Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Friday, 18 January 2013

Bottle stoppers

 In and around Margate Harbour and the adjacent main sands one of the most common finds  to be discovered areVulcanite bottle stoppers. Common in the fact that on each trip I find at least one.
Vulcanite was patented in 1846 by Goodyear and consists of Vulcanised rubber heated to one hundred and fifteen degrees Celsius and mixed sulphur at a ratio of one hundred to one. It can be moulded and soon became the prefered stopper for the internal screw top glass bottle invented by Henry Barrett in 1872. The early stoppers were wood turned but the reusable and durable nature of the Vulcanite stopper ensured that this type of stopper was to used for 100 years up until the 1970's. At Margate a complete timeline of Vulcanite stoppers can be found reflecting the habits of the people that visited Margate in the past and where they came from. I have recorded that almost all stoppers I have found originate from local mineral and brewery companies or from London as Margate was and still is a popular place to visit by Londoners. Some I must also mention do originate  from the North East of England and are related to the coal trade that passed through Margate Harbour.
In 1998 after the remains of Margate Jetty was finally removed from the landscape many Victorian stoppers appeared around the Nayland Rock and many were still in the host bottle neck that had been broken. Today the origin of most finds is a result of the sea defence works and like 1998 most of the finds are still in their host bottle necks.I must admit in general I do keep attention to detail of everything I find, but I did have this habit of removing the stopper from the bottleneck in order lighten my load plus most stoppers are embossed with the manufactures name, so why keep the neck. This was something I was to later regret because in the Autumn of this year I found on the beach a complete early machine made internal screw top plain bottle without the stopper. If I had kept all my stoppers in their original necks I would have been able to match the neck and stopper with my complete bottle so I am now left guessing.
Above is a photograph of a selection of  stoppers I have found with recent finds now in their host bottle necks. The internet is a wonderful tool and I can match almost 99% of my finds with the relevant information but I still get stuck on a few like WCR Ltd  in a olive green applied lip.
Recently I was given some stoppers by a local inland dump digger and I am now building up a bit of a collection of Vulcanite stoppers. I have sent out some to people who are looking for a particular stopper plus  I have matched stoppers to bottles that are in the Margate Museum collection.
Late 1960's early 1970's Tizer bottle stopper found in Margate Harbour

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sixty years ago.

Sheet piling about to be capped note the spoil that had been dug out.
On night of January 31st this year will be 60th anniversary of the great storm of 1953 that devastated the coast of Eastern England that changed the coastline for some areas for a generation. Margate was no exception and suffered badly from flooding and extensive coastal damage that included the loss of 1829 replacement Lighthouse on the end of the  Stone Pier. It is ironic that a solution to prevent a repeat of that fateful night is due to be completed 60 years later in the spring of this year, namely the Margate sea defence works.
The sea defence work started in late December 2010 providing a once in a lifetime  peep into the past, thanks entirely to the deep digging that took place. Regular readers of my blog will know I have kept a detailed account of the work that took place and of the items found during the underpinning of the Stone Pier.
Shortly after the storm of 1953 reconstruction work started of the Stone Pier that included a new lighthouse. The site was cleared, stone work salvaged and the debris was reused for infill. The work was completed in 1954 and the area directly  below the newly constructed lighthouse was underpinned burying stonework from the original 1815 Stone Pier  construction and the 1829 replacement Lighthouse.
During  2012 works the previous 1954 working was dug out and replaced. This provided an insight into the construction of the Stone Pier with stone work, lead work and pieces of  200 year old wooden piling being found.Others finds included munitions, metal work, glass and many shards of various description  that I collected. One of the problems I had was identifying the shards found and I was to find that the solution was to refer to their point of origin which was London.
I was soon to stumble across many of the London mud larking blogs. One in particular on my side bar is amazing because it identifies items from the the smallest piece of shard. This has now caused me  to review every piece I have found since 2010 in the Margate Harbour and Main Sands area .
 My shard finds are split between the Marine Studios, the Margate Museum and what I have found recently and I am sure that with a bit of detailed research something very interesting will turn up.

In the above photograph is the underpinning below the lighthouse of the Stone Pier through to the square head waiting to be capped. Extensive digging took place in this area and once the spoil washed through so many items were found.

Above, examples of lead work found. On the left a piece of a stone joint with its lead casing and on the right lead work that secured a railing. Both are from the original 1815 construction and both were recovered from the 1954 underpinning that was dug out and replaced in 2012.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Ramsgate matters a new blog

Dave Green has started a new blog at  to open up some adult debate on Ramsgate matters and Ramsgate Town Council of which I am a member.I have also out the link on my side bar.