Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Margate Harbour and its precincts - 1812 to 1912 collection of items.

This afternoon I had a good sort out  some of  the items I have found in and around the Margate Harbour area and out towards the main sands. This also includes some items found close by  inland of which I have purchased. Many of my items were found during the underpinning of the stone pier. This is my second collection as the first collection I gave to the Margate Museum.  With the first collection the emphasis was more on the late Victorian period. This collection however pre dates that period and includes items I can safely date from around 1812 when the Margate Pier and Harbour Company came into being. So in reality this collection represents every decade of the first century of Margate Harbour since construction began in 1812 and has the provenance.
 In reality it is a miracle I have found this much considering the amount dredging that has taken place in the 20th century, something I also put down to the amount of crushed items that can be found out towards the main sands area.
Mounted on foam board I have included photographs I took around the time of the underpinning works.

The war of words

Tonight the TDC  governance and audit committee meets and on the agenda will be the TDC collection of art and artifacts.The purpose being to set the terms of reference for a task and finish group to look into the the procedures for the Museums collection. A council officer will give a report and it will be interesting to see if in the report if there is an explanation as to why the dire position of the art and artifact collection has never been brought to the attention of the members of Thanet District Council for many years.
The collection like any other council asset has a monetary value and should like any other asset be on a register. There is over whelming evidence this has not been the case.
There are missing items, misplaced items , unlisted items and incomplete audits. So the report will be very interesting explaining that to TDC members. However part of me thinks there will be a cover up maybe ? and a war of words will begin.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Found off the coast of Ramsgate

One thing I like about items that come off the sea bed is that they tend to be more intact than items found on the foreshore. In most cases items found at sea are either dumped overboard or originated from shipwrecks. They do tend to be better preserved and do have this nice weathered appeal that does give them some form of provenance. Being an ex fisherman myself I have always been fascinated by items brought up in the nets and I  like to swap stories and record finds of which I now many.
Off the coast of Ramsgate there is regularly an abundance of finds that generally do go unrecorded that is unless it is a high profile find and worth money. A few days ago an old skipper of mine dropped in a few items he has had turn up in his nets off Ramsgate. I am not sure how long he has had them but he has let me hold on to them to research and to photograph . In return I spent some time telling him what to look for in future and how to identify and date certain objects.

I photographed the items below giving some description even though it may be rather vague.

Two earthenware pots, the small Victorian pot to the left is very common earthenware, originally white glaze and had a generic use. However I am struggling to identify the pot on the right with the four lugs. When brought up in the nets it had pieces of  leather inside it. It stands 108 mm high internal diameter is 72 mm and is perfectly round.

John Lusty turtle soup two tone earthenware 1 quart pot made by Lambeth Doulton   dates  around  1912 to 1920. Stand 155 mm high  internal diameter 102 mm.
Spode mug, dates between 1780 to 1790. Has the letter A on the base  of which I am still researching. It is a lovely find as there are not many Georgian period intact finds in any Thanet collection with a local provenance. Stands 81 mm high internal diameter approximately 81 mm as it is slightly irregular in shape. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Some thoughts on a Ramsgate Town Museum

Within the next few weeks Cllr Dave Green will be calling another meeting to look into the feasibility of opening a Ramsgate town museum. Invited to the meeting will be representatives of all the Ramsgate societies and town Councillors, myself included.
The project is something that will not happen over night and it is going be a long haul especially in these harsh economic times. Even agreeing in principle and establishing a constitution is more progress to date than anything else that has happened since the 2004 Ramsgate library fire. There is going to be no sugar daddy to kick start this project and to date very little to put in a museum but the beauty of this project is there are so many good examples to follow and many bad examples to avoid.

At present Ramsgate town council (RTC) does have a collection policy of it's own with the most recent acquisitions being items that I have picked up at a fraction of their normal price and donated to the RTC. Believe it or not it will be easy to fill up a museum and to amass a collection of items as there are so many Ramsgate genuine prints on the open market, the same applies to items of a generic nature like crested china for example, it is all out there somewhere. However the hard part will be acquiring items that have a strong provenance to Ramsgate and this is where local historians and local people are going to be worth their weight in gold to a Ramsgate museum. Even over at the Margate museum they have very few artifacts that have a strong Margate provenance in ratio to the rest of the collection which does run into thousands.

Sooner or later Thanet District Council will have to make a decision on what it is going to do with the Ramsgate collection of items that it has had stored for many years at Margate, especially the good stuff. Unfortunately there are so many Ramsgate items in the TDC collection that have suffered from so much neglect over the years that taking on some items would be a liability something I am sure TDC would love to off load on somebody.  So a new Ramsgate town museum will have to be very astute on what it takes on in the way of a collection.

My historical knowledge of Ramsgate is not as strong as my Margate knowledge so what can a "new boy" contribute to a Ramsgate museum when there are so many quality Ramsgate historians like Terry Wheeler, Ralph Hoult, Ben Kelly for example. My answer to that will be to seek out artifacts that have a provenance to Ramsgate and bearing in mind we are standing on centuries of local history and surrounded by coastline this will not be a problem.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Latest finds, a ramble and a Ramsgate Museum ?

This past six months has seen some remarkable changes to the landscape around the low water areas of Margate main sands. In some areas sand banks have gone entirely and sand have built up to unprecedented levels around the Nayland Rock. All due to the late spring storms and the impact of the sea defence works including the refurbishment of the tidal pool. My focus since the early part of the year has been to build on my collection of earthenware found in the area that includes any item that can be dated whether it is complete or broken. I do now have a collection that I can date from 1834 to the early 1920’s all from the Margate area and nowhere else. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it does record the Victorian and Edwardian presence on Margate main sands and the collection has the provenance. Recently I did a small exhibition of part of the collection for the Monkton nature reserve open day and it was well received.

Now that the Margate Museum and Tudor House volunteer friends group has become TDC officer dominated I think the chances of myself having any input in any future exhibition is now absolutely zero. When taking into consideration the way I was levered off the Friends of the Margate museum executive for exposing the truth about the TDC collection, so I think my involvement with the Margate Museum is well and truly over. Am I bothered? Well to be honest not the slightest as I will be joining the movement to establish a Town Museum in Ramsgate.

A few days ago I had a look around the newly refurbished tidal pool at Margate just to see what is turning up now the works have finished. I was hoping to find earthenware but instead I came across many pieces of glass from the Victorian era unearthed due to the digging. Many of the pieces were from the Hamilton design bottle that was very popular soda water bottle at the time. Patented in 1809 by William Hamilton the bottle has a pointed base that ensured the bottle was always stored on its side keeping the cork wet and sealing the contents.
One piece of glass I found was a fine example of the thickness of the glass from a Victorian Hamilton mineral water bottles during the 1880’s and earlier of which I have photographed.



Thursday, 6 June 2013

Gaining momentum

At this moment in time I would really love to be a fly on the wall in Thanet District Council offices watching council officers working out how they can explain to TDC members why they have fed them such a load of bull shit over the years regarding the TDC collection of art and artifacts.
It may come as no surprise to readers of this blog but the ripples from the TDC fall out have now spread to KCC and Margate library with MHS (Margate Historical Society) researchers picking over the KCC collection. Also there are now a couple of intrepid investigators looking into Ramsgate library so things are going in the right direction throughout Thanet. Reports to follow at a later date.
Following my recent spate with TDC democratic services I reckon they really must have the hump with me as they cannot even reply to a simple email I sent to them. To be honest I am not bothered about it one little bit, the same applies to people who have cut me off as if I have got the plague or something worse. I am not bothered.
The latest little turn up is interesting and it involves the premises that kicked off my investigations in 2006. It was at the building presently used by East Kent Itec in Victoria Road Margate that two TDC prints appeared in 2006. TDC had no record of them being there and Itec hadn't a clue how they got there but they gave them back to TDC anyway. Well it appears there are still another seven prints on the premises and Itech would dearly love to give them back to TDC in fact Itech have been trying for years to get TDC to have them back and at one point they were told to keep them. Well thanks to the Isle of Thanet Gazette doing an article on my concerns Itec have once again contacted TDC who now taking this seriously and the prints should be back in the public collection.
Just to prove once again just how piss poor TDC records  on the public art and artifact collection are. The widow of the founder of the Margate Historical Society has informed me that she has handed over her late husbands personal notes and records on the public collection to assist with the audit of the collection. Says it all really.