Thursday, 29 December 2011

The sea defence diaries 28/12/11

Work on the sea defence works has stopped for obvious reasons due the Christmas period and the mild weather has had very little impact on shape of the main sands where the demolition of the old boating pool by the clock tower has has taken place. All that remains of the boating pool is one wall that is built around the pipe that drains Tivoli Brookes.

I was fortunate that the tide had gone out far enough to allow me to have a good root around the end of the square head of the stone pier and take a few photographs. From the photograph the underpinning of the square head is well underway and is a continuation of the work that that took place after the storm of February 1953 when the sea ward side of the square head was underpinned to strengthen the foundation of the newly reconstructed lighthouse .

On this occasion my interest was centered of the spoil heap that remained from the digging and pile driving that can be clearly seen in the photograph. Even though the site looks a mess there are plenty of good finds to be made and data to collect.

The entrance to the harbour like any other harbour is where most of the main activity of harbour life took place and there was plenty of evidence to prove that. The spoil heap was a mixture of historical layers all mixed into one, as this area is well known for badly worn copper coins from the William III to the George IV period I was hoping to find some. On this occasion I did not find any, but I had a good mix of everything else ranging from clay pipe stems and bowls, shards and glass. As mentioned many times previously I found cannal coal from the thriving coal trade the harbour once had supplying the King Street gas works. On the modern side of life I found copper and brass boat fittings and pieces of stainless steel.

Like a magpie I pick up everything , store it in my back garden and then sort through it at my own leisure like in the photograph above.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Margate beach coins

To date I haven't found much as a result of the Margate sea defence works , but then it is early days and there will be plenty of opportunity this Christmas holiday to find something and this opportunity will continue well into 2012 and beyond. To give some idea what to expect I have scanned a few coins that I have found over the years around the Margate Harbour and Jetty area. As you can see the condition is not great and they are typical beach finds from old Margate when deep digging takes place. This is evident when clay from the old creek and deep black sand mixed with shingle and shards start appearing as a result of the digging. In fact the more smelly the sand is the better chance of an old find.
Somehow this dark black sand has an effect on coins. Copper and bronze coins do seem to do well and retain this distinctive colour that can be seen on three of the coins. Silver on the other hand suffers badly and most of silver coins I have found in the Margate Harbour basin around the Georgian period are so badly pitted and are wafer thin due to the reaction of the sand. Overall almost every beach coin will have no value except historically as each coin has been found in Margate and are a representation of old Margate.
The coin on the top left is a George III halfpenny found where the entrance to the Jetty was before the breakwater was built, the coin to the right of it was found near the square head of the stone pier where digging is taking place at present and is a William III halfpenny, the large coin is a 1797 cartwheel penny found many years ago where the north wall works will commence later in 2012 , the coin to the right of the cartwheel penny was found in the cut. The cut for those who do not know is where the original Jarvis Jetty of 1824 was built through a clearing in the rocks and then followed by Margate Jetty. Today a landing stage can still be seen at low water.
After the storm of January 1978 that completely destroyed the jetty. The cut was completely scoured out of sand and many coins from the George IV period where found just laying on the chalk including the one pictured.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Sea defence diaries 14/12/11 part 2

I took this photograph to give some idea of what lays underneath the layers of sand just inside the entrance of Margate harbour. As you can see it is a mixture clay and shingle from the bed of the old creek and it is probably many decades since there has been any digging to such a depth that has taken place in that part of the harbour. In fact, the enrance of the harbour does have a history of dredging and it is a well known fact that steamers and coasters would turn their props while at berth to loosen the silt to keep a channel clear. Therefore the layers of history will be mixed with old tiling, mixed shards, Victorian glass, clay pipe stems and modern brick appearing side by side. Even though I found two Victorian pennies it is still nothing to get excited about as Victorian coins were still circulating in the 1950's and 60's. So at present I think it will take time before anything in the way of artifact from the 1690's to 1808 when the previous pier was destroyed in a storm comes to light.
On the other hand now that the north wall of the boating pool is no longer with us, I expect once the rubble is cleared there will be enough current running through that will bring up some Victorian shards.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The sea defence diaries 14/12/11

It is over a week since my last posting and even through the gale force weather the work has been continuing at a cracking pace.
I suppose the first piece of nostalgia to go in the way of progress is the boating pool and the north wall of the pool has been demolished. The pool was constructed in 1910 and during its lifetime has gone through many repairs and modifications, like many local people who have fond memories as a child of the pool it is still sad to see it go.
Over by the harbour the shuttering was being pile driven and there was evidence of a lot of mechanical digging with clay from the old creek present on the surface. As work was in progress I kept my activities to around the inside of the square head of the stone pier where digging had taken place and the tide was coming in. There I found the ground beneath my feet had a strong smell and consisted of soft black sand, clay and shingle. It was impossible to metal detect, but then I knew that because I didn't bring my metal detector with me. So I relied entirely on picking up what I could on the surface.
Finds were very much as I expected with shards, clay pipe stems and old glass. I found two coins both Victorian and both pennies dated 1874 and 1892. Both having this very distinct pink colour as a result of laying in the black sand for many years. The shards and glass were very average but I did find a base of a Victorian gin bottle.

Shortly afterwards I went into the Margate Museum to have a look at the 1827 Christmas exhibition and to be honest it is perhaps the best display I have ever seen at the Museum. They even have a portrait of Turner one of four in existence in the country. The Margate Museum is going from strength to strength and judging by the quality of some of the loan items on display the Museum is now gaining influence with other museums and collectors. Something I put down to the influence of the Tuner Center, a strong volunteer base and TDC support.

My next thought being how can this be repeated in Ramsgate ?

Monday, 5 December 2011

The sea defence diaries. 05/12/11

Following all the publicity the construction of the Margate sea defence has finally started. So as from today I have started logging finds from the harbour area found as a result of the activity from the construction works, plus I am keeping keeping a photographic archive. As you can see from the photograph the steel piling has begun which is not having much of an effect in the revetment area in the way of digging at the moment. However, some digging activity is happening around the square head of the stone pier. This has resulted in lumps of clay from the old creek appearing in the small spoil heaps. They have also been driving piling around the entrance to the harbour. Today's finds were limited mainly due to the tide and the fact I didn't want to get run over by a mechanical digger. Today's find were a few shards with one piece unidentifiable to "The new palace steamers limited" and I found a old metal spoon.

This photograph gives some idea how far out from the North Wall the piling is taking place. As you can see from the photograph are undertaking the work.