Thursday, 26 January 2012

The sea defence dig - beach glass

As the Margate sea defence work progress the changes will affect the tidal flow in and around the Harbour and around the Main Sands itself. This in turn will bring many shards and pieces of broken glass to the surface, each piece representing a time period of Margate's 277 years of seaside history. The more dominant pieces being the thick pieces of green aqua glass that are often found worn as smooth as pebbles almost anywhere in the Harbour and Main Sands precinct. Green aqua glass is typical Victorian and is made by adding iron oxide to molten glass in coal fired furnaces that enables a thicker glass bottle to be produced that can hold gaseous liquid like aerated mineral water in a coloured container that can disguise the sediment.
There are many designs of Victorian mineral water bottles, the most famous being the Codd patent mineral water bottle that had an internal marble stopper. That when filled, the pressure in the bottle will push the marble against the internal rubber washer creating a seal. The bottle could then be opened by pressing the marble down and breaking the seal.
These bottles were massed produced and evidence of discarded bottles can be found in every waterway system and coastal area in the country. Margate is no exception and being a Victorian seaside resort the evidence is overwhelming.
In the above photograph are broken necks of a Codd bottle and a marble stopper that show just how the bottle worked, representing some of the many pieces of Codd bottle found in the past few months.
In the bottom left of the photograph is an unusual find of a Lamont patent internal wooden stopper with a rubber seal that I found water logged in Margate Harbour. The principle being that the stopper would float inside the bottle when filled creating a seal.

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