Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

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.