Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

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.


Anonymous said...

Probably the wrong Digby, Tony.

The pub was originaly known 'since time immemorial' as "The Admiral Digby's Head" until it collapsed into the sea during a violent storm, c. 1820. The publican then reopened in 'that Gothic Pile' which was the coach house and stables of the lost house and the core of the, hideously extended, modern pub.

The most likely Admiral Digby is Rear Admiral Robert Digby, b.1732,son of Charlotte Fox.

Millicent said...

Your blog highlights yet again all the reasons why we should keep our museums and why we need funding to revamp them not close them

ascu75 aka Don said...

I totally agree with Millecent we need more than just sandy beaches to entice people here every business deserves the best from their council if I was still working I would be devestated at the lack of joined up thinking that goes on in Cecil square

Tony Beachcomber said...

Annon, 00:00 have you got any information on the network of caves in the area.

Anonymous said...

Annon, 00.00

Sorry Tony - no info. on the caves. My supposition on the Admiral Fox is from an article The Times, Oct. 16, 1816.

It is a report on a huge storm, extracts read:


"An extraordinary and awful incursion of the sea has produced a complete revolution in that part where stood a house, from time immemorial,called the Admiral Digby's eastern gale carried away the whole of the house, except a part of one appears that the surf rose considerably above a hundred feet from the sea...As a temporary dwelling the innkeeper has fitted up that whimsical Gothic pile which was long used for accomodating horses and carriages. The sea is approaching with giant strides to the edifice called the Castle, by no means safe from the dreadful hollow broken seas which are peculiar to this quarter...

Tony Beachcomber said...

Annon 0:00, an interesting piece of research. I am rather puzzled how something could be demoted from Admiral to Captain. There is every possibilty that we are both right and that the name Digby is just a coinicidence. I think this is a case of more research,

Anonymous said...

Quite agree. I've done some lightweight online Digby/Fox genealogy research. There is probably a Holland link to either candidate, but Robert seems the stronger candidate.

However, if The Times was right about the rank - and that the inn had been known as the Admiral Digby's Head 'since time immemorial' in 1816 - it is unlikely that the hero of Trafalgar, who was not promoted Rear Admiral, until 1819, could be our man.