Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Monday, 28 February 2011

A date for the Diary - Walpole Bay pool draining 22/03/11

Today I received all my dates and information from the Thanet Coast project for 2011 of which I am a volunteer Coastal Warden for Ramsgate. Last year I did a posting on the draining of Walpole Bay which some people found very interesting and I was asked by some to inform them of the next draining.
On the events list the draining is scheduled for Tuesday 22nd March 2011 and it is a site worth seeing. It is a amazing site and it does give a insight to the diversity of marine life on the chalk reef which is very rarely seen and this event well worth seeing.

Finally I see that Cummmings Power Generation are supporting the Coastal Warden scheme this year which is really good of them.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Museums in Margate.

For those of you interested I have put together some facts regarding Museums in Margate.

A brief History of Margate Museums

Margate Museums were founded in 1951 when the Tudor House then known as the Hosking’s Memorial House, King Street, Margate was opened to the public to display collections in the possession of the Borough of Margate. The former Margate public library on the corner of Victoria Road and Thanet Road also displayed items from the same collection.
In 1974 the Tudor House and existing collections with the exception of some civic material and some unframed prints became the property of Thanet District Council. In 1987, part of the Old Town Hall, Market Place, and Margate was inaugurated as a Museum of local history. After 40 years of operating as a small Museum the Tudor House closed with items being transferred to the Margate Museum as we know it today.
In 1991 the collection consisted of approximately 500 Archeological items of which 100 had been acquired from local excavations. There was a collection of 17,000 miscellaneous sea shells that were held in the former public library at Victoria Road known as the “Cobb Shell collection” which at the time were loaned to the Powell – Cotton, Museum and Quex House Museum in Birchington.
The major part of the collection including some loans consisted of local History material dating from the 19th and 20th Centuries. This includes approximately 500 prints, paintings, drawings and a few maps of Margate owned by Thanet District Council. The archive consisted of 143 volumes of newspapers from the local area known as the East Kent Times collection dating from 1896 – 1978 acquired in 1978. Also held are approximately 10,000 negatives and prints from the East Kent Times collection and the Sunbeam collection. There are also approximately 1,000 items relating to the local history of Thanet which does include non Margate items from Ramsgate, Broadstairs and from outside the area. The Ramsgate and Broadstairs items were stored at the Museum on behalf of TDC. Some of the Ramsgate and Broadstairs items were displayed in council offices throughout Thanet and were audited by Margate Museum staff on a regular basis.
In 1991 there were approximately 40 paddle steamer items on loan from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society and the Medway Queen Paddle Steamer Society.

Source : TDC documentation 1991


From 1991 to 1994 Thanet District made additional purchases and accepted donations that were added to the collection. In 1994 the East Kent Maritime Trust managed the Margate Museum in conjunction with the Ramsgate Maritime Museum receiving a annual Thanet District Council grant to manage both venues. In the 2008 budget the grant ceased and the Margate Museum closed. Estimates put the grants received in the 1994 to 2007 period at over £1.5 million.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Who owns the paper clips at the Margate Museum ?

When the Margate Charter Trustees donated a war time scrapbook containing newspaper cuttings and photographs collected by a former Mayor George Hoare (1940), I am sure that the donation which was minuted as a donation to the Margate Museum archive for the people of Margate to enjoy and have access to. There was never at any point the suggestion that the donation was to the East Kent Maritime Trust and I should know because I was there. The same applies to the donation of Cobb family items and rare banknotes donated by Angela Cobb to the collection, the items belonging to Bruce Fleet including his gold RNLI badge donated by his family and the Borough of Margate Police items donated by relatives of the Norris brothers or even the items donated by Ruth Tipton which were all donated to the Margate Museum collection. Even on the paperwork I received for all the donations I made over the years the name East Kent Maritime Trust does not appear on any of it so why should EKMT/SMT claim ownership?

When I was a TDC member on the joint Museums committee I raised the question about the ownership of donated items and it was agreed by all those present including EKMT representatives present that the items donated belonged to the Margate Museum collection owned by TDC.

So what did the EKMT acquire at the Museum from their own funds ? Well there is the obvious like IT equipment, office furniture, stationary including the paper clips, museum cabinets , the stock in the shop and storage equipment.
As far as the collection goes they did make some purchases of items for the collection. However, to give them credit where it is due they were responsible for building up most of the archive. This involved purchases like books, postcards, photographs, photcopying and laminated copies and all the staff time and staff training compiling the archive. I should also add that a part of the archive was the personal property of the former curator Bob Bradley which he used for reference enquiries which I understand has been returned to him. There is also a considerable donation to the archive which I made as a gift to the archive, other donations made as gifts were by Mick Twyman and other historians The only items in the Museum that does not belong to TDC or EKMT/SMT or is loan item is the Dr Alan Kay archive that was bequested by Dr Alan Kay to Suzannah Foad.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Donors , loaners and the Margate museum

I suppose like all meetings more gets discussed amongst groups of people after the meeting than during the meeting. So true to form last nights meeting of the newly formed Friends of the Margate Museum was no exception and discussions finaly ended up in a bar over looking the harbour.
In the discussions afterwards I know for a fact that some people present were unclear and frustrated about the position regarding East Kent Maritime Trust asset's in the Margate Museum which does appear to be hindering any sort of progress at the Margate Museum. To be honest I doubt if Thanet District Council is chuffed about it either even though some of this maybe due to its own doing.
When the EKMT funding stopped and the museum closed it was widely assumed the Margate Museum collection would become property of TDC. However, this was only to be the case if the EKMT had folded completely and writting to the Charity Commission confirmed this. The EKMT was not folding infact the EKMT entire asset's at the Ramsgate Maritme Museum were to be transferred to the Steam Museum Trust and this does include EKMT asset's still left in the Margate Museum.
I have covered this on many occassions so getting straight to the point, the big issue is the donations of artefacts to the Margate Museum collection by the people of Margate. In August 1994 the EKMT started accepting donations to the Margate Museum collection with the first item accepted on 12th September 1994. Everything was done correctly to ensure that the item become part of the collection. There were many donations to the collection which included the archive and it is now claimed by the SMT that the donations were made to the EKMT and not to the Margate Museum collection itself. Therefore as EKMT asset's are now SMT asset's the SMT are now claiming title to all donations to the Margate Museum after 12th September 1994 to the time of the final closure.

Friends of the Margate Museum meeting 21/02/11 my opinion.

Last night (21/02/11) I attended the meeting of the newly reformed friends of the Margate Museum. I say reformed because there has been a friends group before from 1996 to 1998 which then went on to become the Margate Historical Society and of the original gang of four which formed it, I was the only one present as John Williams couldn't make it.
The meeting was held in the committeee room of the Old Town Hall and there was a really good turnout, infact it was standing room only if you didn't fancy sitting on the floor. From TDC was Chris Tull who has the responsibilty for the museums and Cllr Mick Tomlinson Mayor of Margate who also kindly allowed the committee room to be used. Members of the Civic Society, Margate Historical Society , the newly formed grouping to save the Margate Caves and other representatives were also present. As for myself, my colours were the Margate Historical Society and I was rather bemused at the suggestion that my reasons for being there were political. Now considering that I am not putting myself forward as a TDC candidate in the May elections I think that does rule that out a wee bit. However, Cllr Martin Wise did turn up later in the meeting which did make me smile looking at the faces of some of those present, it was almost as if Satan had appeared from under the floor boards.
The meeting did start as a bit of a free for all until Mick Tominson sort of took the chair, after elections took place a open debate took place. Chris Tull explained that there was a on going thing between the transfer of assetts between the Steam Museum Trust, East Kent Maritime Trust and TDC which also includes former EKMT assetts still in the Margate Museum. Also it was mentioned that the transfer of assetts between the SMT and EKMT at the Ramsgate Maritime Museum is still being finalised. I think it is a case of tying up legal loose ends than anything else. However, there is one big question that I feel remains to be mentioned. That being the items donated to the Margate Museum under the management of the EKMT from 1994 which is subject to a agreement and a legal decision transferring them to the SMT or not. This also includes the stock in the Museum shop.

The open debate was interesting and for the Friends Group it is early days as I feel that a mass of volunteers and enthusiasm does not garuntee sucess. There was a concern raised about untrained volunteers being let loose on the collection which is really the most important issue apart from finance. Martin Wise spoke on the issue of finance and the need of a coherant forward thinking business plan to show the Museum can work before approaching TDC which are my words not his . Cllr Shirley Tomlinson also mentioned that the group will be taking responsiblity of a valueable TDC assett.
I think some people present did take this as critism but in my book I would take it as advice and being someone who has been down this road before I think the friends group does need to take onboard critism as this is not all one way traffic.

Finaly, as mentioned previously it is early days for the Friends Group and last nights meeting is the very begining and there is a going to be a lot of hard work done before approaching TDC with a viable plan of running the Margate Museum. A committee has been formed and they need to go away and come back with policies for the members to work on on. It is going to be a slow process but I cannot see a reason why it shouldn't suceed.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Coastal changes.


Ramsgate main sands is renowned for the pieces of fossilized clam that can be found almost anywhere on the main sands. Like most things some days are better than others especially when the reliance is on weather conditions. This week the beach has been settled even though there have been onshore winds. This has had the effect of piling shingle in lines on the beach leaving gaps of sand between each line which can be seen clearly in the photograph I took a few days ago. Take it from me, it is walking the sand between the lines of shingle is probably the best possible conditions to find fossilized clam and if I had taken a sack a few days ago I would have probably filled it up.
As you can see from the photograph the beach is clean and there are no seabirds, in fact there was very little to observe or to write out on a survey sheet apart from a few dogfish egg sacs, mermaid purses and a few whelk egg sacs.
Over on the Western Undercliff things were a little different as there was a weak strand line. Once again same as normal with the usual amount of dog fish egg sacs, mermaid purses and empty whelk egg sacs which I am finding is becoming consistent with previous findings. There were more Turnstones than normal and in one area I counted 19.
It has been a year since I became a volunteer coastal warden for the Thanet Coast Project so I am looking at doing something a little bit different. As mentioned in a previous posting I found it interesting how I kept finding the same plastic tubes around the Western Undercliff area regardless of wind and tides conditions whether stormy or calm . So I have now hit on the idea of marking the tubes and other pieces of plastic with a permanent marker, this also includes the 32 golf balls I have found over the past year. I am going to release them in the Western Undercliff area and on the Ramsgate main sands, plus I am going round to Sandwich Bay and will dump some there. Then I will spend the rest of the year just seeing where they end up.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Margate Caves , Smuggling and "Carver" Lawrence

As mentioned in the previous posting Stephen "Carver" Lawrence was a notorius smuggler and by all accounts was a ruthless smuggler as the nickname "Carver" may suggest. His end came as a result of a smuggling incident on the 15th February 1836 when one of Daniel Gougers mills was burnt to the ground as a diversion while contraband was being brought ashore. The mill in question was situated on the site where Woolworths in Northdown Road Cliftonville traded before it closed. Daniel Gouger put up a reward and Stephen Lawrence was turned in. The account of this incident can be found on page 87 of Historic Margate by G.E Clarke.

On my previous posting I mentioned that a James Taylor protested his innocence of having anything to do with the Marsh Bay incident. In his defence he produced witnesses and affidavits that he was involved in a smuggling incident elsewhere along the coast. He and three accomplices Robert Harman, Charles Winch and James Saunders were engaged in a smuggling operation at Hubbard's bathing house Margate Harbour at the time of the Marsh Bay incident.

Margate Caves were documented as being "rediscovered" in 1798 and I am not sure if anyone has put this on the Internet, but the well was discovered in 1910 and it had been concealed. Which by all accounts is a strange thing to do as a well is for access to drinking water. So why conceal it unless it was used to hid something ? Anyway in old publications it is referred to as a smugglers well and the depth of the well is recorded at being 46 feet deep. I do know the well has been explored in recent times and some earthenware ginger beer bottles were recovered, probably pre 1920 as that was the time when they ceased being used. There were other items but I cannot remember what they were plus I did hear that fragile remains of barrel hoops were found but this could be hearsay and needs confirmation.
I must admit I am surprised at the momentum of people power campaigning for the reopening of the Margate Caves as I see this as a breathe of fresh air. Especialy the way TDC is being held to account with a cabinet member having to justify the Councils position.
Whichever way you look at it Margate's heritage has suffered serious neglect and it is not a recent thing as it all began with the so called "slum" clearance plans in the 1930's that ripped out the heart of old Margate. I know that some things do not last forever but I do believe in this mixture of old and new, but unfortunately the pre war and post war planners thought differently regarding most things Georgian as a slum. Even recorded history went through a revision and it is almost as if some things never happened . It is thanks to research in archives outside Thanet that historians are able to find out more and more about the history of Margate especially during the George III period 1760 to 1820. It is around that period that the real history of the Maritime Margate, the Old Town, the Harbour, Hawley Square etc., was born. I could never understand why Smuggling and Maritme Margate was never capitalised as more Smuggling went on around our shores than Cornwall.
Margates History and Heritage is going through a renaissance thanks to the Turner Center, love it or hate it that is fact. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing in place to complement Margate when the Turner Center opens. The Margate Museum is closed, the Tudor House is closed and Margate Caves are closed. The will of the people is there as there is no shortage of volunteers, the ideas are there and so is the enthusiasm.
We hear so much of the big society and £200 million up for grabs perhaps the people of Margate should put it to the test and see what it can do for us or is it going to be hot air like everything .else.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Margate Caves , smuggling and a ramble

Margate Caves and its origins is another one of Margate's Historical mysteries, as to who created it and what was its origins and who used it. Recently a group has been formed to save Margate Caves and they have a website campaigning to have the caves reopened which I have posted on my sidebar.

I do not have a in depth knowledge of the caves outside the general facts we all know. However, I do have some snippets of information relating to the time it was rediscovered in 1798. Like most of my sources the information is what I have obtained through years of conversation with Mick Twyman relating to some of the research he and Alf Beeching have come across at the Whitfield archives.

Margate at the time of the discovery of the Margate Caves was fully engaged in smuggling and being no different than anywhere else along the coast the local establishment were suspected of being involved. Obviously there is no direct evidence to prove this but Mick and Alf were researching Cobb documentation when they came across information that Francis Forster the owner of the land where the caves were discovered became a rich man very quickly before the caves were "rediscovered". He was so rich he was able to have Northumberland House built and was able to deposit a strong box at the Margate Bank owned by Francis Cobb II with the strict instruction that only Forster and his wife posses a key and are the only people to view the contents in a private room.

Francis Cobb II at the time was a very powerful man in Margate he was a Cinque Ports deputy , owned the Margate Bank had huge business interests in the town earning the title "King" Cobb by the local population. Smuggling was rife at the time and was only able to operate thanks to large sums of money put up by unknown people which reaped them huge dividends. This proved to be be a successful enterprise which rarely went wrong, yet on one occasion it did.
On September 2nd 1821 a smuggling operation at Marsh Bay (St Mildreds Bay Westgate on Sea) went badly wrong. This resulted in a large gang of smugglers being ambushed by men attached to the coastal blockade resulting in many arrests ( see Marsh Bay incident on google). this resulted in four men being hung and fifteen being transported to Australia. However, the paymaster Stephen "Carver" Lawrence was never bought to book even though there was testimony to say he was involved. Even when he declared to "several persons of the most respectable rank and character at Margate" when testifying to defend a innocent man that he was there. Yet he was allowed to leave town unmolsted even though it became clear he was the leader of the gang and paymaster. In fact according to legend "Carver" Lawrence continued smuggling unmolested. In 1831 Francis Cobb II died and in 1835 Francis Forster died . Then in 1836 after a lifetime career of smuggling "Carver" Lawrence was tried for smuggling and transported to Van Dieman's Island never to return. Margate had a new order.

I do have every reason to believe Francis Forster and the Margate Caves may have been involved in smuggling.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Mouldy old dough


The 15th February 2011 will be the fortieth anniversary when our circulating currency changed over to the decimal system which swept aside centuries of heritage and tradition .
However, not everything has been swept away completely as there is one problem that has returned which causes a great deal of concern to the Royal Mint and it is something that has caused problem for national treasuries for centuries. The problem being , when the metal content in a coin is worth more than the actual face value of the legal tender coin itself.
The coin in question happens to be the one penny and its larger sibling the two penny. Over the past few years the price of copper has risen to such a point that people are doing almost anything to possess it with the intention of selling it for scrap. Copper and Bronze thefts have risen dramatically and nothing is sacred, even some of the cannons at Quex have been stolen.
At the time of writing this post the price of copper is valued at $10,060.00 a tonne so calculating to the exchange rate of £ = $1.6124 a tonne of copper is worth £6,239.14 or £6.23 a kilo or .6 p a gramme. A one penny weighs 3.56 grammes and 97% of that is pure copper making the copper content of a penny 3.45 grammes. Times this by the value per gramme and the copper value in a penny is 2 pence. This may not seem a great deal but a £100 of bronze pennies actually contains £200 in copper in value in the pure pure form. Removing refining costs and middle men, the scrap value must be around £140 to £150 for a £100 worth of bronze pennies weighing 34.5 kilo.
The Royal Mint however have been in this game a long long time and in September 1992 due to the steady increase in copper they changed the metal content in a penny and two penny to steel with a copper coating. The advantage with steel is that it is cheap and and being magnetic it is easy to separate the ferrous steel from the non ferrous copper should the value of the copper content exceed the face value of the coin. Between the dates 1971 to Sept 1992 the Royal Mint produced something in the region of 7.9 billion decimal pennies for circulation which in these times of austerity could reap a fair dividend if they were removed gradually from circulation and off set with the production of new steel copper coated coins. Considering I haven't given figures for the two pence this does represent a lot of copper and a huge return if carried out on a industrial scale.
Since 2007 I have been checking the amount of bronze coins in circulation and the percentage of bronze coins in change samples is now dropping which could suggest coins are now being removed from circulation.
Statistically it does appear that it could be prudent to hoard bronze coins just to see what happens and considering that the price of copper is rising above inflation and earns more than interest there is no fear of loss from hoarding substanstial amounts. Melting down legal tender coins is illegal but trading coins for their metal content is not and I am sure somewhere in this country this has been worked out on a grand scale and probably there may be a French Connection or Italian Job going on or the Royal Mint being one step ahead.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Broadstairs Viking Bay


Today (06/02/11) I gave Broadstairs Viking Bay a look with the intention of taking a few photographs of the black mineral deposits below the strandline.
Today the beach was very clean and the strandline was virtually non existent except in one area. This area regardless of the wind direction is situated in front of the wooden slipway and is a renowned Amber hotspot.
Sharing this small patch with 18 Turnstones I didn't find any Amber this time, however there were many empty Dogfish egg sacs, Mermaids purses and some sea coal to be found which is consistent with the rest of the Thanet Coastline this time of the year.
The sea coal is a direct result of the unloading coal many many years ago at Broadstairs and is consistent with the amounts to be found around the other two Thanet harbours.
In the background of the photograph I have posted, the darkened sand can be seen below the strandline which does make me wonder how much of it is coal dust.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Ramsgate main sands survey 3



Following on from the previous survey Ramsgate main sands 2, today (03/02/11) I focused on the shingle bank that had appeared up against the East Pier wall.
For the past few days the sea has been settled and the strandline has remained in one position. Therefore the seaward side of the shingle was now being eaten away by the high tide creating a ledge which I do find perfect conditions for finding fossils. I have posted a photograph which illustrates it very well.
I am not a geologist so my knowledge of fossils is basic , however I do know that the main sands is renowned for the pieces of fossilized clam that can be found anywhere on the beach. It was amongst the shingle bank I was hoping to find a large piece of fossilized clam attached to flint and believe it or not I found a piece.
I have taken a photograph of my trophy and used a 9 volt Duracell battery to give some idea of scale. Although it is not complete it does give some idea of the shape and size of the clam, plus the ridges of the clam are still visible.
After the fossil hunt I walked the full length of the strandline and it was noticeable how clean the sand was and there was hardly any litter washed up. The only items of any note were some fishing net from a trawl and pieces of orange marker buoys. There were no winter kill just clusters of empty dogfish egg sacs here and there, probably amounting to about 250 individual egg sacs on the full length of the strandline.
I did look for small pieces of solidified oil and found none which is not surprising as the actions of the wind and tide is so different to Epple Bay.
Finally, great forecast this weekend SW gales hitting the channel.

New Margate Local History Website

In my archive I have posted Margate Historical items sent to me by Tony Lee which is of real quality and rarity. At present I still get hits on the photographs he sent to me and they are very popular. Tony now has his own website margatelocalhistory.co.uk and it is well worth a look and I do recommend it to anyone who has a interest in local history and heritage.

I have reproduced the email which explains Tony's objectives.

"Some time ago you were kind enough to include some of my pictures of Margate on your Thanet Coast Life blog. Since then I have started to put together some of the information I have about Margate as a web site, www.margatelocalhistory.co.uk . The idea of the site is to have a number of zoomable historical maps of Margate, with clickable links through to a collection of pictures of particular locations. At present the sitecontains just a number of directories for Margate and a collection of maps.Two of the maps (Edmunds Map and the 10 ft/mile OS Map) have drop-downmenus from which you can go straight to a street or location of interest.These locations are marked by coloured spots, and the intention eventuallyis that clicking on these spots will open a window of views of thatlocation. For an example of what is intended, click on the St John's churchbutton on either map. A Gallery Viewer will open - hover above the menubuttons to see what they do. There is still a lot to do to add the remaining Picture Galleries but I have at least made a start on this. I thought the site might possibly be of interest to you. Also, I wondered, if you thought the site might be of interest to the readers of your blog, whether it might be possible for you to give a mention of the site on your blog, since this would be an excellent way to let people know that the site exists."

Tony Lee