Monday, 5 November 2012

George P Collard

This  top of an earthenware flagon is a more recent find. It is impressed with the name P. Collard & Son, wine and spirit merchants, Canterbury. In fact the complete name should read George P Collard who traded as a wine and spirit merchant from their premises at 32 St Margaret s Street Canterbury. The nearest date I could find in a directory is 1884 and that came from a Canterbury directory on the internet, Above the word "son" there is a Lambeth Doulton potters mark.
It is surprising how many fragments of large flagon  that do appear on the Margate coastline especially in and around the harbour area. So far this year I have only found two fragments that have a clear identity the rest have been unidentifiable.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


I have never been one for Brylcreem, but this bottle does fascinate me. It just oozes 1930's art deco by its design and shape plus it has that beach weathered  appearance. Items from the 1930's are something I do not often come across as my focus is the older stuff but I do cherry pick unique 1930's items for the Margate museum.
Come the end of November the Beachcomber exhibition at the Museum  ends and I should point out that my only contribution to the exhibition was to find the stuff. All the work, research, layout and presentation was done by the army of Museum volunteers.
 Last week I donated 12 complete Margate bottles to the Museum collection and I am now going through the items the Museum can have for display material or for the permanent collection.
My two pet projects Georgian Margate and Earthenware in general are coming along well and I am learning more day by day about that area of Margate. I have found earthenware pieces of Dutch and German origin and it does come as a surprise that German spring water was bottled in three pint earthenware containers and sealed with cement. Only to be exported to London and then consumed on Margate main sands.
Recently inside the harbour I did find part of a top of a George Barret ginger beer bottle that matched up perfectly with another piece I found in February during the deep digging . Both pieces were found in different locations, something I put down to the excavations.
Shards from George Barret Ginger beer bottles are heading the tally at present but the reason I keep them all is that I can get data about all the different designs and manufactures of the bottles. Something that is becoming clear is that in the same time period there are two distinct quality of bottles used by the same companies. I am now starting to think that this could be down to Victorian snobbery  as the mineral water outlets may have deliberately catered for two different class of customers by the quality of the bottles.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bathgate Soda Water

Following from previous posting I have photographed the Bathgate Soda water bottle  retrieved from the seabed off Broadstairs. I have photographed the bottle especially for the benefit of internet search engines. The bottle has the "EX" duty mark that dates it between 1817 to 1834. Other websites indicate that Bathgate was a chemist in Calcutta India. So I am working on the assumption this bottle may have English East India connections as it was retrieved from the sea bed.

This bottle that has a striking similarity to the one above. It was found this year in Margate Harbour. It was found after all the spoil from the digging arising from the under pinning of the stone pier had washed down. It has no potters mark or any other impressions that does make accurate identification and dating impossible. However I am interested in the similarity to the bottle above, plus I also know at what depth it was dug and the location in the Harbour. In the same location I did find remains of English squat cylinder bottles from the 1780's to 1820's period.

This is earthenware shard no 2 on my records. It is part of a flagon lent by E G Wastall who were wine and  spirit merchants. The shard was found as result of the sea defence works at Margate this year.Even though the shard is impressed Ramsgate the company had premises in both Ramsgate and Margate trading from 1874 to 1914. The Ramsgate store was in Queen Street Ramsgate and the Margate one was at 19 High Street Margate.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Margate sea defence diaries - identified earthenware shards No 1

Following on from my previous posting I am now going through the process of checking all the earthenware shards I found this year in Margate Harbour during the sea defence works.
This piece found in Margate Harbour is impressed with part of a word that contains the lettering "RWEILER". The complete bottle is either a ceramic gin bottle or a water bottle and dates from around the 1850's.The full lettering on the bottle would read GEORG KREUZBERG AHRWEILER RHENPREUSSEN and the origin is German.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

First dig of the Autumn

This morning was my first dig of the autumn and the objective was to finish off what I started in late spring, recording old bottle remains on the Margate main sands. It was low water and it was a familiar sight of shingle breaking through  the sand mixed with fragments of glass and earthenware.
Most of the bottle bases throughout the year have now been removed with myself being the main culprit . I must have exceeded 200 + most dating from the 1780's to the dawn of the twentieth century. However today I did manage to find a dozen ranging from the beginning to the end of the 19th century.
In the photograph the pontil scarring on the bottles can been clearly seen and that helps date the bottles. The top three on the left are fine examples of where the iron pontil rod has been attached so the bottle could be finished off and the lip applied. These bottles more than likely dates  in the 1820's to 1840's bracket.
The remaining bottles date from the later  Victorian period . Representing a Victorian day at the sea side of which the evidence is still in abundance on the foreshore at Margate.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

The sea defence diaries- the final chapter

Today I took into the Margate Museum everything single item I have found during the sea defence works at Margate. All in all it represents about seven months work of photographing and digging  in and around the Margate Harbour area.
The final phase of the sea defence works has been a bit of a disappointment as I never realised that very little digging would be taking place around the Kings Steps area where the revetment is to be constructed. However this has been out weighed by all the information gathered and items founds during the underpinning of the Stone Pier since the end of December.
This morning I took full advantage of the effects of the recent strong South Westerly winds that have scoured the through the silt in Margate Harbour from earlier the digging. Today I found three old bottles, one complete clay pipe and part of an animal jaw bone.
One of the bottles was embossed Weavers Plumstead which just happened to be a small company once owned by the Grandfather of  John Williams (curator of the Margate Museum). So on those credentials I let him have the bottle.The other bottles were a Weston's dairies milk bottle and the other was an early coke bottle.
From now until September beach combing  finds do fall sharply because  everything  is either covered in green sea weed making it hard to see and the weather is not as volatile like in the Winter months when the sand can easily erode on one tide.
In summing up, I have found clay pipes and stems dating back to the early 1700's , fragments of bottles also dating back also the the 1700's and many shards dating back to that period. Unfortunately nothing is complete except a few clay pipes.
From the 1800's to the 1900's  I have found a whole range of items that represent Margate as tourist resort during that period, plus items relating to Margate Harbour as a working harbour. In this category I have found complete items like bottles both glass and earthenware.
The finds that interest me most and have 100% provenance are pieces of the stone pier constructed between 1812 to and 1815 that were lost in the February storm of 1953 when the lighthouse on the end of the stone pier collapsed into the sea.

In September the exhibition at the Margate Museum will be about History of the area in and around the Jetty in including the Harbour area, I suppose the entire area as seen in the  the view of the Webb painting in the Turner Centre . Many of my finds found during the sea defence works will be on display, but not all as the exhibition will not be about items found during the sea defence digging. Once the exhibition is finished the Museum can take whatever they want for their collection and I will keep the remaining items to form another collection of the finds found during the underpinning of the stone pier to accompany the photographs I took.I hope to have something in place for the 60th anniversary of the storm in February 2013.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Sea Defence Diaries 21/05/12 - The search continues

I haven't posted much on the sea defence works in recent weeks because no real digging has been taking place in the historic areas. Also the low tides have not been that good.
However, my quest to find items relating to the history of Margate still continues and my recent scout inside the harbour area (21/05/12) has turned up a few bits.
I am no longer finding items on an industrial scale and my latest find of a earthenware salt glazed bottle is a bonus. The bottle is in remarkable condition as found in the  harbour silt, it has no makers mark and the cork is still inside.
Of the other items found was a bottle stopper dated 1926 and was issued by George Beer & Rigden Faversham. The company was formed in 1922 when brewers George Beer of Canterbury and Rigden of Faversham merged.
I also found many shards and I have photographed the ones that are significant like the piece from the refreshment Pavillion on Margate Jetty. The other two pieces are from a design I call Letherby and Christopher as that is the logo on other pieces of the same pattern that I have been finding. These pieces are my most common finds and I do know that the company are caterers. Originally it was believed they were sea front caterers and to date I have found no evidence of that. Following another lead the pieces could have come from the paddle steamer trade, to add strength to this theory I have been finding a fair number of pieces in the mouth of the harbour. One piece does have a makers mark "Copeland" "York" England and  that has given me something further to go by.

I jumped the barrier around the current sea defence works to take a photograph (above) of the deep digging. As you can see the contractors are digging deep and even by my standards I would find jumping in that hole risky if I was on my own.
 For some reason there is very little turning up within the barrier area, my only recent finds being a 1920's/ 30's Sharpes Dairies milk bottle from Ramsgate, a plain bottle stopper and many clay pipe stems. I expect this is due the fact that as soon as holes are dug they are refilled once the job is done.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Sea Defence Diaries 24/04/12

 Low water this morning was around 8:30 am and I was rather hoping to get around the square head of the stone pier. Low  tides  haven't been good recently but the winds have, enough to wash through any remaining spoil from the under pinning of the stone pier.
As the low tides are pretty poor in the near future until May 7th  I can only speculate what is uncovering around the out side wall below the lighthouse.
On my last trip I did come across some lumps of wrought iron about the size of a large coconut which is very unusual. I am now working on the assumption that they may be used as ballast but then on the other hand they could have been imported into Margate at one time for foundry work In the same area there is a mass of concretion that is breaking and today I found a piece that had worked its way around the square head. It was a fine example of a broken Victorian mineral water bottle fused together with some iron work. The remains of the bottle water was a hamilton and I would say circa 1880's and part of the embossment suggests that the bottle came from Camberwell.
As the tide did not go out as far I searched through the part of the shingle bank in the harbour entrance that had been uncovered by the tide. There was not a lot to be found except the usual clay pipe stems and shards. The only finds worth noting was a small Victorian earthenware ink bottle and a neck of a spirit bottle probably 1830's or 40's going by the lip.
Over by the Kings Steps, the site is beginning to look like a building site as preparation begins for the pouring of concrete for the foundations of the revetment begins. The entire area is surrounded by a barrier  which rules out any opportunity to search through the spoil heaps. I do have this terrible feeling that because of this history will be uncovered and them reburied and there will be no opportunity for recovery.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The sea defence diaries - changes 14/04/12

It is now getting to that time of year again when there is a noticeable change in the tides. One being the lack of very low tides for the next few months plus this time of year this is also the beginning of a silting process off Margate main sands. These two factors combined do reduce the chances of finding historic items on a industrial scale to a trickle. Even with the helping hand of the sea defence works excavations I doubt if there are going to be many finds until the works around the Margate harbour slipway area begin. As it stands at present the vast majority of finds coming up are around the square head of the stone pier on the good low waters which are going to be few and far between for a while.
The tide backed by a North East wind has brought in a few surprises like this piece of Margate Jetty photographed that is gradually making its way on to the main sands.
Today 14/04/12 I walked all my favourite search sites in the harbour area only to find a few items like a clay pipe bowl, a piece of a jug bearing the New Palace Steamers logo and a part of a cup bearing the Letheby & Christopher design. All the rest of the finds being a few clay pipe stems, a few bottle stoppers and copper boat nails.
It is nice to see that the Harbour Arm / Stone Pier is open and one bonus is that most of the smelly sea weed has disappeared for a while. Inside the harbour I am amazed how the sand/mud/silt has returned back to very much how it was before the deep excavations for the underpinning took place. There a very few items now to be found but that is not surprising going by the foot prints in the mud of other people having a look for items themselves. I must admit I did make one miscalculation, being that I forgot to take into account that in 1947 2000 cubic yards of silt were removed from inside the harbour entrance which explains why some areas where barren of old items.
Anyway that's in the past and I still have found enough items to mount some kind of exhibition in the near future.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The sea defence diaries 08/04/2012

The change in the weather we have been experiencing this past week have been a god send for my searches around the square head of Margate Stone Pier. The northerly backed winds and the strong spring tides have sent waves crashing into and along the sea wall picking up everything in its wake only to spill the contents in the calmer waters of the entrance to the harbour forming a new shingle bank.
This photograph I took yesterday shows clearly how the new shingle bank is being formed from the spoil left over from the mechanical digging of the recent sea defence works.
From the photograph is not rocket science to work out that the heavier and more denser items are remaining or being deposited closer to the wall and the more lighter material like chalk being carried further away. So based on this theory today I was able to fill two buckets of finds, all as a result of the recent sea defence workings . I have photographed some of the finds below.

In the top left is another piece of the stone balustrade (1815) that once surrounded the light house, below that is a iron ring that was once fixed into the masonry of the stone pier, central is another piece of Terracotta (1890) bearing the symbol I am still researching, top right a piece of ornate iron work and a 1850's to 1880's circa bottle neck. The shard in the bottom right hand corner is a piece of Letheby & Christopher china cup.

Amongst the heavy weights, I found this lump of lead drainage pipe that has a diameter of around six inches. In the photograph is a fifty pence piece to give it some scale. To date I have not been able to date it.

Other find also included clay pipe stems, shards, a brass .303 bullet case, pieces of lead and copper boat nails.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The sea defence diaries 25/03/12 - lead work

I didn't plan to have a dig around the stone pier this morning but I woke up at 4:00 am this morning in old money and just couldn't get back to sleep. So I decided to drive over to Margate and catch the low water at daybreak. Overnight the wind had been from the north east and the tide was a strong one so I knew there had been plenty of tidal action overnight around the square head washing through the spoil from the underpinning works. I was not to be disappointed and it was one of those mornings that the finds kept coming up like a production line. In fact I found so much it was just to much to carry back to the car so I had to cherry pick the best with the intention of retrieving the rest later at a later date.
Top of the list today had to be examples of lead work used in the construction of the stone pier. In the past I have found and photographed many examples of the stone work and today I came across an excellent example of how the mortise and tenon joints were secured by using molten lead. On the left of the photograph is a lead block with a piece stone tenon that obviously has snapped off in the storm of 1953. On the right is another example how the iron work was secured into the stone work using molten lead.
Other finds today include another copper keel bolt, a lump of wrought iron ballast, a row lock, more clay pipe stems, old lead weights, some iron work and a shard from a General Steam Navigational Company plate.

This piece of terracotta I have featured before when I photographed it in the water. I now have it at home trying to the decipher what the markings and number mean.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The sea defence diaries 14/03/12

The early part of this week has seen some very good low waters especially in the mornings. This has been an ideal opportunity to get around the out side wall of the Margate stone pier and this week I had some company as the metal detector guys are searching just north west from the seaward corner of the square head. A few days ago the area looked horrendous after the contractors had finished and the unsettled weather had washed through where the contractors had been digging. leaving stone blocks and piles of twisted scrap metal laying around. All this being old debris from the 1953 storm and harbour activity. However, the contractors did return and leveled off the area a bit making the harbour entrance ideal for metal detecting. Speaking to one of the metal detector guys who I know very well I was able to catch up on their finds.
It appears the metal detecting finds have been slow and no gold has been found. There have been a few silver coins found from the George III period and top of the list is a 1804 Bank of England dollar struck by the Bank of England as trade coinage.
I am sure in the coming weeks the metal detectors will be making some good finds and hopefully I will get to hear of them.

I am not using a metal detector at present and I am relying on what I know and where to look.
I was not to be disappointed as I found some copper old boat fittings including a copper keel bolt all good exhibition material.
Elsewhere work is being carried out on the last remaining wall of the old boating pool that houses the Tivoli brookes freshwater outfall pipe which I am sure will be completed by Easter. Once again this digging will provide good metal detecting hunting ground.

The photograph to the left is a Sidney Holden Canterbury ginger beer bottle found in Margate Harbour. It is impressed Lovatt & Lovatt as was made at Langley Mill Nottingham. It dates from 1917 to the mid 1920's.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The sea defence diaries - re evaluation of finds

Inside Margate harbour there has been a sudden drop in finds which is expected as the under pining works are now complete and the slow process of the wind and tides washing through the freshly dug silt begins. This process could take weeks, months or even years as items are dislodged from the silt can be deposited anywhere in the harbour.

I do not expect to make bulk finds until the work starts on the north wall and slipway area. Therefore I will be back to the steady trickle of finds something I am accustomed to.
As the pace has tailed off a bit until the other works begin I now have time to have a good look at some of finds I have already made and carry out some thorough research and re evaluation.

One of the first bottles I found was this earthenware bottle photographed above and judging by the blob top shape of what is left of the broken top I believe it to be a drinks bottle. It is heavily impressed "Denby and Codnor Park Potteries" "J Bourne" along with other lettering.

Searching through the internet I came across this little piece from a Denby potteries site. From this information I have quoted below, I now am able to date this bottle as being manufactured between 1833 to 1850.

"The business was originally known as J. & J. Bourne, however, John Bourne died in 1819 and Joseph Bourne then continued the business in his own name. The nearby Codnor Park Works were acquired in 1833 and the Shipley Pottery in 1845 and both were eventually closed and their plant and staff moved to the Denby site.The business became Joseph Bourne & Son in about 1850 when Joseph Bourne entered a partnership with his son, Joseph Harvey Bourne.Joseph Bourne died in 1860 and Joseph Harvey Bourne in 1869 and the business then was continued by his widow, Sarah Elizabeth Bourne, until her death in 1898."

Friday, 9 March 2012

The sea defence diaries 09/03/12 and the carbon footprint

In recent weeks the area outside the square head had undergone extensive excavation unseen since the repair work in the aftermath of the 1953 storm. The older foundations and underpinning have been dug out and replaced with stronger underpinning that has been piled deeper and capped with concrete. Most of the spoil from the digging around the square head has been washed through this week leaving mostly metal and much of the original stone work from the 1953 storm mixed in with the shingle.
It did not take long to fill a bucket with lead, brass, stainless steel and copper. Unfortunately there were very few items or interest, in fact I had collected a pile of scrap. Something that did not bother me because alongside collecting historical items I have also been picking up anything that could be recycled these past few months. Plus I wanted to build up my collection of items ensuring that the efforts to build this collection is leaving a low carbon foot print. This meant using the train as much as possible from Ramsgate to Margate, using recycled containers, using improvised tools and recycling as much as possible.
To date I have recycled 2 large buckets of glass, 1 large bucket of shards for hardcore, 2 large buckets of iron and steel, 1 kilo of stainless steel, 1 kilo of copper, 5 kilo of brass, 8 kilo of lead and something in the region of 20 kilo of coal. I have also disposed of disposable batteries I have found and I have removed hazards to sea birds and other marine life.

Inside the harbour some of the freshly dug deposits of mud and clay are now starting to move in the tide . Today I found a milk bottle that was embossed Felixstow
Diaries Telephone 192 obviously a reminder of the pre war coastal trade that passed through Margate Harbour. Elsewhere in the Harbour there was very little to be found which is now starting to be the trend as the sea defence works are now being concentrated between the Kings Steps and the Clocktower.

Some of today's other finds.

This piece of a Keel appeared off the main sands after a few days of unsettled weather.

A block of stone from the original square head lost as a result of the 1953 and bearing evidence that mortise and tennon joints were used in the construction of the stone pier.

A piece of Terracotta from the demolition of the Hotel Metropole in 1938 with some visible numbers and symbols.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The sea defence diaries - volunteer No 43

Yesterday I became a card carrying member of Friends of the Margate Museum no 43 and along with my renewal as a ten year member of the Margate Historical Society and my life membership of the Margate Civic Society. I think it goes without saying that I am taking the Margate Heritage Renaissance seriously.
Last night the friends group of the Museum met and there were many issues raised mostly Museum issues and TDC issues of which everything I must say was very positive.
The sunbeam collection held by the Museum will soon be part of a new national archive of sea side photography and this is going to be a Christchurch university project. It will be the first of its kind in the country and Margate will be first or should I say Thanet. This because in the collection there are many photographs of Birchington, Westgate, Cliftonville, Kingsgate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, all of good quality. The photographic collection belongs to TDC along with the entire collection at the museum.
Within the next year the entire TDC Margate Museum collection will be audited renumbered and hopefully streamlined. It is estimated that the entire collection is valued at £450,000 with the most expensive item being the Webb painting in the Turner Center that is valued at £100,000. However, I must add the most valuable items are not kept at the museum.
Visitor numbers are easily expected to pass the 10,000 target the museum has set for a period. One of the Queens bodyguards from the recent royal visit even returned in her time off with her family to take a look at the museum.

Within the Margate museum collection there are many Ramsgate items, it is good news for Ramsgate that Ramsgate photographs in the TDC sunbeam collection will be in the national archive and will go online. The same I suppose will eventually happen to all artwork as most of it will be online. As I am a Ramsgate Town councillor I can ensure Ramsgate readers of my blog that I am noting Ramsgate items in the collection at Margate. In the bottle cabinet are some Ramsgate bottles and on the top shelf for example to the far left is a cream coloured ginger beer bottle. The bottle is impressed George Sykes and it is a rarity. George Sykes in 1878 was producing Mineral Waters from a store at 68 King Street Ramsgate and around 1882 moved his works to a factory at 17 Turner Street. Sykes ceased trading in 1891.

As mentioned in previous postings the Museum will be working on a project called calamity coast - flotsam and jetsam to coincide with the Margate sea defence works, Maritime heritage and the the Thanet art scene. Of which I must say the latter has gone off the Richter scale in my estimations.

I have been going through a few more of my finds found during the sea defence works and I have photographed a few more below.

I have started picking up broken bottle bases that have any inscription, emblem or lettering. This base has the emblem of E.G Wastall , the company started in 1874 had a wine and spirit merchants at 19 High Street, Margate. The bottle base dates pre 1914.

I have found a piece of plate of the New Palace Steamers design. The company ran paddle steamers from London to Margate in its hey day from the 1890's to the start of the First World War. The small piece bearing the company logo was found over a decade ago the larger piece found in February this year was found near the same location.

Broken bottle necks to fuel my obsession of finding Margate Georgian items. It is almost an impossibility to find Georgian bottles intact so I have to settle for broken pieces. The two on the left are around 1730's, the piece to the right of them are probably 1780's and the four on the extreme right are from the 1800 to 1830 period.

These three fragments are common examples found during the sea defence works digging and in the main bay. On the left a neck of a Codds bottle late Victorian, base of a Hamilton torpedo shaped bottle probably 1880's and a top of a Ginger Beer bottle probably late 19th or early 20th century.

Example of iron work found around the square head of the harbour entrance. using a golf ball to give some idea of the scale. To the left a broken stock from an Admiralty pattern anchor. In the middle an iron ball with a hole running straight through it and on the right a rather large Thimble used in maritime rope work.

A few of the miscellaneous items found inside the harbour when the deep digging was taking place over a week ago.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The sea defence diaries - Tranquillity

As mentioned in my previous posting the underpinning of the Margate Stone Pier is now complete and a feeling of tranquillity has returned to that part of the harbour where the deep digging and pile driving has taken place. The entire area has been levelled off and all the excavation holes have been filled in just as quick as they were dug.This in turn has left a very short window to watch the digging, make finds, take photographs and make future plans where to search next.
From my research I think I have now found an answer as to why some areas of the harbour are completely barren of old finds. It appears that in 1948 some 4,000 cubic yards of silt were dredged from the harbour and regular dredging took place up until 1958 to allow large coal boats to enter the harbour. This in turn explains why there have been clusters of 1960's & 1970's finds, mostly maritime related
Also I have now found out that in 1832 a severe gale damaged the stonework surrounds of the lighthouse along with other damage to the outer parapet. This now explains why I have found two different styles of Baluster.
I still expect to make many more finds in the coming months as there is a large area of silt in the harbour to be dispersed by the tides. Considering that the sand and shingle bank that has been ever present off the square head was levelled off during the under pinning , I think the missing bank should help the harbour drain off easier and allow the silt to move freely for a while, that is until nature puts the sand and shingle bank back.

Elsewhere, attention is now been directed on rebuilding the remaining wall of the demolished boating pool that houses the Tivoli Brookes outlet pipe. The south wall which is the stretch of wall from the Clock Tower to the Kings Steps now seems to the center of attention as Easter approaches. Some work has started in the revetment area between the Kings Steps and the Harbour slipway and a large amount of sand has been turned over. However, I think with the metal detector users going over the area everyday I do think the chances of myself finding metal finds will be remote.

On Saturday I popped into the Margate Museum to discuss what they require on top of the items they already have for the exhibition of items found around the coast and their related history including items I have found during the sea defence works. I have been allocated the Harry Potter room which is the cupboard under the stairs to store my finds.
The Museum is now open at the weekends and the volunteer friends group have put a lot of work in to get the Museum up and running. It appears that there may have to be a complete audit of the Museum collection as it appears that during the latter years towards of the East Kent Maritime Trust management many items that were donated and collected have not been properly recorded.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The sea defence diaires - some latest finds 27/02/12

These are some of the latest finds I have found in the past week all found inside the harbour where the deep digging has been taking place .
This item made of brass is one of the marine items I have found in the mud. It was attached to a piece of decomposing wood and at this moment in time I am not sure what it's purpose was.

This ginger beer bottle is the one that I found and mentioned in a previous posting. It is impressed H D Rawlings and is a cork top and I am dating it around the 1880's. I have also found a number of broken pieces of Ginger Beer bottles bearing logos or impressed with local names. I have kept the pieces because the information will help put together records of the different designs of ginger beer bottles used by local manufacturers.

Another Baluster from the Balustrade that surrounded the original lighthouse on the end of the stone pier. The design of the Baluster is of a different design and size to the other pieces I have already found. This could suggest that the Balustrade was altered when the lighthouse was replaced in 1829 or the Balustrade may have suffered storm damage in the storms 1877 and 1897. My only way to find out will be in the Mick Twyman archives.

This bottle is the one third of a pint Thatcher the milk snatcher type. The bottle distributed by Weston Bros Dairies as written on the bottle and contained orange juice. The character on the bottle is a Suki and I am sure many local people will remember these bottles.
I am donating this bottle to the Margate museum collection as the bottle represents an era in local history.

Finally, this is an observation. The Kings Steps in most places is made of concrete and repaired in concrete. However part of the structure is made of granite blocks and some of these granite blocks are curved. This could suggest these curved blocks were taken from an arch.
One fact for sure is these curve blocks that form part of the Kings Steps have been salvaged from another structure. The question is where from. I suppose I could now add this to the list Margate mysteries .
Anyway it is down there for all to see for those interested.

Monday, 27 February 2012

The sea defence diaries - 27/02/12 the finished product

It is almost certain that the underpinning of the Margate stone pier is to be finished on time, not that I ever doubted it for one moment.
So today I was able to see the finished product for the first time and what a neat little job it has turned out to be. As you can see in the photograph the new piling has now been capped with concrete and that is how it will look all around the stone pier even though most of the capped piling is out of view and will remain buried.
Within the next few days I expect mechanical activity in the harbour to finish and that will allow all the freshly excavated mud and clay to settle for the natural process of the tide to wash through it and reveal all the hidden treasures that have laid buried for years.

Around the square head this process has now begun and the metal detector guys are starting to work through the ground , but it is hard going as there is a lot of mineral interference that upsets the setting of most metal detectors. However, it does take patience and a few finds have turned up like nine live WWII bullets all found together wrapped up together in decomposing hessian. I expect in the coming weeks there will be many interesting finds to come.
Today being old school I took a garden rake with me and ran that through the shingle around the square head and came up with a few finds mostly lumps of lead and brass, the brass originating from the second world war including a spent detonator from a shell casing. Other finds included pieces of clay pipe, marine engine parts and another piece of the 1815 balustrade from around the lighthouse that went down in the 1953 storm.

Over on the other side of the bay by the clock tower work was being carried out rebuilding the last remaining wall of the old boating pool. This wall houses the Tivoli Brookes fresh water out fall pipe so it cannot be demolished and has to be rebuilt.
From what I could see as I took this photograph I would think the metal detector guys must be rubbing their hands with glee watching all that digging taking place in an area renowned for such good finds in the past.

Finally, today I heard some Harbour gossip and good gossip it is to. It appears that TDC do not own the sand within the harbour something I thought they did. This is because the Margate Pier and Habour Company majority shareholder still owns the Harbour revision order and this goes some way to explain why there are not many boats in the Harbour. I suppose a freedom of information request will confirm whether this is factual or not.
Also it appears that the piling around the stone pier need not had have been driven in that deep it was only done so under the insistence of TDC because they want to dredge the harbour at some time in the future which does contradict the Harbour revision order at bit. Anyway my source tells me that TDC will not now dredge Margate Harbour because of contaminants.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The sea defences diaries - a mystery find ?

The guy on the left digging in the trench found this item. It is brass or bronze and it still operates like a small pump, the problem is what is it and what is its purpose ? Ideas please.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The sea defence diaries 24/02/12 - all hands to the pump

Today I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to witness the the final stages of the under pinning of Margate Stone Pier as a matter of historical record. For all the guys working on the site it certainly was a case of all hands to the pump as they were capping the piling as the tide came in, if that is the correct terminology to use. It did make me smile when I could hear someone say "where is that effing truck" as the tide started to move even closer to the spot where they must have spent the early part of the morning digging.
As for myself, today was a day for observation watching all that lovely mud being excavated. Instead of putting up with the smell I felt as if I could taste it as it was piled up inside the harbour in preparation for the capping to take place. It was impressive just to see how deep they have dug and where they were digging so close to the wall. Eventually my calculation and observation was to pay off as I could see a earthen ware ginger beer bottle in a pile of mud. The problem was how to retrieve the bottle as the mud was really thick heavy and soft. Observing the rule of not panicking if I get stuck I edged slowly to the bottle and only got stuck once before I could retrieve the bottle. The bottle certainly was a beauty, a pristine condition Rawlings impressed ginger beer bottle with cork top and probably dates around the 1880's.

The bottle ginger beer bottle was not the only find as I found many other finds of which I need to photograph and record in the next few days.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The sea defence diaries 18/02/12

Over the past couple of days the contractors have been working on the south wall and they are not hanging about. Which is very good news for the metal detector users because the digging is taking place during a period of south westerly winds . As we will soon be back into spring tides I expect this will wash down where the contractors have been digging providing fertile metal detecting territory.
Today one of the metal detector users found an NAAFI embossed bottle of the crown cap variety in green aqua and he gave it to me for the Margate Museum. I didn't have any cash on me but when I see him next I will give him a drink for his generosity.

Today I continued as I have done over the past month concentrating on the freshly dug muddy areas in Margate. It is starting to get hard going as the finds are not as prolific as I originaly thought. So today I allocated myself three hours to do a complete end to end sweep of the harbour. As the finds are there to be found and it just takes a bit more work.
I did find two coins in the muddy area of the harbour, a 1806 penny and a 1983 one pound coin. I have scanned the two side by side to highlight that the more modern coin have suffered in the mud more than older coin. Probably because the penny is pure copper and the one pound coin is an alloy.

There was one find that caught me by surprise and that was a piece of Baltic Amber of which I have taken a photograph of in my hand. As you can see it is no baby.
Other finds included a Reeve & Co Margate bottle stopper, clay pipe stems, harbour coal, scrap metal and many shards of various description.

Today, I popped into the Margate Museum and they are now ready to take all my finds for the display team to assess. I have also told them that if they want anything for the town collection they can have it and take what they want.