Saturday, 1 September 2012

Digging up Georgian Margate

Digging up Georgian Margate.

Finding any item apart from coins and tokens relating to Georgian Margate is a very difficult task due to the modern development of the Margate. Even though many fine Georgian buildings remain in the town today it is very difficult to find any items relating to life in Georgian Margate apart from the artwork and archive records in the local Margate museum.

 Since the construction and opening of the stone pier in 1815 and the construction of the sea wall that forms Marine Terrace there has been a continuous build up of sand and silt in the area.  This in turn has buried some evidence of life in Georgian Margate under layers of silt and sand in the harbour and main sands area. With items remaining buried and only accessible when there is sand erosion due to storms or during sea defence construction and repair works.

In the past there have been opportunities to find Georgian items like the aftermath of the storm of 1978 that destroyed the Jetty. The demolition and clear up that followed and the construction of a new sea defence behind the Droit house in 1985 did lead to a few finds. Most of the finds being George II, George III and George IV coins and tokens that were found using a metal detector as this was the only search option because of tidal conditions. Other items made of lead and copper were also found but it was difficult to date these items and establish a provenance from the Georgian period because of the abundance of Victorian items in the area originating from the Jetty and the Victorian Marine Palace site at the Rendezvous car park.  Examinations of all old non metallic items found in the area at the time were found to be all Victorian, Georgian items like ceramic and glass were found to be nonexistent in these areas.

The under pinning works of the Stone Pier in the spring of 2012 provided another  window of opportunity as the excavations that were to take place would lead to some deep digging in the Harbour area. Digging took place close to base of the stone pier wall and sheet piling was driven in and then capped with concrete. Old underpinning from the 1953 reconstruction work was also removed from around the square head area and the lighthouse and replaced. During the 2012 underpinning works a few Georgian items were found during excavation and these items were spread over a wide area, this was probably due to the fact that dredging took place in the Harbour in the 19th century for the paddle steamers and later in the 20th Century for the colliers removing items from the area.
 In one area around the square head remains of the balustrade that surrounded the base of the lighthouse that was lost in the February 1953 storm were found, this included some lead work used in the construction of the stone pier. Inside the Harbour easily identifiable finds like clay pipe stems and bottle necks were found, unfortunately no complete bottles or clay pipe bowls were found. Behind the Droit House on the sea ward side digging unearthed Georgian coins and some shattered remains of the original Droit House bombed during the Second World War which is consistent with the finds found when the cold harbour sea defence was constructed on the site of the Jetty entrance in 1985.

Every year since the summer of 1998 there has been erosion on certain parts of the low tide mark at Margate main sands on a regular occurrence. On some occasions small areas of sand will shift leaving evidence of the clay base of the old creek and brooks that ran through Margate. When this happens large quantities of ceramic and glass items can be found on the surface including intact items. Most items generally date from the 1840’s to the present day. When this occurs there is always an abundance of Victorian and Edwardian items and on some occasions identifiable Georgian items can be found. I have listed Georgian items that have been found in this area along with items found during the sea defence digging and items found in the town. The list is small but each item does have a genuine provenance to Margate.

Tony Ovenden

Friday, 11 May 2012

Visit Margate Museum Can be found just a short walk from the sea front nestled in Margate’s vibrant Old Town. The Thanet Loop bus stops very near by, alternatively Margate train station is a 15 minutes walk along the sea front. Margate Museum, Market Place, Margate Old Town, Margate CT9 1ER Tel 01843 231 213 Open: Saturday 11am – 5pm Wednesday (from April to October) 11am – 4pm Sunday 11am – 3pm Also all Bank Holiday Mondays till October 2012 Please note the Museum is in a Heritage & Listed building and as such is not DDA compliant. The Ground floor is accessible with, help from the wonderful volunteers down the steps inside the current entrance; but the Magistrates courtroom upstairs is only accessible to those able to climb a flight of stairs. Please go and have a look please, and perhaps become Member or Volunteer.

Friday, 13 April 2012


A quick reminder that the Margate Historical Society AGM will be on the 16th April, in the Cecil Square Baptist Church Hall (entrance New Street) starting at 10am.

Membership cards will be required for voting, if you do not have your renewed membership yet, please contact the Secretary on 01843 223300

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Thanet coast life: The sea defence diaries - volunteer No 43

Thanet coast life: The sea defence diaries - volunteer No 43:

'via Blog this'

The sea defence diaries - volunteer No 43

Yesterday I became a card carrying member of Friends of the Margate Museum no 43 and along with my renewal as a ten year member of the Margate Historical Society and my life membership of the Margate Civic Society. I think it goes without saying that I am taking the Margate Heritage Renaissance seriously.
Last night the friends group of the Museum met and there were many issues raised mostly Museum issues and TDC issues of which everything I must say was very positive.
The sunbeam collection held by the Museum will soon be part of a new national archive of sea side photography and this is going to be a Christchurch university project. It will be the first of its kind in the country and Margate will be first or should I say Thanet. This because in the collection there are many photographs of Birchington, Westgate, Cliftonville, Kingsgate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, all of good quality. The photographic collection belongs to TDC along with the entire collection at the museum.
Within the next year the entire TDC Margate Museum collection will be audited renumbered and hopefully streamlined. It is estimated that the entire collection is valued at £450,000 with the most expensive item being the Webb painting in the Turner Center that is valued at £100,000. However, I must add the most valuable items are not kept at the museum.
Visitor numbers are easily expected to pass the 10,000 target the museum has set for a period. One of the Queens bodyguards from the recent royal visit even returned in her time off with her family to take a look at the museum.

Within the Margate museum collection there are many Ramsgate items, it is good news for Ramsgate that Ramsgate photographs in the TDC sunbeam collection will be in the national archive and will go online. The same I suppose will eventually happen to all artwork as most of it will be online. As I am a Ramsgate Town councillor I can ensure Ramsgate readers of my blog that I am noting Ramsgate items in the collection at Margate. In the bottle cabinet are some Ramsgate bottles and on the top shelf for example to the far left is a cream coloured ginger beer bottle. The bottle is impressed George Sykes and it is a rarity. George Sykes in 1878 was producing Mineral Waters from a store at 68 King Street Ramsgate and around 1882 moved his works to a factory at 17 Turner Street. Sykes ceased trading in 1891.

As mentioned in previous postings the Museum will be working on a project called calamity coast - flotsam and jetsam to coincide with the Margate sea defence works, Maritime heritage and the the Thanet art scene. Of which I must say the latter has gone off the Richter scale in my estimations.

I have been going through a few more of my finds found during the sea defence works and I have photographed a few more below.

I have started picking up broken bottle bases that have any inscription, emblem or lettering. This base has the emblem of E.G Wastall , the company started in 1874 had a wine and spirit merchants at 19 High Street, Margate. The bottle base dates pre 1914.

I have found a piece of plate of the New Palace Steamers design. The company ran paddle steamers from London to Margate in its hey day from the 1890's to the start of the First World War. The small piece bearing the company logo was found over a decade ago the larger piece found in February this year was found near the same location.

Broken bottle necks to fuel my obsession of finding Margate Georgian items. It is almost an impossibility to find Georgian bottles intact so I have to settle for broken pieces. The two on the left are around 1730's, the piece to the right of them are probably 1780's and the four on the extreme right are from the 1800 to 1830 period.

These three fragments are common examples found during the sea defence works digging and in the main bay. On the left a neck of a Codds bottle late Victorian, base of a Hamilton torpedo shaped bottle probably 1880's and a top of a Ginger Beer bottle probably late 19th or early 20th century.

Example of iron work found around the square head of the harbour entrance. using a golf ball to give some idea of the scale. To the left a broken stock from an Admiralty pattern anchor. In the middle an iron ball with a hole running straight through it and on the right a rather large Thimble used in maritime rope work.

A few of the miscellaneous items found inside the harbour when the deep digging was taking place over a week ago.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Historical Society AGM April 16th

A quick reminder that the Margate Historical Society AGM will be on the 16th April, in the Cecil Square Baptist Church Hall (entrance New Street) starting at 10am.

Membership cards will be required for voting, if you do not have your renewed membership yet, please contact the Secretary on 01843 223300

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Parakeet club and Margate teenage memories of the 1960s

"Unlike teenagers today who seem to meet in pubs and clubs. We used to meet up in Cafe's. The one that I used was the Parakeet in Northdown Road. In those days, it was run by a truly lovely couple called Doug and Pam. They were very tolerant of us and early evening, before the real money spenders arrived, we could sit and chat with a cup of tea and a bowl of chips. There always seemed to be a strange or weird waitress working there, who normally added to the fun of the place. One would be eating your chips as she walked to the table. Another one would disappear for days to London, get stoned, come back and be in a daze for days. Friends were made, relationships developed, marriages, even divorce amongst the older ones.

There were the two Jewish boys who turned up one day with brand new matching cars with consecutive number plates. Barry who married a girl called Iris, who made him change his surname from Plant to Grant. Sadly, Barry went out fishing one day and never came back. A girl called Cristal who had quite a lot of success as a singer. Brenda who worked for the local hairdresser "Monsieur Jacques" He was always referred to in a fake French accent. Jo-Anne, always winning beauty contests at the Lido.Buzz, who worked at a bank, but when chatting up strangers always told them he was a photographer for the magazine Honey.Brian who was a real photographer.

I could go on and on, but would love to know if there are any old “ members “ of the Parakeet “ club “, still around and maybe we could swap memories of a calmer time. "

A teenage memory by Robin Lovell received by email