One of my earliest influences of collecting historic items from the shore has to be reading the accounts of the Thames mudlarks and the discoveries of historic items found on the banks of the River Thames found in the 19th and 20th century.
Margate in comparison to the history of the Thames is probably just a pin prick in the story of time. However, that little pin prick is a complete time capsule of layers of maritime history and unique Victorian and Edwardian sea side history in anaerobic layers of clay and sand. There is nowhere else on the south coast where such a concentration of history is buried under the sand and this is due entirely to the vast expanse of sand which Margate possesses which no other resort on the south coast has . This is largely due to the fact that since the construction of the Stone Pier (1815) and then the construction of the groyne by the Nayland Rock, then followed by the construction of the tidal swimming pool (1920's) the bay and main sands has silted up. During this silting process any items lost have remained buried more or less where they lay.
Even in living memory local people can remember the tide reaching the slipway by the clocktower, the pleasure boats at the Kings Steps and the boating pool nearby. All to be silted with sand.
However, there have been times when there has been a natural phenomenon when for some reason sand will erode in one one area of the bay or on the outside of the Stone Pier uncovering items. Many of the items are not exactly top class exhibits but they do tell the history of the area and most of all they authentic in their weather damage state. In recent years this has been helped by the loss of the Margate Jetty in the storm of January 1978 and the the final demolition twenty years later. The Jetty was constructed in 1853 and in a way acted as a breakwater for some areas of the bay breaking waves in northerly winds. Once the Jetty extension was removed in 1998, sand eroded from the bay particularly around the Nayland Rock area and in the centre of the bay. There was also the added bonus of debris that had remained under the Jetty extension was coming ashore. Even today during the winter the area to the east of the Nayland will expose bare white chalk where sand once covered . Unfortunately this has not halted the silted process on the main sands and harbour area which only had a brief respite in 1998.
In the picture are the remains of a collection I built up from the 1990's when we had a series of consecutive winter storms. I do find the shards of pottery and china interesting as the pieces I have collected bear the names of the paddle steamer companies that arrived at the Stone Pier bringing in visitors from London. Over the years there have also been many items like bottles and stoppers found around the harbour area mostly all from London, all I believe derived from the paddle steamer trade. The metal items pictured were all found with a metal detector and I must admit my finds over the years have run into thousands which have been mainly late 19th and early 20th century from the upper layers in the area. There have been times when excavation has taken place in and around the harbour breaking into the deeper layers of coal , clay and silt. The sort of consistency you would find on the banks of the Thames. This has been very productive for George III coins and earlier shards of pottery. However, nothing older than the 17th century has ever been found except for the odd Nuremberg token, but then this is not surprising as nobody has ever dug that deep down in the Harbour area to find out.