Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Thursday, 30 September 2010

To seek and conserve

Today was Mick Twyman's funeral and amongst the large gathering was as the Americans put it, a "huddle" of local Historians. It was nice to meet so many old and new faces all connected with the History of Margate and Thanet in general .
Over the past week or so I been thinking on how the the whole shape of the interest in the history and heritage of Margate is changing . Some of it I am sure is due to the Turner Center, the Internet and access to properly researched information .

Looking into it a bit deeper this new Renaissance is also represented by the interest taken into the buildings, artwork, archive and artefacts of the town. The buildings do speak for themselves and the collection of artwork held by Thanet District council does the town credit when people get a chance to see it. The archives have grown steadily over the years thanks to Mick Twyman and the Margate Historical Society and the access to information is always improving . This has left the artefact collection of Margate's History looking a bit thin on the ground and fragmented. This is not due to neglect it is just a indicator on how much everything else has improved.
Artefact collections are not really a local authority finaced thing as they usually come about by private collectors donating collections to local Museums. A fine example of this type of collection was a private collection of Ramsgate pot lids donated to the Ramsgate Museum that were lost when the Ramsgate Library burnt down and are irreplaceable.
A individual building up a private collection is not such a bad thing as it does preserve history however the downside is the public at large do not get the opportunity to see it. With the pressure on public finances the chances of the Margate museum reopening are slim and considering the contents of the TDC collection is a secret, the only hope is a private venture.
In the meanwhile I am now starting my own data base of the artefact's that are passing through on the Internet or have been found locally. As I come across items I will start to post them on this blog with any supporting information from the Margate Historical Society archive.

The picture above is a 2 inch diameter Victorian paperweight of the "new landing place" at Margate and the image is of the Jetty how it looked after 1857, this paperweight sold recently on ebay for £21.25. On the left is a print dated 1860 of the "new landing place at Margate" of a similar theme published by Kershaw & sons which Mick Twyman gave me many years ago. Both the print and paperweight would have been how the Jetty would have looked between the years 1857 to 1876 before a extension was built. The reason for building the extension was to allow paddle steamers to berth at different states of the tide and wind direction. This was further extended in 1897.

The photograph is from page 16 of the Margate Historical Society publication Bygonne Margate is of the jetty when the above mentioned extension was being constructed in the spring of 1876. The pile driver can be seen pictured on the jetty head.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mick Twyman's legacy - The Margate Historical Society

Following Mick Twyman's passing I have been spending the past few days reading his work and reflecting on the legacy he has left behind. Mick had a very broad knowledge of the history of Margate and like many realised Margate's History seemed to be time locked in the Victorian era through to the years up until the out break of the first world war which some historians would herald as a golden age. Mick thought otherwise and this led to the creation of the Margate Historical Society. The formation of the Margate Historical Society led to a whole new era of research into the History of Margate with contributions from anyone who had a story to tell , leading to contributions covering every aspect of the History of Margate from the year dot to the present day, everything was welcome.
The Borough of Margate was Incorporated in 1857 and most records of Margate in Margate date from that time. However, Mick teamed up with Alf Beeching which led to the research into archives kept outside the area, along with John Williams, Chris Sandwell and other members who I apologise for not naming, the research had begun . Mick's vision had begun.
Soon many unpublished historical facts emerged from research and some of the new research even led to historical errors from previous publications being corrected. The foundation of a accurate new data base of the History of Margate had begun incorporating both old and new publications to produce the magazine "Bygone Margate".
This new data base soon uncovered many new and forgotten facts on the development of Margate all properly researched from the 11th century through to the Georgian era, like Tudor House, the Grotto, Cobb family and Maritime Margate to name a few, leading to the publication of over seventy magazines. As they say the rest is History.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The "Victory" lugger memorial Harbour Arm

A few postings back I mentioned the demise of the "Victory" lugger memorial that was on the wall of the Stone Pier (Harbour Arm). I have found a copy of the inscribed words, it is a bit grainy but like the tablet at the time when it was broken up it is still readable.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Mick Twyman

Yesterday I heard the sad news that Mick Twyman has died, Mick was the founder member of the Margate Historical Society and was one of the most knowledgeable Margate Historians in modern times. Along with Alf Beeching, Mick produced many new historical articles researched from archive discovered outside the area which has now filled in many gaps in local history. Being a Margate man Mick also had a extensive knowledge on Maritime Margate, Dreamland, the Grotto and Old Margate in general. Most of the recent studies from the Margate Historical Society were also co written by Mick working working in conjunction with other members.
In the past most of the articles and photographs featured on this blog came from Mick, and it was always his express wish that anyone who wanted to copy and use anything from this Blog can do so without permission and that policy with my blog stands today.
On one of my sidebars is the Margate Handbook featuring Historical items by Mick which are well worth a read. In the near future I will be putting some of Mick's items on my Blog in his memory.

Monday, 13 September 2010

A new Margate Heritage Group.

A new not for profit org just set up called The Margate Society, made up from local community groups interested in Margate History or Heritage, if you want to know more the contact is via Lynn on 01843 223300.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to join or help.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Street Architecture - safe in their hands.

In recent years there a been a flow of reports of the theft of items such as memorial plaques, park benches, drain lids etc., All stolen to be sold a scrap metal. In Thanet there has been no exceptions and the list of missing street Architecture due to theft goes back years. Fortunately, some items are safe under lock and key in the Margate Museum. One such item is the plaque to commemorate the opening of Dane Park Margate in June 1898 which was once on display by the park gates and now hangs safely on the wall in the Margate Museum.
In Ramsgate the bronze cannons that were once situated by the Falstaff over looking Ramsgate Harbour are in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum . Just imagine if they were still there today, they wouldn't stand a chance and credit is where credit is due to the person who decided to house them there.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Heritage Day - Margate Museum

Today the doors of the Margate Museum were open to the public as part of the Heritage weekend with only the ground floor available to the public. Manned by Lynn Jackson a volunteer and TDC's Chris Tull I was pleasantly surprised at the interest shown by the public. In fact the museum was very busy with people taking great interest in the exhibits.
Even though I had not been in the place for three years it felt like yesterday since my last visit. Hardly anything had changed except for a few gaps in the cabinets where loan items had been returned. I did take a few photographs of the artefact's and I have attached a photograph of the metal plate that was on display at the entrance to the Margate Jetty since it was constructed. The plate was recovered some time after the storm of January1978 that totaly wrecked the Jetty and is one of the few remaining artefact's of the Iron Jetty. The rest of the photographs I will post at a later date more as a reference .
I was only in the Museum for a matter of minutes when I found myself dealing with an enquiry. Which was to do with the Victory lugger memorial erected in memory of the crew of the Margate lugger who were drowned in a rescue attempt of the crew of the American barque Northern Belle in January 1857 . The memorial was in Marble and on display on the wall to the left of the Droit House before you reach the steps. There is a rumour that the memorial was removed by Thanet District Council, in fact this was not the case.
Following the storm of January 1978 two cracks appeared in the Marble. This made the memorial a accident waiting to happen. However, the memorial remained in place until the early Eighties when a piece fell off and was thrown in the sea by vandals. In 1985 construction work was carried out behind the Droit House to build the break water and essential repairs to stonework in that area were undertaken. By this time the memorial was badly worn and was coming away from the wall and was dangerous, the contractors working on the site removed it and it become buried as part of the infill of the new breakwater.

Friday, 10 September 2010

The change in your pocket.

One thing I learnt as a boy was to always to check my change, not that I had a fear of being short changed. It was just my fascination with the history of our pre decimal coinage system that had a history of over 150 years of legal tender coins that would often be given out in change that interested me. Since the coinage reform in 1816 and changes in 1860 the coinage system in circulation was as solid as a rock. In fact the shilling denomination which circulated as a five pence piece until the introduction of the smaller five pence was the longest running legal tender coin in the world as the 1816 shilling was still classed as a legal tender coin.

The History of British coins has been a glorious one I am sure there are many people over the age of 50 who can still recall spending coins with the head of Queen Victoria on them and remembering to be on the lookout for a penny dated around 1860's & 1870's. With pre decimal coins there was always something to look out for as there were always coins with silver in them to look out for and there were also some many collector rarities. The introduction of the decimal system on 15th February 1971 soon put a end to that and eventually coins just become money. There were very few decimal oddities like the word "New" as in New Pence which was left on a 1983 two pence, plus coins with the head and tails struck out of alignment became highly collectible. Then recently there was a much publicised rarity when the obverse die used for the head of the old style reverse design of the twenty pence was used with the reverse die of the newer partial shield back design. This led to the first legal tender coin in modern times to be struck or mistruck by the Royal Mint without a date on.

Other than that people today in general do not check their change as a habit as they once use to. This soon led to foreign coins appearing in our change, not that foreign coins appearing in our change was something new but the newer foreign coins are more about being the sign of the times. Living on the coastal strip foreign coins historically are more common than inland, however with the increase in foreign holidays and our membership of the European union this has led to foreign coins becoming more common through out the UK than they used to. The most recent addition being the Polish 20 Groszy which is almost the same size as a five pence piece.

I am very familiar which most of the older foreign coins that turn up in Thanet like French and Belgian Francs from the Sally Ferry days and left over coins from holidays to Spain, Yugoslavia and Greece. So what is the position today ?

Well, as predicted lower denomination Euro coins do seem to be appearing everywhere from bit boxes at auctions, charity boxes and in our change. The coins from east European states are on the rise due to the influx of migrant workers and I have a selection of samples from Poland, Romania, Hungry and Croatia all retrieved from change. Some coins are so obvious but there are many than can easily be mistaken such as any coin that is seven sided can be mistaken for the Fifty Pence and there are Bi Metallic coins that are mistaken for two pound coins. In some cases the value of the foreign coin is worth more than the coin it is mistaken for, a example being the American quarter. This past quarter from my various sources I have picked up eleven examples of American quarters retrieved from change. Above I have scanned some samples of the coins I have come across since June.
I have set up a system of disposing of the coins. Firstly I collect samples, The American, Swiss and Euro coins I keep and sell as currency on ebay. The copper and bronze foreign coins I sell as scrap to a local scrap yard. Other legal tender foreign denominations, cupro nickel coins and pre decimal British coins I give to the British Red Cross in King Street, Ramsgate.

Ramsgate Town Artefacts at Albion House

As in good Museum practice the Ramsgate Town Council have issued a final notice for the removal of loan items from Albion House, so if you have loaned something you have until Tuesday.
I am not sure what the Town Council policy on artefact's under its control but I am sure someone can enlighten me.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Taken to the cleaners ? a ramble

In this weekends News of the Screws there was an interesting article on the subject of us recession hit Brits cashing in our gold and being taken to the cleaners. Taking the side of the consumer the article suggests a comparison site to highlight the great British rip off of the postal cash for gold. It is amazing the difference in prices.
Not all dealers are bad and the article is full of praise for . I also found two other companies and offering fair prices, and I am sure there are many more fair priced dealers on the internet, but then it always pays to shop around.

For some reason silver does tend to be ignored even though it trades at prolonged record prices, yet the chances are that joe average probably has more silver by weight kicking around the house than gold. In many cases it is in the form of pre decimal silver coins. In the past few years pre decimal silver British coins have been putting in a appearance at auctions. The reason being that the people of the pre decimal generation that could afford to hoard silver halfcrowns and florins are in their eighties and many have died. At the time of hoarding the coins did have a substantial face value. However as soon as the coins were no longer legal tender their only value was the silver content. The coins I am referring to are the Pre 1947 sixpences, shillings, florins and half crowns all containing 50% silver which have a minimum of 25 years circulation at the time of decimalisation. Minted between 1920 to 1947 there are few rarities and most coins have no collector value because of the intense wear caused by circulation. Even though these coins have no collector value they have become the cheapest form of investment in silver for joe average if bought at the right price and accumulated into collections. A fine example is on ebay, and this past week I have been looking at the trade in collections (10 or more) of pre 1947 halfcrowns and florins. Both of these coins have a bit of weight behind them which makes them popular making the market on ebay very buoyant. There is a company that trades in investment bags of of pre 1947 coins called, these people really know their stuff and supply is constantly outstripping demand. Earlier on in the year I was in Pressmans in Hatton Garden and someone weighed in bags of pre 1947 silver coins and was paid out £21,000 and I wonder what the return was on that lot. However for the lay man a few pre 1947 are set to be a nice little fall back in these troubled times.