Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The origin of the Margate Town mace.

In 1957 the Borough of Margate produced this small historical paperback book to commemorate the centenary of the incorporation of the Borough of Margate in 1857. Since then this little pocket book has had many reprints which for many years was sold through through the local library , it is perhaps the best pocket sized history book on the history of Margate ever produced.
Many of the articles originate from a series of articles that appeared in old editions Isle of Thanet Gazette at the time, including the article on page 7 on the subject of the Margate Town Mace. In a previous posting I mentioned that on the Margate Charter Trustees website there was a article on the Margate Town Mace for downloading. However, in this little book there is more detail about the Mace which makes the subject of the Mace more interesting, which is as follows.
"Kinsale lost its status with the passing of the Irish Municipal Act" "The municipal insignia were sold by auction at Kinsale on 6th May 1861. The Mace, 79 3/4 oz in weight, was of the usual form and decorated with the arms of George II and Kinsale arms. It was purchased by the Rev Dr. Nelign of Cork, who sent it to Sotherby's for sale, Mr Bernhard Smith found it in the hands of Mr Cooper of Holborn, from whom he purchased it for the sum of 18 18s 9d, on behalf of Sir George Bowyer" . Sir George Bowyer was later to present the Mace to the town of Margate.
Ben Streatfield a previous town Sergeant like all town sergeants was a proud guardian of the mace at civic events. He was also a bit of a comedian and would often kid someone on, that the mace contained ashes of dead Mayors. He would ask the person if they would like to have a look, then as he carefully unscrewed the Mace he would pretend to sneeze scattering the non existent ashes much to the shock of the onlooker. You would be surprised how many people fell for it.
Following my recent discovery of a Borough of Margate civic spoon, of which I returned to the Mayor and Charter Trustees. My interest in the Margate town silver collection has been re ignited , especially from what I can remember when I was a Charter Trustee from 1995 to 2003. I did actually keep records on the Town Silver, especially around the time when B N Carthew revalued the collection and removed the tarnishing that had built up and put a protective coating on the Mace. Also at the same time some minor repairs were undertaken to remove small dents from some of the cups and a silver flag and a piece of silver rigging were commissioned to replace the flag and rigging that went missing when the silver boat was on display at a previous Mayor's Ball at the Winter Gardens.
Unfortunately all my archive on the subject is locked away in the closed Margate Museum and I have no access to it. However, I do regard the subject of the Margate town a very interesting one worth further research.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Doing the decent thing - The return of the Silver Spoon

Today I returned a Borough of Margate silver spoon to the Margate Charter Trustees to be added to the civic collection. As mentioned in a previous posting the silver spoon which bears the town's coat of arms was amongst a load of items from a house clearance that I bought at auction.
Being a former Charter Trustee I knew exactly the origin of the spoon and emailed the Mayor's office ASAP asking if they would like it back, and the answer was yes.
I knew the spoons were often given as gifts to civic diginataries but talking to Cheryl the Mayor's secretary I was informed the spoon is part of a Mayoral tradition, something as a Margate Historian I did not know. It appears the spoons would be presented to Margate citizens on their 100th Birthday by the Mayor.
I felt that this was a nice little touch as over the years our local history, heritage and traditions have been eroded. The Margate Charter Trustees are perhaps our last tangible link with the past and they do have a fine Civic collection of artwork. The town silver collection is something to be admired and the town mace certainly has a history behind it that can found on the Charter Trustee website.
Over the years the Civic Collection has been well looked after by the Charter Trustees and the same can be said for the old town hall. They do appear to look after civic history like the Knight Templar's waiting for the return of Christ. Yet the Charter Trustees are also Thanet District Councillors which as a Council has done absolutely nothing to take our heritage, history and traditions forward. Which does not make any sense at all.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Missing Town Silver ?

Many years ago an audit by the Margate Charter Trustees revealed a number of items in the Town Silver collection could not be accounted for. This led to an inquiry and led to all sorts of accusations which were eventually put down to poor record keeping. This sorry saga centred around a set of silver spoons in the civic collection which started off as 100 in the collection. Made in Sheffield they were only given to other civic dignitaries or past Mayors but somehow the Charter Trustees could not identify who had received them and the audit did not tally. Being a Charter Trustee at the time I sat in on many meetings that investigated the mystery of the missing spoons. As many readers may recall from previous postings that I have been investigating the absolute disastrous way civic items from the Boroughs of Margate and Ramsgate were handed over to TDC and so forth.
At the time I mentioned this to the Charter Trustees but to be honest I have made more progress wading through porridge. So to prove a point I have been going through thousands of spoons at boot fairs and auctions for years in the hope of finding a Margate silver spoon that had obviously not been awarded to a civic dignitary or the high and mighty.
So after many years of looking, Today I have found one which I purchased today at the Westgate Auctions in a junk pile.
After a careful clean it will be returned to the Charter Trustees and hopefully to be put back into the Civic collection and they will look after it.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Another man of the moment

On the Margate Museum website which came be found on google there is an excellent piece of research in "our regular feature" into the life of Bruce Fleet. Who ? you may ask .
Well Bruce Fleet like George Hoare and others before him gave his all for the town of Margate when it was needed most.
And like George Hoare he played a major role during the Second World when the town was faced with the Dunkirk evacuation.

I have copied part of the research by Bob Bradley and others at the museum for you to read.

"During the first part of the War, Chief Inspector Fleet was deputy
sub-controller for ARP services, taking over as sub-controller when
the Chief Constable left Margate on promotion within the Kent force.
His big test came on 27th May 1940, when he was awakened at
2.40am, at the Winter Gardens, the ARP headquarters. He was
called to a secret meeting with the Mayor and senior Police Officers,
who were told by the local Military Commander to prepare to
receive troops being evacuated from Dunkirk.
Chief Inspector Fleet took up his duties on the jetty as Liaison
Officer to the Royal Navy, which established its headquarters in the
Droit House. The next day, 482 troops were landed from two
vessels. During the next nine days, one-seventh of all
troops evacuated from Dunkirk were landed in Margate, over
46,000 men, and provisions were transhipped from Army barges
into smaller ships to be taken to Dunkirk to feed the men still there.

Several thousand stretcher cases were sent to the Winter Gardens
for attention, whilst the remainder were sent to Dreamland and
officers to Margate College. All were provided with a cup of tea,
chocolate and biscuits, and clothing where necessary. Bruce Fleet
was in charge of these activities and stayed on duty continuously
for over nine days, until 5th June."

There is more but I do not wish to spoil a good story.

People knock Margate and its people and its past, so this wet and windy weekend I suggest a good read of the Museum archive will give some sort of perspective and better understanding of our past.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A man of the moment.

Reading the Isle of Thanet Gazette report on the budget problems Thanet District Council is facing makes grim reading and my first thoughts were have things ever been this bad before. Well in fact they have.
In late May1940 Margate had its own town council, the seafront was boarded up and the hotels and guesthouses were closed. The towns economic lifeblood , tourism had been abruptly cut off. Many people had left the town as the threat of invasion became a reality and the revenues to the town council had plummeted as Margate like all coastal towns became the front line. To make matters worse troops from the Dunkirk evacuation were arriving in the town and the local town council had a very serious dilemma on its hand running local government as it faced bankruptcy.
Someone had to take responsibility and make the tough decisions. This responsibility fell on the shoulders of Cllr George Hoare a local businessman who had a photography business and ran a milk bar along the seafront. Somehow through beg, steal or borrow he managed to keep local government running during those dark days which was nothing short of a miracle. Unfortunately he died lateron during the war and was buried in Margate Cemetary.
There is a file on him in the Margate Museum and his name is on the roll of honour in the old town hall when he became Mayor. George Hoare's achievements are not widely known except in a file in the Margate Museum, but Margate really has a lot to thank him for.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Irish Hospitals Sweepstake 1948

We are always hearing about unclaimed prizes on the national lottery and unclaimed prizes on the premium bonds. Well recently I came across this Irish Hospitals sweepstake ticket for the 1948 Derby, whether it was a winner I will never know. Did Betsy win the Derby in 1948 ?
Win or lose is certainly has a lovely celtic appeal about it, almost like a work of art, something worth keeping.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

"Should the Kaiser come"

Like most people I spent today pottering about the house, my job for today was to sort through archive which I have stored in the loft to decide which can go and what will stay while occasionally reading the odd item that took my interest. One article that caught my eye was one written by local historian John Williams on the subject of the First World War titled "Should the Kaiser come". It appears from the article which is for down loading that the Borough of Margate Town Council had put in place a plan to evacuate Margate in 1915 in the event of a invasion by the Kaiser's forces, something not many people are aware of.