"Some of Margate’s many historic buildings and sites will be throwing open their doors next month (September), as part of Heritage Open Days.
A total of 12 different venues will be taking part in the initiative, which runs from Thursday 9 September until Sunday 12 September. It’s been organised under the banner of Margate Arts, Creativity, Heritage (MACH), an innovative partnership between English Heritage, the Arts Council and Thanet District Council.
The four days will include free tours, talks, live music and arts events, all inspired by Margate’s history and its culture-led regeneration. Dreamland will be offering a tour of the world famous former amusement park site and a presentation about its future as the world’s first heritage amusement park. Margate Museum, the town’s former police station, will be hosting a performance with a difference, in the former prison cells, which date from 1858. A live band will play music from the 60s to commemorate the detention of 51 Mods there following the Whitsun Riots of 1964.
Guided tours will also be available of The Reading Rooms, a luxury boutique bed and breakfast; St. John’s Parish Church; the Theatre Royal, which is home to the country’s second oldest working stage; and the Tom Thumb Theatre, one of the world’s smallest working theatres.
Visitors to the town can also take a look inside the Tudor House; explore the archives of Margate Baptist Church; take a walking tour of three squares (Cecil, Hawley and Addington); and can explore Margate Old Town. Turner Contemporary will be putting on an exhibition in a pop-up shop, as part of Generate, a project they are working on with Thanet College, while the Harbour Arm will be showcasing an exhibition and auction of postcard-sized art, with all proceeds going to the RNLI.
MACH Project Manager, Sophie Jeffrey, said: “Margate has a special place in the history books and in many people’s hearts, so we hope this event, which increases access to historic sites and helps bring them to life through the arts, will be a big hit. It’s also a great way to open up a conversation with local people about how we can secure the long-term future of Margate’s cultural assets.”
The event is being run with help from a group of volunteers, including the Margate Civic Society. It is hoped that this pilot may lead to more regular opening of Margate’s historic buildings and, for those in public ownership, generate sustainable plans for their long-term future.