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.