Amber deposits off shore, Amber has been found along the Thanet coastline after wintry gales for centuries. Normally found along the strandline this fossilized tree resin originates from the Baltic, as comparisons which Baltic specimens prove without doubt. There have been many written articles on Thanet Amber and there have been some amazing discoveries, so what I am writing is nothing new.
However, as we enter into winter there is now another opportunity to find some interesting specimens. That is depending on which side of the island you are when the wind blows and the amount of seaweed that comes ashore as amber is generally found amongst the seaweed with the smaller the pieces of weed the better. Places like Walpole bay Cliftonville are excellent in strong northwesterly winds especially when there are small patches of seaweed ashore between the groynes, West bay is just as good in any northerly wind in the middle of the bay, in Ramsgate you can get two bites of the cherry as north east winds (main sands) and south west winds also produce amber with the Western Undercliff being a hot spot in south westerly gales. In each case it is really down the how strong the wind is blowing in your face from off the sea and how the sea weed is deposited on the beach.
Colours of the Amber vary from a clear brown to a translucent yellow/orange; it is not unusual to find white Amber.
Pictured are four pieces from my collection, the two pound coin is included to give some idea of scale. The top left came from Margate Harbour as the Harbour Arm is a excellent trap in westerly winds, the bottom left piece was found in Kingsgate Bay(easterly winds) and being clear there is forest debris visible. The top right was found in West Bay and the bottom right came from Walpole Bay from the areas mentioned earlier.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tomson & Wotton table water

During the late Victorian period up until the early 1920's , there were 23 mineral water manufacturers recorded as operating during that period in Thanet. Many being small independant manufacturers trading for a few years. The mineral water trade in Margate was dominated by the big three Reeve, Barrett and Harlow. However in Broadstairs and Ramsgate there was no such dominance with many smaller companies supplying both visitors and locals. The Granvile Hotel even produced and bottled its own mineral water in coloured glass bottles which are highly collectable today. Other lesser known manufactures were Silas Daniel the Chemist in Harbour Street, Mrs Smith of Turner Street,George Sykes and Darling & Co both of Turner Street. There were also larger concerns like S.G Philpott of Cavendish Street and Josiah Edward Austin of Victoria Road Ramsgate. Even the brewers got in on the act like E G Wastell of Queen Street Ramsgate and Tomson & Wotton also of Queen Street.
Tomson & Wooton had been long established brewers in the town for many years with Tomson brewing since the 17th Century. In 1889 the company opened a shop in Canterbury in St Dunstans Street selling stouts , ales and table water. The table water was produced at the Queen Street brewery and was also sold in Thanet. Pictured above is a Tompson & Wotton table water bottle found on a local dig which is an early version of the crown cap flat bottom variety of the early Edwardian style.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Margate Edwardian beach scene

Two images of Edwardian Margate beach entertainment, the top postcard is dated August 23rd 1902 featuring Uncle Bones (Alfred Bourne) and his Minstrels. The other is a photograph circulating in Margate Historical circles dated 1905 and also features Uncle Bones and his Minstrels.

The postcard was actually posted to a Monsieur Paul Roden , Par de Calais as pictured below.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Victorian gaming tokens

Whenever I read or see anything referring to George IV, Hanover and young Queen Victoria the first thing that always comes to mind is Ramsgate. Therefore these gaming tokens or jetons are no exception. Perhaps they have no association with Ramsgate but when holding them in my hand I must admit my imagination does run wild thinking of the history as they are local finds and all have been used I presume on gambling tables .
Pictured above are obverse and reverse scans, the top right token is of George IV and the reverse reads born 1762 died 24th June 1830 beloved & lamented crowned July 21st 1821 .
The others are young Victoria and the reverse of two of them are taking a satirical poke at the Duke of Cumberland who even though was deeply unpopular at the time was a Hanoverian royal who contested the throne when William IV died. He believed as in Hanoverian law that only males should inherit the throne and he should be monarch instead of Victoria. However, this was not to be much to the relief of the population. The story of this token can be googled to find more information. One site I found interesting on this token was Chard Coins at which is an excellent reference of old and modern issues for collectors and investors.
The brass token on the bottom left is another gaming token which on the reverse has the coat of arms of Prince Albert .

Thursday, 3 September 2009

1930's Foreness Bay

This quality photograph is of Foreness Bay in the 1930's with some excellent detail. This photograph is perhaps one of the finest I have seen of bathing tents at Cliftonville. In 1920's & 1930's Cliftonville it was not the done thing to walk to and from the hotel to the beach in ones swimwear. People were expected to change on the beach after all we are British, so in order to do so, beach tents and huts to allow people to change in were hired from the Pay Office on the promenade. Like many social changes after the second world war bathing tents disappeared.
On another point I am doing a interview with radio kent on West Bay on beachcombing at 11:30 should be fun.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Doing the decent thing.

Following on from a previous posting regarding M. J. Harlow Mineral Water Manufacturers Margate. I have received a number of emails from Joyce Greaves who happens to be a direct descendant to M J Harlow . Joyce has sent me some facts and images that will be of great interest to local historians and mineral water bottle collectors alike. However, I have suggested to Joyce that she writes up a story and send it to a local paper. On my part I given her one of the bottles in the picture compliments of the Margate Historical Society.
If anyone has any snippets, ads etc., regarding M J Harlow just send them to me and I will forward them to Joyce.

Monday, 31 August 2009

A dedicated follower of fashion

I have posted this postcard backed photograph before, so it really is for the benefit of newer visitors to Thanetcoastlife. Taken on the lower promenade at Westbrook , Margate. It doesn't take a lot of explaining as the photograph tells the story , dad holding the bucket , mum holding the spade and the little girl doesn't want to get her dress wet. Please feel free to download.
For the history detectives the photograph was taken by A.H.Remington, Portrait & Commercial Photographs, Westonville, Margate. The date is unkown any suggestions ?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A collection of Local Chemist bottles and pots

As mentioned previously over a thirty year period I must have acquired well over 1000 pharmaceutical bottles and pots, all coming from within the area of Thanet. A large percentage found by myself of which now the collection is down to a mere 20 items. Many of which were donated to local museums and local collections, plus some being casualties as a result of a divorce and ended up at the local bottle bank.
Pictured above is a ceramic pot found on Margate main sands after a storm, it is produced by Holloways of Oxford Street London and is a ointment to cure gout and rheumatism and as in the picture there are other extravagant claims as being an ointment for ulcers, sore breasts, sore heads and bad legs. Obviously discarded by a Victorian visitor who at the time was seeking the benefits of our seaside climate. I found a similar pot in the cave at Kingsgate, for readers unfamiliar with this cave, it is the second one on the left as you go down the wooden steps. It suffered two collapses one in 1977 and the other in 1998, each resulting in large quantities of Victorian items being found in the subsoil that fell through the cave when it collapsed. The pot I found was similar to the one pictured and was produced by Bead & Bendicott making extravagant claims like the pot above. I donated this pot to the Dickens House Museum many years ago. Out of this collapse I found many other chemist bottles which ended up in the Margate Museum. One bottle I did find that was of interest but I am not sure if I found it there or not, was a Victorian mineral water bearing the name "Edwin Bing Chemist" . Bing is a very well known mineral water company from Canterbury which closed in 1970, it actually started in 1878 after Edwin Bing successfully sold his homemade mineral waters from his chemist shop which opened in 1865 and later moved production to a purpose built building. It was not uncommon for Chemists to manufacture mineral water and sell it from their shops, another example being Silas Daniel, 30a Harbour Street Ramsgate who made and sold mineral water from his shop between 1887-1897.
It is the multiple finds that are the most interesting especially when all the items are from the same era. One place that comes to mind is Minster, there is a area over the railway crossing by the station to the left which is now overgrown. Thirty years ago the area was clearer and accessible resulting in many bottles of all shapes and sizes being found on the site, many were chemist bottles all from around the 1920's of which I donated to the Rural Life History Museum when it was open.
Once the the small pharmaceutical cabinet at the Margate Museum became a display item, people used to bring in items found in their houses. I can recall when somebody brought in a collection of chemist bottles found in a house belonging to a old lady that had died. Every bottle had a cork in it each had a label and still contained the contents, it may not sound much to get excited about but some of the bottles were from the early 1930's and the old lady still was using the contents in the late 1990's.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Sickie Island

A few postings back I mentioned the fact that from about the early 1890's to the start of the First World War there was something in the region of 50 mineral water companies operating in East Kent. All in business to quench the thirst of both visitors and the local population alike. The tangible evidence of this trade being the vast amounts of bottles recovered from Victorian dump sites, old houses , building works and discoveries from Thanets 22 miles of coastline. All being waste I suppose from the tourism and leisure industry of the time.
Other items from this golden age of tourism which led to the rapid development of the area came from the very reason why people came to Thanet in the first place. That was to either get well or rest and recuperate after an illness benefiting from our unpolluted climate. A fine example being the sea bathing hospital built in 1797 and the reputation it gave the area. However, not everybody was hospitalised, many Victorian visitors brought their own personal medicine chests with them which in general consisted of quack medicines laced with opiates. Soon many Chemists business's opened up in the area preparing their own preparations or selling proprietary medicines to both visitors and locals alike. Research through the directories at Margate library list many small business's that thrived during that era and there are many old images of those quaint mysterious shops that where more like Aladdin's cave. One notable firm being D.T Evans ltd that was still in business until the early 1970's throughout Thanet.
Today many of these shops have gone and their history are just accounts in archive . Other tangible reminders are the many bottles, pots and containers made of glass and earthenware that are found today. Like the mineral water bottles they are found in abundance exactly in the same places likes dump sites, building site, cellars and along the coast.
I have been collecting, digging and finding many chemist bottles and pots in the Thanet area for at least 30 years and acquisitions must have topped over a 1000 with ease all spanning from the Victorian era to the beginning of the Second World War, with many local names like Skitts, Bayley, D T Evans.
My finds led to a file being created in the Margate Museum and the pharmaceutical cabinet and collection in the Museum originated from my aquisitions which I donated and this was improved in later years by donations from the public.

to be continued

Friday, 28 August 2009

The History Detectives

Following on from my previous posting, Millicent made a comment on the probable date of the postcard suggesting that it could have been taken around the First World War period. She suggested that going by the fashion of those ladies pictured the photograph was more than likely around the First World War period. This prompted me to examine the detail of the photograph with a jewellers loop. I was able to pick out some wording on a newspaper board outside one of the shops " death of dukso fife ?", I notified Millicent. She replied with a newspaper cutting of the death of the Duke of Fife from the New York Times dated January 31st 1912. Further research was found in Richard Clements book "Margate in Old Photographs" (ISBN 0-7509-0112-8), on page 47 shows a picture taken in Margate High Street in March 1912 of road works laying a system of underground Telephone cables and a reference to a local newspaper reporting the laying of the system in a March 16th issue. Therefore it is conclusive that the photgraph was tken in 1912 and not in the 1930's as I previously suggested.
However, what does remain is the social attitude to the working class.

Millicent also informs me that on the right hand side of the photograph is a photographers shop, well part of it. This shop is the premises of Sunbeam Photographs started by John Milton Worsell with help from none other than Frederick Lewis Pettman.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Us and them

With Thanet Life touching on the subject of Thanet's social history, unemployment and welfare. The first thing that came to mind was the appalling situation the working class in Thanet faced in the 1930's and the patronising attitude of some sections of the middle class had towards working people. Someone even produced a series of postcards of people working with captions which are nothing more than insulting as in the case of this one "work boys work, and be contented". The men in the postcard are employees of the Isle of Thanet Gas company working in Northdown Road digging up the road opposite St Paul's Church, the posture and body language of the man with bowler hat speaks volumes.
During the 1930's many people suffered chronic poverty in Thanet due to the collapse of the capitalist system in the Wall Street crash and the actions of a Conservative Government for something that was not their fault. Today with the global credit crisis and the rhetoric coming from the "bash those on benefits" section of the Conservative Party could history be repeating itself if the Conservatives are elected at the next general election.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Digging up Margate - Barrett & Co bottles.

During the late 1890's up until the first world war our corner of East Kent stretching as far as Herne Bay, Canterbury and Deal supported as many as seventy mineral companies of all sizes supplying the huge number of visitors to the area . As mentioned earlier the Margate mineral water trade was dominated by three families, the Reeve"s, Harlow's and Barrett's. In a previous item I mentioned M.J. Harlow who in the 1924 was bought out buy the rival Barret & Co who moved production to the Addiscombe Road site.
George Barrett like Michael James Harlow first appeared as a mineral water manufacturer in the 1978 trade directory with Barrett believed to have set up earlier in 1874 at 59, Eaton Road, Margate.

Barrett & Co offered a range of products supplying private customers a case of a dozen from his list for 2s 6d. The company supplied Hotels and had a contract to supply the Paddle Steamers which most likely explains why Barrett bottles are found far and wide along the coast as far as London. It is also worth mentioning that over the years most of the bottles intact and pieces I have found in the sea just happen to be a Barrett.

Barrett used every design of bottle available at the time and there are many varieties bearing the Barrett name. However, the embossment even though heavy was very plain and utilitarian with no emblem or crest just plain Barret & Co Margate.

Over the years I have seen many varieties and the most interesting being the large flagons on display at Salmestone Grange which are exceptionally rare. The Margate Museum has a collection which was donated to the museum by the general public of which many were found in local cellars and back gardens, but these tend to be of the Hiram Codd design (the one with the marble). I also donated to the Margate Museum collection a small embossed conical bottomed Hamilton which was found under floorboards in a house in Helena Avenue during renovation which I bought at a boot fair for 50 pence.

Today many Barrett bottles are still available at collectors fairs and occasionally on ebay. But that is nothing compared what is buried in Margate at present. The Eaton Road site is prime, as it backs onto the Dreamland site which is built on infill. There is nothing to be found on the Railway Embankment side as the railway embankment was constructed in 1845 before Barrett was in business. However, the Dreamland site and the old laundry and the land leading up behind where Sphinx, River Caves and Roller Coaster once stood is all infill. When the block of flats were being built during the excavations Barrett bottles were found on the site. It also has to be remembered when the earthenware ginger beer bottles were stopped being used in the 1920's due to hygiene reasons and cost. They were stopped being used on mass virtually overnight and disposed of, the easiest and cheapest point of disposal being the land behind Dreamland.

On another point when the land of the old Bowketts site was being redeveloped many old ginger beer bottles from the Ozonic Ltd , Westwood Road were found in a pit and unfortunately ended up as hard core. Which does prove a point.
The advertisement pictured is from page 82 of Kent bottles ISBN 1-812489-18-8 which is a excellent read on the subjectof local bottles, especially the small rare Ramsgate and Broadstairs companies.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Seaside Saucy Postcards

A interesting article appeared in today's Daily Mirror (12/08/09) which does have a connection to our seaside heritage. It appears someone has found some of the original designs to the Sunny Pedro series of comic postcards and is putting them up for auction. The Pedro series of comic postcards were sold by their thousands in Margate from the mid 1960's to early 1970's. Published by D.Constance the first "sunny" Pedro series were originally modern redesigns of the infamous Donald Mcgill original artwork which led to many court cases under the 1847 obscene publications act in the early 1950's. The redesign came about because much of Mcgills work was set in the style of the 1930's and 1940's fashion which was also restricted by colour due to post and pre war austerity. Looking at the designs pictured and comparing to Mcgills work it does look as if these are original Pedro (Phil Millar) artwork with new captions featuring nudists, tits and bums laced with innuendo of which Pedro was in the same league as Mcgill.
Pedro postcards can still be bought from the postcard rack outside the gift shop on Ramsgate waterfront and these card must be close to 40 years old.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

More junk ?

These two 1920's bottles pictured are embossed M. J. Harlow , Margate which is a Margate mineral water company that no longer exists . The initials standing for Michael James Harlow who as records show was in business in late 1877 producing mineral waters from the old brewery at 94 High Street, Margate. Today the site is occupied by W.H.Smith.
Harlow's position at the 94 high street was well placed for trade and like all mineral water business's in the town, Harlow prospered well due to the Victorian holiday trade. By 1898 the business moved to larger premises with a manufacturing plant and offices in Chaucer Road, Margate. Many people may be unfamiliar with this address which in 1901 became Addiscombe Road after some of the streets in Margate were renamed. The directory in Margate library does list the business as trading from 33 Addiscombe Road, Margate in 1901.
Trading from Addiscombe Road, Harlow soon became a major player in the Margate mineral water trade competing with the likes of Reeve & Co , Hawley Street and Barrett & Co, Eaton Road supplying the hotel trade and visitor destinations with mineral waters and ginger beer. Harlow bottles carried the heavy embossment MJH which was very distinctive and appeared on most bottles. The bottles pictured are the crown cap type which the company used up until 1924 when the business closed due to difficult trading conditions due to the post first world war slump that hit the holiday trade. The site was taken over by Barrett & Co who remained manufacturing on the site until the 1980's.
M J Harlow used many glass bottle designs like aqua embossed Hamiltons which in the early years were acid etched . Other glass bottles included aqua embossed Codd's, aqua embossed internal screw top cylinder, green embossed dumpy seltzer and aqua embossed Sykes Mcvay. In my time I have came across every example of each except the Sykes Mcvay which is a very rare find. I have also found fragments bearing the address 94 High Street, Margate in the cave at Kingsgate that collapsed in 1978 and collapsed again in 1998 due to subsidence.
Today many of the bottles disposed of from the Chaucer Road / Addiscombe Road site remain buried under the raised ground besides Dane Park that links Thanet Road Margate with the bottom of Wildernesss Hill, Margate when the artificial rock face at Dane Park was also constructed close to the pond.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

When everything stops for tea.

This postcard from the A H & S " Paragon" series really does sum up the charm of the post war English seaside resort. There was no expresso coffees in 1948, it was a cup of tea with one lump or two. It is a well known fact wherever you were in the holiday maker areas of Margate you was never far away from a cup of tea and I suppose the same could be said for Ramsgate and Broadstairs. I often wonder how many cups of tea were served up in a summer season in those days.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

One log or two ?

As it was a nice day on Sunday I decided to give Sandwich Bay a look to just see what I could find on the tide line. Of all the bays and all the beaches, Sandwich Bay has always constantly turned up nearly a historical find every trip . I suppose with the Goodwin Sands just off the coast and loaded with over one thousand wrecks it is hardly surprising. Sandwich Bay without doubt is my number one spot for finding maritime artifacts by far. Even with the relatively mild weather we are currently experiencing, items still come ashore on the tide like this large piece of timber pile on the tide line of which I have taken a picture of.
On these trips I specifically look for lost fisherman's nets that have rolled up and been washed ashore , the objective being to find anything the net has picked up off the sea bed. The net pictured has a large lump of encrusted iron that has been dragged ashore with the net. A tap with a club hammer normally loosens off the concretion to reveal whatever the item is. In most cases it could be maritime, military or even junk, but on that day I forgot to bring my hammer so I just let it be. In the past I have found some interesting things in rolled up nets like copper boat rivets, marine fittings, iron fittings and pieces of aircraft . Take it from me it is always worth a rummage when a ball of net is ashore. Also pictured is a piece of aircraft I found which I believe came from a dig in 1999 to recover some engines and other aircraft parts from a B24 Liberator that had ditched on the Sandwich flats during the Second World War. When the dig took place in 1999 mechanical equipment was used to recover the engines resulting in a debris trail in the bay of which most of the small bits can still be found today. Others finds included the abundance of sea coal generally associated with Sandwich Bay and a piece of copper sheathing or tingle from a wooden sailing vessel. Copper sheathing was often used to inhibit the growth of barnacles and weed on the hull of wooden sailing ships as this growth often slowed down sailing vessels on long voyages. A copper hull was also easier to scrape off the growth. Copper tingle was used on smaller vessels as part of a repair to damaged hull or often used to protect a part of the hull prone to damage.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Dead eye

On my side bar there is a newpaper cutting from the Thanet Extra of myself standing on the recovered wreckage of the "Tartar" (lost 29/03/1916) found at Botany Bay after the bitter wintry storms of late January and early February 1996. The storm had one significant historical event, being the collapse of the wartime Tongue Fort on the Tongue Sands off Margate leaving only the support columns. There was also the running aground of the ship "Argus" off the Lido which at the same time had also run into a wooden shipwreck in the shallow water churning up the bottom before running aground. Along with debris from that shipwreck, pieces of the derelict Margate Jetty and items from other shipwrecks including the "Tartar" had came ashore, this by all accounts was a perfect opportunity for the brave or foolhardy whichever way you look at it to find something surrendered by the sea. From Margate to North Foreland there was a opportunity for anyone to find something that had come ashore. I found many items over that period and one item I found which is more of a trophy of the storm was the wooden dead eye pictured above. I am also holding the same dead eye in my hand in the newspaper cutting on the sidebar. A closer examination of the picture reveals the rope wear around the holes which is a good indicator that the dead eye must have been on many voyages ,the infestation of Terado worm which has a resemblance to a out break of measles is another indicator that the dead eye had been on the sea bed for many many years. For many years the dead eye was in a display cabinet at the Margate Museum along with other found trophy items from the "Tartar". When the Museum closed they were unceremoniously returned to me.
In my other hand in the side bar newspaper cutting is a nine pound cannon ball found on the low water mark at Foreness Point around the same time.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Digging up Hawley Square green.

A long time back I did a posting regarding two copper coins of the George II & George III period that were found in a shallow trench close to the oak tree in Charlotte Square, Margate when George Warren Court was being built. They were not exactly spectacular finds but they were interesting finds as they are lost items from Central Margate dating from the 1700's. Over the years I have always found it difficult to find anything tangible in Margate from the Hanoverian period as virtually the whole of Central Margate has been developed since then leaving very little open space.
The 1824 map of Margate from the latter part of the Hanoverian period is an excellent reference how much Margate has changed. However, there are still pockets of undisturbed ground like St Johns Churchyard, the Countess of Huntington's Cemetery that date from that period. There are also other areas that can be dated by how much the ground has remained undisturbed by the trees that grow nearby, namely the good old English oak tree.
In the late 1980's there where very few oak trees in Central Margate. There were two in St Johns Churchyard, one being the casualty of the 1987 storm, the oak tree in Charlotte Square (where I found the coins) and the large oak tree that was in the middle of Hawley Square. Taking a good look at Hawley Square and the surrounding Georgian buildings that make up the square I started to work on the idea that there could be something interesting lost and buried in Hawley Square from the Georgian period. The dilemma I had was how was I going to find out as the area is close to TDC offices which overlooks part of the square and the area has residents on all four sides who would ring the police if we start digging up the green using metal detectors plus a late night dig would be suspicious. So I came up with a plan, we would wait till November of that particular year, when it gets dark in the evening and the ground is soft due to rain. Then when the forecast is drizzle we would metal detect under the oak tree filling our holes back in, stamping on the lose damp soil to destroy any evidence a hole had been dug. As for the rest of the Square we decided to metal detect but not to dig just pin point items so we could not be accused of anything.The result was positive, even though we found no coins, I found under the Oak Tree a 1795 token from the London Corresponding Society "United for a reform of Parliament" with I have pictured. As for the pinpointing, we did come across many buried items but we left them where they lay and as far as I know they are still buried today.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A piece of Liberator ?

Recently I found this buried part of an aircraft with a metal detector close to the promenade where the groyne is at a right angle to the promenade at the eastern end of St Mildred's Bay, Westgate on Sea. Badly corroded the part is about 400mm long and has all the identification of a aircraft part. Which is the close riveting and the blueish tinge of the corroding aluminium. Unfortunately due to the extensive corrosion there are no visible inspection stamps which would give the identity of the Air Force and manufacturer. Bearing in mind that the nearest World War Two crash site is about 200 yards away where a Liberator crashed landed on the rocks nearby on 27th April 1944, there is every possibility that this part maybe from that aircraft. The picture is of the part as found, but after a tap with a hammer to remove debris and a good soaking in boiled rhubarb maybe the identity could be more visible if a inspection stamp is found. Buried parts like this rarely move from the vicinity of a crash site due to density and the fact they are buried , therefore there is every chance this part came from that aircraft.
The picture below is of another close riveted piece of aircraft and was found further along the coast earlier this month , it is light and has been moved by the tide for many years and could have come from almost anywhere. Like the part pictured above it has no clear identity.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Margate Harbour Mudlarks

Mudlark is a name generally associated with the River Thames and dates from a time when people living through the harsh economic times of the 18th & 19th Centuries , simply kept alive by scavenging from the foreshore of the Thames. In true human adaptability, knowledge was built up of the best spots and generally where to find things leading to a great understanding of the river . This soon led to the discovery of historical artefact's in the oxygen starved mud and for many this became a lucrative business trading in Roman, Saxon and Medievil artefact's.
A fine example being Billy & Charley the well known Mudlarks of the mid 19th Century who would dig the the foreshore of the Thames for lead medieval tokens and would make a living selling them as curios . Eventually when demand outstripped supply Billy & Charley decided to make their own which earnt them infamy in River Thames folklore. More details on River Thames mudlarks including Billy & Charley can easily be found on Google.
I first came across the Mudlark stories in the 1970's through word and mouth . I was fascinated by them and thought with a bit working out the same principle of digging could be applied to the oxygen starved muddy areas of Margate and Ramsgate Harbour. Being someone who used to bait dig parts of the Margate Harbour I had prior knowledge of many found items , so I upped my game by using a Metal detector and started to find things like coins and tokens by digging deep holes and running a metal detector over the spoil heap. Not all items were metal , I even found a Victorian shoe, plenty old bottles, stoppers and shards of pottery. The oldest pieces being shards of a Bellarmine flagon late 1600's which I gave to Sarah at the Grotto.
Over the years the Harbour has silted up and the mud has gone and has been replaced with hard sand but I am convinced that there is still more to be found. Like most of the coastline everything seems to be silting up at the moment but with over 10,000 found items to my name at least I have the knowledge where things are buried for the future .
In the future I will feature some finds and new finds on my blog as I have now moved away from covering Margate Historical work as they will soon be having their own website.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Margate Old Town - Olby's 5 King Street Margate

This photograph of Alfred Olby's shop has a 1950's look about it . The address is 5 King Street Margate and today the original shop front is still intact, the premises now form part of the West Coast Bar.

Margate Historical Society

On page 11 of the Isle of Thanet Gazette (10/07/09) there is a statement by Thanet District Council that the Margate Museum will remain closed for the foreseeable future, which is very bad news for promoting the heritage of Margate as a tourist resource as the Museum has always been the nucleus of all things heritage in Margate.The situation for all things on the heritage and historical side in Margate is facing a bleak outlook and it is so easy at this moment in time to criticise TDC as practical solutions are hard to come by. I do not see criticism at this moment in time as really achieving anything .
However, as a result of the TDC decision and looking at the more practical side as a way forward, a sub committee of the Margate Historical Society held a minuted meeting today (11/07/09 ) with the intention of putting the entire Margate Historical Society archives in our possession on the Internet. In real terms a cooperative of Margate Historians are getting together pooling their resources to promote the History of Margate over the Internet, keeping to the mission statement of the Margate Historical Society to "Seek and Conserve the History of Margate". Lyn and Kate Jackson will be heading the internet project with a supporting team including myself.
Collectively there is a potential collection of 8,000 images each with supporting information available, there is also published works of the Margate Historical Society which is currently being indexed plus there are further unpublished works all to go on the Internet. The society will also accept articles, and articles from former contributors are most wellcome. The funding side of things is being looked into but we do not expect any problems as we have kept a magazine going for over ten years. It has been agreed to do a reprint of the millenium booklet which we still have on disk, plus the society will look at publishing to raise additional funds.

As for my Blog, in the near future I will cease publishing Margate articles , photographs , prints and pictures as they will come under the Margate Historical Society on their new site.
I will continue covering found artefacts and items around Thanet especially those recovered on the foreshore. Also I will continue with topics.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lipton Ltd Margate

This postcard is of a Lipton Ltd shop in Queen Street Margate which more or less stood on the site of the current Llloyds TSB site at the centre Margate.

Policeman directing traffic - Margate 1960's

Another photograph from the Margate Historical Society collection. This one taken at Queen Street Margate some time during the 1960's of a policeman on points duty directing the traffic at the then crossroads. Most of us remember the East Kent Buses of the time , the shop Weaver to Wearer was later demolished to make way for the Centre.

Margate Railway Station water tower

This photograph came from a local collection and is in the Margate Historical Society collection it was taken at Margate railway station with a locomotive using the water tower. Other than that I have very little information.

Fountain Inn Pictures

These are the pictures of the Fountain Inn sent to me by Suzannah Foad . Some people may remember the wooden clad Fountain Inn with the Lloyds Bank just showing in the corner. The photo must have been taken between 1967 to 1970 as Cobb family soldthe brewery business to Whitbreads in 1967 and the Fountain was demolished in 1970.
The older picture is impressive of the Fountain Inn before Cobb built the Margate Bank.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sunbeam collection and the Viking Ship

Within a few weeks stories will be popping up for the anniversary of the Viking ship " Hugin" landing at Broadstairs on 28th July 1949. The event attracted 30,000 people including the Crown Prince of Denmark who welcomed the crew of 40 bearded Vikings.
The local media covered the event and some stunning photography was taken. One of the finest collections of photographs of the event I have ever seen was taken by Sumbeam Photograph Ltd of Sweyn Road, Margate. In fact my profile picture is a copy from that collection and was taken outside Broadstairs Harbour from a boat as the Viking ship approached the shore , the collection belongs to Thanet District Council.
At this moment in time the collection of photographs is on a shelf gathering dust in the closed Margate Museum amongst the rest of the Sunbeam collection which is a shame.

While on the subject of Vikings, Sweyn Road the base of Sumbeam Photographs was named after Sweyn Forkbeard the Viking Danish King of the latter part of the 10th century who conquered England before dying suddenly in 1014. Just thought I'll chuck that one in.

Margate Old Town - The Fountain Inn

Looking into the Margate Historical Society archive regarding the Margate Old Town, I came across some notes by Alan Kay that may be of interest for those who have an interest in Margate's former commercial centre.
Alan writes as follows allowing for a slight modification by myself. The Fountain Inn - "An early coaching inn in Margate's History was the Fountain Inn a Cobb's house on the corner of King Street and Fort Road, the site today being the former Lloyds Bank.
The deeds of the original Fountain Inn go back to 1681 ; presumably this was an early site of a spring or fountain. The later pump lane where the Old Town water was drawn was a few yards away.
For the next two hundred years the Fountain Inn was a important tavern where stage coaches would set off to join up with the London bound stages at Canterbury. The Inn also featured considerably in the social and commercial life of Margate at the time. The corn market for Thanet farmers was held here in 1777, the Philanthropic Club was established here, and the chair club was important amongst business men in 1769. The club had 45 Margate members, where 45 pots of beer,45 pots of stout,45 bowls of punch and 45 loyal toasts were drunk. A chair club probably derived it's name from each member taking the chair in turn to propose the many toasts to everyones's health.
During the 1750's touring actors and comedians would hire the barn behind the Fountain Inn and convert it into a theatre pit. It was not until 30 years later in 1786 that Mate and Robson purchased the site of the present Theatre Royal, and public theatre in Margate moved from behind the Fountain Inn to the Theatre Royal.
By 1882 Cobb's Margate bank moved a hundred yards along King Street to the Fort Road corner, which necessitated the demolition of the Fountain Inn and build the current building.In 1891 Cobb sold his private Margate Bank to Lloyds Bank.
The Fountain Inn continued as a weather bordered building further up Fort Road and was closed and demolished in 1970."

Behind Lloyds Bank there is a passage off King Street called Alkali Row where originally five cotages stood, the last being occupied in 1934. The name of the passage took the name from the seaweed burners in the late 18th and early 19th century, one of the small industries that thrived in the old town. Seaweed was burnt to a powder called Alkali which we now would call potash. The material was expotrted through Margate Harbour to the low countries to provide glaze for their pottery industry.

Sorry I cannot produce a image of the Fountain Inn as I have a problem with the scanner, the information should be sufficient.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

The Margate Historical Society

In December 2008 the Margate Historical Society published their last magazine, but the Society never really wound up as an organisation, all the society did was cease publishing and ceased collecting subscriptions in fact we donated all the remaining funds to the local hospice. The organisation remained dormant but the core members remained active researching and answering enquiries and more or less continued with our pledge to seek and conserve the History of Margate. Mick Twyman the former editor and the most knowledgeable living person on the history of Margate allowed me to publish articles and a few photographs on my blog. The response has been good in the wake of the closure of the Margate Museum .
Recently I was approached by Lynn Jackson who came up with the idea of the Margate Historical Society starting up again with it's own Heritage website and putting our entire archive and collections on the web with the intention of detailing the History of Margate for people living both in and outside the area.
The general consensus is yes and following a get together with Lynn later this month the Margate Historical Society will be resurrected and online in the near future.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Do you remember the Mechanical Elephant ?

At a party this weekend the subject of Margate's mechanical elephant was brought up in conversation in between the disco music and alcohol. Just to prove that I have a memory like an Elephant I have reproduced Tim Keenan's article from Bygone Margate Volume 7 Number 1 January 2004 for the person concerned.