When the metal detecting hobby first took off in the 1970’s I doubt if many people kept records of finds and I suppose I was just as guilty as everyone else. Prompted by the new sea defence works I have recently been compiling records of pre First World War finds from the Old Margate area, mostly from memory and from the notes taken at the time. Most of my finds and other peoples finds are not what I call spectacular but they are authentic Margate and do tell the story of Margate as a resort from 1735 to the outbreak of the first world war in 1914. Out of the three Thanet towns Margate does have the largest archive that is being constantly being researched and updated by local historians and a up and running Museum manned by enthusiastic volunteers which is a blessing. However, such research needs items and artefacts and this is the line of local history I have now taken up as a friend of the Margate Museum.
Recently I have been researching the area where the Margate sea defence works are to be constructed as most readers of my Blog will know. Going through my notes and an old article I wrote for the Margate Historical Society I came across some information from when sea defence repair works that took place in the early 1980’s from Margate Harbour slipway to the Kings Steps.
At the time it was not the coins that I found that was of interest but it was the makeup of the ground they were digging up and the content. At the time I never realised that the area that was being dug up was where the town drain once spilled its contents from King Street into the harbour. When the repair works commenced the diggers dug at the base of the internal wall at the Parade near the Harbour slipway dragging up this smelly silt consisting of layers of coarse sand that looked like a mixture of grit, black sand and clay. The grit being small stones, crushed shells, coal dust and bone fragments. Amongst this mixture I found many small shards of pottery and glass, pieces of clay pipe and animal bone. The shards were diverse with some being reddish colour and unglazed, some were thicker covered in a brown speckled glaze and then there was the more obvious Victorian China. The glass pieces were worn smooth and the clay pipes were all broken with all different bowl designs. As for the bone finds, sometime after the works had finished I did find an animal jawbone with teeth and I also picked up some random animal teeth when the spoil heaps washed down.
At the time I was not the only person with a metal detector as often happens in Margate. Therefore the entire area was metal detected many times over and even to this day I have no idea what other people found.
I did find two 1797 Cartwheel Pennies in a well preserved state, one I donated to the Margate Museum and the other I kept and surprisingly I still have. Other finds included some badly worn lead tokens and a badly pitted South African Republic florin from the 1890’s featuring the head of Paul Kruger which was a strange find.