Friday, 24 June 2011

Starting Out Again by Tony Ovenden

Following the disastrous fire a few years ago at the Ramsgate library the question that went through the minds of Margate historians was what would we do if the Margate Museum suffered the same fate and how would we react. This led to a great rethink within the Margate Historical Society which by then had become fully independent from the Margate Museum. The decision was to research and publish quality articles and distribute the findings as far and wide as possible. Very much the same as what the Margate Civic Society is doing at present, producing and distributing quality items. So if the hub of information is affected by a disaster then information can be pulled back in and it can be business as usual. A fine example of Margates history stored outside the recognised hub of the Margate Museum and library and how it can be achieved has to be Tony Lee's Margate history website which is featured on my favourites side bar.

However, this does not resolve the problem of replacing artefact's which does sound a daunting task. A key to this is how the Margate Museum developed in the past ten years and how easy it is thanks to the Internet to acquire historical artefact's. In fact it is now possible to set up a Museum on a relatively low budget and with public donations of items the possibility of setting up a collection within a year or so is achievable.

I could never understand why after the fire at the Ramsgate library that the history of Ramsgate as told in artefact's and exhibits sort of died, and when the Maritime Museum closed it seems as if everyone sort of gave up. Exceptions being, Ralph Hoult who happens to have his own private museum, Terry Wheelers fledgling Ramsgate Historical Society and the Ramsgate History forum on the net.

Now that I have settled in as a Ramsgate Town Councillor, I have been slowly but surely going through every single print of Ramsgate on the Internet, looking at where I can source items should I need to, I have also started a database on Ramsgate artefact's, I have started buying in items and I am researching into Ramsgate items in local authority ownership. In fact I am using everything I learnt through experience at the Margate Museum as a Margate Historian and I am now applying it to Ramsgate. I doubt if I will ever be an "expert" on the history of Ramsgate but I do know I have the minerals to do something about its sad decline.

I came across this excellent engraving from the Illustrated London news which is going through ebay at the moment for £18.50, it is so tempting.

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