Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Square Head.

Fifteen years ago we had a series of storms during January and February that certainly gave the local papers plenty to report, like the loss of the Tongue Fort, remains of the decaying Margate Jetty coming ashore and remains of a wooden shipwreck on the tide line at Foreness Point. This was no typical winter as the wind direction was almost permanently North East over a four week period battering into the stone pier (harbour arm) day after day.
Just by watching as each wave hits the wall of the stone pier it is easy to work out the wave action as it ran the full length of the wall until it reached the square head and producing this huge wash as it levels out into the shelter of the harbour. Continuous wave action like this picks up shingle and other debris and over a period of time a shingle bank is formed in the entrance of the harbour. At the same time the foundations of the stone pier are also washed out leaving ideal conditions for a dig.
One particular morning I picked a suitable low water and set about to dig a trench about a meter out from the base of the wall of the square head and worked in, with the intention to see what I could find. In theory it all sounds easy , but I was digging in a gale and the chill factor was around minus sixteen. The shingle was impacted where the fishing boats had rested on it and as I dug I was releasing this terrible smell as I dug deeper into this black mass. As I dug I soon found some copper coins, the unfortunate thing was that they were completely worn and they were more like copper discs. As I dug even deeper I started to find lumps of lead which instead of being grey were black due to the effects of ground they were laying in. Eventually I reached stonework of the remains of the square head from the 1953 storm which was from the original 1815 structure. As I dug closer to the wall I came across a piece of timber riddled with worm, the unusual thing was that the timber went under the stone pier and I had came across a piece of the timber piling of which the stone pier was originally built on. It was this timber piling that collapsed in the 1953 storm causing the lighthouse and square head to collapse.
Once I reached these timbers I stopped digging and decided to walk around the rest of the square head where more stone work had been exposed by the tide to see what else I could find. It was amongst this stone work I found this crude block of lead about the size of a small car battery which was very heavy which I believe is had something to do with the original stonework.
I didn't find any artefact's but then I didn't expect to. However, on this occasion I learnt more about the construction of square head and the storm of 1953. Plus I made a bit on the lump of lead at the local scrapyard.

I have attached an article by Mick Twyman on the subject of the 1953 storm and the collapse of the lighthouse.

Margate Jetty remembered.

Anything regarding Margate Jetty always interests me, and when artist Jean Lloyd wanted to know the colour scheme for the Jetty in 1960 I was happy to oblige. The black and white photograph is of her sitting on the jetty in 1960 and the painting is a present to her sister.
The photograph is also interesting as the heavy riveting of the Jetty can be seen clearly, a barge can be seen in the background and finally I like the fashion statement.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The proposed Margate marina bore holes

Following on from yesterdays posting, there is only one other occasion I can remember when deep digging took place within the Margate harbour area. That took place sometime in the 1980’s, I am not sure of the exact date, however I do remember the event well.

During the 1980’s there was a proposal to construct a marina at Margate Harbour only to reach no further than the drawing board. A number of surveys did take place resulting in a number of bore holes in the harbour. Once the data had been collected and the equipment moved all that remained after the survey were small dark mounds of dark sand dotted around the harbour. Like the Parade dig the makeup of the freshly dug mounds of sand was a dark smelly mixture of coarse sand and clay.

Using a metal detector I only found one metal item and that was a small lead round disc with the number seven hand cut in the old style. Other non metal finds were typical of the sort of finds you expect to find on the banks of the river Thames such as shards of salt glaze pottery, broken clay pipe bowls, stems and pieces of broken smooth glass of different thickness. There was only one significant find and that was a shard of a Bellarmine flagon bearing part of the face of the effigy. I did show this find to a number of people who were familiar with Bellarmine flagons and it was agreed that the shard had been deliberately shaped and the piece probably dated from the 1690’s. Bellarmine flagons were often used in witchcraft rituals but it was impossible to tell if the shard had been fashioned for that purpose. I did keep it for a number of years and eventually I gave the shard to Sarah at the Grotto for their collection.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Parade dig - Margate early 1980's

When the metal detecting hobby first took off in the 1970’s I doubt if many people kept records of finds and I suppose I was just as guilty as everyone else. Prompted by the new sea defence works I have recently been compiling records of pre First World War finds from the Old Margate area, mostly from memory and from the notes taken at the time. Most of my finds and other peoples finds are not what I call spectacular but they are authentic Margate and do tell the story of Margate as a resort from 1735 to the outbreak of the first world war in 1914. Out of the three Thanet towns Margate does have the largest archive that is being constantly being researched and updated by local historians and a up and running Museum manned by enthusiastic volunteers which is a blessing. However, such research needs items and artefacts and this is the line of local history I have now taken up as a friend of the Margate Museum.

Recently I have been researching the area where the Margate sea defence works are to be constructed as most readers of my Blog will know. Going through my notes and an old article I wrote for the Margate Historical Society I came across some information from when sea defence repair works that took place in the early 1980’s from Margate Harbour slipway to the Kings Steps.

At the time it was not the coins that I found that was of interest but it was the makeup of the ground they were digging up and the content. At the time I never realised that the area that was being dug up was where the town drain once spilled its contents from King Street into the harbour. When the repair works commenced the diggers dug at the base of the internal wall at the Parade near the Harbour slipway dragging up this smelly silt consisting of layers of coarse sand that looked like a mixture of grit, black sand and clay. The grit being small stones, crushed shells, coal dust and bone fragments. Amongst this mixture I found many small shards of pottery and glass, pieces of clay pipe and animal bone. The shards were diverse with some being reddish colour and unglazed, some were thicker covered in a brown speckled glaze and then there was the more obvious Victorian China. The glass pieces were worn smooth and the clay pipes were all broken with all different bowl designs. As for the bone finds, sometime after the works had finished I did find an animal jawbone with teeth and I also picked up some random animal teeth when the spoil heaps washed down.

At the time I was not the only person with a metal detector as often happens in Margate. Therefore the entire area was metal detected many times over and even to this day I have no idea what other people found.

I did find two 1797 Cartwheel Pennies in a well preserved state, one I donated to the Margate Museum and the other I kept and surprisingly I still have. Other finds included some badly worn lead tokens and a badly pitted South African Republic florin from the 1890’s featuring the head of Paul Kruger which was a strange find.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Marine Palace and Margate Jetty tally.

This collection represents what remains of the collection of items I found from the period 1978 to 1993 following the aftermath of the 1978 storm and the following sea defence works that took place at the Margate Jetty entrance and along the rendezvous car park promenade. These coastal changes brought about erosion that took place along the coastline from Fort Point to the former Margate Jetty entrance and out towards the area where the 1824 Jarvis Jetty once stood in the cut, on the same site stood the 1853 Jetty that was destroyed in the January 1978 storm. Erosion was not a permanent feature and only occurred after a series of northerly storms. The rendezvous site is also the site where the Marine Palace was destroyed on 29th November 1897 when the sea wall was breached; today the Turner Centre occupies part of the site.

During the digging many features from the Marine Palace were found plus pieces of Margate Jetty and these were left as found. I found some items from the late 1690’s period right up to the start of the First World War, overall I must have found about 150 items of relevance to the site and the time period specified. Many ended up as donations to the Margate Museum and private collections. The remaining items I have listed below are the part of the pre 1914 collection that I still have.

Fort Point

· 1876H Penny

Marine Palace site

· 1873 half penny

· One penny token Priestfield furnaces 1811

· Worn 1799 halfpenny

· Worn George III halfpenny

· 1897 Victoria diamond jubilee medal

· 1879 farthing

· 1872 badly worn gothic design florin

· 1887 sixpence

· 1894 three pence

· Six balls of lead shot ( a quantity donated to the Margate Museum)

· 2 piano weights believed to belong to the Marine Palace grand piano that was washed over and smashed against the sea wall.

· Lead toy baby

· Lead toy lioness

· Lead toy horse with rider

· Lead toy cannon

· Lead seal embossed Aleney Dover

· Complete Mineral Water bottle M J Harlow Margate flat bottom Hamilton design with crown cap. post 1892

· Two bottlenecks string neck design black thick glass circa 1790 to 1820

Jetty entrance and cut

· Complete Bottle J M Taylor Camberwell rounded bottom Hamilton green aqua with blob top.

· Worn George III penny

· Worn George III penny

Some of the pre 1914 items were donated to the Margate Museum as listed below

· Marine Palace brass token “weekly ticket” “F Piaggio” “Princess Rooms”

· Lead shot still with moulding tabs

· Small handmade copper boat fitting

· Old copper boat nails

· Handmade brass nails/tacks

· 1891,1892,1893 pennies

· 1867 half penny

· 1843 sixpence

· 1845 copper halfpenny counter stamped “W”

· 1799 Cartwheel penny

· Lead dress weight

· Lead stud

· Minton Tile from the Marine Palace

· Decorative Victorian brass button

· Hovis Token

Other finds donated elsewhere

· Neck of a Bellarmine Flagon with effigy (1690’s)

· Two lead tokens with a cross and four pellets on in each corner

· Complete Reeve & Co Margate mineral water bottle green aqua internal screw top cylinder

Large handmade bronze nail

Other items I either sold or cannot trace.

· Margate Pier and Harbour Company button

· 9 ct gold ring

· 1908 Territorial Medal

· George III and George IV copper coins

· A collection of about 20 Victorian bronze Farthings and Halfpennies all around the 1860’s period.

It is very difficult to estimate how many items I found that were post first world as no records were kept and this total also includes large amounts of ammunition, bullets and cartridge cases from the Second World War. Also there is a unrecorded total of pre decimal currency found in the area lost from the Margate Jetty .

The Kingsgate cave dig, a final tally

This past week I have been going through my final tallies of the items worth noting that I have found on the beaches in the Old Margate area in preparation for an exhibition to coincide with the sea defence works taking place in Margate. The purpose being to list what remaining items I still have identified as pre first world war. Rummaging through old notes I came across a list of finds, found in the Kingsgate area in 1998 which I never realised I still had. The finds were old bottles that I had found as a result of a roof collapse in the back of the cave in Kingsgate Bay. This incident happened in the spring of 1998 and resulted in a hole in the Captain Digby car park.

Of all the items I found I only kept three for my collection and the rest were either donated to other collections or left as found. The list of items worth mentioning reads as follows.

· 20 “M J Harlow Margate” Codd bottles all necked, 18 at 8 ounce, 2 at 12 ounce (left as found) probably necked by schoolboys for the marble stopper.

· 3 small “M J Harlow Hamilton” bottles all necked (left as found) one acid etched M J Harlow.

· 8 ounce Codd bottle “M J Harlow Margate” complete in green aqua (donated to the Margate Museum).

· 12 ounce Codd bottle green aqua plain with no embossment (donated to the Margate Museum).

· “Eliman’s for horses” green aqua bottle (donated to the Drapers windmill trust Margate).

· Plumtree Southport meat ceramic pot (donated to the Margate Museum).

· “Bead and Bendicott poor man’s friend” ceramic pot (donated to Dickens House Broadstairs).

· 2 Earthenware blacking bottles (donated to the Drapers Mill windmill trust Margate)

· 1888 “Philpott” Ramsgate mineral water bottle ( donated to the Terry Wheeler Ramsgate Collection)

· 2 Earthenware small ink bottles ( donated to the Margate Museum)

· “Reeve & Co Margate” Mineral water olive green bottle internal screw top cylinder complete with stopper maker JK. (Still in my collection).

· Pot lid base. (Still in my collection).

· Flat glass stopper diameter approx 60mm embossed “Cannington Shaw St Helens”. (Still in my collection).

· Also found and left in situ, a Victorian girl’s shoe decomposed and various butchered animal bones.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Today I have been looking at the pieces of broken glass from Margate main sands that I have picked up this year and from last year. Throughout this summer and like the previous summer, for some unexplained reason the tide uncovered an abundance of old glass on certain areas of the wet sand. The glass even though it looked unsightly and threatening was totally inert and blunted. Most of the glass in general was this worn smooth green aqua glass often found on most old beaches along with worn broken bases of wine and ale bottles. Amongst the glass there were many bottle necks with many hand finishing styles from different time periods. After a thorough examination I discarded most of the glass at the local bottle bank keeping only the hand finished bottlenecks for dating.

Dating bottles is always a tricky subject as styles did not change overnight and many bottle makers often kept to the techniques they were apprenticed to. In manufacturing glass bottles there were three great leap forwards in manufacturing from the 1600’s to the dawn of the 20th century. There was the production method of changing from wood fires to coal fires allowing the use of a greater furnace temperature allowing the use of thicker glass, there was the use of mould and the innovation that came with it and finally mechanisation. Also in each case this led to many design changes.

I started researching bottle neck finishing styles from around the 1730’s period onwards as 1735 is the date considered to be when Margate started as a seaside resort. It seem as a bit of a coincidence but 1735 is also the year when it was considered that English wine and ale bottles finally became cylindrical as a opposed to the previously free blown onion shape. However, the “string rim” remained, with the more flattened string rim being the older which is shown quite clearly in the photograph of some onion bottles I took at the Hastings shipwreck heritage museum. The broader and thicker glass string rim “V” is dated 1790’s to 1820’s. From the 1820’s to 1890’s a more broader and clean cut string rim then appeared on most corked bottles.

Of the finds I have at present from the upper layers of the main sands at Margate. I have unidentified 2 bottle necks from the 1730’s, 1 bottle neck from 1790’s to 1820’s and five from 1870’s to 1890’s all are wines or spirits. In my other collection I have 2 from the Marine Palace site dating around 1790’s to 1820’s found in the 1990’s. It may not be the greatest discovery of all time but it is something that is authentic seaside Margate and with the forth coming sea defence works due old bottles is one area that needs researching with the windfall of finds due.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

A Ramsgate situation

Today I had a look at the Shipwreck Heritage Museum at Hastings mostly out of interest and perhaps to get an idea on layout for my forthcoming Margate sands project which is coinciding with the sea defence works due to take place there soon. Going through the artefact's I was surprised to see a cannon recovered off the coast of Ramsgate on display in the Hastings Shipwreck Museum. Obviously it is up to the owner of the cannon to decide where he would like to display his find, and I respect that. However I thought I would never see the day when a recent find from Ramsgate would be on display at another seaside town other than Margate. In a way it just about sums how the heritage side of things is going in Ramsgate .
I know there is the forthcoming tunnels project, but this project is still very much in its infancy and deep down I think more still needs to be done to conserve Ramsgate's other history which we have already got. I am sure as I speak there are active people out there with the same concerns actually doing something about it. So what am I prepared to do you may ask ?
Some readers of the my blog probably think that I live in Margate because of the Margate content. Well actually I live in Ramsgate and I have been a Labour town councillor for almost six months.
During this past six months I have been learning all I can about Ramsgate artwork and artefacts. It has not been easy as I have started from bare bones however I do have experience in this subject regarding Thanet overall. In the next few weeks I am hoping to get something I have written up on the next Ramsgate Town Council meeting to commit the RTC to play an active role in conserving Ramgate's forgotten heritage by having a long term objective to hold a collection of art and artefacts on behalf of the people of Ramsgate. This is something that will not happen overnight, nor will it commit the council to finance someone's hobby, it is about being in a position to accept donation and bequests of meaningful and relevant art and artefacts for the town and stop them going elsewhere. It will also could mean laying claim to former asset's of the historic Borough of Ramsgate.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing as RTC can learn from other mistakes in the past, and is in no hurry so everything could be carefully planned and thought out which is a bit of luxury for local government these days.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Metal detecting Margate a ramble

I first started metal detecting the Margate coastline in 1976 and at the time it was the equivalent to giving a folk guitarist an electric guitar as it did become a case of lets Rock ‘n’ Roll. Thirty five years later, half a lifetime in some cases, I am able to reflect on all the finds that have be made and from experience and research, and I am able to map out what to expect in the future.

Metal detecting Margate falls into three categories. First there are the Clintonville Bays taking in the Lido, Newgate Gap, Walpole Bay and Palm Bay. Then there is the second area I call old Margate from Fort Point groyne near the Winter Gardens, along to where the Turner Centre is, round to the outside of the Harbour Wall, inside the Harbour along the Parade, across the main sands through to the back of the Nayland Rock Hotel and ending behind the Sea Bathing. Finally there is the third area of the West Bays, namely Westbrook, St Mildred’s and Westgate Bay‘s.

Most of my finds and experiences have been the Cliftonville Bays and Old Margate. At their peak the finds at the Cliftonville bays were amazing as the area was perfect for metal detecting with the shallow sand covering over a solid chalk base. Overall the finds did not come into hundreds but thousands upon thousands of individual items. Almost every item was 20th century and was either war debris like bullets, bullet cases or shrapnel or items lost by visitors like personal items like coins and jewellery. At the time as everything found was still in living memory very little was recorded or collected as most items were mass produced or unrelated to an event or had no provenance and barely anything was older than the 1860’s. However, out of the many items found there were still some very interesting finds that should not be disregarded. Eventually after twenty years of constant metal detecting and the construction of groynes and sea defences that have created silting, today as it stands there is very little to be found at the Cliftonville Bays except in a few cases where the sand is deep.

Old Margate there is a different picture because I know that most of the items lost in the mid 1960’s going right back though to the 1800’s, 1600’s and beyond have never been recovered. This is because over the centuries Margate has suffered from silting since the final construction in 1815 of the harbour wall, this in turn has led to layers of history being time locked by continuous silting

Margate during the summer months is constantly metal detected with metal detectors users chasing items lost by visitors. However, in the past thirty odd years there has be very little found on the upper surfaces of the sands that can be regarded as historical except when we get these windows of opportunity. These are caused by nature or by manmade excavations. In each case whenever there been a case over two to three meters of sand being removed from the wet sand in the harbour area there has been evidence of finds dating back to the pre 1860 period and in some cases items from the late 1600’s. There has also been some natural occurrences when for some unexplained reason there will be a small area of the beach that will erode unearthing shards dating back to the late 1790’s plus some old coins. In most cases I have been in on the act.

The finds from repair works and natural occurances during the 1970’s and 1980’s have not been vast running to about less than two hundred but they do point to greater things to come if they are regarded as samples taken from such a small area where work has taken place. Finds have included leads tokens, shards of bellarmine flagon, clay pipes, fragments of onion bottles, Nuremburg tokens, Cartwheel pennies, George III coinage, early Victorian Coinage to name a few.

In the coming months the Margate sea defence works will begin and I am absolutely sure there are going to be some very interesting finds based on all the sampling I have come across. This summer was also very interesting as we had some erosion on the beach that unearthed evidence of Victorian sea side activity which is unique. So on the back of this , Margate this winter is going to experience something very special.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pret a manger shellfish.

Following on from my previous postings regarding shellfish and the Margate sea defence works. I have set about to put a few facts together and this morning's North Westerly wind full on to the Northern Coastline of Thanet certainly put me in the right frame of mind as I walked Margate Beach to think things out.
As mentioned in the previous posting the Pacific Oyster which is an invasive species to our coast can now be found in abundance
and I reckon there must be at least 250,000 on the rocks and in the bays from Minnis Bay to the Walpole Bay tidal pool at Cliftonville. On top of this I have found on the web that a Oyster sold wholesale is worth 40 pence therefore as it stands at present there is a substantial amount of money lying on the rocks between Birchington and Clftonville. As I walked around the tidal pool at Margate I even found a dozen that have come in on the tide in a Pret a Manger condition as in the photograph. Like all Oysters I found beached, I always put them in either the Margate or Walpole Bay tidal pool's something I have done ever since they first appeared on the shoreline 20 years ago.
Many years ago I used to do exactly the same with cockles and when the tidal pools were drained in the spring and autumn the cockles could be retrieved in bulk providing a nice little harvest. With this abundance of the Pacific Oyster perhaps the same could work with Oysters and I have hit on the idea that perhaps annually stocking the Walpole Bay tidal pool with 5,000 small Oysters from along the coast elsewhere . They could be harvested at a later date when the tidal pool is drained annually in the spring and autumn, this could then be a managed harvest and if so think of the dividend. In turn this could be answer to the free for all that is going on at present or even a commercial enterprise.
However, it is not really the Oyster that there is a real concern, it is the harvesting of Limpets. On our coastline we have two types the common Limpet and the Slipper Limpet. In Chinese cooking the common Limpet is a delicacy and looking on the internet it works out that a 15 oz tin is worth $16.99, there is also an Irish company that sells them wholesale. It appears the rubbery bit that adheres to the rock under the conical shell is the part eaten. The Slipper Limpet which is more common in Minnis Bay can also be eaten. Like the Pacific Oyster the Slipper Limpet is an invasive species from America and has been with us since the 1840's. The Slipper Limpet causes havoc in Mussel beds and is partialy to blame for the decline of Mussels in Minnis Bay.

Meanwhile back at Margate the construction of the home made sea defences has begun and I must admit it does look impressive. As usual there is no shortage of sand and looking over towards where the permanent sea defences are to be constructed the sand seems to have banked up in the past few weeks, which has set me back a bit in my search of items over a 100 years old from that area. However, I did manage this morning to find a few bits of clay pipe further along the beach to add to my collection.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Shell Harvesting the myth.

For some reason people shellfish harvesting from our coastline has now become an issue something that puzzles me as harvesting from our coastline has been an activity for centuries. Then I think back to all the severe storms and harsh winters that have tore into the shellfish population with devastating effect, plus the activity from commercial operations off shore. In each case the populations have recovered in fact a severe winter can kill off more shellfish than shore harvesters can harvest in a year. The pacific oyster which 20 years ago was an unusual find has exploded to such proportions that in some areas there are over 50 plus oysters to the square meter in some areas of the Thanet coastline. Years ago such a bounty would have been a bonus for the white English only Anglo Saxon population which would not have been an issue, however because so called migrants are having a few this is now become an issue because they are taking a few. The strange thing is I am a coastal warden and I have my patch which is perhaps one of the densest populations of shellfish in Thanet and the main harvesters are sea birds and to be honest there is absolutely no evidence of excessive harvesting by people.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The big Margate dig - Margate mudlarks ? a new project ?

Nothing has been set in stone yet but the friends of Margate Museum are looking into covering the Margate sea defence works with a new project. Based on the same principles as the London Mudlark projects, the objective is to collect, display and record all items found during and after the sea defence works. This exhibition will also include other historical items previously found along the coast with special interest dedicated to any expected finds from the harbour and main sands area found as a result of the sea defence works and the work done on the stone pier. Which from my experience will have and effect on the entire area.
The museum is hoping to acquire two cabinets for display backed up with all the information, prints etc., for the exhibition manned by the ever growing army of volunteers. It is hoped that anyone who finds anything around the Margate area on the foreshore during the winter months will bring it into the museum so it can be recorded and with with the finders permission, displayed.
This project is not just for historians but for everyone aged from two to ninety two and older. The name Margate Mudlarks has been banded about and I would like to think that anyone who finds anything over 100 years old from this area of Margate and records or donates it to the Margate Museum can be called a Margate Mudlark. Or even better join the volunteer Friends of the Margate Museum group.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Margate sea defence works - research and theories

The Autumn changes of the wind and tide are now starting to have an impact on the eastern part on Margate sands with some noticeable changes. Which is enough to prompt me to walk the areas I have designated in preparation for the forthcoming sea Margate defence works. My objective to pick up anything that is over 100 years.
So far I have found pieces of mineral water bottle and shards of pottery dating no older than the 1880's. Which is hardly surprising because finding anything older than that around the Margate Harbour area both inside and outside the harbour basin is rare, simply because anything of interest dating back beyond the mid Victorian ear is buried deep beneath the sand. In fact over the past 30 years the incidences where items can be found beyond that era due to excavation can be counted on one hand and on each occasion I have managed to be there.
My experiences do lead me to believe that there is going to be some good finds when work starts, so what do we know on the research side ?
Shortly before he died last year local historian Mick Twyman produced an article on Hazard Row in great detail. Written by an historian for historians it does run into pages, however I have been able to break it down into lesser detail for those interested in the forthcoming sea defence works and potential finds.
Hazardous row spanned from the Imperial at the bottom of the High Street to St Andrews Place which is Henry's alley to us local's. Before the construction of Marine Drive in the 1880's the rear buildings at the at the lower High Street fronted the sea and access to the sea could be made from these buildings by wooden steps to the sea and this can be clearly seen in old prints.
In 1623 the area where the Imperial stands was known as Horn corner and from Horn corner to where Mannings stall is today was the entrance to the creek. To cut a long story short there were wooden Jetty revetments constructed around the creek entrance and Hazardous row from there Maritime trade took place during the 1600's.
With the popularity of sea bathing in the 1700's the lower high street became bathing rooms and access to the sea was by steps from a wooden Jetty at the rear of the buildings. From here the likes of Benjamin Beale operated the bathing machine. However, Hazardous row suffered in heavy storms and there are many recorded accounts throughout the 18th Century of loss and damage with the years 1755, 1763, 1767 and 1779 suffering the most damage. In fact the storm of 1767 caused so much damage it almost bankrupted Benjamin Beale at the loss of his bathing station.
After the storm of 1797 a stone construction was built from Horn Corner to the Harbour in 1803 to protect the old town this was was known as the Parade, leaving an arched opening opposite where King Street is today to act as a town drain.
On 15th January 1808 Margate was hit by a fierce North Westerly gale , the predecessor to the current stone Pier was almost destroyed and Hazardous Row was almost completely washed away with many buildings disappearing into the sea.
Following the 1808 storm the current Stone Pier was constructed and a sea wall constructed from where the Clock tower is today to the Nayland. Years later in the 1880's Marine Drive was constructed protecting Hazardous row forever.
Over the years Margate has silted up burying evidence from bathing machine operations, maritime trade, the town drain, the creek and the effects damage by severe storms and from some of these facts the excavation for the sea defence works does look interesting.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

All hands to the pump.

Considering that this summer hasn't been all that wonderful visitor numbers to the Margate Museum are the highest on record which is an endorsement for all the efforts that have been made to revive the Old Town. Love it or loathe it the Turner Center as predicted is the catalyst to this gradual renaissance of everything cultural and artistic Margate has to offer.
The Mods and Rockers at the Museum does appear to be the reason some visitors are there. Even though I am a bit touchy on the subject history is history and as long as it goes along with the truth I will go along with it.
Last weekend a pistol was stolen from a cabinet in the war room which was forced open. The deactivated weapon was a Webley pre war issue and the police are dealing with the matter. The number of volunteers are growing with many pledging a minimum of 30 hours a year to the Museum so it is a case of all hands to the pump. On my part I have been searching far and wide for artefact's for the Museum collection of which I donate. This morning I deposited a 1961 Margate Butlins badge and some Nazi coins for the wartime cabinet into the collection. Above is a scan of more items I intend to donate to the Museum.
The Museum is now collating a library of history books and once numbering is complete the museum will have its own reference library all manned by volunteers. As mentioned in early postings the volunteer base built up by TDC to run the Museum is working very well. With more regular openings it is anticipated that there will be a flow of artefact's donated to the Museum and for anyone thinking of donating items to the Museum it must remembered that once donated the items are the property of the Margate Museum collection owned on behalf of the people by Thanet District Council.
Last night I went to the monthly first Friday event at the Marine Studios Margate to loan out for display the remaining eleven pieces of Sperm Whale bone I am licensed to own , the other forty one licensed pieces are now the property of the Monkton Natural History Museum. As many readers of my blog will know, everything I find of interest from the beaches is now held at the Marine Studios. I expect this collection to grow considerably once the Margate sea defence works get under way.
This weekend the weather is favourable for a walk to look for items over 100 years old around the designated area, all finds will be posted later in the week.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Margate, Mods and Rockers my view

It is a well known fact that nostalgia will always out perform history and the latest exhibition of Mods and Rockers in Margate is doing exactly that. As being someone who is part of a group that studies the history of Margate I do find it hard to view the subject of Mods and Rockers as nostalgic. In fact I believe that these gangs that descended on Margate during the sixties and seventies on bank holidays played a major contribution to the decline of Margate as a tourist resort.
The tourism product in Thanet has always been a very finite business as there is no reliance on the weather, therefore investment in the tourist industry relies more on bank holidays and events to coincide with nice weather more than anything else. In the past when there were good visitor numbers throughout the season but it was always the bank holidays, attractions and events that brought this huge surge of people into the town that made the real money. Just imagine if Folk Week, Dickens Week was to disappear from Broadstairs it would be a disaster. The same applied to Margate in the past, losing disrupted bank holiday weekends proved to be a tipping point when the Mods and Rockers descended on the town in 1964. This set a format for groups of youth gangs as they started to descend on the town throughout the sixties and seventies on bank holiday weekends looking for trouble and bragging rights.
Margate was soon to gain a terrible reputation for gang violence even egged on by national media in one case and families steered well clear of the place on bank holiday weekends. Which hardly inspires business confidence to invest.
I have many accounts of bank holiday violence in my archive and one from the early eighties is an article on a large gang of skinheads running from Margate station and along the seafront shouting racists slogan looking for coloured people, I suppose to beat up. Eye witnesses are reported as seeing some skinheads carry sticks with nails in them which is not a great advert for a tourist resort.
Living in Margate since I was born in1957 up until I moved a few years ago to Ramsgate, I have seen it all at Margate like most who read this blog. Somehow I just cannot warm up to the subject of Mods and Rockers, Skinhead, Punks, Teddy Boys, Soul Boys etc.,,