Sunday 30 December 2007

Dalby Square Fire

Some derelict buildings caught fire yesterday at the top of Dalby Square.

Saturday 15 December 2007

Margate Museum Under Threat of Closure

Astonishingly, those folks at TDC have come up with the idea to close the Margate and Ramsgate museums. On their website they state:

"TSR18 Museums and grant to the East Kent Maritime Trust
(Saving £100,000)

The Council currently grant aids the East Kent Maritime Trust, who provide museum services and supervise collections at Margate and Ramsgate. Sadly the council grant of around £100,000 a year supports services that are used by only around 10,000 visitors each year – equating to a subsidy of around £10 per visitor. This is not sustainable in the current financial climate and the Cabinet believes that this grant must cease in 2008/09. The Council will discuss with the Trust the best way forward to achieving the following objectives:-

  • A thorough review of the current museum exhibits, with the aim of establishing a series of high-quality themed exhibitions which can be displayed at various venues across the district and, possibly, county.
  • The presentation of a core, static museum display on the ground floor of Albion House, Ramsgate – in rooms not required for civic accommodation
  • The release of accommodation currently occupied at both Ramsgate and Margate for potential alternative commercial or community
As part of this change programme, the Council is willing to fund a post for two years to support the reconfiguration of the Museum collections."

It seems there are two key things:

1. They calculate the museums receive 10,000 visitors per year.
I for one, as a newcomer to Margate, and interested in finding out about the history of the town and the house I had bought, I was told over and over again by TDC officials that the Margate museum were the ones to speak to. I doubt my numerous visits counted as official visits to the museum. The maps that were photocopied and excited phone messages from staff as they'd dug up another piece of history for me were above and byond what I expected from a local museum.

2. The release of property for development. Plain and simple.

TDC should be better spending funds in Margate to promote the good of what they have rather than closing more down and handing it over to the developers. The old town and Margate as a whole needs more attractions not less. This doesn't seem to be joined up thinking. I think people need to protest at this latest proposal. I'm sure we can think up of more novel ways to cut expenditure.

Thursday 15 November 2007

Can this really be what College Square replaced?

I found this old postcard of Margate College and thought, it surely couldn't be the building I'd heard had gone to make way for College Square shopping precinct, home to Somerfield, Argos, and Iceland.

Cliff Terrace in her prime circa. 1900

Thanks to a secret admirer, we get to see how 14-15 Cliff Terrace looked in her prime in this original postcard. The postcard is from 1900 and shows the ground floor as a pastry cook and confectioner shop. Next door at 13 and 12 are clearly high quality shops at the same period. Which adds to the argument that they have enough historical history as shops for them to remain so.

Monday 12 November 2007

Back for more. Listed Building Consent Application for 14-15 Cliff Terrace

So, it seems the developer is intent on pushing through the proposal to convert the recently listed tea room buildings at 14-15 Cliff Terrace, Margate. An application has been made for Listed Building Consent (L/TH/07/1527) at TDC. Sadly, the consultation process seems to be lacking yet again. There is no site notice in the vicinity of the site and the application, which is a requirement for applications that concern listed buildings. The application has so far also not turned up on the UK Planning site. A Stage 1 complaint has been lodged with TDC. We'll see what if anything that produces. The consultation for this application ends November 29th. The case officer is Cherry Butcher 01843 577634

TDC have replied stating:

We would welcome any comments that you may have regarding the proposed works. I would like to clarify that a site notice will be posted on site within the next week, giving a further 21 days consultation, and an advert has been placed in the Thanet Extra.

As with all applications, the plans are available to view at the Council offices, and additionally are published online within 5 days of the date of the letter notifying you of this application, which should be by tomorrow. Essentially the plans remain as per the planning application, and a Design and Access Statement relating to the listed building has also been submitted. If you have any difficulty in accessing these plans please do not hesitate to contact me.

So, we shall see...

Monday 5 November 2007

She's Listed!

I've been away from this blog for a while. Sorry about that. But my return comes with good news. The grand old lady, the tea rooms of 14 & 15 Cliff Terrace, Margate, are now Grade II listed. This means that she has been deemed to be a"particularly important building of more than special interest". Listed planning consent will have to be applied for in addition to the planning permission granted (TDC, in their wisdom, did pass the previous application under delegated powers) before any work may commence. So far, there's been no activity on site, so we shall wait and see what happens. The windows and the use of the ground floor as a business are now afforded increased protection.

The report from English Heritage is testament to what we have in Margate that is worth preserving:

We have been asked to assess 14-15 Cliff Terrace for listing alongside 12-13 Cliff Terrace (see separate case UID: 164702). The buildings are the subject of a planning application, due for determination in the coming weeks, which proposes their conversion to 10 flats and entails the demolition of parts of the building and the erection of a three storey extension to the rear. 12-15 Cliff Terrace are in the Margate Conservation Area. English Heritage was advised that there was a threat of pre-emptive demolition if we notified the owners about the application to list the buildings; as a result no internal inspection has been possible.

Cliff Terrace dates from the early-C19 and was originally an L-shaped terrace with five three storey houses running north-south, perpendicular to the seafront, and further houses running east-west. These Georgian buildings survive, albeit much altered, at Nos. 10-13 Cliff Terrace. In the mid-C19, possibly in 1852 when records suggest the terrace was redeveloped, No. 14-15 Cliff Terrace was rebuilt to create prominent corner building which survives today. This was no doubt to take full advantage of the panoramic sea views offered by the site. The work was certainly
completed before the early 1870s and historic maps of that date show the terrace's new terminus at No. 14-15 Cliff Villas. It is likely that the new buildings were rooms for boarding, demand for which had been generated by Margate's booming popularity as a seaside resort. Internal inspection may reveal how each of the rooms were accessed, most likely off a central staircase and landings. The fascia and consoles of the shops appear to be original suggesting there were never ground floor
residences; indeed late-C19 directories reveal that one of the shops housed W H Strand, a florist and fruitier.

Margate is a town of great significance in the history of the English seaside resort. Alongside Scarborough, Whitby and Brighton, it has a claim to be the country's first seaside destination and was certainly the first resort to boast sea water bathing facilities. Margate's terraced houses are an important component of its history and the town was the first to reinterpret the squares of Georgian London in a seaside setting: Cecil Square was built by 1769, followed by Hawley Square in the 1770s. The terrace endured as the principal domestic form in Margate throughout the C19.

Recommended Grade: II

Outcome: Yes, list particularly along the seafront where that most coveted feature in holiday accommodation - the sea view - necessitated the high density development that terraces provided. Many of Margate's terraces are very fine and in their architecture they reflect the popularity and prosperity of the town in the Georgian and Victoria periods. A number are listed for this special architectural and historic interest including Buenos Ayres of c1803, Fort Crescent of 1825-30 and Royal Crescent of the
1850s (all Grade II).

Nos. 14 -15 Cliff Terrace is a four-storey plus attic block in red brick and is mid-C19 in date and character. The most impressive feature of Nos. 14-15 Cliff Terrace is the dramatic fenestration: two large, three-storey oriel windows dominate each of the two seaward elevations. Barely any brickwork is visible, aside from the last bay on the north elevation, suggesting that an unusual structural approach may have been used in the building's construction to allow for the almost blanket coverage of the elevations with windows. The oriels are four-light windows with moulded timber mullions, dentil cornices in the entablatures and, on the upper two storeys, segmental or triangular pediments. The lights contain sash windows, the outer ones using curved glass, and all are original. The ground floor contains traces of C19 shop fronts including consoles and a fascia with dentil cornice. Much of the rest of the shop fronts is later work. The elevations are terminated by a bracket cornice and the attic storey with dormer windows and three ranges of chimney stacks.

Increasingly greater selectivity is required when recommending terraced houses built after 1840 for listing due to the great numbers that were built and that survive. Over the mid to late-C19, terraced housing became the preserve of the lower middle classes and upmarket terraces, which tend to be of greater architectural interest, were concentrated in places where dense development was required such as the seaside (in resorts like Teignmouth, Devon or Saltburn, North Yorkshire) or newly laid out areas of cities (Pimlico in London and Park Place in Sunderland are examples). Generally where high quality developments of terraced housing such as these survive, particularly with a strong townscape or streetscape context, they merit listing (most of the terraces mentioned above are listed at Grade II). The requisite quality and distinctiveness is certainly present at 14-15 Cliff Terrace: the red brick Queen Anne-style elevations with classical detailing are lively and the height of the building is notable, reflecting the need to maximise the provision of rooms for boarding along the seafront. Even more remarkable is the fenestration, which is exceptionally extensive, even in the seaside context. Surprisingly, none of the windows have been replaced in plastic and the consistency of the original timber sashes is noteworthy. The building is of special interest in epitomising two of the
principal characteristics of seaside architecture: building tall and building to exploit seaviews. Advances in construction techniques which allowed more extensive fenestration along with the arrival of plate glass enabled Victorian developers to take advantage of this seaside location to a fuller extent than their Georgian predecessors, who built the much smaller and more conventional houses alongside No. 14-15 Cliff Terrace. The final point is drawn out further by Cliff Terrace's westerly neighbour, the Grade II-listed 1-24 Fort Paragon, a terrace of 1830 which was refaced in 1853. The proximity of the two rows shows the very different approach to seaside terrace building in the Georgian and Victorian eras: in comparison to the oriel-windowed 14-15 Cliff Terrace, which is clearly tailored to take advantage
of the seaside site, the balconies of Fort Paragon are the only concession to the location. Whereas Cliff Terrace has two prominent seaward elevations, only the east façade of Fort Paragon is articulated. Together, the two terraces illustrate two important phases in the development of

Margate as a seaside resort in the late-C18 and C19 and Cliff Terrace has group value with Fort Paragon. Houses of the Victorian era are underrepresented on the Margate list. Whereas the majority of pre-1840 terraces where a significant proportion of the original fabric remains are listed, even some of the high quality developments of the 1850s and later have no statutory protection through designation. 14-15 Cliff Terrace is one such example, a distinctive and characterful Victorian building which evidences some of the architectural fashions and constructional developments of that era, which is clearly worthy of listing.

14-15 Cliff Terrace are recommended for listing for their special architectural and historic interest and group value.

Summary of Importance:
14-15 Cliff Villas are recommended for listing for the following principal reasons:
* the red brick Queen Anne-style elevations with classical detailing are lively and the height of the building is notable, reflecting the need to maximise the provision of rooms for boarding along the seafront
* even more remarkable is the fenestration, clearly tailored so that holiday boarders could enjoy much-coveted sea views;
* the consistent survival of the original timber sashes and glazing is noteworthy;
* 14-15 Cliff Terrace also has strong contextual interest, standing in contrast to and having group value with the Grade II-listed Fort Paragon.

No. 14 & 1515-OCT-2007
End of terrace building, mid-C19, with later alterations particularly to ground floor shops.

EXTERIOR: Nos. 14 -15 Cliff Terrace is a four-storey plus attic block in red brick and is mid-C19 in date and character. The most impressive feature of Nos. 14-15 Cliff Terrace is the dramatic fenestration: two large, three-storey oriel windows dominate each of the two seaward elevations. Barely any brickwork is visible, aside from the last bay on the north elevation, suggesting that an unusual structural approach may have been used in the building's construction to allow for the almost blanket coverage of the elevations with windows. The oriels are four-light windows with moulded timber mullions, dentil cornices in the entablatures and, on the upper two storeys, segmental or triangular pediments. The lights contain sash windows, the outer ones using curved glass, and all are original.
The ground floor contains traces of C19 shop fronts including consoles and a fascia with dentil cornice. Much of the rest of the shop fronts is later work. The elevations are terminated by a bracket cornice and the attic storey with dormer windows and three ranges of chimney stacks.
164760 Case UID: Proposed LBS UID: 504191
Proposed List Entry

More info on English Heritage's Seaside Heritage project here

Wednesday 10 October 2007

12-15 Cliff Terrace - Planning Consultation - Last Day for Objections

Today (10th October) is the last day Thanet Council have stated they will accept objections for planning application TH/07/0940 for 12-15 Cliff Terrace, Margate. It still seems a short and under advertised consultation period from when the last set of revised plans were submitted on Oct 1st. But this has been their final word. It's worth noting that the local authority should have regard to the Good Practice section of DoE Circular 15/92 which in reference to changed plans states the following:

Notification of changes, conditions, reserved matters

25. There is no statutory obligation on local planning authorities to publicise changes to applications once they are accepted as valid, or required by a condition on a previous application (for example, a time-limited permission), or for the approval of reserved matters following the grant of outline planning permission. Nevertheless, such matters are often of most concern to objectors. It will be at the discretion of the local planning authority to decide whether further publicity is desirable, taking into account the following considerations:

(a) were objections or reservations raised at an earlier stage substantial and, in the view of the local authority enough to justify further publicity?
(b) are the proposed changes significant?
(c) did earlier views cover the matters now under consideration?
(d) are the matters now under consideration likely to be of concern to parties not previously notified?

To date, there has been no evidence of a site notice ever being posted at the site, nevermind being informed of the two sets of revised plans with extensive changes submitted on September 14th and then October 1st.

Sunday 7 October 2007

David Chipperfield Wins RIBA Stirling Prize

So, David Chipperfield, the architect charged with designing Margate's Turner Contemporary, has won the RIBA Stirling Prize for his design of a museum in Germany. Let's hope he can do the same for Margate! More info here he was the only entrant to have two buildings in the short list.

2 Days Later Film Competition Screening

Those lovely people at Beeping Bush and Close Up Film will present their annual short horror film competition, 2 Days Later at a special screening at the re-opened Margate Theatre Royal on Saturday 27th of October. It's so good to see a real grass roots arts organisation from Margate putting on a great quality project. There is apparently a prze for the best fancy dress costume at the screening.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Date for the Diary: Margate Civic Society AGM

Tomorrow night, that's Thursday 4th of October at 7.30pm at the Walpole Bay Hotel, it's the Margate Civic Society gathering and their AGM.

12-15 Cliff Terrace - Planning Consultation Extended

Thanet Council stated today that the consultation period for the application TH/07/0940 for 12-15 Cliff terrace, Margate has been extended to October the 8th. This is to account for the revised plans that have been submitted. At the time of writing, it is hoever unclear what is exact status of the statutory consultation undertaken as there are no signs up outside the property.

The planning case officer to send comments and/or objections is Ms. Cherry Butcher:

Sunday 30 September 2007

Building at Risk? 12-15 Cliff Terrace

The collection of Victorian buildings at 12-15 Cliff Terrace is one of Margate's most striking landmark sites. The site was originally a tearoom with diners seated on the first floor, enjoying the amazing sea views. The ground floor seafront outlets were shops and a cafe.

12-15 Cliff Terrace

Situated at the corner, opposite the soon to be re-developed Lido, the building is one of Margate's seafront properties that has, until now, survived intact. The building has been under the same family ownership since the 1940's, and has stood empty for well over a decade and the deterioration of the site has been cause for concern.


The corner building has beautiful protruding curved glass sash windows covering almost the entire elevations.

There was, until last week, an intact, original chemist's shop on the side complete with original bespoke wooden shop fittings. The fact a shop interior survived so long is pretty amazing, given the frequency retail outlets undergo change of occupancy. Sadly, the chemist shop interior I photographed two weeks ago has now been removed.The loss of the shop interior while English Heritage were assessing the building for spot listing does not bode well for the future preservation of the site.

intact chemist shop interior
Chemist Shop Interior September 8th 2007

destroyed chemist shop interior
Chemist Shop Interior September 30th 2007

Many local people thought its future conservation had been safeguarded with Thanet District Council's threat in June 2006 of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). However, the CPO was put on the back burner and a local developer, believed to be Jim Ward of Ramsgate FC, has submitted planning permission to convert the entire site to 10 flats. The application is actually by Ward Renovation and Construction Limited, which at the time of writing is not a registered UK limited company.

Many pointed to the fact that being situated in a designated Conservation Area, that this would somehow ensure the buildings' unique features be protected in the future. This is sadly not the case. Conservation Areas are unable to preserve interiors. The removal of the chemist shop interior that has now happened is a sad representation of this. If the building were listed then this would have protected the shop units and also ensure that the fenestration is exempt from having to comply with the necessary building regulations when converting into new flats.

The loss of the shopfronts and units to residential is a sad loss for the area for such a prominent, key seafront site. Shops rarely make ideal residential homes for the occupants and they also negatively impact on the streetscape. The application also contains extensive modification to the shop fronts, which given the detail of the original frontages that have survived, such as the blinds and canopies and curved glass frontages, will have a negative impact on the site.

shop frontage

Given the site's location on the seafront at the gateway to Cliftonville and directly opposite the Lido, the proposed loss of retail and commerical space at street level seems totally inappropriate. Examples of Margate's cultural heritage that have survived should be protected as something to be proud of. There is the example of the seabathing hospital development that has proven that Margate can sustain high quality residential development and refurbishment of a listed building. Here it seems the core aims of the Council's Empty Property scheme, who have worked over the years to bring the building back into use, to be out of step with buildings of architectural significance and of the Council's own regeneration aims for the area as a whole.

The upper floors would make ideal apartments given the seafront location. But there is a strong case that the ground floor retail outlets should be preserved. What vision is there for Margate if a viable use for seafront commerical space in one of the key regeneration areas, opposite a major development site cannot be envisaged?

The planning application reference is F/TH/07/0947. It can still be viewed and comments submitted online by visiting UK Planning and popping in 07/0947 on the Thanet Council page . There have been recent amendments to the application in the last week or so, however, they still propose to convert the shops into flats. The changes to the shopfront elevations include the removal of the original blinds and canopies and the extensive bricking up of what was previously a shopfront. One hopes that this site can be lovingly restored to its former glory and return to a place of pride at the gateway to Cliftonville.

The case officer at English Heritage assessing the site for spot listing is Mr Mike German. He can be contacted by email at or by phone:
020 7973 3113.

Thursday 27 September 2007

Seaside Architecture Project

In contrast to the Independent's Margate love article (like I said, don't get me wrong. I love Margate). Mary O'Hara wrote a more down to earth piece in the Guardian. The piece also centers on the soon to be released English Heritage project on seaside architecture. The author, Allan Brodie - a senior investigator for English Heritage has spent the last five years studying the state of British seaside resorts. Brodie states that:

"Margate is a good example of how small-scale, targeted, locally-coordinated projects can help inspire a turnaround."
I had heard that a presentation of the project would be held at the Theatre Royal. Nothing confirmed yet.

I like the sound of this Margate!

Couldn't help but notice the article in the Independent which sang Margate's praises. Now, I'm one that does see the hope of a bright future for the town, and there are many things to be proud of, but I couldn't help but be puzzled over some of the article. Apparantly there are lots of old school style fish and chip shops on the seafront. Has Peter's fish factory got another outlet I don't know about? As for the proliferation of residents enjoying oysters and fine wines...

Neigbourhood watch: Margate, Kent

Airport chaos and carbon footprints have done wonders for Kentish seaside towns such as Margate. Not long ago it was the enfant terrible of the Isle of Thanet, a byword for dilapidated bingo halls and kiss-me-quick postcards. Now the sandy bucket-and-spade resort is the seaside resort du jour. Tourists tired of the nearby trendy town of Whitstable are heading downstream to Margate, where the beaches are sandier and the air saltier, not just from the sea but the old-fashioned chippies that line the promenade.

The town has those sunsets that JMW Turner used to rave about, and Margate's nascent arts scene – with Tracey Emin as mascot – is tipped for success. Kent's first major art gallery, the Turner Contemporary, is set to open here in 2010, and Margate is anticipating its arrival. New galleries and venues are springing up, flanked by the town's retro attractions (an underground shell grotto, curiosity shops, old-school bowling alleys) and those fish-and-chip joints.

A Margate renewal partnership is spearheading the regeneration campaign, working to turn the listed stone pier into an art-and-eating venue with painters' workshops and hi-tech night lighting. A high-speed rail link from London is set for completion in 2009, so you'll be able to go from smoke to sand in less than two hours. But the best thing of all? Margate's house prices are still comparatively low.

Your kind of people?

Margate was once the domain of retired couples and teenagers, but locals are upping the cultural ante. They like their seafood here: not just cod and chips, but mussels, oysters and fine wines too. A successful old-town regeneration scheme has got Londoners all a-fluster: won over by Margate's retro charms, they are opening boutiques, galleries and even a top jazz café that puts on a festival of national acclaim, Big Sky, every summer. You can hardly blame them: a burgeoning arts scene and lack of pretension are an all too rare combination.

Can you shop till you drop?

Despite last year's mass exodus to the excellent shopping centre at Westwood Cross, the local council has done a fine job of encouraging retail in Margate's old town. A farmer's market comes to the hotel-packed suburb of Cliftonville once a month. Great nosh can be found at the newly opened Number Six, which has the best chocolate cake in town. And with no Starbucks in sight, Café G's low-fat cappuccinos won't fatten anyone but the local economy. A new juice bar on the high street gets the youth vote.

When drizzle blows in off the sea, check out the musty antique dealers that line Cliftonville High Street for quirky miscellany and one-off pieces of art. The Old Town Gallery sells original jewellery and vintage-inspired clothing, while Harbour Monkey does a great line in homemade greeting cards. The Flower Lab turns flora into art, while Cuttings Jewellers is the place to go if you're in the market for the other kind of rock. Cream teas at the eccentric Walpole Bay Hotel are a weekend treat.

Green and pleasant?

While green pastures are never far away, Margate is more famous for its beaches than its parks. Gaze up at dramatic rock formations while lying on the sands at Joss Bay, or head to Margate main sands for a spot of sunbathing and bucket-and-spade action, topped off with a Mr Whippy. The swell at Palm Bay occasionally attracts surfers who can't make it to Cornwall. If all that sand gets too much, nearby Grove Ferry is a summer picnic spot flanked by rolling green meadows and farms. Closer still are the olde worlde villages of Minster and Manston, or jump in the car for a 20-minute drive to Marshside. There you will find pubs such as the Gate Inn, serving doorstop sandwiches, flanked by babbling brooks and too many sheep to count.

Do the schools make the grade?

The grammar-school system is alive and kicking in Thanet. The single-sex Chatham (boys) and Clarendon (girls) grammars in nearby Ramsgate both bat well above the national average, while mixed Dane Court Grammar down the road in Broadstairs consistently tops local league tables. The brand new Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate is tipped for success in the performing arts. An excellent independent option is a 40-minute drive away at Kent College in Canterbury.

What's nearby?

There are windswept seaside towns dotted all along the Thanet coastline – enjoy a classic peach melba at Morelli's ice-cream parlour on the seafront at Broadstairs – or head west and walk along the shingle beaches of Whitstable. From here, you can arrange a seal-watching boat trip, and knock back world-class oysters. Regular trains and buses will get you to Canterbury in less than an hour. And thanks to the nearby ferry and Channel Tunnel connections, you can even nip over to the French towns of Calais or Boulogne for steak frites if you want a change from battered cod.

Monday 10 September 2007

Dates for the diary

There are a couple of dates for the Margate calendar this month. Always looking for a thing to do of an evening.

The Theatre Royal itself will re-open after the summer's enforced closure and subsequent management changes with one night relaunch gala, on Saturday 29th of September. So far there's no information on the theatre's website, I read about the gala in the Thanet Gazette.

The next stage of designs for the Turner Contemporary will be unveiled by architect, David Chipperfield, at the soon to be re-opened Theatre Royal in Margate. The event will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 16 October 2007. To reserve a place email: or telephone 01843 294363

Friday 7 September 2007

Why Margate?

Margate captivated me from my first visit. Driving in past the station, the bay suddenly opens out. The harbour arm in the distance next to the Droit House and the site of the future Turner Contemporary gallery, the golden sands, sea and sky, lots of sky.

I knew as soon as I started wandering the streets around the old town and beyond that this would be a place I'd like to live. The fact that much of the architecture (Georgian, Victorian, Regency, Art Deco...) has survived intact makes it a really special place. But this isn't a town set in aspic, there are changes afoot. Margate has had it's ups and downs as the fortunes of the British tourist industry changed and took a turn for the worse at the end of the 20th century. It started out as England's first tourist resort for wealthy visitors in the 18th century and fully embraced mass tourism in the 20th. There have been long hard years of decline from the 1970s onwards, but there have been changes afoot and the town is due for a renaissance.

I often find myself wandering around photographing buildings and anything that catches my eye as a newcomer to the town. This blog will serve as an archive and also to document the changes the town is undergoing as it moves through the 'regeneration' process. I have a personal interest in architecture and community development. I've moved from Hackney in east London where over the last 9 years I've seen the good and the bad from the regeneration process within my neighbourhood.