Monday, 18 April 2011

The big dig Margate Harbour and the sea defence work

Standing on the end of Margate Harbour arm looking towards the shore there is this massive expanse of sand that has silted over centuries of Margate's history in the harbour area since the 1920's. Deep down the sand is more like a heavy silt which in its anaerobic state has sealed layers of history in a time capsule. In fact if Margate Harbour was to lose over 3 metres of sand and silt the site would look more like the banks of the River Thames in miniature. It is not very often that these historical layers are ever reached except when mechanical digging has taken place. On rare occasions by some quirk of nature in certain areas items some items from 17th and 18th century do make their way to the surface which is exceptionally rare, this in the past has been the only other indicator apart from mechanical digging as to what lies buried beneath the sand.

At the recent AGM of the Margate Historical Society the proposed sea defence work to protect the old town was a discussion item and to be honest I just could not help rubbing my hands with glee if the project goes ahead. As the works will require deep digging in a area where the history of Margate's sea bathing began in the 1730's .

It will be a bonanza for the metal detector users and on other similar occasions in the past so many items will be found that will go unrecorded. In most cases there is no real value attached to the items except historical . However, I think and hope something could be set up in advance for volunteers to record what is found and the data to be added to the records of Margate's seaside history. Perhaps such items could even be displayed.

Above are items found on the Marine Palace site destroyed on the great storm 29th November 1897 close to where the current day Turner Center now stands.