For many years now I been absorbed into the coastal history of Thanet . Before the formation of the Margate Museum in 1987 I would visit the Maritime collection at Bleak House many times in the course of each year during the eighties. During that period I took almost everything in at the Bleak House maritime museum and with my maritime links and knowledge of the coastline this broadened my coastal knowledge. Then in the 1990's I played a role like many others in the development of the Margate Museum collection and the museum became a sort of base from which I worked from. From there I was able to incorporate new knowledge and news finds into the Margate Museum collection and archives.
Then came the formation of the Margate Historical society which was the brainchild of Mick Twyman and John Williams. The society was set up to seek and conserve the History of Margate through new research . Taking on board researchers like Alf Beeching and Chris Sandwell the maritime archives were soon to grow and in many cases some horrendous errors in the "established" archives were corrected. Furthermore every article published by the society was thoroughly researched and accurate.
The closure of the Margate Museum and the Ramsgate Maritime Museum a few years ago was a blow but never a disaster. However, when Mick Twyman died in September this was a tragic day for anyone with a interest in local history. Fortunately most of Mick's work has been published and the society has been revamped but somehow things do not seem the same. Today many of us are now working on our own pet projects and in some cases we are back to our roots. So when Richard Hilton asked me to research into Bleak House I jumped at the opportunity.
A few years ago I did some work identifying the Maritime collection when he bought Bleak House, so it was just a matter of reopening the file. This time I have used contacts and with the help of the Internet I have came up with some very interesting leads. However all was not as it seems and I am now starting to find errors, very much in the same way when the Margate Historical Society set out in earnest to research the history of Margate. A fine example being a Broadstairs Pier fact sheet naming Captain George Gooch the guy who had Bleak House built as Captain George Gough.
I have always admired Louis Longhi for the way he started and the way he built up the Bleak House Maritime Museum. Also I like reading the works of Bill Lapthorne however some of his work does carry a warning which I quote,
"The East Kent Maritime Trust published a booklet in 1998 entitled 'Maritime Heritage of Thanet' and it contains an article by the late Bill Lapthorne. Bill researched extensively but never cited his sources and although it doesn't appear against _this_ article, other articles written by him do carry a warning by him which effectively means that if he couldn't find out, he made it up! Unfortunately he doesn't tell us which bits he found, and which he made up!"
So as you can see it is not going to be easy. I have already identified a couple of gems at Bleak House and I have found Captain Gooch's grave in St Peter's cemetery. Also I have forwarded some research on George Gooch to the English East India Company Archives. I am currently looking into the North Cliff battery which was commanded by Captain Gooch when Napoleon threatened invasion from 1803. The postcard I have posted is the site of the North Cliff Battery. According to some arcticles I have read the gun powder store was situated in the clifff face to the right of the picture.
Also considering the Battery was constructed to defend Broadstairs Harbour I am thinking were the guns 18 pounders ? like those used on Martello towers and are the gun platforms still there today or even buried ?