Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Sickie Island

A few postings back I mentioned the fact that from about the early 1890's to the start of the First World War there was something in the region of 50 mineral water companies operating in East Kent. All in business to quench the thirst of both visitors and the local population alike. The tangible evidence of this trade being the vast amounts of bottles recovered from Victorian dump sites, old houses , building works and discoveries from Thanets 22 miles of coastline. All being waste I suppose from the tourism and leisure industry of the time.
Other items from this golden age of tourism which led to the rapid development of the area came from the very reason why people came to Thanet in the first place. That was to either get well or rest and recuperate after an illness benefiting from our unpolluted climate. A fine example being the sea bathing hospital built in 1797 and the reputation it gave the area. However, not everybody was hospitalised, many Victorian visitors brought their own personal medicine chests with them which in general consisted of quack medicines laced with opiates. Soon many Chemists business's opened up in the area preparing their own preparations or selling proprietary medicines to both visitors and locals alike. Research through the directories at Margate library list many small business's that thrived during that era and there are many old images of those quaint mysterious shops that where more like Aladdin's cave. One notable firm being D.T Evans ltd that was still in business until the early 1970's throughout Thanet.
Today many of these shops have gone and their history are just accounts in archive . Other tangible reminders are the many bottles, pots and containers made of glass and earthenware that are found today. Like the mineral water bottles they are found in abundance exactly in the same places likes dump sites, building site, cellars and along the coast.
I have been collecting, digging and finding many chemist bottles and pots in the Thanet area for at least 30 years and acquisitions must have topped over a 1000 with ease all spanning from the Victorian era to the beginning of the Second World War, with many local names like Skitts, Bayley, D T Evans.
My finds led to a file being created in the Margate Museum and the pharmaceutical cabinet and collection in the Museum originated from my aquisitions which I donated and this was improved in later years by donations from the public.

to be continued

2 comments:

ascu75 aka Don said...

Wonder when the museum will reopen so we can see them

Tony Beachcomber said...

It is hard to say Don, but at least none of the local historians have lost focus and just got on with it.
It is unfortunate that the hue and cry over the museums closure has faded know the Maritime museum at Ramsgate now has a future leaving margate high and dry.