Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Collecting Ramsgate items for Ramsgate Town Council and Margate items for the Margate Museum.

One job I have managed to talk myself into on Ramsgate Town Council is chairing an art and artifact working party and over at Margate I have joined the friends of the Margate Museum and sit on the disposal sub committee.Both jobs or should I say tasks are poles apart and I do find it strange that on one side of Thanet in Ramsgate there are hardly any items of art and artifacts in the public domain yet over at Margate they have so much they have to downsize. In lay man's terms the solution does seem simple but in reality as in both cases a good knowledge base needs to be built up as public assets are involved. The trouble is this is not something that can be plucked out of thin air and a great deal of research needs to be undertaken.
One area I have been researching and looking at recently is valuations to ensure that in both cases  that value for money will be obtained. I am pleased to say the TDC  is in no hurry to get rid and RTC are not going flat out to fill an empty cabinet because it is empty.
Since the beginning of this year I have been researching all Ramsgate artwork on the internet and visited most antique shops on the south coast. I have attended auctions, followed auctions on the internet and have kept a very long watch list on ebay. At present Ramsgate items do seem to have a higher premium than Margate items, one example being this Philpott bottle I have posted, the buyer ended up paying £41 for the bottle including P & P. Recently some scarce bottles from Margate were on ebay and I picked three of them up for £8 each which is an absolute bargain. I know for a fact that they have none of these in the Margate collection. and I suppose eventually I will give them to the Museum.
In the past decade the value of crested china has suffered a collapse  similar to an earthquake and can average £2.99 on ebay which is a far cry from a time when a lot of items went for £10 + each. I have bought a few pieces for RTC but I am waiting for a large collection of Ramsgate crested china to appear on auction.
Some time back a painting of Ramsgate was featured in the Isle of Thanet Gazette that was being auctioned in Scotland, RTC put in a sensible bid but did not get it. Elsewhere, I came across a print of Ramsgate dated 1863 published by the marine library Ramsgate it was up for £58 and I am still thinking on it. A lot of small Ramsgate prints do seem to average out at £18 each and once again I am not in a hurry to buy.
In the Margate museum all the lower value prints are going to be taken out of their frames and are to be stored in acid proof paper and stored in controlled conditions. From there I expect valuations and decisions are going to be made especially in the case of duplications.
Overall the market in art, prints, ceramics, glass and seaside souvenirs is straight forward. It is rare documents, awards, medals and metal ware with provenance that is the real wild card . A fine example would be anything associated with Sir Moses Monitfiore.

Friday, 25 May 2012

At last real progress.

In today's Isle of Thanet Gazette there is some excellent coverage on the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, the Margate Museum and the Tudor House in Margate. Something I am sure would have been unthinkable four years ago.
I like the fact that the Ramsgate Maritme Museum has had record attendances and that they have really got their act together, plus I like the fact that two visitors have so much faith in the Margate Museum they have given £20,000 of their own money to allow the Museum to flourish. It is all good news.
However, it is the the progress on the Tudor House at Margate that is so pleasing and reading through the article in the Gazette it did make me smile that the fact that they are seeking European money towards restoration. Which is a completely different picture a few years ago when Mick Twyman and other historians where reminding TDC of their obligations to maintain and conserve the Tudor House.
 TDC are the owners of the Tudor House and whenever they were pressed over its condition the reply was along the lines that it was a 1950's restoration and the house was a fake as they dragged their feet ,   which is a complete load of tosh. Yes part of the house was restored in the 1950's but a great deal of the house is original and TDC have neglected the building because of a myth. Funny that now someone on TDC  has got a whiff of European money that the building has been recognized  for what it is, a 16th century building. Perhaps I may be a tad cynical but I have a great belief that within TDC there are people that do know heritage and know their stuff are willing to push it which is a vast improvement from the stagnation of  four years ago.

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.

Monday, 21 May 2012

"Friends of the Tudor House" a proposed new group.

During the most recent Margate Community Heritage Federation meeting on April 23rd, the future well being and plans for the Tudor House were discussed; a suggestion was made that a "Friends of the Tudor House" group needed to be formed.

The Margate Civic Society has kindly agreed to host a public meeting at the Walpole Bay Hotel on Thursday 14th June at 7.30pm in order to form a "Friends of  the Tudor House" volunteer organisation that will work with residents, visitors, Councillors and TDC officers, to ensure that the Tudor House can be opened to the public on a regular basis to safeguard the Tudor House as one of Margate's heritage treasures.

Councillor Iris Johnston has agreed to Chair the meeting.

Everyone is welcome and the group would appreciate it if you could circulate this message to anyone whom you think might wish to attend.

An agenda for the evening will be forwarded before the meeting.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Ramsgate Town Council and museums ramble.

I do not often get political on my blog and I doubt if I will ever get politically obsessive and opinionated like some of the other blogs . But occasionally I do have to remind myself that I am a Ramsgate Town Councillor for the Labour Party.
I suppose the point I am getting across is that on Ramsgate Town Council it is not really all that political as there is such a strong Labour presence and that all Ramsgate Town Councillors really  just get on with it. Like most Councillors  I would like to look back after my four years as a matter of pride and think what did I do for the benefit of Ramsgate bearing in mind that I only beat Ralph Hoult (Mr Ramsgate) by 40 odd votes.. As I am one of the few that Councillors that do not sit on more than one authority it does narrow down the options a bit for individualism. So my aim is work on heritage issues, something I must admit in Ramsgate I have started from a blank piece of paper plus I am self taught on everything regarding Ramsgate's past. I admit I still have to refer to anything regarding Ramsgate from the pile of books I bought at Michael's bookshop but I am getting there.
Sometime ago through research I worked out just how badly Ramsgate was treated during local government re organisation in 1974 regarding art and artefact's and made a report to the Town Council. Following another report I wrote, the Town Council has now adopted a collections policy that is fit for purpose and everything collected will keep to an centre of excellence standard. I should also add that the Town collection policy will not clash or rival the Maritime Museum or the Tunnels project.
In the past month there has been a few developments that could be of great benefit to Ramsgate however nothing has been set in stone yet. As mentioned in other postings the Margate Museum has failed an audit on the collection it holds in reserve which I must add is an asset of TDC. During the latter years of the East Kent Maritime Trust management  period at the Margate Museum the collection went completely off the rails. The Museum is found to be overstocked, it has duplicated, many items are unrecorded, misidentified and some items are missing along with paperwork. It is hard to pin point where the fault lies but behind the scenes something is to be done about it.
One of the options being looked at is to dispose of items in the collection and stream line the Margate Museum with a new collections policy based on the history of Margate that in turn will make the Museum a center of excellence as a sea side Museum. Bearing in mind every single item is an asset of TDC this will have to be handled with caution how this is to be carried out.
By disposal I do not mean thrown away and I expect items that have no relevance to the history of Thanet will be sold off. However as the Margate museum will be all things Margate, items from Ramsgate, Broadstairs and elsewhere in Thanet are set to be transferred to other public or trust collections within Thanet. This will not include the premier items in the TDC collection of art that is of high value.
From this Ramsgate will benefit and if the proposals are accepted Ramsgate Town Council will benefit. Plus as the Town Council has a collection policy with a criteria, Maritime items will go to the Steam Museum Trust at the Ramsgate maritime museum.
To achieve efficient disposal supervised volunteers at the Margate museum will audit the entire collection looking to a new numbering system, a sub committee of which I am a member will review items recommended for disposal and the final decision will rest with TDC.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Margate beach finds from the 1998 summer erosion

 During the summer of 1998 the demolition of the last remains of Margate Jetty took place.
For some unexplained reason at the same time part of Margate main sands below the high tide line started to erode. It was a small area and like any erosion on Margate main sands it is an open window to find many items related to the Victorian seaside. At the time large quantities of glass appeared in the area and being the height of the summer season it was the last thing we needed.
So a group of volunteers myself included led by Brian Smith Stewart under the beach watch banner with TDC blessing set about to clear the entire area of  broken glass            

 To make the task interesting we collected thousands of shards and soon built a very large collection. Most were patterned and other carried logo's or advertising. Many were Victorian and some bore the emblems of paddle steamer companies or originated from caterers from the sea front or jetty. After a while I was able to identify many finds by date, pattern and design, something that has now came in very useful  as I assess  finds found during the recent sea defence works.
The piece photographed  above was found by myself, it is exceptionally rare and a complete bottle is even rarer. It is part of a ginger beer bottle from Church Street Margate and was used for homemade ginger beer produced by a baker named George Kirby who traded in Church Street..
Even though George Kirby was a baker he also manufactured mineral water from 1897 to 1900 on his premises to sell in his shop, something that was very common practice at the time by  traders especially chemist proprietors.

The second piece above was found by one of the volunteers on the main sands in the same location and the name Dreadnought is certainly a name associated from an era long gone when Britain ruled the waves.

The photograph on the bottom to the right is a selection of finds found by the volunteers. As you can see the selection is the same as the finds that are being found as a result of the sea defence works today. Those photographed originate from the Margate Jetty Pavillion, some are from South Eastern Railway Refreshment department and the other two pieces in the bottom right bear the initials GJM. Something that will need further research as I have found similar pieces 14 years later during the recent sea defence works.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sea defence diaries a ramble about concretion.

In the previous posting I mentioned this fine specimen  of concretion I found around the square head of the stone pier.
Concretion found in the sea is a mass of metal that is generally ferrous that has fused to other items in its immediate vicinity and mixed with sand forms this mass that resembles something one would expect to find on a building site. All around the Thanet coastline concretion can be found in the areas where the tidal action has deposited metal . This can also include coins and precious metal, known locally  as glory holes. A term  also used by gold prospectors in  America looking for gold deposits in rivers and streams that is deposited in the same manner. In my time I have come across some really interesting glory holes and one in particular produced 176 coins mostly Victorian to the 1930's. My list of finds, found in this manner is a long one. But now days I do not reflect on what I have found in the past as   I am using all my knowledge and experience to recover as much history as I can during the sea defence works. So my next target will be to recover concretion that has been dislodged during the under pinning of the stone pier and  break it up with a hammer to see what I can find.  I like this piece I have photographed because of the Victorian Hamilton mineral water bottle fused to a mass of iron and other items. I like it because the embossment  suggests the bottle came from Camberwell which confirms this link between London and  Victorian seaside Margate which I have been finding amongst many items found during the sea defence works.

Last Saturday I was reunited with a box of shards at the Margate Museum,  found in 1998 by myself  and a few others during the summer of that year.
In the box were many associated Victorian items found on our historic beach beach. One item in the box that was an absolute gem was a part of an ash tray with the word Dreadnought in  this lovely Victorian design . I know for a fact I did not find this item but I am not sure who did. But it will feature in the flotsam and jetsam display.