Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Margate and Dunkirk

During the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 over 50,000 troops were landed at Margate. The vast majority were landed at Margate Jetty and all had to walk the length of the Jetty to reach the shore at the Jetty entrance. At the Jetty entrance the first troops to arrive handed over any equipment like guns and ammunition they brought back with them. The handing over of equipment was soon to cause congestion on the Jetty and it was soon realised that the large numbers of troops landing and queing were being exposed to enemy air attack. To give a clear path off the Jetty some of the returned items were thrown over the side to keep the Jetty clear and the troops were then allowed to walk off the Jetty without handing over equipment. The items that were thrown over the side were abandond and remained forgotten until they were rediscovered in the 1980's.

It was winter gales following the construction of the breakwater on the Jetty entrance site in 1985/86 that large areas of sand disappeared. This exposed the stumps of the piles of the demolished Jetty entrance which then became ideal ground for mudlark digging. It was hard digging at first because of the iron concretion, but once that layer was out of the way coins were turning up every time the ground was turned over. Many of the coins were Victorian with a few George III and IV. However, digging further out from the piles all this 1930's ammunition started turning up. Most of it was French and British, we even dug up a revolver and we were puzzled by its origin as it was concentrated in a few areas. We tried every avenue to try and find out the origins of our discovery and drew a blank, it was a few weeks later after the discovery while having a conversation with Alf Manning about the discovery that Alf told us the story of what actually happened. We were amazed, but unfortunately by then the sand had recovered the search area and the rest remained buried.

Above is a rough sketch of the area with the position of the Droit House included, the two pairs of five dots that make an X if joined together represent the stumps of the Jetty entrance. The small cross's are the areas were the ammunition was found.Even though we filled up builders buckets with the stuff we did not entirely clear the area and the remaining ammunition still remains buried today.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Shellfish Harvesting

Last night I attended North East Kent European marine site stakeholder meeting held by the Thanet Coast project. The meeting reviewed all the progress made throughout the year and all the projects for the forthcoming year.

The subject of shellfish harvesting on the Thanet foreshore by groups of people from outside the area was raised by the Cliftonville coastal wardens. The concern was not about the shell harvesting itself but the quantities being taken by groups of people who are just taking everything irrespective of size or specie which is having an noticeable impact on some areas. One warden reported a 80% depletion of Limpets in his survey area.

It was explained that commercial shellfish harvesting was regulated and mechanical shellfish harvesting on the foreshore was illegal. There are a few people that have foreshore commercial licenses to harvest shellfish by hand, but I think it is for winkles something that has gone on for many years and they are governed by the size of the winkle to make it commercially viable.
Shellfish harvesting for own consumption is not illegal provided the shellfish are for own consumption and the shellfish are not sold. This may also have something to do with environmental health regulations.

In my opinion, I feel that shellfish regulations are based on need rather than greed and local people do observe that. It really is a matter of concern that groups of people are taking far more than they need, even for their group size. They are taking everything irrespective of size and stripping areas bare which shows very little regard for the environment. The limpet population in some areas is being decimated and this is a indigenous species.
On the other hand we have invasive species in which the population is thriving like the Pacific rock oyster, then there is the migrating Velvet swimmer crab from further down the English Channel which die in large quantities every winter. This winters casualty list for Velvet swimmer crabs for the Thanet coast was estimated at 40,000. Both species suffer in wintry conditions
Perhaps the whole subject of shellfish harvesting should be reviewed as there is scope to allow somethings to be taken and others should remain. Perhaps zones should be considered, licenses issued, any thoughts ?

Sunday, 23 May 2010


One of my greatest inspirations to dig our foreshore are the activities of the London mudlark society and the many discoveries the society has made over the years. This video which I posted from Youtube really does highlight how the whole thing works and how knowledge can be built up by experience. I am particularly interested in the make up of the ground in which they dig because there is a striking similarity to the layers of silt buried deep in Margate Harbour. As we are all aware Margate Harbour has been silting up more and more each year in living memory which can make such discoveries very difficult. However, over the years there have been occasions when for some unknown reason it has been possible to make such discoveries in the Harbour and in the bay itself, dating from the late 1600's to the Victorian period.

I have built up a small collection and a knowledge base from the area, but that is nothing to compare to what lies buried beneath the sand waiting to be discovered. I constantly live with the agony of knowing where things are buried but I cannot get at them. However this video does serve as a little taster of what lies buried should the sand in Margate Harbour was to drop by three metres.

Friday, 21 May 2010

33 golf balls and 2 mobiles

Spring 2010 was the first year that I paid my complete attention to one stretch of beach , being the Western Undercliff, Ramsgate. The only exception being the draining of the Walpole Bay tidal pool. Finds were varied at the Western Undercliff and the highlight was the discovery of the Chinese Mitten crab an invasive species to our shores, something of great interest for the Thanet Coast Project.
The strandline and the rock pools turned up all sorts of oddities over the spring period like the 33 golf balls and two battered mobile phones which I found over a priod of time.
This spring I virtually picked up everything from sea coal to beach plastic. The coal which weighed in at around 15 kilo, I gave to my neighbour after I removed the pieces of Canal coal that can be crafted and polished.

For the first time time I started collecting beach plastic as I am interested in the the artwork that can be created from it. However, I did find a piece of weathered false teeth which I found a bit macabre.

The winter cold weather this year killed off a lot of shellfish as it normally does in the life and death cycle of Shellfish. This little bonus has enabled me to increase my shell collection of which part is pictured at the top of the page.
I now have a display of items found on the beach at the Marine Studios in Margate.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The political beer mat

While having a bit of a sort out today, I came across two beer mats of a political nature from the 2001 general election. I found the Tory froth beer mat, quoting the claims in the GQ magazine that our new foreign secretary had regularly in the past downed 14 pints in a session . I suppose on that quote he is either a recovering alcoholic or at the very least a binge drinker and now he has been let loose abroad funded by us tax payers, I just hope he sets a good example and behaves himself. As we all know what some Brits are like when they are abroad,
The other beer mat is a UKIP one and as usual based on the British paranoia of the wicked foreigner.
Since the 1983 I have collected local political literature and everything I have collected up until 2007 is in the Margate museum archive. Now the museum has been closed for two years it does make me wonder what has happened to the collection especially the archive as I cannot imagine it has been left as it was since 2008.