Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

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.