Tuesday, 21 December 2010
However, moving away from the pros and cons of such a move it is worth noting that the motive for such a move is more or less down to the price of nickel than anything else. From the end of the Second World War nickel has been used in British and other European countries for the production of higher denomination coins in the form of a copper and nickel alloy (75% copper 25% nickel) generally known as cupro nickel. Since 1947 we have had decimalization and the major European economies have gone over to the Euro. In both cases there was a change over period enabling an exchange for old for new. However, like little magpies people squirreled away many coins which missed the change over dates, resulting in billions of coins throughout Britain and Europe being tucked away in drawers, tins or whatever.
These coins no longer have a legal tender value, so what do you do with pre Euro and pre Decimal British coins? Well the answer is pretty simple if they cannot be exchanged for new Euro currency like Irish and German coins or they are not in pristine collector condition the only option is to sell them as scrap. In recent times the commodity value of all metals have broken all time records and this has led to many coins especially non legal tender being worth far more for the metal content value than original their face value.
Traditionally both British and mainland European copper alloyed coins have always been the lower tender coins alloyed with either zinc, aluminum, tin and small amounts of nickel. Since the end of the Second World War billions have been minted and very few have a collector value. I see the only option is to accumulate as many as possible together and take them to the local scrap yard which in Thanet pays around £2.50 a kilo.
The Cupro nickel and nickel coins are a different kettle of fish and considering nickel on the London metal exchange is roughly trading at $25,000 a tonne this is something to look into. Obviously nobody can expect to be paid that for scrapped coins but it does is act as an indicator for a secondary market. Anyone who is familiar with alibaba.com will know what the demand is worldwide for recycled nickel.
So what are the options for those of us who are on the make? Well my little tip is to seek out pre Euro European coins that are made of 100% Nickel, especially French 2 Franc, 1 Franc, ½ Franc coins and Netherlands Guilders, 25 & 10 cent coins and hoard them. They are made of the pure stuff and as a commodity it is something in demand for the nickel alloy production industry. Obviously anybody reading this is not into the big time and we are talking Kilo’s. However with information technology as it is there will an opening somewhere someday to sell our kilos of nickel making it all worthwhile, it is only a matter of finding a market.
This website can give you a rough estimate of the value the nickel in your pre Euro coins .http://scrapmetalpricesandauctions.com/nickel/
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Thursday, 16 December 2010
In the years that followed pieces were salvaged from the Valkyr and they were used in locally cottage industries like the rivets and bolts pictured. One such use was to make tips for local produced walking sticks which were sold to visitors. As these cottages industries faded so did the knowledge of the Valkyr and the wreck became another of the wrecks in Minnis Bay. The wreck is easy to find and is almost level with the western end of the flat promenade and where the sea defences begin and is about 140 metres out to sea laying between the rocks and the sand.
The Valkyr was formerly known as the Valkyrien, it was registered at Figeholm , Sweden . It was built in 1901 at Figeholm by K. J Rockstrom and had a gross tonnage of 336 tons, the length in feet was 131.1, breadth 29.7 and the depth was 12.2. The master was J P L Hansson and the owner was Gustave Johansson. Further details can be found in Llloyds casualty return for 1919 on page 10.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
For anyone interested in the Margate Civic Society they can be contacted on the web address I have on my sidebar or can be found on google. They produce a very factual newsletter on Margate's history and the editor is James Brazier.
Today, I received some good news from Thames Talback makers of the series Great British Railway Journeys series 2 which begins on BBC2 from Monday 3rd January at 6.30pm for five weeks. Margate will be featured on the 26th January programme featuring Margate's seaside heritage and the Bathing Machine. I am pleased to say that the Margate Historical Society team have made a contribution by providing information for the programme which is another notch on the Margate Historical Society bed post. As I keep saying Margate's History is undergoing a renaissance and the making of the programme is further proof.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
Monday, 6 December 2010
Friday, 3 December 2010
Sunday, 28 November 2010
"The Eliza of Liverpool came ashore
to feed the hungry and clothe the poor"
I am not sure the origins of this Cornish rhyme but it could easily have come from any coastal community during the 18th and 19th century. It is very much a fact of life that throughout that period in the British Isles, coastal communities were able to get through the harshness of winter as a result of a ship being wrecked at sea. In some cases local economies benefited from shipwrecks, either from the salvage operation or just the flotsam and jetsam coming ashore. Thanet is no exception with the Goodwins, North Foreland and Margate offshore sandbanks accounting for many shipwrecks on our doorstep. In the case of large vessels going down or those owned by companies like the English East India Company, agents were appointed to manage the salvage operation and the full force of the law applied. Examples being the "Active" owned by the British West India Company being driven ashore on the Nayland Rock in January 1803 and the salvage operation was coordinated by a agent operating from India House. The same applied to the "Hindostan" lost in the same month in the same year. The "Hindostan" was owned by the English East India Company and was outward bound to Madras. The "Hindostan" broke its back on a offshore sandbank off Birchington after its pumps become clogged with sand, this resulted in the cargo being lost and washed ashore on the North Thanet foreshore. As this was a high profile wreck most of the cargo was officially recovered and sold at auction.
In the case where a ship has been "beat to pieces" and there is no salvage operation or the wreck is unknown, then flotsam and jetsam washed ashore then became fair game for the impoverished local community. There are very local few records as such a bounty was almost as secretive as smuggling, an example being in November 1854 where there is a entry in the coastguard return which reads as follows "A portion of the hull with the name BORE, Gelfe on it washed onshore at Epple Bay. The Coastguard Officer reports that nothing more is known, but supposes the vessel to have been lost on Margate Sands in the late gale." It can be assumed anything else that came ashore would have been utilised by the locals.
When the "Northern Belle" was wrecked of Kingsgate in January 1857 the timber from the wreck was used to refurbish the Watermans Arms which was renamed the Northern Belle". This was a common practise in all coastal communities to salvage wood for house repairs and refurbishment. In some coastal towns where old buildings still exist evidence of salvaging ships timbers for house refurbishment can be found in roofs and under the flooring of old buildings. One example in the 1970's was when I came across a raised floor in a fisherman's store in Fort Mount, Margate. The floor had been raised using salvaged ships timbers that had been covered in pitch.
In most case however, wood from the foreshore was generally used as fuel. I also mentioned in the previous posting dead animals were hacked to bits and stripped of their hides on the foreshore. Another practise was to burn the copper nails , fittings and any other metal from timber. Evidence of this was found in the early 1980's when metal detecting on the foreshore coming across areas of melted metal. One example was below the promenade where the Turner Center is today, this happened after a storm in November 1993 when I found a area where there had been a fire and recovered partially melted hand made ships fittings that had been in a fire.
Today we live in a different type of society plus shipwrecks are a rare occurrence. However, today there are still many people who search the foreshore for wood or anything they can lay their hands out of necessity or leisure which does make our coastline interesting.
Friday, 26 November 2010
Monday, 22 November 2010
At first we would sell it locally, then we tried Hatton Garden. We found the only problem with Hatton Garden even though it was a good price was it cost money to take it up on the train and the time off work . Then by chance at the time I was reading a national newspaper and found this advert for a company called Scadlynn Ltd who bought scrap gold , the original postal gold company for sure. They paid good money for the scrap and I even recommended them to other beachcombers who used them. Eventually our supply ran out and the advert also disappeared from the papers. I was later told the company had been done, something to do with Brinks Matt robbery and to be honest I didn't think much of it. Then a few days ago I was watching the Brinks Matt heist on Youtube and up popped the name Scadlynn Ltd. It appears Scadlynn Ltd was buying scrap gold and melting it with the pure Brinks Matt gold so it can be laundered.
I must admit it did make me smile to think that gold found on Margate beach was used to launder gold from the Brinks Matt robbery.
I have posted the Youtube clip and Scadlynn Ltd is mentioned at 2:23.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
I have recently been trawling through some pictures I took in the Margate Museum many years age that may be of interest. This shipbuilders plate is such an item and it is from the London Belle built by William Denny & Brothers Dumbarton. So for anyone researching Denny ship builders with have a ship builders plate in the Margate Museum. Unfortunately the Museum is closed so here is the picture.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Last year between November and March I concentrated most of my efforts around Ramsgate with the occasional search at Margate when the weather conditions have been favourable. It is amazing just how different the Margate and Ramsgate coastlines are for finding things. Margate is like a well preserved time capsule of history with coastal erosion and shifting sands unearthing the towns historical and seaside past which I have no problem finding things when conditions allow, but then I have focused on Margate for over 40 years and I have well researched the town's history and found over 10,000 items in that period.
Ramsgate on the overhand I am finding a harder nut to crack with its volatile beaches of constantly shifting sands and very little preserved and buried in its sands. During the early 1980's there was a amazing loss of sand on Ramsgate main sands exposing features that have never been seen in living memory before. There were some interesting finds then, mostly coins which were in poor condition and a discovery of a wreck of a customs cutter out off the East Pier.
In the few years that I have worked the Ramsgate beaches I have found that the majority of interesting items are not buried beneath my feet like Margate. They come in off the tide from the seabed offshore which makes the beachcombing more unpredictable and a bit of a challenge. The Western Undercliff and Pegwell Bay has probably the best range of natural history specimens to be found than anywhere else in Thanet and this year I did find my first pieces of Chinese mitten crab.
Today I gave Margate a look, finding a unidentifiable animal tooth, some clay pipe stems and two very old glass bottle necks which is not a bad start to the season.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
When ever I get a bit nostalgic, I start surfing the web, and find sites such as yours about my old hometown.They usually springboard me to other useful, and enjoyable sites too...for example, I just emailed Mick Tomlinson, the Mayor..and found some interesting links at the Margate Historical Society site - so thanks for making this possible! I've lived in the U.S. since 91, and I'm nearly 45 now (good Lord, I don't know how that's possible!), but was born and raised in Margate, from a long line of Mundays.
My friend Sally Ann Weller and I worked in the old Sample Shoe Shop, then owned by the Dobsons, when we were around 13 -14 (so, let's say 1978, 79). It was a peculiar old building, indeed. One of the many I loved, and got to know quite well over the years in the Market Place.The oddest thing about working in the shoe shop was our combined reluctance to go up to that middle landing, and worse still, the top floor. There was no heat, it was always incredibly cold, and cool even in the summer, and a solitary, light bulb illuminated each dark level. Small rooms, filled with extra-wide sandals and brogues piled high on wooden shelves, jutted off the landings, and it was our task, as shopgirls, to run up and down, numerous times on Saturdays, to find the perfect sandal for rather demanding, old day-tripping ladies from London. (Invariably we'd end up taking them back up stairs because even the extra wides couldn't accommodate their bunions...)Somehow, with what seemed an unfair regularity, I often got stuck with the task of running them back up, and without fail, on each occasion, my muscles would tighten, and I'd get goose-bumps as I went from the middle landing, to the top floor. It was a progressively, desperate feeling. Both myself and Sally had the distinct notion we were being watched - not necessarily in a malevolent way, but sufficiently strong enough to unnerve us, that once we'd grabbed or returned the item, we'd hurtle at full throttle back down several flights of stairs, skipping several, just to get away from the oppressive and watchful air of those upper level floors. It's a feeling I've not experienced since.It wasn't until some years later, (85, 86) that by some unusual twist in circumstance, I was employed by a government funded work program, to get the Margate Museum up and running. This incentive was housed just across the road from Sample Shoe Shop at the Old Town Hall, (itself, not without distinctive character and a personality of its own...in fact, my great grandmother had apparently worked there as a "female searcher" when it housed the police station.) In this capacity, I was charged with poring over old, Margate newspapers, and microfiched articles up at the library, ferreting out all sorts of historical information.When I came across the newspaper article about the Market Place fire, and P.C. Rolfe's death - and realized this had occurred in the same location that I'd worked, and experienced the feelings described above, I was quite speechless, and got goose-bumps, again. It now made perfect sense. I'm convinced P.C. Rolfe continued to maintain a presence not only because that's where he fought desperately for life, and must've felt incredibly frustrated by the delay in being found, but was still watching over the occupants of that building to make sure they got out OK. (If only this time, a little more quickly than they would have preferred!)Many thanks again, for keeping these wonderful, local stories alive. It makes a homesick girl feel very connected to a great, seaside town - and it ensures that our history there, isn't forgotten.
Sunday, 17 October 2010
I eventually sold off the bulk of my collection to local collectors retaining the ones I like including the postcard above that typifies the earthy humour of Donald Mcgill.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
This spoon was of an old English pattern and was one of 100 hundred purchased in 1966 with a 1965 Sheffield Hallmark and was presented as gifts by the Mayor of Margate to local citizens and dignitaries for achievement or whatever. In discussion with Mick Twyman I was later to find out that this tradition was an old one and had been practice before 1966, therefore it was obvious there must have been other issues.
I was always intrigued by the design of the Margate coat of arms on the stem as it was not a traditional design as the shape of the shield was longer and more pointed. So I set about to research even further into the spoons, and I set to try and obtain more spoons of which I knew the the odds were going to be stacked against me. Eventually my patience and persistence was to pay off.
A few months back while working on my data base of Margate of Margate artifacts I was to come across one of the spoons on eBay of which I recognized immediately. The only difference was this spoon was hallmarked Sheffield 1932 and the design almost similar but engraved, so I purchased it for £11.99. On examination the 1932 spoon was almost identical had the same maker’s mark as the 1965 spoon manufactured by the English silversmith James Dixon & Sons of Sheffield established in 1806. The spoon was manufactured at their Cornish Place workshop in the old English pattern weighing 13.5 grams sterling silver. However, it was this engraved design of the coat of arms that I found interesting and I was soon to realize that the 1932 spoon was an Art Deco influenced design and the 1965 design was influenced by the 1932 design, which explains why the 1965 design was not traditional. All I needed was a 1965 spoon for further comparison.
To cut a long story short, I came across another silver spoon in pristine condition, this time it was a 1965 issue making an offer the seller could not refuse. In the same pattern as the 1932 issue this spoon was manufactured by the same manufacturer James Dixon & Sons of Sheffield, the stem was broader and slightly thicker and the weight was 14.7 grams of sterling silver. As for the design it was a deeper engraving of the 1932 issue.
Above I have posted the ad for the 1932 spoon as sold on ebay. The hallmark is 1932 and and the James Dixon & Sons makers mark is authentic. The town crest is the 1965 design and differs from the design on the 1932 I have, so the research continues.
Monday, 11 October 2010
Roy had a brilliant mind and was a bit eccentric at times but he would never admit it . I loved his conviction and he was a true Democrat believing that because someone disagrees with you it doesn't make them your enemy. He got on well with Councillors in other parties and he was fun to be with, I think colourful would be the right term.
As Mayor of Margate he modernised the Mayoralty, including conservation of some of the artefacts and this included taking an interest in conserving tradition. Infact he made the Charter Trustees more relevant to the people of Margate. Palm Bay School was also his idea and so was Westwood Cross. But at the end of the day he was a great bloke, had a good life and his family can be proud of him.
Roy's funeral is at St John's Church Margate on 15th October at 11:15.
Thursday, 7 October 2010
This week two more Butlins badges of different years 1958 and 1964 are up for auction on Ebay of which I will be watching.
The whole idea of my monitoring of Butlins badges is part of may data base of Margate seaside items. To give an example of how many Thanet items are up for sale on ebay, last week there were 1,480 items related to Margate, 1,206 for Ramsgate and 641 for Broadstairs all up for sale. The majority of items were mostly postcards or printed items, the rest consisting of crested china , ceramics, football club items and metal ware such as badges and souvenirs. I find such quantities a breathe of fresh air because ever since the fire that destroyed the Ramsgate Museum in the Ramsgate library I have always looked at the possibilities of how a collection could be rebuilt the Margate Museum ever suffer the same fate. There is also another plus factor in the number of private collectors there are. A few days ago I spoke to someone who is also a member of the Margate Historical Society and he told me that his collection of Margate postcards is over 6,000 and he has now over 2,000 Margate items which dwarfs the Margate Museum collection if you discount the art collection. Which backs up my theory that Margate's history and heritage will undergo a Renaissance.
Like it or loathe it once the Turner Center is built Margate's seaside history and heritage will undergo a renaissance which will spill into the other Thanet towns. I also believe it will also be the catalyst that finally gives Thanet history the status it deserves.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Sunday, 3 October 2010
To our surprise, Butlins badges turned out to be a specialist collectors market and the Margate badges are right up there and highly sort after. Obviously, some years and colour are rarer than others, but by rule of thumb the 1950's versions fetch good money and the 1960's versions seem to be worth anything from £5 - £20 each .
At the very top of this posting is a 1955 badge featuring a red crab, this badge recently fetched £70 on ebay after 8 bids. The 1961 with the blue background cost me £8.00 as few years back and the same version with a red background is worth more. The 1967 badge at the bottom of this posting is very common issue and can still fetch around £5.00. The 1962 version below is one of the many varieties for that year and is currently up for auction on ebay.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Friday, 1 October 2010
The article also raises the debate on the sale of Art and Artefacts by local Councils. Over the past few years I have looked into the issue of civic collections and researched into how the whole issue surrounding art and artefacts has come about in Thanet. Prior to local government reorganisation in 1974 Art and Artefacts fell into two categories under local government management. There was the Civic collection made up of the town silver, the history and potraits of Mayors and gifts to the town etc., then there was a public funded Museum and Library service. When the local government reorganisation came about the Civic collection became the property of the Charter Trustees and the Library and Museum service was divided up between KCC ,TDC and the newly formed Charter Trustees. In Ramsgate this was easy because the Library and Museum were housed in the same building and was transferred to KCC . The Civic collection and contents of Albion House were transferred to the Charter Trustees and TDC became the legal owners of the Albion House building and owners of some of Ramsgate artwork.
From then on KCC managed the library under its county wide libraries policy and in the absence of a Museums policy the Museum at Ramsgate the library became a static exhibition. I should also mention the Ramsgate Artwork inherited by TDC was added to the TDC collection and then managed through its Museum service.
To my knowledge like the Towns Council civic collections before them both the Ramsgate and Margate Charter Trustees did not accept loans into civic collection but they did accept Civic gifts and memorabilia from other towns and organisations, building up collections.
So what is my view of the current situation. Well, I expect nobody has contacted the Ramsgate Town Council about the furniture because I suspect it has been there many many years and when it was acquired it was probably just furniture. So should they sell it ?
Personally I think all tiers of local government should really re examing the issue of Art and Artefacts and their collections policy asking themselves where do we start and where do we end, what is the provenance and do they really need to keep it. So if a item has no local historical ties and is surplus to requirement then they should sell it. After all, what the Ramsgate Town Council has on its books is small fry compared to the TDC collection which over the years has become a appreciating asset.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Over the past week or so I been thinking on how the the whole shape of the interest in the history and heritage of Margate is changing . Some of it I am sure is due to the Turner Center, the Internet and access to properly researched information .
Looking into it a bit deeper this new Renaissance is also represented by the interest taken into the buildings, artwork, archive and artefacts of the town. The buildings do speak for themselves and the collection of artwork held by Thanet District council does the town credit when people get a chance to see it. The archives have grown steadily over the years thanks to Mick Twyman and the Margate Historical Society and the access to information is always improving . This has left the artefact collection of Margate's History looking a bit thin on the ground and fragmented. This is not due to neglect it is just a indicator on how much everything else has improved.
Artefact collections are not really a local authority finaced thing as they usually come about by private collectors donating collections to local Museums. A fine example of this type of collection was a private collection of Ramsgate pot lids donated to the Ramsgate Museum that were lost when the Ramsgate Library burnt down and are irreplaceable.
A individual building up a private collection is not such a bad thing as it does preserve history however the downside is the public at large do not get the opportunity to see it. With the pressure on public finances the chances of the Margate museum reopening are slim and considering the contents of the TDC collection is a secret, the only hope is a private venture.
In the meanwhile I am now starting my own data base of the artefact's that are passing through on the Internet or have been found locally. As I come across items I will start to post them on this blog with any supporting information from the Margate Historical Society archive.
The picture above is a 2 inch diameter Victorian paperweight of the "new landing place" at Margate and the image is of the Jetty how it looked after 1857, this paperweight sold recently on ebay for £21.25. On the left is a print dated 1860 of the "new landing place at Margate" of a similar theme published by Kershaw & sons which Mick Twyman gave me many years ago. Both the print and paperweight would have been how the Jetty would have looked between the years 1857 to 1876 before a extension was built. The reason for building the extension was to allow paddle steamers to berth at different states of the tide and wind direction. This was further extended in 1897.
The photograph is from page 16 of the Margate Historical Society publication Bygonne Margate is of the jetty when the above mentioned extension was being constructed in the spring of 1876. The pile driver can be seen pictured on the jetty head.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
The Borough of Margate was Incorporated in 1857 and most records of Margate in Margate date from that time. However, Mick teamed up with Alf Beeching which led to the research into archives kept outside the area, along with John Williams, Chris Sandwell and other members who I apologise for not naming, the research had begun . Mick's vision had begun.
Soon many unpublished historical facts emerged from research and some of the new research even led to historical errors from previous publications being corrected. The foundation of a accurate new data base of the History of Margate had begun incorporating both old and new publications to produce the magazine "Bygone Margate".
This new data base soon uncovered many new and forgotten facts on the development of Margate all properly researched from the 11th century through to the Georgian era, like Tudor House, the Grotto, Cobb family and Maritime Margate to name a few, leading to the publication of over seventy magazines. As they say the rest is History.
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
In the past most of the articles and photographs featured on this blog came from Mick, and it was always his express wish that anyone who wanted to copy and use anything from this Blog can do so without permission and that policy with my blog stands today.
On one of my sidebars is the Margate Handbook featuring Historical items by Mick which are well worth a read. In the near future I will be putting some of Mick's items on my Blog in his memory.
Monday, 13 September 2010
I look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to join or help.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
In recent years there a been a flow of reports of the theft of items such as memorial plaques, park benches, drain lids etc., All stolen to be sold a scrap metal. In Thanet there has been no exceptions and the list of missing street Architecture due to theft goes back years. Fortunately, some items are safe under lock and key in the Margate Museum. One such item is the plaque to commemorate the opening of Dane Park Margate in June 1898 which was once on display by the park gates and now hangs safely on the wall in the Margate Museum.
In Ramsgate the bronze cannons that were once situated by the Falstaff over looking Ramsgate Harbour are in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum . Just imagine if they were still there today, they wouldn't stand a chance and credit is where credit is due to the person who decided to house them there.
Saturday, 11 September 2010
Friday, 10 September 2010
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Not all dealers are bad and the article is full of praise for hattongardenmetals.com . I also found two other companies RPM-gold.com and jblundells.co.uk offering fair prices, and I am sure there are many more fair priced dealers on the internet, but then it always pays to shop around.
For some reason silver does tend to be ignored even though it trades at prolonged record prices, yet the chances are that joe average probably has more silver by weight kicking around the house than gold. In many cases it is in the form of pre decimal silver coins. In the past few years pre decimal silver British coins have been putting in a appearance at auctions. The reason being that the people of the pre decimal generation that could afford to hoard silver halfcrowns and florins are in their eighties and many have died. At the time of hoarding the coins did have a substantial face value. However as soon as the coins were no longer legal tender their only value was the silver content. The coins I am referring to are the Pre 1947 sixpences, shillings, florins and half crowns all containing 50% silver which have a minimum of 25 years circulation at the time of decimalisation. Minted between 1920 to 1947 there are few rarities and most coins have no collector value because of the intense wear caused by circulation. Even though these coins have no collector value they have become the cheapest form of investment in silver for joe average if bought at the right price and accumulated into collections. A fine example is on ebay, and this past week I have been looking at the trade in collections (10 or more) of pre 1947 halfcrowns and florins. Both of these coins have a bit of weight behind them which makes them popular making the market on ebay very buoyant. There is a company that trades in investment bags of of pre 1947 coins called 24carat.co.uk, these people really know their stuff and supply is constantly outstripping demand. Earlier on in the year I was in Pressmans in Hatton Garden and someone weighed in bags of pre 1947 silver coins and was paid out £21,000 and I wonder what the return was on that lot. However for the lay man a few pre 1947 are set to be a nice little fall back in these troubled times.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Like many local Beachcombers/Treasure Hunters I do approach each season with a plan and the readiness is really based on whether will this year be the one. The one being a great storm.
Throughout history there are accounts of many great storms and in living memory the years 1953 and 1978 do come to mind. The January and February storm of 1996 was the last decent storm , but unfortunately or fortunately whichever way you look at it the Thanet sea defences worked in 1996 so there was very little drama. The only events of any merit in 1996 was the wartime Tongue Fort collapsing, a ship ("Argus") aground on the rocks by the Lido at Cliftonville and the final remains of the derelict Margate Jetty reduced to stumps. Plus the remains of the "Tartar" (29/03/1916) turning up at Foreness Point.
However, these big storms do make permanent changes to the coastline and it is the erosion in the following weeks or months after the storm that many more interesting finds both historical and natural can be found. This generally happens while the local authorities are carrying out repairs to the sea defences. When this does happen it is possible to work out what is buried in a large area by what is found in the smaller areas of a particular site while the erosion is taking place.
Collecting this Data makes it so much easier should another storm erode the same area again because I am able to pin point exactly where to go. From this I am able to come up with my wish list of top places to go should the mother of all storms hit the Thanet Coastline.
Top of the list is Palm Bay oppposite the Jet Ski cafe, then Newgate Gap to the Lido, Fort Point and the sand behind the Droit House. I would like to add Margate Main sands but I doubt if a century of silting up will move in my life time. The list is all Margate and my knowledge of Margate does cover over 30 years of discovery.
However now I live in Ramsgate I am slowly but surely building up a knowledge base there which I will blog later.
Monday, 16 August 2010
My experience from that era to the present day came from the area from the groyne between the then Sundeck and the Nayland Rock to Foreness point. It may seem strange but I hardly ever went over the Westbrook side of the groyne except in exceptionally bitter cold weather. During the period from 1976 to 1996 I reckon that I must have metal detected every available square foot of sand at Margate and Cliftonville using only four different detectors and a mountain of batteries in that time. Furthermore I reckon I must have dug up well over 10,000 items that have a story to tell and considering I am not the only one to use a metal detector it is a indicator of the scales of the finds that have been found on the Thanet coast in recent years.
Today the metal detectors are very sophisticated and there are many areas where metal items can no longer be found. Even though the lost and found cycle of each tourist season brings in results of modern finds, Historical finds are now getting harder to find. However, some of that is not all down to constant metal detecting but the fact that along the coast some areas are silting up. Margate main sands are a fine example and the gradual burial of the boating pool by the clock tower proves my point.
The silting up of Margate main sands began in 1926 with the construction of the Groyne by the Nayland Rock, the Bathing Pavilion later known as the Sundeck and the Tidal Pool opposite the Arlington House. Considering nature has had a 40 year start before the arrival of the first metal detectors there are still many items buried beneath the main sands. If my memory serves me correct in the early years of the metal detector there were not many pre Second World War items dug up from the main sands except in exceptional circumstances. So what are these exceptional circumstances?
The exceptional circumstances were the result and aftermath of the storm of January 1978 and like the storms of 1897 and 1953 change the coast forever. For few a brief periods the aftermath of the 1978 storm did cause coastal erosion. The loss of the Jetty or Pier as some people like to call it did have some impact along the coast. The back of the Nayland rock was swept clean of sand and the remains of the Whitley mark V bomber that ditched on 3rd September 1940 were exposed. The old Tivoli brooks drainage pipe was exposed for the first time providing a bonanza of Victorian and Edwardian dated finds for metal detector users. On one exceptionally low tide, where the sand had been washed away the wheel marks from the Victorian bathing machines could be clearly seen and this to, resulted in many finds. When the Jetty head was finally demolished in 1998 there were ceramic and glass items found on the low tide line relating the paddle steamers and the Jetty. As in previous posting I have mentioned the many finds that have come from the Harbour in other exceptional circumstances.
Today, the gradual silting is returning to the main sands and the whole of the main sands is becoming a sealed time capsule of sea side history. I do still have a few remnants of some of my early digs from my patch from the early days plus recent natural history finds with I have loaned to the Marine Studios in Albert Terrace for display.
Saturday, 14 August 2010
Another venue that is looking good at the moment is the Coach House at Northdown Park. Recently I had the privilege to have a look at the progress being made at the Coach House. Even though progress at the Coach House is moving forward slowly there is every potential that like Bleak House the Coach House can certainly be a centre of excellence. I must admit when I had a look around at the Coach House I could almost taste the history as the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and my first thought was this is Old England nothing artificial, nothing reinvented this is the real thing. There is plenty of space at ground level and the interior is well preserved and is not derelict, it just needs a bit of maintenance and a lick of paint. The coach that will be the focal point of the museum will look magnificent when the conservation is completed.
Overall if allowed to be completed this venue will be a assett to the local tourism package offering a interesting amenity for both local and vistors a like.
Friday, 6 August 2010
In today's Isle of Thanet Gazette there is a interesting article on page 8 about shellfish harvesting, which once again opens the debate about harvesting shellfish from the foreshore of the Thanet coast.
Sometimes I think the concerns in the past have been more about the ethnic origin of the people doing the harvesting than what is actually being taken. But the Gazette does raise a very interesting point about whether shellfish is being harvested sustainably from our foreshore. Something which in my experience is really difficult to measure.
Firstly we have have to look at the life and death cycle of the shellfish that are being affected by the harvesting. I am without doubt that the loses of mussels during the harsh Winter period of the January and February winter period does make a hundred dustbin bags of mussels a drop in the ocean. Yet the population does recover.
Then we have the Oysters which also take a bashing during the Winter months. The only difference with Oysters on the Thanet Coast is that they are not native. In fact they are a invasive Pacific species which is undergoing a population explosion at present which has not reached its peak. So how on earth can that be measured.
As for Winkles, well they use to be harvested commercially many years ago by hand. This was done sustainably by sieving, allowing the smaller ones to fall through. Even during that period there was always plenty of Winkles about. Today the amount being taken is still fractional to the time when eating winkles was popular.
The problem I suppose is down to people breaking Fisheries bye laws and ignoring the Thanet Coastal code which is put in place to ensure sustainability. Even then I cannot see what inpact a few people ignoring the rules would have on the shellfish population.
My main concerns has to be the methods people use to harvest shellfish which is also pointed out in the article by coastal warden Steve Beck. It is the damage caused by digging, hammering or whatever to the shellfish beds which makes it difficult for the population to recover. A fine example of this has to be the harvesting of Limpets where the method is to literally smash at everything to get the Limpet off.