Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 28 February 2009

The Arcades

As a historian I always believe that nostalgia attracts more interest than history and some articles on my Blog have proved this fact. Being someone who has lived Thanet for all of their life I often reflect how surreal it was when Dreamland and Pleasurama were in full flow during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Like most teenagers I hung around both fairgrounds and the sea front arcades. At one point in the early seventies I even got a job selling ice cream from a kiosk owned by HFS on Margate seafront earning 25 pence an hour. There was something unique about the bright lights and Arcades, especially the strong American influences passed over from the late 1940’s and 1950’s. Some machines in particular had been especially imported for the American forces when they were based at Manston like pin balls. There was a popular pin ball like machine that had no flippers and the idea was to line up numbers like a game of bingo by getting the balls in the correct number sequence to complete a straight line. On these machines the coin entry had been altered from accepting a nickel to a sixpence and a complete line earned the player a prize. The early mechanical one armed bandits were also typically American and some of the designs resembled an art deco radiator of an American truck. I can remember the one penny one armed bandits from the Margate Pier amusements were thrown over the side because the Margate Pier and Harbour Company would not pay the conversion costs for “Old machines” when we went decimal. Gradually the old arcade machines were phased out and replaced with more up to date electronic versions. Even the Juke boxes became small boxes on the wall. Eventually the American influences disappeared and were replaced with an Anglo Japanese electronic influence.
With Dreamland and Pleasurama now gone and apart from photographs there are not many tangible reminders of this 50’s/60’s/70’s seafront arcade era. However, recently I was going through a box of coins when I came across some arcade tokens which I have now started collecting. The Ace tokens pictured were valued at sixpence or 2 1/ 2 pence with a maximum payout of 25 pence. They were dispensed from a 1970’s early push button machine that operated three reels that had to line up matching icons for a cash prize, three ace of clubs paid 25pence in tokens. I can remember winning 75 pence in tokens and cashing them in for Mars bars at 7p each and eating the lot, but I won’t go into the result.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Thor Chemical Site some facts

This picture appeared in promotional material published in the late 1980's by G.A Harvey Ltd. Even though the subject is the G.A.Harvey factory site the neighbouring Thor Chemical site can be seen in the original layout before the Thor extension was built. The site originally belonged to the Margate Catering Company and was an orchard, the wooded area at the rear of the site were mainly fruit trees that had self seeded when the orchard was abandoned. During the Second World War a Home Guard unit was based on the site and there was an ammunition dump stored somewhere in the old railway siding that ran through the back of the site from the bridge at Nash Road to the Home Guard base on the site. The Home Guard, Guarded the ammunition somewhere in the area.
Between the wooded area and the first white building is waste land and the empty blue chemical containers and drums were stored in that area , there was also a system of stacking them on top of each other . The white building and tower was the storage and processing plant and the "L" shaped building was the reception area and office block. When the site was extended everything from the waste land area through to the woodland was removed down to chalk level. The new extension as seen today was then constructed on the chalk base and the remaining area was re landscaped with new soil.
The Harvey site was bought out by Steelcase and closed in October 2003. Before Steelcase moved out the Environment Agency carried out tests on the Steelcase site for any industrial contamination as the site was going to be sold on the open market. So there is recent data taken from the East of the site. The Steelcase site was sold to Pearce Signs and when Pearce Signs moved out the site was redeveloped into smaller units.
When the Thor chemical was in production G.A.Harvey operated a wet paint plant and there was an extensive use of solvents, Rovex was processing plastic and Emco Wheaton was casting metal. All these processes resulted in air pollution at the time and could be easily be mistaken for the process at Thor chemicals. The original soil in the area has been removed, so that only leaves any evidence in the chalk if any from Thor.
However, the biggest source of Mercury pollution in Thanet has been overlooked, which just happens to be the Crematorium. Imagine how many mecury based dental fillings that have been evapourised at the Crematorium in the 1970's and 1980's.
During the G.A Harvey office manufacture the paint plant was solvent based and all waste was stored adjacent to the Thor site at the side of the factory. There was also a narrow strip of land that went behind the Thor site and on that land was a number of skips where the used solvent and paint containers were dumped. Drums of used waste paint, solvent and thinners awaiting collection were on pallets and the ground smelt of paint and thinners. When Thor extended they purchased this strip of land after G. A Harvey had cleared the site. In the left hand corner of the picture the wooded area ends and behind that the entrance to the strip of land can be seen and where the dumping skips begin. The reason why everything was pushed into this area was because of the lorry movements and lorry container storage.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The 28 days are up.

The 28 days to declare the Russian wood salvaged from the foreshore last month must be well and truly up by now. I haven't noticed any new sheds or fences appearing on the Thanet landscape over the last month. As most Thanet folk only took an armful for future needs and those who took some for firewood have probably disposed of the evidence during the recent cold snap. This leaves those who took more than their needs to declare to the Receiver of Wrecks. Publicly TDC and KCC have been on the ball stamping out the commercial building use of the wood. However, I have a feeling that the Receiver of wrecks in tray hasn't been exactly overflowing , but I may be wrong.

Sunday, 22 February 2009


When Margate first developed commercial sea bathing in the early 18th century it is not often appreciated that the majority of visitors, particularly the ladies and children, were very afraid of entering the sea to a level of more than a metre or so. Swimming was a rare accomplishment for most people and so "dippers" were employed by Margate Bathing rooms to submerge bathers from the bathing machines forcibly into the incoming waves, pressing on their shoulders until the sea reached chin level.The lady attendants were called "dippers" whereas the men were called "bathers".

Bathing at the time was regarded as a medicinal exercise rather than a recreational pleasure. These early dippers were very tough and would stand in the water for hours wearing bonnets and flowing skirts forcing bathers under the waves "for their own good". They were often known as the "old bonneted ogres" which I would have thought would have been a polite description under the circumstances.

By 1780 Margate had eleven dipper attended bathing machines and many were regarded with affection by many regular visitors. Martha Knock, Mrs Mitchell, Mrs Sharpe, Mrs Pakey, Mrs Surflen, Jenny the dipper, and Martha Gunn all featured in contemporary guides. Elizabeth Dip or "Blue Bess" was a Margate dipper for nearly 40 years between 1790 to 1830.

In 1801 Mary Brockman employed by the Sea Bathing Hospital submitted a bill for over two poundsfor 31 dippings in October/November in 1801.

Dippers were a common sight on the Margate foreshore until around the 1860's, when they were replaced by stout ropes attached to the bathing machines, to which nervous bathers would cling to.

The Tudor House cellar.

Whenever the Tudor House is open the viewing of the cellar is more or less out of bounds to the public on safety grounds. This researched article by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching for downloading gives an insight to this very important architectural feature of the Tudor House.

A private treasury ?

Has anyone heard of the private treasury of the Jenkins family ? This 26 mm diameter coin dated 1971 contains 1000 grains of pure silver and has been properly struck with a reeded edge. Perhaps it may have been someones answer to the economic problems of the seventies.
As predicted gold today passed through the $1000 dollar mark and silver passed the £10 a troy ounce mark. US mint sales of the popular American Eagles are rocketing. The Sovereign now contains something in the region of £170 in fine Gold. For the smaller investor come hoarder, pre 1947 silver coins containing 50% silver are worth £125 a kilo when weighed in at Hatton Garden.
There are many scholars still differing how the the 1930's depression started and how it ended. Some say it was the second world war, in this current climate a war is the last thing anyone wants. However, it will be interesting to see if gold will have a role to play in any economic recovery and will a gold standard return as a stabilizing factor.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Nelson Crescent, Ramsgate

I found this photograph of Nelson Crescent recently on disc from when I was researching maritime street architecture in Thanet some time ago. The picture has a late 1930's feel about it and the gun in the flower bed , I am guessing maybe a trophy U boat deck gun. Any ideas ?
The photograph is a Sunbeam one and was copied from the Margate Museum collection.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Death by Oranges

Salvaging from shipwrecks in the early part of the 1800's was a valuable contribution to Thanet's economy for both local people and the business interest. The Cobb Brewing and Banking family made large amounts of money acting as agents and the locals made money in the lean winter months acting as salvagers both unofficially and officially whatever suits best at the time. This account from the Kentish Gazette 18/01/1805 was researched by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching for the Margate Historical Society archive Vol 3 Number 3. Two people died in unusual circumstances with one man from Northdown dying as the title suggests.

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Wreck of the Hindostan 1803 off Birchington

The wreck of the "Hindostan" in 1803 is one of the most well known and documented wrecks off the Thanet coast. This fact sheet was produced by John Williams in Volume 6 Number 1 of the Margate Historical Society magazine and is a good reference. It mentions the artefacts that were recovered and are on display in the Powell Cotton Museum, also I must add that the cannon painted in red oxide which lays of the ground on your left as you approach the Ramsgate Maritime Museum was also recovered from the Hindostan.

Most of the artefacts recovered from the "Hindostan" are scattered far and wide and sold off which really highlights the reason why a viable Maritime Museum should always be operational in Ramsgate.

Margate Fishing Festival 1913

The Margate Fishing Festival was once a huge event in Margate's social calendar.Every year, a celebrity would be invited to open the proceedings, and in 1913, that distinction fell to the famous actress Cecillia Dare, sister of the equally well known Phyllis.The lovely Cecillia Dare can be seen touching her hat brim amongst the crowd. This photograph, from the Margate Historical Society archives appeared in the societies millennium booklet on page 20. I reproduced this photograph as it is amazing that everybody are wearing hats of different styles and varieties.

A handful of Joeys

It is thirty eight years ago since our currency went decimal, also at the same time historic coin slang and nicknames also disappeared. Most coin slang generally was a nationwide thing except of course Cockney and Romany names, and as far as I know there is no local Thanet slang term for coins. "Bob" "Tanner""Florin" we are all familiar with, less familiar is the Threepenny "Joey". The name "Joey" was first used for the small fourpenny piece or groat. This coin was issued on the advice of Joseph Hume MP in 1836, the idea behind the coin was that it would be a handy little coin to pay a short cab fair. The cab drivers hated the coin because most people used pay their fare with a sixpence and let them keep the change as a tip, then in the dark streets the cab drivers would mistake the Joey for a sixpence and give change. They nicknamed them "Joey" and would often spit on them in disgust. In 1845 the silver threepenny piece was reintroduced and this was nicknamed the threepenny "Joey" and the name followed on.

Halfcrowns had exotic names like "tusheroon""tossaroon" or "tosheroon". "Mazda Caroon" is another slang term for the half crown which is a corruption from the Italian mezzo (half) corona (crown). As to whether these slang terms were used locally I do not know. The word "Quid" has been recorded as far back as 1688 and was used by criminals to describe guineas , this in turn passed onto the Sovereign when Guineas ceased being minted in 1813. The term "Nicker" and "Half a Nicker" to describe a pound is a New Zealand term and "Bar" and "Half a Bar" is a Romany term. Ten shilling notes had a cockney term "Gennet". Other names for Sovereigns and Guineas were "Bleeders" "Jemmy O'Goblins""Glisteners""Janes""Harlequins""Megs" and "Yellow Boys".

Most of us are familiar with the racing slang pony (£25),monkey(£500),cow (£1000),plum (£100,000) and a marigold (£1,000,000).

Above is a handful of "Joeys" which can legally be turned in Jewellery. Under the 1971 coinage act section 10 it is illegal to break or melt coins that were legal tender on or after 16th May 1969 without a licence. As the silver "Joey" was demonetised in 1944 there are no restrictions, so that explains why silver "Joeys" are used for bracelets and other Jewellery.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A week in Margate for less than £5.00

I recently came across this page of an early form of tourist marketing, unfortunately I do not have the rest. In the usual format of how to enjoy a holiday in Margate for less than £5 it is more a statement of social history and attitudes of the time. There is a reference to the N word, a bit of Jingoism , the poor and a bit snobbery. If I come across the rest I can tell you what the the other £1 -12s -6d was spent on.
Actually, Mike Harrison has pointed out that the £1-12s-6d was what the guy spent, if my maths are right this time it should work out he has £3 - 7s - 6d to spend

Friday, 13 February 2009

Tales from the Nick, Private First Class McKenzie

Another article from the Tales from the Nick series by 1950's Margate Policeman Stan Reed, this time involving a Private of the United States Airforce based at Manston in the 1950's. I have kept the follow on article Margate Windmills by Mick Twyman. All articles are from the Margate Historical Society magazine Volume 6 Number 2.

Market Place, Margate

This engraving is of the Market Place, Margate and it is accompanied with an article from the A to Z of Margate by the Margate Historical Society. In the early editions Alan Kay produced A to Z articles and in later editions Alf Beeching followed on
with the series.

Bathing Machine, Margate factsheet

Following on from last weeks engraving of the Benjamin Beale bathing machine I have found the Margate Historical Society fact sheet on Bathing Machines from Volume 6 Number 2 for downloading.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Reeve & Co Margate

In the latter part of the 19th Century the mineral water trade Margate was huge supplying visitors and Hotels with mineral waters. Manufactured locally the trade was dominated by the big three, M.J.Harlow, Barrett & Co and Reeve & Co.
Throughout its history Reeve & Co manufactured and traded from the bottom end of Hawley Street opposite Love Lane and like the Cobb family the Reeve's were into everything and were successful in everything they did. They were even involved in local politics and there was even a Reeve who held the position of the Mayor of Margate. At one point in the nineteenth century the family name was Dalby Reeve and that was where the name Dalby Square originated. The Olde Charles public house is even a Reeve development, incidentally the name Old Charles refers to Charles Reeve not King Charles, but then I suppose King Charles is better marketing. A Reeve even married into the great showman come circus Sanger family.
In the summer of 2008 Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching published some research on Reeve & Co in the Margate Historical Society magazine Volume 11 number 2 which revealed that Reeve & Co even had a cannery on the Hawley Street site and they canned Margate Herrings amongst other things. I have attached the article for downloading.
For reference the Margate Museum does has further research on Reeve, Dalby Reeve and Sanger Reeve for public viewing.

The renaming of the streets of Margate during the 19th Century

This research information regarding the changing of street names in Margate during the 19th century is very handy piece of information to have on file for Margate Historical reference. It was written up by Mick Twyman for members of the Margate Historical Society and will assist in dating 19th century maps, documents etc.,
If you need to contact Mick, email me and I will send his details.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The arguements for and against the railway to Margate 1846

With all the different opinions occupying Blogspace over Manston Airport I just happen to come across some research by the late Alan Kay published November 1998. It did make me smile as it was his findings on the arguments for and against the railways coming to Margate.
Reading the article I have attached for downloading I do wonder what future generations will think of current events and opinions regarding Manston in 160 years time.

Tales from the Nick, The man on the Royal Daffodil

During the 1950's pleasure steamers operated from Margate Jetty to London carrying day trippers, the two most famous and well known being the "Royal Daffodil" and the "Queen of the Channel". This article from the Margate Historical Society Volume 3 Number 6 from Stan Reed's Tales from the Nick series, is about what happened to a paralytic drunk who unfortunately happened to have a return ticket for the "Royal Daffodil" in his pocket.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Ann Barford , her burial at the Margate Crossroads

This researched article from the Margate Historical Society archives Volume 3 number 4 is by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching is a reminder how bigoted and cruel some parts of our local history has been. People who would have been classed as poor led grim lives living day to day in a local society governed by those with power money and influence. Even in death, which some class as the great equaliser there was no dignity from the ideals of the established order as this article highlights.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Tales from the Nick, Doctor Keogh's leg

Another story in the tales from the Nick series, Doctor Keogh was a well known Doctor in Margate who had a surgery on the Ramsgate Road on the corner of Alexandra Road. This story from 1955 is by the brilliant S.G Reed and comes from the Margate Historical Society magazine Vol 4 No 4 October 2001. I didn't have to ask the editor if I can reprint this one because when I read through the editorial of this issue I realised I was the editor in 2001/2.
Anyway there is no copyright so feel free to download or whatever.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Tales from the nick, "Rosie's Knickers"

In the early publications of the Margate Historical Society a regular contributor was S.G.Reed who's "tales from the nick" was popular amongst the membership. Based around the 1950's they were true stories of the life of a Margate Policeman mostly from the period when the Police Station was in the old market place where the Margate Museum is today.
This story was published in January 2002 volume 5 number 1 when the circulation of the magazine was about 250 copies.I have the permission of the Historical Society to reproduce stories for downloading and there is no copyright. If you like this story let me know and I will reproduce more from this series.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Margate marine bathing pavillion

Two postcards of the marine bathing pavillion known to us locals as the Sundeck. There are two interesting features in these postcards . Firstly,there are steps from the pavillion facing out to sea, in later postcards these have been removed. Then on each corner of the Sundeck shoreside there are is a huge union jack flying which gives it a bit of a post war theme. I am not sure when the flying of our national flag actually stopped, probably early 1970's.
The caption on the postcard has "opposite M.C.C" which I assume must mean Margate Coastguard Cottages , any other suggections please let me know.

Fort Crescent Margate engraving 1861

This engraving is of Fort Crescent , Margate. Dated 14th February 1861 published by Rook & Co London, the artist is unknown. There is no cannon in the foreground that could suggest it is pre 1857.