Saturday, 6 December 2008

Thanet Newsround

I've been pretty lax at updating the old blog the last few weeks. So, I thought one way back into the swing of things could be for me to pick out some key features from the local news publications. Inclusion on this round up is just stuff that catches my eye, not necessarily of the most importance:

From The Isle of Thanet Gazette, Friday Dec 5th, 2008.

"Six-Figure Spruce-Up"
A curious article gushing over the owners of Dreamland, the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company, supposedly planning to 'do up' the delightful shopping centre at the top of the High Street. Shall we await with baited breath on this one? Things have gone so well for Dreamland. Mind you, could it be any worse than what's there?

"Bob light up the town"
You might be surprised to hear what annoys me about this article. No, it's not Bob and his Kent TV. It's the referral to The Parade opposite Margate Harbour as "The Piazza". Just stop it! It's The Parade. There's no need to rebrand it an italian name. The Parade has done nicely for years and years as, erm, The Parade. Pretentious rubbish and where did the reporter from the Gazette get off rebranding it?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Halloween at the shell grotto

There will be an evening of ghoulish folkloric story telling at the Shell Grotto on the 31st of October Halloween. Too scary for kids apparantly!

"For the first time ever the Shell Grotto will be hosting an event on the night of Halloween. And the mysterious temple is the perfect venue for spooky goings on!

Down in the eerie depths of the Grotto, the Theatre of the Small will present Devil Tales; a puppet show based on early European folk tales, portraying how the Devil tricks mankind and mankind tricks the Devil. Meanwhile, Sandwich storyteller and honorary King of Fools Tony Cooper will spin sinister tales and gruesome stories by candlelight - enter if you dare!"



Monday, 20 October 2008

2 days later 2008


How time flies when you're having... well, how time flies. It's come around again. Time for the 2 Days Later short film competition. The theme as usual is horror. There will be a halloween screening at the Theatre Royal Margate on Saturday 25th of October. The competition is now in it's 6th year and is going from strength to strength. Always good to see good things going on in town.

[Still from Alistair Crow/Alan Mandel/Rozi Owen's On Ice]

Andy Warhol's TV


Went to the Andy Wahol's TV exhibition at Substation on Friday night where they've re-constructed the inside of Kate Jackson's shop, Style Counsel. I think Margate really misses shops like Kate's. There was a time, not so long ago when there were quite a few antique and second hand vintage shops in the Old Town. This was before my time unfortunately. The exhibition has a nice twist to it, where kids can get a £5 voucher to take up to Scott's, another of my fave haunts in Margate and pick up an item and bring it back to the exhibition. The kids then get to keep the object after everything is finished.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Favourite Places - The Harbour Cafe


I think The Harbour Cafe is really the best place in Margate for decor. It's situated on the ground floor of a lovely grand old building, The Royal York Mansions, on the Parade, situated next to the Harbour on The Parade. The owners renovated it from a regular pizza takeaway place about five years ago. It's stripped back bare brick walls and raw floor boards. It's got a slightly vintage feel that isn't trying too hard.

The fave things on the menu are the homemade burger and fat hand cut fries. The Sunday lunch is good. The deserts are lovely, fresh fruit tarts and if they have it in the wonderful chocolate tart.

If they ever closed I'd be lost for somewhere to have an afternoon coffee and cake. They're also dog friendly.

Royal York Mansions
10 The Parade
Margate
CT9 1EZ
01843 290110

Monday, 29 September 2008

Favourite Places - Windshack Cafe



The Windshack cafe is right on the seafront at Minnis Bay. You can see it from a distance by the windsock that flies above. It's popular with dog walkers because the owner Dougle is really friendly and welcoming of dogs. Each dog gets a biscuit! But there's more to it than just dogs. It's in a lovely setting. I've only been the once, so will pop back for a try of their homemade apple pie. I'm told the smoothies are great too.


We need more places like this. What I'd like to see is a really good breakfast place. Can't go wrong with a good breakfast and a sea view.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Favourite places - Batchelors Patisserie


I've been meaning to start posting about some of my favourite places in the area. Then I saw that ECR is calling for input for foodie reviews and it jogged my memory. So, here's the first:

Batchelors Patisserie in Northdown Road. Is a family run business. They freshly bake their own bread and cakes which I think are the best in the wider area, not just Margate. I was particularly impressed with their white loaf, which after a nice chat with the master baker himself, was confirmed as being fat free like it is in much of continental bread. None of their bread contains transfats. Their croissants are really lovely too. They do a nice range of cakes and tarts and some more unusual bread types, such as spelt loaves.

The shop also doubles as a cafe. It has a vintage look with original formica tables from Northdown Road's hey day. One word of advice, don't sit and wait for service, you need to order at the counter! If there were more high quality independent food shops like this in the area, I'd be exstatically happy. Batchelors is a shop that I'm proud to frequent. Couldn't do without it.
They're coming up for their annual holiday on the 27th and will be closed for a fortnight till mid Oct. What shall we do in the meantime? Time to stock up the freezer methinks.

Batchelors Patisserie
246 Northdown Road
Margate
CT9 2PX
01843 221227

Monday, 22 September 2008

Itsy bitsy, teenie weenie


The wraps have started to come off Cliff Terrace. I was saddened to see the size and layout of the ground floor of 14 and 15 (the corner building that is listed). What was previously the shop space has been turned into a ground floor and basement flat. Looking through the windows it's clear just how tiny the rooms are, made all the more tragic is the fact that these face directly onto the street with the old shop windows. I'd imagine the effect is a touch claustrophobic. The bedroom of one room opposite the Lido is so small it looks barely big enough to get a bed in and any furniture at all. There's something to be said for increasing the minimum floor space rather than concentrating on the minimum number of bedrooms.

One other revelation is that TDC social housing didn't want anything to do with the development because the units are so small.If this is true, it makes a mockery of the deal set up with TDC's Empty Properties dept. to renovate the building and bring it back into use with a view to providing some social housing. Secondly, I'm told the building has been sold on from Mr Ward to a social housing group. It's such a shame that a more dignified use and renovation couldn't have been put forward for the building. One that provides room sizes that people are happy to live and function in. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but Cliftonville is full of greedy over development that no one would actively choose to live in.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Clifonville Baths granted listed status

English Heritage have granted Grade II Listed status the baths at the Clifonville Lido. From reading the report, I'm as yet unsure to the extent of the area covered by the listing and how this would affect any proposed development. Interestingly, I think this now affords greater importance to the local area of the Lido and Cliff Terrace. Any development adjacent will now have to be more closely scrutinised by the close vicinity to two listed sites.

Advisor's Report:

REMAINS OF THE CLIFTON BATHS AT CLIFTONVILLE LIDO,
ETHELBERT TERRACE, THANET
Date First Listed:
Formerly Listed As:
Case UID: 163598
Parish THANET
District THANET
County KENT
25-JAN-2008
Adviser: Mrs C Ryan

Advice Text: After examining all the papers on this file and other relevant information and having carefully considered the architectural and historic interest of this case, the criteria for listing are fulfilled.

RECOMMENDATION

CONTEXT
We have been asked to assess The Lido and Clifton Baths, Cliftonville for statutory listing. The
buildings have recently changed ownership and the existing Lido buildings and the remains of the earlier Clifton Baths underneath may be affected by a proposal to build a hotel on the site although a planning application has not yet been submitted. The owners commissioned a report from Canterbury Archaeological Trust which has informed this assessment.

The building does not group with any listed buildings but is situated within a designated
conservation area. Its assessment sits alongside a batch of cases within Margate which has figured prominently in English Heritage's major research project on the history and architecture of seaside resorts, culminating in the publications 'English Seaside Towns' and Margate's Seaside Heritage'.

HISTORY
The complex of buildings on the site are of two distinct phases: an early-C19 sea bathing
establishment, dating from 1824, called the Clifton Baths; and a C20 lido, dating from 1926, called the Cliftonville Lido from 1938. The structures are on four levels, the lower levels excavated from the chalk cliffs and only the upper level, on the landward side, above ground level.

Margate was in the forefront of sea bathing in the C18 with bathers taken into the sea in simple
carts before a fully developed bathing machine appeared there by 1753. This was ascribed to a
Quaker, Benjamin Beale, who added a modesty hood to the rear of a bathing machine, enabling
the bather to enter the sea unobserved and offering some protection from wind and waves. By
1793 a guide to Margate speaks of 30 to 40 bathing machines in use at a time. Bathing Rooms had been established at Margate in the 1750s to the south-west of the harbour from which the bather descended an external staircase on the seaward side into a waiting bathing machine to enter the sea. In 1791 the Quaker physician John Coakley Lettsom established "The Margate Infirmary, for the relief of the Poor whose Diseases require Sea-Bathing" which had its own bathing machine and later sea water baths.

The Clifton Baths were constructed between 1824-8 by John Boys at a cost of £15,000 and
excavated from the chalk cliff north-east of the harbour. An engraving of c1829 shows a Gothick
style fort-like structure with a massive arch at sea level, buildings above with lancet windows,
crenellated parapet and an obelisk-shaped chimney. A detailed description was published in 1830 by George Alexander Cooke, probably based on a visit three or four years earlier. A large domed circular chamber provided storage for 20 to 30 bathing machines which were brought down a curving tunnel to sea level when required. A tunnel also led to the lower reservoir used as a plunge bath for women and children. A horse pump forced sea water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir where it supplied the water for hot baths, the power supplied by a horse gin in the open air. An obelisk-shaped chimney served the boiler but was removed in the later C19. A Bathing Room divided into two wings, the north for gentlemen and the south for ladies, had seven hot baths, shower baths and hip baths but was later demolished. There was a Waiting Room which was also a reading and subscription room and a newsroom which also had an organ and billiard table. The upper terrace had round-headed alcoves, seats and benches for enjoying the sea views. A bathers' terrace was erected by 1831 and a second chimney was erected between 1833- 45.

In 1849 ownership of the Clifton Baths passed to John Boys' son, John Harvey Boys. A map of the Margate Sanitation survey of 1852 shows the subterranean plan of the Clifton Baths with the circular dome, a passage leading off to the north-east, a reading room, bathing room, reservoir, tank and horse pump and further subterranean passages. An engraving of circa 1860 shows a further obelisk-shaped chimney had been built by this date.

In 1869 the site was sold to Thomas Dalby Reeve who built a drill hall for the local Artillery
Volunteers and a boiler house with tall chimney. These are shown on Bacon's map of Margate of 1875. In 1876 electricity was used to generate ozone, believed to be beneficial to bathers. In the 1880s an indoor salt water swimming pool was provided at the north-east corner of the site. This appears on the 1907 Ordnance Survey map and survived until the mid-C20. By 1903 a cinema had been installed into the former Drill Hall, operational until 1929. In 1924 a theatre or concert hall was built east of the indoor swimming pool but was later demolished.
From 1926 onwards the Clifton Baths were re-modelled under John Henry Iles, a leading figure in the amusement park industry between the wars, who also owned the Dreamland Amusement Park.

It was turned into a large modern seaside complex with bars, cafes and restaurants on several
storeys and a large open air swimming pool built out into the sea. These buildings were built on to and over the existing Clifton Baths in a Neo-Classical style with Mediterranean influences, laid out over a series of terraces. The Clifton Baths boiler house chimney was adapted with the addition of a large sphere (probably intended to be a lamp), to be an advertising feature for the new complex.

The lido was a semi-circular shaped pool constructed of concrete which held 1000 bathers and
could be emptied and filled every day with the ebb and flow of the tide. At the landward end it had an amphitheatre for 3000 people and adjoining promenades and cafes. It had slides, diving boards and moored floats. The changing rooms, comprising lockers and timber changing cubicles, were located under the promenade and tiered seating of the open air swimming pool.The Cliff Bar was erected beside the sun terrace and the interior scheme was often re-decorated. The Cliff Cafe, which could seat 1000 people with entertainment provided by orchestras on a circular stage, was erected underneath the the Cliff Bar and much of the Sun Terrace. The Cafe Normandie was a large cafe where dances were held, destoyed by a great storm in 1953 and replaced by the Echoes Nightclub. The French Bar, in existence by 1933, was damaged by fire in 1953 and is now a small bar at the east end of Echoes Nightclub. In it is a painted timber doorway blocking the lower end of the earlier Clifton Baths bathing machine tunnel and next to this part of the flint retaining wall of the Clifton Baths Bathers Terrace. The Jolly Tar Tavern, to the south of the Cafe Normandie used the blocked up mouth of the Clifton Baths lower reservoir as an arched alcove behind the bar. Under the Cafe Normandie was constructed the Cafe Basque by 1929 which had plaster scenery. Currently this is inundated at high tide. On the upper terrace, the south range, west of the boiler house had 50 private bathrooms providing ozonised sea or fresh water treatments. By 1929 hair dressing salons had been erected at the west end of the range, currently in use as a snooker club.

In 1938 the Clifton Baths were renamed the Cliftonville Lido. After the Second World War, circa 1948, the private bathrooms in the south range of the lido were closed and replaced by an aquarium and mini-zoo, a billiard hall and by 1949 a puppet theatre. During the storm of 1953 the open air swimming pool was damaged and the Cafe Normandie wrecked and replaced by the Golden Garter saloon, used for a Wild West type show. By 1962 a nightclub called the Cavern Disco had been established in the dome. By circa 1965 the Cliff Bar was re-decorated with a Caribbean theme and renamed the Jamaica Bar. Circa 1971 the Cavern Disco was renamed the Hades discotheque. In the late 1970s the Echoes Nitespot replaced the Golden Garter Saloon. A turf accountants was built by 1974 above the bar at the west end of the south range. The open air pool closed in 1977-8 and was filled in with sand.

DESCRIPTION
Most of the structures above ground level are buildings constructed for the lido, with the exception of the eastern building of the south range, which is the remains of a circa 1870 drill hall with attached boiler house and chimney. This is a stuccoed single-storey building with blocked round- headed arch with a taller boiler house, both with C20 replaced felted roofs. At the western end is a tall, tapering, square brick chimney with moulded top and base to which was added, in the early C20, a multi-faceted sphere and additional raised panels to provide a striking advertising sign for the lido. The oriignal lettering was replaced some time between the 1960s and 1980 and the beacon was repainted and reglazed in 2003. The remainder of the south range and the west side comprises an L-shaped range of buildings mainly erected in the 1920s for the new lido in a Neo- Classical style, stuccoed with hipped pantiled roofs. At the eastern end is a rusticated archway with flat arch and hipped pantiled roof. Adjoining is a low single-storey range with an off-centre projecting and taller entrance, again with a hipped pantile roof. The range has projecting piers defining the bays, one of which is decorated with a mosaic picture from circa 2000, and at the western end a taller flat-roofed entrance to a snooker club. The junction of the L-shaped range is split by a wide flight of steps up to street level and the two ranges are connected by two pantile-roofed angled pavillions, joined by a pantiled roof across the steps supported on a Tuscan column. Attached to the north-western pavilion is the Cliff Bar, a single-storey stuccoed building with projecting central canted entrance bay with cornice and brackets, rusticated piers and two mosaic panels, also from circa 2000. On the north side, overlooking the sea, is a detached 1920s shelter comprising four Tuscan corner columns supporting a hipped pantiled roof. The western wall of the Cliff Bar drops sharply to sea level and is of three storeys, the bar forming the top level with the former Cliff Cafe below and former Cafe Basque below this. There are 6 bays divided by piers to the two lower levels, rusticated to the base and plain above, and later C20 windows to the top floor. The penultimate bay to the south has a projecting cambered arch, approached up a flight of steps, and projecting pilasters with blank panels. The northern bay is similar. The north (seaward) side of the complex is of two to three storeys high. The west bay is three storeys high and defined by rusticated or plain pilasters with rusticated centre with a round-headed arch to the first floor and a flat arch to the ground floor. The remainder is plainer with rusticated piers defining the bays. The lower level comprised changing rooms for the lido. The tiered concrete terraces of the lido are attached to the north as are the large horseshoe-shaped concrete lido walls. The centre of the seaward side has a large concrete panel with curved top and circa 2000 mosaic. This panel is not shown in a photograph of 1928 but the concrete plinth may be a remaining part of the original diving tower.

Few original internal features remain to the lido buildings as they were frequently refurbished. The Cliff Cafe retains the remains of the stage with four fluted columns and shield but the columns and piers in the remainder of the room have been stripped down, for example losing the Ionic capitals. The Echoes nightclub has a 1970s refurbishment replacing at least two earlier decorative schemes. The changing rooms retain a tiled entrance, wooden changing cubicles and tiled freshwater plunge bath, foot bath and showers.

However, internal features also remain from the 1820s Clifton Baths, such as the circular chamber for storing bathing machines. This is a brick lined chamber, 42 feet (12.8m) in diameter, with eight round-headed arches with a thin brick stringcourse at impost level and alcoves, some lined with chalk blocks, in which the bathing machines were stored. The floor was constructed about ten feet (3m) above high water level. The circular shape made it easier for turning horses. Originally there was a domed roof 33 feet (10m) high which protruded above ground level. This was truncated in the 1920s when the above ground lido buildings were built, and a concrete curved staircase and gallery were added after 1962 when the space was used as a nightclub. From the eastern alcove a wide chalk block lined tunnel with vaulted roof about 100 feet (30.5m) in length, 13 feet (3.96m) high and 10 feet (3m) wide, leads to the beach and was used for bringing bathing machines to and from the beach pulled by horses. The mouth of the bathing machine tunnel is now blocked by a doorway in the French Bar where, looking west, can be seen the flint revetment wall of the bathers' terrace. Halfway along the bathing machine tunnel a straight tunnel, the entrance tunnel, leads west. This was used by both staff and patrons and was wide enough for small vehicles. Only the curving lower portion is currently accessible, the rest cut off by C20 alterations. From the west alcove a curved staircase tunnel constructed of chalk-block walls with segmental brick vaulted roof and thirty four steps provided access to ground level for foot passengers and survives in a mutilated condition. At the north-west end a straight horse pump tunnel, 120 feet (36.5m) long lined in brick with some knapped flints, communicated with the horse pump supplying sea water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. Almost immediately leading off the northern wall of the horsepump tunnel is a further narrower curved brick-lined tunnel, called the reservoir tunnel, leading to the lower reservoir. The lower reservoir is a rectangular vaulted chamber about 80 feet (24.4m) long by 18 feet (5.5m) wide, slightly wider at the outward north western end and with a rounded eastern end. It was open to the air at the far end through a huge archway. The reservoir was cut directly into the chalk with a high semi-circular vault of large chalk blocks but the south-west wall has been extensively revetted in brick. It is thought that the reservoir walls were originally lined to a certain height with cement. A wide blocked cambered arch to the exterior is now visible in the former Jolly Tar Tavern. It is possible John Boys' self-acting valves or other features may survive within the brick-lined apron at the north-west end.

ASSESSMENT
Surviving culture and recreation buildings of pre-1914 date are likely to have rarity value and
warrant serious consideration for listing. Much greater selectivity is applied to the period between the First and Second World Wars. Criteria include architectural quality, the quality of internal and external decoration, including sculpture and murals, historical associations, novelty and rarity in surviving examples of popular culture and intactness.

The surviving parts of Clifton Baths, constructed between 1824-8, are an early and rare example of a seabathing establishment. Quebec House in Portsmouth of 1754 (listed Grade II) is the earliest surviving example but it was built on a domestic scale and is now a house. Nos. 2 and 4 High Street, Swanage, Dorset (Grade II) was built in 1825 as baths, billiard and coffee rooms but is now Conclusion: The remaining structures of the early-C19 Clifton Baths, all currently below ground, are recommended for statutory listing. The later-C19 drill hall, boiler house and chimney and the structures of the C20 Cliftonville Lido, including the earlier boiler house chimney adapted to provide advertising signage are not recommended for statutory listing becase of the degree of alteration although they have local historical interest in domestic use. Pelham Place in Hastings, built 1824-8 (Grade II) originally included seawater
baths but these have not survived. An example in Cromer of circa 1828 is also now in domestic
use. Two examples from the 1830s, Allonby House in Allonby, Cumbria of 1835 and The Bath
House at Ilfracombe, Devon of 1836 (both Grade II) have impressive Neo-Classical fronts but have been converted into residential use. The earliest surviving seawater bath appears to be the small marble hot brine bath of c1845 at Shanklin, Isle of Wight (listed Grade II) originally situated in the c1817 fisherman's cottage nearby. The Clifton Baths retains an early and rare survival of a seawater plunge bath, (the lower reservoir) and the only known structure in the country purpose-built to store bathing machines and convey them to the beach (the dome and bathing machine tunnel). The Clifton Baths is unique also as the only known example of a seabathing establishment to be dug out of the cliffs which altered the existing topography. While little survives in stylistic terms, given the overbuilding of the lido, the original choice of a Gothick style was very much of interest, and contributed to the picturesque, scintillating enjoyment of the bathing experience; this does remain in the way the baths exploit the cliffside, maintaining an element of mystery and pleasure as well as the interaction with nature. The 1920s and later Cliftonville Lido buildings would, had they survived intact with lido, terraces,
restaurants and bars, cinema, concert hall and theatre, zoo and aquarium have comprised a
remarkably comprehensive range of inter war seaside entertainment buildings in stylish Neo-classical buildings. Sadly the existing buildings have suffered from degradation of architectural details and been the subject of constant internal re-fitting and the lido itself was damaged in the storm of January 1978 and subsequently filled with sand. The adapted circa 1870 Clifton Baths boiler chimney became a striking iconic advertising sign to the later lido but unfortunately it has been altered since the 1920s, the original lettering to the chimney replaced between the 1960s and 1980 and the beacon repainted and reglazed in the summer of 2003.
Reasons For Designation Decision: The surviving parts of the Clifton Baths are recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Constructed between 1824-8 this is one of the earliest surviving seawater bathing
establishments in the country, only two listed examples being earlier in date, both of which were later converted to residential accomodation.
* The lower reservoir is probably the earliest surviving seawater plunge bath in the country;
* The circular chamber and bathing machine tunnel of the Clifton Baths are the only known
examples of purpose-built structures built to store bathing machines and convey them to the
beach;
* The Clifton Baths is the only known example of a sea bathing establishment which was dug
out of the cliffs, altering the existing topography.

COUNTERSIGNING
First Countersigning Adviser: Dr P Stamper
Second Countersigning Adviser: Ms E Gee
Comments: Agreed.
This is a special survival indeed. Extensive research by Canterbury
Archaeological Trust, together with fulsome English Heritage research into the architecture of
the seaside, and ongoing work into the specific history of bathing huts by an outside historian
provides a very clear context in which to make our assessment. This early-C19 architectural
infrastructure to enable a health andpleasure filled experience of sea bathing is a very
interesting survival and that it remains in Margate, with its own claims to earliness in seaside
terms provides additional interest. Even with the losses set out in our advice, the internal
survival certainly renders it listable at Grade II. While characterful, particularly the trademark
chimney, we are not recommending the inter-war lido buildings above, given the degree of
alteration and the much more rigorous context in which such buildings must be assessed.
30-APR-2008
Comments: Agreed. List surviving early C19 parts of Clifton Baths. The structures at Margate
are a rare survival from the early days of sea-bathing, their complexity reflecting the
investment made by its promoters at Margate. By contrast, the lido structures are much later,
and elsewhere survive in a much more complete condition. The Margate lido structures should
not be listed.
09-APR-2008
HP Director:
Comments:

Proposed List Entry

ETHELBERT TERRACE
MARGATE
REMAINS OF THE CLIFTON BATHS AT
CLIFTONVILLE LIDO

Seabathing baths. The Clifton Baths were constructed between 1824-8 by John Boys at a cost of
£15000, excavated from the chalk cliff north-east of Margate harbour. The Gothick style exterior of flint and stone was mainly overbuilt by buildings of the Cliftonville Lido, constructed from 1926 onwards, which are not of special interest. The remaining features of the Clifton Baths are below ground level, excavated out of the chalk cliffs, lined in brick or chalk blocks with some knapped flint visible.

PLAN: Comprises a circular chamber for the storage of bathing machines with eight alcoves from which passages lead off to the east, west and north-west and a further passage, leading off the north side of the north-west passage, leads down to the large rectangular Lower Reservoir designed as a plunge bath for females and children.

DESCRIPTION: The circular chamber is brick lined in Flemish bond and is 42 feet (12.8m) in diameter with eight round-headed arches with a thin brick string course at impost level and alcoves, some lined with chalk blocks, in which bathing machines were stored. The floor was constructed about ten feet (3m) above high water level. The circular shape made it easier for turning horses. Originally there was a domed roof 33 feet (10m) high which protruded above ground level. This was truncated in the 1920s when the above ground lido buildings were built, and a concrete curved staircase and gallery were added after 1962 when the space was used as a nightclub. From the eastern alcove a wide chalk block lined tunnel with vaulted roof about 100 feet (30.5m) in length, 13 feet (3.96m) high and 10 feet (3m) wide, lead to the beach and was used for bringing bathing machines to and from the beach pulled by horses. The mouth of the Bathing Machine Tunnel is now blocked and the original opening can be seen in the French Bar of the later Cliftonville Lido, which also preserves the flint revetment wall of the Bather's Terrace of the Clifton Baths. Halfway along the Bathing Machine Tunnel a straight tunnel, the
entrance tunnel, leads west. This was used by both staff and patrons and was wide enough for small vehicles. Only the curving lower portion is currently accessible, the rest cut off by C20 alterations. From the west alcove a curved Staircase Tunnel constructed of chalk-block walls with segmentel brick vaulted roof with 34 steps provided access to ground level for foot passengers and survives in a mutilated condition. At the north-west end a straight Horse Pump Tunnel 120 feet (36.5m), long lined in brick with some knapped flints, communicated with the horse pump supplying sea water from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir. Almost immediately in the northern wall of the Horse Pump Tunnel is a further narrower curved brick lined tunnel, called the Reservoir Tunnel, leading to the Lower Reservoir. The Lower Reservoir is a rectangular vaulted chamber about 80 feet (24.4m) long by about eighteen feet (5.5m) wide, slightly wider at the outward north-western end and with a rounded eastern end and
originally open to the air at the far end through a huge archway. The reservoir was cut directly into the chalk with a high semi-circular vault of large chalk blocks but the south-west wall has been extensively revetted in brick. It is thought that the reservoir walls were originally lined to a certain height with cement. A wide blocked cambered arch to the exterior is now visible in the Jolly Tar Tavern of the Cliftonville Lido. It is possible that John Boys' "self-acting valves" or other features may survive within the brick-lined apron at the north west end. Other features of the Clifton Baths may survive beneath 1920s and later structures of the Cliftonville Lido which were superimposed on the earlier fabric.

HISTORY: Margate was in the forefront of sea bathing in the C18 with bathers taken into the sea in simple carts before a fully developed bathing machine appeared there by 1753. This was ascribed to a Quaker, Benjamin Beale, who added a "modesty" hood to the rear of a bathing machine, enabling the bather to enter the sea unobserved and offering some protection from wind and waves. By 1793 a guide to Margate speaks of 30 to 40 bathing machines in use at a time. Bathing rooms had been established at Margate in the 1750s to the south-west of the harbour, from which the bather descended an external staircase on the seaward side into a waiting bathing machine to enter the sea. In 1791 the Quaker physician John Coakley Lettsom established "The Margate Infirmary for the relief of the Poor whose Diseases require Sea-Bathing" which had its own bathing machines and later sea water baths.

The Clifton Baths were constructed between 1824-8 by John Boys at a cost of £15,000, excavated from the chalk cliff north-east of the harbour. It is estimated that the total quantity of the chalk excavated and removed was 40,000 cubic yards (30,584m3). An engraving of circa 1829 shows a Gothick style fort-like structure with massive arch at sea level, buildings above with lancet windows, crenellated parapet and an obelisk-shaped chimney. A detailed description was published in 1830 by George Alexander Cooke, probably based on a visit three or four years earlier. A large dome provided storage for 20 to 30 bathing machines which were brought down a curving tunnel to sea level when required. A tunnel also led to the Lower Reservoir used as a plunge bath for women and children. A horse pump forced sea water from the Lower Reservoir to the Upper Reservoir where it supplied the water for the hot baths, the power supplied by a horse gin in the open air. An obelisk-shaped chimney served the boiler but was removed in the later C19. A Bathing Room divided into two wings, the north for gentlemen and the south for ladies, had seven hot baths, shower baths and hip baths but was later demolished. There was a waiting room which was also a reading and subscription room and a
newsroom which had an organ and billiard table. The Upper Terrace had round-headed alcoves, seats and benches for enjoying the sea views. A bathers' terrace was erected by 1831. A second chimney was erected between 1833-45.

In 1849 ownership of the Clifton Baths passed to John Boys' son, John Harvey Boys. A map from the Margate Sanitation survey of 1852 shows the subterranean plan of the Clifton Baths with the circular dome, a passage leading off to the north-east, a reading room, bathing room, reservoir, tank and horse pump and further subterranean passages. An engraving of circa 1860 shows a further obelisk-shaped chimney had been built by this date.

In 1869 the site was sold to Thomas Dalby Reeve who built a drill hall for the local Artillery Volunteers and a boiler house with tall chimney. These are shown on Bacon's map of Margate of 1875. In 1876 ozone baths were produced by an electrical process and in the 1880s an indoor salt water swimming pool was provided at the north-east corner of the site. This appears on the 1907 Ordnance Survey map and survived until the mid-C20. By 1903 a cinema had been installed into the former Drill Hall which was operational until 1924. In 1924 a theatre or concert hall was built east of the indoor swimming pool but was later demolished.

From 1926 onwards the Clifton Baths were re-modelled under John Henry Iles, a leading figure in the amusement park industry between the wars, who also owned the Dreamland Amusement Park in Margate. The site was turned into a large modern seaside complex with bars, cafes and restaurants on several levels and a large open air swimming pool projecting into the sea. These buildings were built onto and over the remaining parts of the Clifton Baths in a Neo-Classical style with Mediterranean influences, laid out over a series of terraces. From 1938 the name was changed from the Clifton Baths to the Cliftonville Lido.

SOURCES:
Peter Seary, "The Cliftonville Lido, formerly the Clifton Baths, Margate". A Canterbury Archaeological Trust Report of October 2007.
Allan Brodie and Gary Winter, "England's Seaside Resorts". English Heritage (2007) ps 104-5.
English Heritage, "Margate's Seaside Heritage" (2007)
Janet Smith, "Liquid Assets" English Heritage (2007) ps 70-71.
Nick Evans, "Dreamland Remembered" 2005 Edition. P 85-111.

Conservation Area Advisory Group update

In follow up to the last post re the setting up of a Conservation Area Advisory Group, I've had a few people get in touch. So it looks like we're on our way. Just need to set up a first get together meeting. If anyone is still interested and want to join, please feel free to get in touch.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Let's set up the Margate Conservation Area Advisory Group

Thanet Council has had a bit of a hard time finding people to come together to form groups to go alongside the designated Conservation Areas. There is a requirement for there to be an advisory group comprised of lay people, i.e. not council officials, to fulfill a number of functions. TDC put a list of the possible role of the groups:

- Help formulate proposals for the enhancement of Conservation Areas.
- Help seek and support funding opportunities for agreed schemes for enhancement and
maintenance of the Conservation Areas.
- Help develop stewardship by raising public awareness
- Comment on planning applications within the Conservation Areas.
- Comment on issues which may affect the Conservation Areas.

So far, it was put over to the Margate Civic Society to see if they could drum up interest in setting up a Margate CAAG. However, much ringing and writing of emails to the Society, what I got in return was that they don't know anything about the CAAGs. So back to TDC. There I was informed that it might be a good idea me to try to organise one myself and take it from there.

So, here it is. The call for anyone interested to join me in setting up Margate's Conservation Area Advisory Group. Please email me and lets see if we can get this ball rolling. Designated Conservation Areas require management and the involvement of the communities living in them.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Ramsgate got Paxer we got Nasty Nick

I'm still catching up with the Thanet blogosphere (is there anything else?). I notice that ECR spotted Jeremy Paxman at Peter's Fish Factory in good old Ramsgate. Well, would you believe it, but I spotted Big Brother's Nasty Nick enjoying a glass of vino at the Harbour Cafe on the newly renovated "piazza" as it's threatened to be rebranded at the Parade in Margate. And that's next door to Peter's Fish Factory, so one wonders if there is some kind of promotion going on bringing grumpy old blokes to town.

Yikes! All fall down!

Wandering around over the weekend and I came across a couple of structures falling down. First a large portion of a tree crashed to the ground at the Thanet Road entrance of Dane Park. Narrowly missing the chaps on community service who have been painting the railings. Hope the tree wardens have it all in hand.


Then the fire service were out removing scaffolding at the lower end of the high street that had partially collapsed.


Never a dull moment.

Monday, 21 July 2008

"Mr Turner gets steamed up!"

I was glad to have stumbled across Robert Poulter's New Model Theatre on the Harbour Arm this weekend. I hadn't realised it was on. We caught the showing of "Mr Turner gets steamed up!" which was a jaunty piece about Margate's most famous visiting artist and his liason with a certain Mrs Booth who had a house at what is now the Yacht Club building.

Robert advises signing up to his mailing list to keep up with his latest works as he doesn't get time to update his website.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Twinkle twinkle little boat


The Celestial Radio boat came to Margate on Saturday. Just at the right time, in the sunny slot before the clouds came.

The rest of my Margate travels saw that there doesn't seem to be visible damage to the Arcadian building on Fort Hill. So not sure where the reported fire was. And talking of fires, The Today Programme reported a fire in Westgate this morning, but I have so far not found reference to it in the news channels.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Thanet's dog accessible beaches


As a new owner of a four legged furry friend, I was interested to know which beaches I could take the pooch to over the summer. TDC's dog guide on their website unfortunately doesn't have a map or illustration of the various bays and beaches where I can take my canine friend. They have a list of beach names, but some are so small or local that they don't come up in google maps. As a newcomer to the area, I've no idea where Fulsam Rock is and neither will other tourists.

I called TDC who offered to post me a leaflet. I declined in deference to saving on paper and time. But would be nice to have a map on the site, please, TDC. Should be simple enough.

We apologise for the interuption in service...

Sorry folks, well, the small amount of readers of this little blog. I've neglected this blog over the last few weeks. But on one of my last trips out to survey the progress on Cliff Terrace, I noticed the bargain price of £139,000 has been literally scribbled out on the hoarding.



Is this indicative of a price hike or a price drop?

Hopefully, with the credit crunch biting someone will buy the job lot of them and reconvert to shops. Hopeful? No, but you can but dream.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Dreamcoaster



A good time was had at the Dreamcoaster exhibition and party this weekend at Substation. The scenic railway has been rebuilt in model form from donated timber. The exhibition has a lovely collection of vintage posters and artifacts from Dreamland and great video footage from back in the day screening from the working park. On Friday there was a reading from Margatonian author, Iain Aitch and Saturday, we stuffed ourselves full of candyfloss, and were entertained by the highly amusing performance from one third of the Dead Victorians group and his musical sheep. All washed down with a fish and chip supper from Peter's and a pint down at Barnacles.


Discussions were abound at what is the one true name of the long sticking out stone walkway into the Harbour. The local contingent swear it has only ever been referred to as the Harbour Arm in this recent phase of renovations. Previously it was known as the 'Stone Pier'. The wooden structure that was destroyed in storms in the 70s was apparantly the 'jetty'. The Parade where Angela's, Peter's Fish Factory and the Harbour Cafe are sited is also bandied about recently as being amusingly referred to as 'The Piazza'.

More parties, please! It cheers us up in the rainy season.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Days left for consulatation on the proposed sell of Margate properties


The consultation with the ironically titled, 'Making the most of our Margate properties', ends on June 6th. I took a trip out to Northdown House yesterday for a look round. It's such a lovely building and in what must have been an elegant park setting, this is surely one of the key items in the sale. However, is the credit crunch period the best time to sell off the family silver?


Comments can be emailed to hannah.thorpe@thanet.gov.uk

The 16 properties in the proposal are:

1. Booth Place Margate Cliftonville West Suggested by local people that this should be developed as a garden with parking and small residential development.

2. Dalby Square Margate Cliftonville West Retention of green space with some development with improved road layout.

3. Land adjacent to Media Centre Margate Margate Central Potential residential or mixed use development.

4. Northdown House and depot, Cliftonville Margate Cliftonville East Residential conversion of the house, with possible ground floor retention for appropriate community use. Depot to become six cottages.

5. 45 Hawley Square, Margate Margate Margate Central Residential or commercial use.

6. 22 Cecil Square, Margate Margate Margate Central The Post Office will remain, with the upper floors converted for commercial or residential use.

7. Land at Barnes Avenue, Westbrook Margate Westbrook Will not involve significant built development. Any use will be community related.

8. Land at Knockholt Road, Cliftonville Margate Cliftonville East Could be used for additional garden space for adjacent properties

9. Albion House Ramsgate Eastcliff The majority of ground floor and basement retained for community use, building brought in line with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act, with the upper floors converted for residential use.

10. Albion Place Car Park, Ramsgate Ramsgate Eastcliff Re-instating the early 19th century terrace for possible residential use.

11. Land at Dumpton Park Drive, Broadstairs Broadstairs Viking Possibility of building one property and extending the gardens for neighbouring properties.

12. Garage 3 Colemans Yard, Ramsgate Ramsgate Central Harbour Possible residential use.

13. Closed toilets Boundary Road Ramsgate Eastcliff Possible commercial use, maybe as a café.

14. Land at Greenfield Road Ramsgate Northwood Possible use for garden extensions.

15. Motor Museum, Westcliff Hall Ramsgate Central Harbour Possible commercial use.

16. Vere Road Car & Coach Park Broadstairs Bradstowe Improved coach parking, with some residential development.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Thanatos - Isle of the dead


Nice little feature on BBC Kent today regarding the origins of the Isle. There is a reference to a fact I'd not realised that Thanet has more Bronze Age burial grounds than anywhere in Britain.

In March there was the discovery of a Bronze Age skeleton at Monkton where the new salad growing glasshouses will go.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Harbour Arm opening weekend




Thank goodness the weather was better on Friday and Saturday than today. The opening of the Harbour Arm works has gone off with a real success. Lovely to see it all come together. They really pulled it off at the eleventh hour.

IOTA Gallery put on a great exhibition of works with the promise of more quality contemporary art to come. Sorry it's gone from Ramsgate, folks, but it's just the kind of organisation needed by Margate if it's to live up to the arts being at the centre of regeneration.

The renovations of the fishermen's sheds look to be great quality. The idea of swapping out the top hatch loading doors for glass panels has worked brilliantly.

Spending time at the end of the Arm it's clear what a great view of Margate this is and how the cafe bar at the end will be one of the best spots in town. Immediately at the water's edge without traffic in between you, your thoughts and the view of Margate.

On Saturday there were foodstalls, which I hope will continue on a regular basis (although no info on that yet). There is a lack of small food shops in central Margate and a weekly food market could be a real draw for visitors and a positive addition to the town.


Last night's celebrations were topped off with a firework display that was simply stunning. So yes, I'm a bit gushing about the new kid in town, but it's well deserved. It came together from conception to realisation in record time. I look forward to many happy hours spent looking back to Margate and seeing it all come together.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Sunday School wins Town Pride award



The Emmanuel Church Sunday School on Addington Square is pictured in last week's Adscene. The article states that it is referred to as "an accomplished conversion" and further "This property could easily have been pulled down and a block of flats put in its place".

There seems to be an assumption that if a building is merely converted into flats that it is somehow worthy of an award and that permission would have been granted for it to be demolished.

Why would a building like this have been earmarked for demolition?

It resides in a designated Conservation Area and the criteria for permission to demolish are pretty clear. Demolition would only be permitted if what replaces it would add or enhance the Conservation Area. The loss of a historical building of this nature would have been a pretty high cost when the area is already full to overflowing with converted flats.

Here's how the building looked before renovation:


The not substantial building now houses three flats with the new upper floors cutting across the windows. Personally, I'm unsure why this is referred to as an accomplished conversion.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Elephants ahoy!

Marvelous footage posted over at Eastcliff Dicky's site from Margate's own Mr Bling. Relating to my earlier post, Mr Bling has unearthed footage of mechanical elephants in action.

Sorry I've not been posting much the last few weeks. Have been up to my ears in the proverbial. Hoping that service will resume with more fervour in the summer.

One thing I've been mulling over is to start a Margate or Thanet events calendar in Google Calendar. If people think this is a good idea, perhaps send me details of your event and I can add it. I know I've missed out on a few events of late through not hearing about them in time.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Dreamcoaster Event



The Save Dreamland Campaign have announced details of an event in team with Limbo Arts for a fund raising event, celebrating Dreamland's heritage. The event will take place at Substation in Bilton Square. People are invited to bring in bits of wood to help construct an artistic version of the scenic. The build week is 23-30 May and the exhibition from 31 May - 7th June. Get foraging in those sheds! Your own shed, of course!

Thursday, 8 May 2008

KCC to sue Turner 1 architects

Heads up from Ramsgate's finest that KCC is to take legal action over original Turner Contemporary scheme.

It seems KCC is hell bent on regaining some of the £6m it spent on the ill fated scheme from the architects. I wonder what chance they have?

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Giant horse proposed for Ebbsfleet




Some lighter news: Giant horse proposed for Ebbsfleet.

Another listed building in Margate goes up in flames



Grade II listed 49-50 Hawley Square went up in flames last night. That's the third fire in almost as many weeks. The building has sadly been gutted on the inside. However, a fire officer was overheard by a local resident to say to council officials that the facade is structurally sound. This has yet to be confirmed. But hopefully this means that all is not lost and the building can be saved and rebuilt from the inside.


I've yet to research the history of this particular building. It was apparantly bought and awaiting development. Hence another development site up in smoke in Thanet.

More info from BBC News

Details of the building listing can be found at English Heritage's site: Images of England. You have to sign up for free registration to access the listing details of properties. The listing for 49-50 states:

IoE Number: 356571
Location: 49 AND 50 HAWLEY SQUARE (west side)
MARGATE, THANET, KENT
Photographer: Mrs Claire Hughes
Date Photographed: 13 May 2003
Date listed: 22 February 1973
Date of last amendment: 22 February 1973
Grade II

1380HAWLEY SQUARE(West Side)Nos 49 and 50TR 3570 NW 1/5010.4.51.

1. 1380 HAWLEY SQUARE (West Side) Nos 49 and 50 TR 3570 NW 1/50 10.4.51. II GV 2. Late C18. Originally one house and similar to Nos 47 and 48. 4 storeys and basement red brick ground floor stuccoed. Modillion cornice below the parapet. 3 windows in all. 2 bay windows on the ground floor. Fine doorcase with projecting cornice, Ionic ½ columns, a segmental fanlight with Gothick glazing and 8 panel moulded double doors. Nos 39 to 51 (consec) form a group.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Cliff Terrace - TDC blowing their own trumpet

The latest edition of Margate Newsletter from Margate Renewal hails the work going on at Cliff Terrace to be an "Eyesore Finally to be Transformed".
"Work is finally underway to transform a beautiful group of empty buildings in Cliftonville, after intervention from Thanet District Council."
Quite. Yes, the buildings are now going to be transformed to be 100% residential flats, which has meant the loss of the original shops and shopfronts on the groundfloor level. This was contrary to the advice of a conservation officer at TDC. So Cliftonville will add a few more flats to it's already bulging roster.

Let's also remind TDC that they did not apply for 14 and 15 Cliff Terrace (the end ornate building) to be listed or protected. That was down to a local resident. TDC threatened a Compulsory Purchase Order and then found a developer to turn the whole site into residential. In so doing there has been the loss of original shops and shopfronts and the creation of flats that sit directly at street level on a busy corner. Now, aren't these exactly the type of housing units that are difficult to shift in this area?

There was no need for the building to have fallen into such a state of disrepair had TDC acted earlier. The creation of more flats, as residents of Cliftonville will know very well, does not always bring a better environment.

So, why did TDC need to push through the plan for 14 and 15 Cliff Terrace to be converted to residential? The listed building status gave them enough clout to limit residential flats to the upper floors.

Here's the officer's formal complaint:
Brian White – Head of Development Services
Thanet District Council
Cecil Street
Margate
Kent
CT9 1XZ

21st December 2007

Dear Mr. White,

L/TH/07/1527 – 14-15 Cliff Terrace, Margate
FORMAL COMPLAINT

The above building was listed on 15th October 2007. This necessitated the submission of a listed building consent following the previous granting of planning consent for the conversion of the building in to flats.

The building is a purpose built shop with a tearoom and letting rooms over. The list description notes the remains of the historic shopfront.

In common with the planning application, the listed building consent application proposed alterations to the ground floor to facilitate a domestic conversion. Whilst such an alteration might be acceptable in a building that was not listed, it departed from the original form of the building in a manner that would be detrimental to its historic character. Any alteration to this building should serve to re-enforce that character – as stated in policy HE1 of the Thanet Local plan.

I gave my advice on this application to the case officer by e-mail on 7th December. Upon discussion, the case officer told me that she did not intend to follow this advice. When questioned as to why this might be the case, she responded that she was the planning officer.

I am employed by both this Authority and English Heritage to advise on matters concerning the historic built environment, especially listed buildings. I am a chartered Architect and a full member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

In a situation such as this, one affecting the character of a listed building, my advice should be the paramount consideration in the determination of the application. There is no point in employing me if my opinion, on matters that I am uniquely qualified to opine, is ignored.

On the face of it, it would appear that the decision to grant this consent was the unilateral decision of the planning officer. This being the case I wish to bring a formal complaint against the case officer for professional misconduct.

Yours sincerely,


Nick Dermott IHBC RIBA

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Tracey from Margate paid a visit

A bit late in posting this, but I can't miss posting the column from one of Margate's most famous artists no longer in residence. I must say I share some of her views. It's sad to see so much of Margate's good disappear before our eyes. But I still believe good things will happen here and all is not lost forever. Much can be brought back of there is a will.

I would add to Miss Emin's wishlist to bring back a working bathing machine. All the visitors I've had over the last year on hearing about Margate's early tourism history have asked if there is something to see from this era. I'd also like to bring back the mechanical elephant. The wonderful spectacle from Royal Deluxe that took place in London a few years ago is now a major tourist attraction in France.

Margate needs more attractions not flats.

Tracey's article in full:

"I've spent the past few days doing exactly what I wanted to do. I've been driving, driving round and round and round, not just aimlessly but with some intention, with an instructor. The idea was to become more confident, neater, more precise. So I bought myself the time and the teacher. After hours of reverse parking, parallel parking, windy country lanes and motorway safety, I do feel a slightly better driver. But the whole point of driving is to get me somewhere. And today my driving has got me to Margate. It's got me back to exactly where I came from.

I'm like one of those people who sit in their car with a flask and a sandwich watching the tide roll in. It's so windy, the spring tides are rising high and a crest of white foam rides on top of almost every wave. The sea shelf is black in high contrast to the pale blue sky with puffy Cirrus clouds. There is a slight pinkiness to them and a slight pinkiness across the sea to give a vision of a strange nostalgia, like looking at an old tinted photograph. Sea gulls flap around, dodging in and out of the wind, swooping and diving like a cliché from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

As a child we had a plaque hanging up on the kitchen wall. It was blue with a white seagull flying high and below the seagull were the words: "If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it's yours." At the age of 10 I always thought this quote from Jonathan Livingston Seagull was the most profound thing in the whole world, and I suppose to a certain extent it is.

Margate for me should be somewhere I rejoice to come back to. A sort of spiritual place bound up in childhood memories and the fecundity of the sea. It should be a place of passion mixed up with Edwardian charm. A place of kinky contradictions, that's how Margate always used to be. But now every time I approach the Golden Mile I am filled with dread and fear of what I may think.

Every time I come here something has gone, something is missing. This time it's the scenic railway. Another time it's the big wheel. After the storms of 87 it was the pier. In the Eighties it was the entire Lido complex. Every single time I come something has been burnt, destroyed, fire bombed, boarded up, demolished or just completely forgotten about and left to go in to a tragic state of disrepair.

It's strange to witness the death of a town. In some ways there is a melancholy romance. It's like the tragic set of a film, but the sad thing is that the star is Margate. Margate has become Britain's tragic Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard, almost nothing can save her.

I never imagined in a million years that, at the age of 44, I would be sitting in my car, staring out of my window, thinking these thoughts. As a child Margate had magic. It had charisma. It had a sense of humour. But it also had incredible architecture, thousands of holidaymakers, daytrippers, beauty competitions, a thousand fish-and-chip shops, a harbour full of hundreds of brightly coloured fishing boats and an incredible Victorian funfair.

All of this had the backdrop of some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. And that is not an exaggeration. Turner painted enough of them. And if you study Turner's seascapes, in many of his miscellaneous seascapes, imaginary seascapes, the sunset you most definitely see sets in Margate. There is something about this place which is so shaggable. It lends itself to raunchy. It makes me feel sexy being here. Even with the depression of everything falling down, everything collapsing, the sexiness of Margate overrides any of that kind of depression. Kiss Me Quick is an understatement. I sit here feeling very, very sad.

I want someone who is a giant to come along and treat Margate like their very own special model village. I want them to return Margate to its man-made majestic beauty. I want them to lovingly recreate the scenic railway and the big wheel. Make Dreamlands a place possible for teenage lovers to have dreams, the Teddy Boys to whirl on the wurlitzer and Mods to dodge with their girlfriends on the dodgems, the Victorian promenade to be graced with beautiful, wrought-iron railings.

I want the giant to flick the switch on the battery box and Margate's summer lights to twinkle and dance between every guesthouse and hotel. I want all the boarded-up hotels and guest houses to be opened up and come alive again. Tiny figures to be placed at the Lido swimming pool. The giant bends down and nimbly, with thumb and forefinger, replaces the 30ft diving board.

I am not complaining, I am just making a sad observation. An observation I'm sure many, especially those who live in Margate, have made. This tiny knuckle of England has truly been forgotten, left somewhere in the early Eighties to just die and decay. What makes me very sad is that all that is lost of the better days, of the better times, of Margate are the things that have made Britain great. An inheritance lost that belongs to no other place in the world."

Pre-Raphaelite studio update

Following last week's post about the artist studio and the history of the Towers Bungalows, I received information from the Birchington Archives that the studio is owned by one of the bungalows along the cliff top. The artist who had it excavated and built was Solomon Joseph Solomon. Birchington Archives thought him not to be a Pre-Rafaelite member, however, a little digging and it looks likely that he was. All the more reason that the site is of historical interest.


Solomon also was a pioneer of camouflage techniques. More info on his wikipedia entry.

I'm told there was a television programme made about ten years ago about the studio. If anyone has a copy they could share, I'd be really interested to see it.

Great to see this story has been picked up by the Thanet Gazette in their best of the blogs column.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Pre-Raphaelite Studio in Birchington

I was taken out last week by my trusty guide to Thanet and shown the derelict Pre-Raphaelite artist studio in Birchington. It's sited on the cliff face in front of the Towers Bungalows private estate, which were some of the first bungalow houses built in Great Britain. I've only just come to the story, and I'm not sure that what remains of many of the Towers Bungalows are the original structures.


It seems the building where the Pre-Raphaelite artist Rossetti stayed and died was eventually demolished in the 1960s and seven houses were then later built on the site. But the first bungalows in the UK were built in Westgate and Birchington along that stretch of cliff, utilising new pre-fabricated building techniques and enjoying a new relationship with the sea, views and healthy living. The money to finance construction came off the back of the colonies with the involvement of the East India Company and the bankers Coutts, the architects also came from London. They built the houses for the new breed of upper middle classes brought along to the coast by the new railways.

Back to the derelict studio. It seems a real shame if this is going to simply deteriorate and disappear. It's an interesting piece of history and a fantastic site. Surely it shouldn't just crumble to pieces? The view from there is really beautiful and one can imagine why it was a perfect studio space. I imagine it is perhaps owned by one of the properties to the rear. But no confirmation on that as yet.






I found mention of the history via the ever useful Google Books in a publication called The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture by Anthony D. King.

Further reading: The First Bungalow Estate by Alan Kay
The Rossetti Bungalow by Pat Orpwood




Saturday, 12 April 2008

Where's the snake gone?

Back in the Margate doing the rounds, and I noticed the snake thingumy that was a prominent feature of the corner building on Fort Hill has disappeared. The shop has just been renovated and there's no sign of the snake on the pole. Here it is in situ featured on the Margate Civi Society news page.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Great pictures of old Margate

I only just found Michael's post with pictures of old Margate including Dreamland.

Amazing how great the place once looked. If the original buildings that are still standing were restored and revealed from under the layers of plastic windows and bad signage things would be much improved. That is if the buildings survive and aren't burnt to the ground.

TDC call for rebuilding of the Scenic Railway

Date: Tuesday, 08 April 2008
Contact: Cheryl Pendry Press and Media Manager
Tel: 01843 577 034
Fax: 01843 295 343
E-mail: Cheryl.pendry@thanet.gov.uk

NEWS RELEASE

CALLS TO REBUILD THE SCENIC RAILWAY

Margate’s historic Scenic Railway can be rebuilt and everything should be done to ensure that happens.

That’s the message from Thanet District Council, after fire broke out in the Grade II listed structure yesterday afternoon (Monday 7 April) for the third time in its history. The Scenic Railway, which is in the famous Dreamland amusement park site on the town’s seafront, was the first amusement park ride to be listed in the country.

The Dreamland site and the Scenic Railway is privately owned and the responsibility for rebuilding the ride lies with the owners.

Planning guidance, developed by the council, working with other organisations including the Margate Renewal Partnership and the Save Dreamland Campaign, sets out that the Scenic Railway should be kept as part of an amusement based destination. This was given strong support by local people, with 92% who took part in the consultation saying that the Scenic Railway should be kept.

Council Leader, Cllr. Sandy Ezekiel, said: “The fire is a terrible blow for Margate. Many local people hold the Scenic Railway very dearly in their hearts, as our recent consultation showed, and understandably so. It’s perhaps the single most important piece of the town’s cultural heritage and has been a part of Margate for generations. We are determined that, if possible, the Scenic Railway, should be rebuilt as soon as possible and we would expect the owners to do just that. It’s a listed structure and the expectation is that, wherever possible, a listed structure should be rebuilt. Let’s not forget that in the history of the Scenic Railway, it’s been the victim of fire twice before and on both occasions, it’s been re-built. We are hopeful that can happen again this time.

“Our conservation and planning officers have a wealth of technical expertise that can be called upon by the owner if they require it and we would be happy to offer them help and advice. In the first instance, we are calling on the owners of the site to take urgent action to ensure that security at the site is stepped up, in view of what’s happened. I’m sure that local people would agree that it’s vital that this is done to safeguard what is left of the Scenic Railway today.”

ENDS

Say it isn't so... Scenic Railway arson attack


I'm not in Margate at the moment and so caught the news late. Am extremely saddened and angry to report that the second arson attack on Margate's seafront has severely damaged the Scenic Railway in Dreamland.

More news from the Beeb.
Discussion on the Save Dreamland Campaign forum.
The running commentary from Thanets finest mouthpiece, ECR.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

This is Margate website

The Margate Renewal Partnership has launched a snazzy little website promoting Margate as a great place to live: www.thisismargate.co.uk/. It's all in a seaside postcard stylee. Nicely designed and very enthusiastic about Margate being a creative hub. Not sure we're there yet, but it would be nice to aim for. Transport wise they state:


"Planes, trains, automobiles and even boats allow you to work rest and play on the coast, and be in London or the continent in little over an hour."


Projected train times in 2009 from London to Margate are 98 mins. Not just over an hour. Although it would be lovely it were faster.

I thought the beach scenes photography underwhelming compared to the sheer beauty of the beaches. It's hard not to take a good picture of the main sands. Something which always amazes me when seeing the stock photos used by the Thanet Gazunder on various articles. Why oh why they have to have a bikini clad bird from the 80s sunbathing with Arlington Court in the background? The Flickr stream for Margate has lots of nice shots of the beaches.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Want to join a CAAC?

Finally, TDC have got into gear and are kicking off the required Conservation Area Advisory Committees to go alongside the running of their designated Conservation Areas. Fellow Thanet blogger Cllr Dave Green posted the news of their arrival here
I asked them 18 months ago where my local CAAC was and found they didn't have one.

How are the Conservations Areas run I wondered?

It does bother me that Cllr Green suggests the type of people able to get involved. Why shouldn't just anyone get involved? Why is there a limit?

I was a member of one in in east London for 6 years before coming to Margate. Our numbers fluctuated and we were a group of committed locals. Out photographing planning application sites each month and submitting comments and objections and notifying of unauthorised works. We didn't get into building new works ourselves through funding!

I hope Thanet's CAAC's will be great!

There will be a meeting March 6th Council Chambers at the council offices in Cecil Street, Margate on Thursday 6 March from 6.30pm.

Contact Louise Dandy on 01843 577126 louise.dandy@thanet.gov.uk

Monday, 18 February 2008

Time to rein in the Frankensteins

I'd tuned in to Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago and caught an interview with Tim Knox, director of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London, going on about the plague of public art projects and statues springing up all over the country. Wonder what he'd make of our Shell Lady.



I saw kids with shell lady mini versions in town yesterday. The invasion has begun. Still wonder where the shells have come from.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Marina Restaurant, Ramsgate RIP




Well, not strictly my patch, but I do take an interest in Ramsgate and things of interest in Thanet in general, especially when there is the wanton destruction of a Listed building under the noses of the authorities. Fello bloggers the delightful Eastcliff Richard and Cllr Dave Green have posted the sad news that the Marina Restaurant building on Ramsgate seafront has unfortunately been demolished. Apparantly there will now be moves to make sure it's reinstated like for like. We'll be watching this space with interest. Espeically given the similar intention of the owners of the tea rooms at Cliff Terrace to get it demolished for years before a developer stepped in to 'make improvements'. One hopes that the authorities will ensure the full weight that legislation affords them with regard to the protection of Listed buildings in Thanet will befall the owner.

Friday, 18 January 2008

In all fairness to Bob

Bob Geldof says Margate is ugly! Apparantly he prefers Deal, Smarden and Faversham. The Thanet blogoshpere is on fire and it's hit the national press. The irony is that the offending comments were in an article entitled 'Bob's Love of Kent' in the Kent County Council freebie mouthpiece 'Around Kent'. Bob's company Ten Alps has the contract to make the £1.6m Kent TV.

Perhaps Bob has been misquoted and he meant plans to erect the Shell Lady in the historic old town. Or perhaps he just doesn't like spectacular sunsets.