I do not generally post emails I recieve on thanetcoastlife but this one is a gem and with the authors permission I can share the account of working in the Sample Shoe shop Market Place during the 1970's.
When ever I get a bit nostalgic, I start surfing the web, and find sites such as yours about my old hometown.They usually springboard me to other useful, and enjoyable sites too...for example, I just emailed Mick Tomlinson, the Mayor..and found some interesting links at the Margate Historical Society site - so thanks for making this possible! I've lived in the U.S. since 91, and I'm nearly 45 now (good Lord, I don't know how that's possible!), but was born and raised in Margate, from a long line of Mundays.
My friend Sally Ann Weller and I worked in the old Sample Shoe Shop, then owned by the Dobsons, when we were around 13 -14 (so, let's say 1978, 79). It was a peculiar old building, indeed. One of the many I loved, and got to know quite well over the years in the Market Place.The oddest thing about working in the shoe shop was our combined reluctance to go up to that middle landing, and worse still, the top floor. There was no heat, it was always incredibly cold, and cool even in the summer, and a solitary, light bulb illuminated each dark level. Small rooms, filled with extra-wide sandals and brogues piled high on wooden shelves, jutted off the landings, and it was our task, as shopgirls, to run up and down, numerous times on Saturdays, to find the perfect sandal for rather demanding, old day-tripping ladies from London. (Invariably we'd end up taking them back up stairs because even the extra wides couldn't accommodate their bunions...)Somehow, with what seemed an unfair regularity, I often got stuck with the task of running them back up, and without fail, on each occasion, my muscles would tighten, and I'd get goose-bumps as I went from the middle landing, to the top floor. It was a progressively, desperate feeling. Both myself and Sally had the distinct notion we were being watched - not necessarily in a malevolent way, but sufficiently strong enough to unnerve us, that once we'd grabbed or returned the item, we'd hurtle at full throttle back down several flights of stairs, skipping several, just to get away from the oppressive and watchful air of those upper level floors. It's a feeling I've not experienced since.It wasn't until some years later, (85, 86) that by some unusual twist in circumstance, I was employed by a government funded work program, to get the Margate Museum up and running. This incentive was housed just across the road from Sample Shoe Shop at the Old Town Hall, (itself, not without distinctive character and a personality of its own...in fact, my great grandmother had apparently worked there as a "female searcher" when it housed the police station.) In this capacity, I was charged with poring over old, Margate newspapers, and microfiched articles up at the library, ferreting out all sorts of historical information.When I came across the newspaper article about the Market Place fire, and P.C. Rolfe's death - and realized this had occurred in the same location that I'd worked, and experienced the feelings described above, I was quite speechless, and got goose-bumps, again. It now made perfect sense. I'm convinced P.C. Rolfe continued to maintain a presence not only because that's where he fought desperately for life, and must've felt incredibly frustrated by the delay in being found, but was still watching over the occupants of that building to make sure they got out OK. (If only this time, a little more quickly than they would have preferred!)Many thanks again, for keeping these wonderful, local stories alive. It makes a homesick girl feel very connected to a great, seaside town - and it ensures that our history there, isn't forgotten.