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.