Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Liberator crash memories.

Eye witness accounts are always a good starter when it comes to quality research. These newspaper cuttings from the Isle of Thanet Gazette will be of special interest to readers following the B44 Liberator crashes of the 17th April 1944 at Westgate and Palm Bay on Simon Moore's Thanetlife.
I have marked with an X where the Palm Bay crash was in the second picture. In the third picture is a piece of the aircraft that I found which I gave to the Manston History club.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Lost Archive

Many many years ago I was approached by someone who had in their possession two Coastguard lookout logs one for the Kingsgate lookout and one for the Margate lookout. Both were saved from the bonfire. The Kingsgate log was from 1928 to 1956 excluding the war years and the Margate log was from 1928 to 1956 incluiding the war years. I had the logs for 24hours to read them, but it was more of a case of down the Library and copying at 10 pence a go until my money ran out . As Margate maritime history is better documented than Kingsgate maritime history as Margate has RNLI records. I copied the Kingsgate log first and completed it, as for Margate I did the wartime pages until my money ran out. The next day the owner took the books back and they have never been seen since.

The logs do not go into detail but they are accurate eye witness accounts of the events that happened like the two wartime incidents below, one at Birchington and the other out at sea off Margate. I gave all my master copies to the Margate Museum archive and distributed further copies to my historical band of brothers. I have given a copy of the Kingsgate log to Micheal to use if he does something on Kingsgate in the future.

If anyone would like information from the Kingsgate log please email me.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Ramsgate East Pier aircraft part

As we approach late spring there is always a noticeable change in the tides most experienced beachcombers are aware of. So this time of year I do like to pick out my favourite spots which are Ramsgate main beach , East Pier and Pegwell Bay. With the Goodwin sands (lomea) and the Sandwich flats on the doorstep it is always so easy to cherry pick historical items from the low water mark.
Today, I found a piece of a aircraft with a serial number on it and like most aircraft parts found on the foreshore the loss is a result of combat. Second World War aircraft loses are generally well documented, and further research always unveils the heroism and sacrifice when something associated with the loss is found. On Simon Moore's Thanet life he is running a story of the two Liberator losses of 27 th April 1944 one off Westgate and the other at the cliffs at Palm Bay, the origins of the story only came to public attention when a piece of a B24 Liberator was found at Palm Bay. Further research at the now closed Margate Museum and on the Internet brought the details to the public eye.
The piece I found today was stainless steel and for the aircraft detectives the serial numbers are
30038 1A , 55H and in a circle VACB 534. The 55H has been over stamped over another number.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A ressurrectionist at Margate - the Ben Crouch story.

The Resurrectionists as they were known earnt their living through the trade in human body parts. The Anatomy act of 1831 ended the trade. One notorious resurrectionist had Margate connections and this research by Mick Twyman and Alf Beeching puts it into greater detail.
There is a mention of the Zion Chapel at the end of the article and I have attached a print fo Zion Chapel from a previous story for downloading.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Victorian Gossip

In every edition of the Margate Historical Society magazine there was always a page or more dedicated to researched news stories. From these articles more meaningful research was undertaken, reading through this compilation of Victorian news stories by Alf Beeching I find the usual mix of court appearances, accidents and incidents. The articles are all for downloading and there is something of interest for everybody even if it is just Victorian gossip.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Thanet Dinosaur egg ?

Throughout the world there are many gems and items of natural history that have exotic names from the location where they were found. Recently a photograph came to light of something I found on the beach about nine years ago when I carried out a Amber hunt on our beaches during the winter of year two thousand. The item was a piece of wood resin that I found on the beach at Cliftonville which I named Dinosaur egg . As you can see from the picture it does have that look about it. Eventually, by the spring of that year I had built up good a collection of natural wood resins and Amber which I eventually donated to Sarah at the Shell Grotto for exhibition.

I do apologise for the glasses, and yes I have now been to Specsave.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Who remembers Fred the Barber ?

The name "Fred the Barber" is one of the old Margate characters that will ring a bell with many older readers. He was a one off in every sense, as most barbers while they cut your hair would engage in bit of general chit chat Fred would preach the word of God. This earned him the nickname " Holy Joe" amongst us kids . My memories are the plank of wood that was placed on the arms of his barbers chair for children to sit on who were to small for the mirror and if you were good you always received some fruit salads or blackjacks as a reward.
This article from the Margate Historical Society archives by Chris Sandwell is a fitting tribute to an old Margate Character.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

A North Foreland shipwreck

On 9th March 1916 the armed boarding steamer HMS Fauvette was steaming towards the Thames Estuary when she struck two mines in quick sucession off North Foreland 51.27.55 N 02.56.42 E. The ship went down in four minutes, drowning two officers and twelve naval ratings, with the Commander and remaining members of the crew managing to board the port side lifeboats to safety. The wreck remained pointing North and upright on the seabed until after the First World War when it was blown up as it was classed as a maritime shipping hazard with the demolition of the wreck leaving a field of debris on the seabed.
Over the years, Trawler men eventually become aware of this wreck site and charted it as un fishable rough ground, like most sites that cannot be fished and the area soon become a dumping ground for debris trawled up in the nets from other areas. Eventually the rough ground transformed into an artificial reef becoming a safe haven for marine life.
In 1982 I was working on a fishing boat that was working trammel nets close to the edge of this rough ground. The idea was to leave the nets overnight and haul them in the morning, on one night in July 1982 we left one fleet of nets overnight to haul in the morning. However, during the night the wind had picked up and on arrival in the morning the nets had drifted into the wreck site and became fast. It was a disaster with the nets tearing as we hauled, like most steel wrecks the crabs we were catching were brown through rust and they were huge, we even caught a 8 1/2 lb lobster , plenty of tope well over 30lb and a 13lb Bass. As the nets were coming over the hauler, debris from the wreck was coming up with the catch, with things like deck light covers , rusty pieces of metal and pieces of brass. At one point the hauler slowed down and the boat started to list and when it broke free we could feel something in the nets. When that part of the nets reached the surface there was this huge copper pipe about 4 inches diameter about twenty foot long with a bronze flange on the end.
When we finished the haul the deck was like a mini maritime museum of various fittings laid out on the deck . Unfortunately the owner of the boat had no interest in maritime history and all the items later ended up in Sam Read's scrapyard in Margate.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Little Teddy Brown down at "Margit"

It is surprising how often Margate is mentioned in dusty old sheet music from the music hall era. In volume 4 number 2 of the Margate Historical Society magazine (June 20001), Max Tyler a historian and archivist of the British Hall Music Hall Society produced an article on the subject for the magazine. He listed many lyrics, and my favourite is by "Little Teddy Brown at Margit", who was in fact Harry Randall a well known music hall performer at the time. In his book Harry Randall mentions that he performed at the Marina which was at foot of the Jetty. Which as most local historians know was the Marine Palace which destroyed in a storm November 30th 1897. I have reproduced one of his posters, and I do apologise for the quality. On his right in the poster there are some pillars which look like the pillars of Kent Hotel redrawn with a bit of artistic license. The Kent Hotel in its time was well known as a Victorian Music Hall providing entertainment with local talent, in the late Dr Alan Kay's notes he writes that in 1846 guide the Kent is mentioned as having "convivial meetings every evening, the chair being taken by Mr wood, with his comic songs and concerts". The Kent Hotel with its wrought iron balcony supported by pillars was an icon of our seaside heritage , it was removed to make way for a trashy arcade in very controversial circumstances with TDC right at the heart of it. This article is a reminder and serves as another reason to support the campaign by the Isle of Thanet Gazette to Save the past for the future. The time has come to stop the destruction of our seaside heritage starting with keeping our Museums open.
I end with little Teddy Brown's lyrics
"With a brown hat and pair of brown shoes,
A brown face, through the sun and lots of booze,
Some browns (pennies) in my pocket,
Which I don't mind if I blues,
I'm little Teddy Brown down at Margit"

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The Picasso of the Pier

During most of the summer of 2003 I spent most of my spare time researching some of the gaps in our seaside heritage not covered by the Margate Museum for their archives . One subject I looked into was the post war kiss me quick era and the subject I took on was comic postcards and the work of Donald McGill , the infamous comic postcard artist. During that time I built up a large collection of comic postcards purchasing cards from the old seaside resorts of Brighton, Hastings, Cleethorpes plus a visit to Grimsby. I donated many postcards to the Margate Museum which prompted the Museum to start their own collection and archive on the subject.
I produced two articles for the Margate Historical Society
which are for downloading, later in a follow up article below I found out there actually was a prosecution under the obscene publications act that did take place in Margate over the comic postcards in 1953.
NB .Even today some of the original late 1960's comic postcards from the Pedro series are on sale in the gift shop on Ramsgate seafront .

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Changing Kentish dialect

We have all heard the naval term "All ship shape and Bristol fashion" at one point in our lives. But what does it actually mean ?

Well, I found the answer in volume 8 number 3 of the Margate Historical Society magazine by Mick Twyman. "Bristol fashion" as Mick wrote, "is evolved from the fact that any ship caught by the ebb tide at Bristol which had not cleared its decks of loose clutter or lashed it down securely, saw it vanish over the side as the vessel heeled over on the sharply slopping bottom of the river bed."
The this snippet of information came from was a article on the vanishing Kent dialect which Mick wrote and I have reproduced it for downloading.

What will happen to bomb alley ?

Now that the Margate Museum is closed there is one room in the Museum many local people should be concerned about. I give it the name bomb alley but actually it is the war room in the Margate Museum. The exhibits do not glorify war they are more a display which acts as a memorial to a shocking event in History of a human catastrophe.
Most of the exhibits were donated to the Museum by local people and tell the story of Thanet life during the second world war. In the bottom of some of the cabinets are poppies in which a few were added each year by the ex curator Bob Bradley and constitutes a permanent memorial with the artefacts to the role local people and servicemen played in wartime. Now that the Museum is closed what will happen to the memorial displays especially the small items that will probably mean nothing to an "expert" or "consultant" but mean everything to the people who donated these items in good faith. Will the collection be dismantled, will it be sold off and could some things go "missing" now there is nobody to look after them.
These pictures came from the Museum Website which is now closed.

Monday, 6 April 2009

The original estimate for the building of Holy Trinity Church

In 2006 Alf Beeching researcher of the Margate Historical Society came across the estimates for the building of the old Holy Trinity Church in the Whitfield Archive. They were published in volume 9 number 4 of the societies magazine and I have reproduced them out of interest.

Excavations £69 11s 0d

Bricklayers £3,482 11s 0d

Plasterers £1,715 16s 2d

Stonemasons £9,149 7s 1d

Carpenters £1,575 2s 0d

Joiners £1,590 13s 6d

Plumbers £681 4s 0d

Blacksmith £400 0s 0d

Slaters £214 10s 0d

Glazier £313 18s 0d

Painters £470 12s 6d

TOTAL £19,664 5s 3d

There is also a breakdown of the Blacksmiths estimate which is quite revealing as to the quantity of metal used.

11,750lbs wrought iron @ 5d £244 15s 10d

138 3/4 cwt. cast iron @ 9/- £131 16s 3d

28' 6" run of altar railing £14 5s 3d

16 number casements @ 8/- £6 8s 0d

12 gratings @ 4/- £2 8s 0d

2 chimney bays @ 3/6 7s 6d

TOTAL £400

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Margate Museum Maritime Room

In all the years the Margate Museum was open my only criticism would be the lack of emphasise on our maritime past. One theme in particular was smuggling and even today throughout Thanet this subject is never exploited to the full tourism potential. The last time someone did anything on the subject was when Louis Longhi opened a smugglers museum in the dark dank cellars of Bleak House. It was a total success and the only reason it folded was due to ill health , it also has to be realised that Bleak House Museum never received any funding from anyone and was totally self financing. Smuggling off the Thanet coast was a more intense, brutal ugly business and out strips Cornwall any day. The only reason Cornwall has such a high profile on the subject is because of good marketing and the coastline in some places is undeveloped and captures the image of the time. If the truth was known, the Cornish smugglers were really pussies as they mainly smuggled wool of all things.
Getting back to the Margate Museum the development of the Maritime Margate was always stifled because there was this fear of treading on the toes of the EKMT and being in direct competition with the Ramsgate Maritime Museum. Yet the strange thing was that the EKMT never stood in the way of museum development at Margate and promoted maritime history where ever they could.
So instead of developing Maritime Margate we ended up with bomb alley and a double dose of World War two. I have attached photographs of the the artefact's the museum displayed on Maritime Margate and as you can see centuries of Maritime History could quite easily be displayed in a bedsit which does the subject no justice whatsoever. The collection even though small has some excellent items worth noting, such as a medal awarded by the President of the United States to Robert Parker for the role he played in the rescue of the crew of the Northern Belle in January 1957, also there is a Gold RNLI badge awarded to Bruce Fleet for his lifetime service to the RNLI which is in the bottom right hand corner of the cabinet. The piece of metal painted black is more than likely an unlisted item that is in the museum and is part of a railing from the Margate Jetty. All what you see in these photographs are all artefact's associated with Maritime Margate in the museum which does not do the town any justice whatsoever.
Here is a little maritime question for you, where did the Captain Digby get its name?
Answer: Captain Henry Digby was the Captain of HMS African at the Battle of Trafalgar and was a relative of Lord Holland who owned the Kingsgate estate at the time.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Margate Museum closes

On the Margate Museum website it states the Museum is now closed as from 31st March 2009 and everything has been mothballed. The Museum had been closed to the fee paying public since 10th November and only open for researchers and small parties by appointment from the hours of 9:30 to 13:00. Recently the Museum had gained some good publicity including taking on bound copies of the Isle of Thanet Gazette.
In recent press releases it has been suggested that TDC will make a decision regarding the Museum and the collection it owns in June. The Margate Civic Society have made enquiries and there is a report is in the spring newsletter stating "The situation beyond 31st March 2009 is not clear". This is a matter of concern because if the Margate Civic Society is left totally in the dark it doesn't look good for the future of the Museum.
My concerns are that TDC will pass a new disposal and acquisition policy for the collection it owns which could enable it to sell off items that do not meet a new collection criteria. I would love to be proved totally wrong but this is TDC we are talking about and judging by the poisonous political atmosphere at present which would make a canary pass out, nothing can be ruled out.
The Margate part of the collection is bundled into a neat package of the Rowe Bequest, Donations, long term loans and purchases by the former Margate Town Council and TDC. TDC could argue that purchases using ratepayers money are a asset they wish to dispose of.
Donations are a contract between the donor and the council, which does state in the disposal and acquisition policy that the Council can sell them off if they so wish. They only draw back for TDC is the disposal and acquisition policy holds them to a collection criteria. However, there is nothing to prevent TDC from altering the criteria even though the donations were made in good faith. Obviously long term loans would have to be returned but Rowe bequest items will have a legal thing surrounding them, this would be battle ground to attack them on. Fortunately a large proportion of Rowe bequest items are safe in KCC archives.
As for the Ramsgate part of the collection this is a bit of a grey area for me as TDC has never really publicly displayed the Ramsgate items they owned. Except maybe a few paintings in the Maritime Museum , Albion House and TDC offices. When TDC came into being in 1974 a larger proportion of artefact's from Ramsgate Town Council did become the property of KCC as they took over the Museum in the Library which we all know went up in smoke. I suspect the Ramsgate part of the collection will be made up of Town Council and TDC purchases, donations, long term loans and maybe bequests. As TDC have refused my freedom of information act enquiry into the collection, it may now be the time for the more learned Ramsgate historians to make public any information they may have regarding donations especially bequests.