Monday, 23 May 2011

A Margate Shipwreck from 1877 ?

I seem to be developing this very familiar pattern that every time I forget to take my camera I stumble across something of interest and today was no exception.
This morning I dropped into Marine Studios in Albert Terrace to give the studio my collection of items that I picked up last year and this winter including the Mitten crab samples, about twenty pieces of Amber and a collection of clams. As I looked out of the window across the main sands the tide was out. Directly out from Godden gap on Marine Terrace on the low water mark I could see this gully that the Margate metal detector users have been telling me about. From where I was standing I could see a few timbers from the wreck that had exposed this winter in the same gully.
I had heard about the wreck uncovering a few months ago and this was the first opportunity I have had to give it a good look. By closer examination I estimate the wooden wreckage to be about 25 feet long and between 6 to 8 feet wide and scattered around there are a number of ribs from the wreckage. The condition of the timber is excellent and the ribs are laying loose so they can easily be carried off the beach. Around the wreckage are deposits of clay from the Tivoli Brooks and a mixture of shingle and loose chalk. Amongst the layers of chalk and clay there were shards of plate, clay pipe stems, broken bottles, worn beach glass and all the debris associated with the Victorian / Edwardian seaside up until the 1930's. I carried out a quick search of the area and it was quick with the tide coming in. Finds included a complete lamont pattern mineral water bottle circa 1880's and a part of a M J Harlow mineral water bottle minus a neck probably dated around pre First World War. I also came across a large granite block which may have been ballast from the Wreck.
Dating a wreck like this can be difficult and does take a great deal of research, however I do have a theory.
As soon as I saw the wreckage I was amazed at the amount of timber because being so close to Margate as a single wreck would have been completely salvaged as every available piece would have been used by the local population even if it was used for firewood. Therefore I would assume that the wrecking could have happened at a time when more than one vessel was wrecked. The theory being that rich and easy pickings and financial reward would take priority of firewood. This would then point to the storm of 24th November 1877 when the wind changed dramatically from SSE to NNE severe force gale driving all the shipping anchored in the Margate Roads onto the shore. This events surrounding this storm are well documented in the Margate Historical Society archives by Mick Twyman, John Willaims and Chris Sandwell.
In the Margate area alone seven ships were wrecked during that storm and many were driven ashore damaged. On Michael's Thanetonline, Michael published a postcard some time back of a badly damaged Margate Jetty that was damaged by the " Charles Davenport" that had been driven along the coast by this gale and sliced into the Jetty. In the background of this postcard many sailing ships can be seen aground in the bay and on the Nayland which would have occupied all the available local labour from carpenters , seamen and salvagers. Also taking into consideration all the loses on the North Kent coast I am sure the coastline would have been littered with easy pickings for the local population who would have had the luxury of ignoring such a bounty on Margate main sands.

I stress this is only a plausible theory until further research is carried out


Anonymous said...

Tony have a camera and a mobile phone that can take piccies as your backup ?

Tony Beachcomber said...

The trouble is Rick if I start doing that I wouldn't find a thing.