"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Posted on July 14, 2017 by Sioux under General
1 Comment


The day after the photo course, my niece and I went for a walkabout in Margate and Ramsgate. The weather was fantastic and I hadn’t been to Margate and had only seen a bit of Ramsgate, so camera in hand; off we went for the day. Margate is a seaside resort town within the Thanet district of East Kent on the east coast of the United Kingdom. It was was recorded as “Meregate” in 1264 and as “Margate” in 1299, but the spelling continued to vary into modern times. The name is thought to refer to a pool gate or gap in a cliff where pools of water are found.


The cliffs of the Isle of Thanet are composed of chalk, a fossil-bearing rock. The town’s history is tied closely to the sea and it has a proud maritime tradition. Margate was a “limb” of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports. It was added to the confederation in the 15th century and has been a leading seaside resort for at least 250 years. Like its neighbour Ramsgate, it has been a traditional holiday destination for Londoners drawn

to its sandy beaches. The Victorian pier was destroyed by a violent storm in 1978. Although Margate has become quite run-down, there are still some beautiful homes in the town.

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                                                                                                                                    Smugglers Cottage in 

                                                                                                                                    Margate dates back to the 

                                                                                                                 late 17th Century, although the inside has 

                                                                   been renovated for use as a holiday cottage. Public records indicate  

                                                                   that mainly local mariners lived in the cottage in the distant past but many mariners were involved with smuggling to some extent, and so the original name was kept on. In Georgian Margate the local smugglers would supply the best French brandy to the gentlemen or latest Parisian fashion and lace to the ladies. The nearest that Margate got to organised crime was smuggling, which was a huge industry which seemingly even involved a fair bit of collusion with the local customs officials of the day. Smuggling was at its peak in the years 1700 to 1840; it was estimated that in 1773 15,000 men were engaged in smuggling in Kent alone, with an average of 1,500 gallons of Geneva (gin), 450 gallons of brandy and 4 ½ tons of tea being smuggled through Kent and Sussex per day, by 1783. 

An example of Cylinder, Broad or Muff Glass which was only made before 1674 is clearly visible in the bottom right corner of the window. Molten glass was blown and swung to form a cylinder, cut, reheated and flattened into sheets in a furnace, cooled on a bed of sand and polished. The glass has a distorted, ripple effect, often with air bubbles or other imperfections. 

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The Town Hall in Margate was built in 1897. The two storey building is joined to the older building by an overhead bridge which is now the home of the Margate Museum. The Old Town Hall was used as the Magistrates Court and Police station. Four cells and offices for the police were installed at ground level.  The Town Hall has been used by Margate Charter Trustees and the Mayor of Margate since 1974. 

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The oldest building in old Margate is the old Tudor House, built in 1525. Many of its features were advanced for the day, including glazed windows and two chimneys at a time when one would have sufficed. As with most period houses, the doors are so low that we had to duck when entering rooms! Over the years, the building has been home to Master Mariners, Flemish weavers, Cordwainers (shoemakers), and farmers; even a malthouse which was built in the 18th Century, at the rear of the house, to make Barley Beer, and still exists!

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                                                                     Between the late 17th and 19th centuries, much of the land belonging to 

                                                                     the house was sold off, and the building itself had been subdivided into 3 

                                                                     cottages by 1867. The remaining site was purchased by the council in the

                                                                     late 1930s as part of a slum clearance scheme, and it was due for 

                                                                     demolition before a local builder spotted the Tudor beams and alerted the Mayor who funded the restoration, but died before this was completed. A fund in his name was started by the people of the Borough, which paid for the completion. It is now a museum.

The clock tower in Margate was

constructed to celebrate the

Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria

in 1887 but was not complete until 1889. A competition was held for the design of the tower and although a winner was drawn. Due to lack of funds, the 2nd place runner up design was chosen as it was cheaper to build. The tower holds five bells and above these was a time ball which used to rise just before 1pm and drop on the hour, however the time ball has not worked for                         many years. Over the years, the                                                   salty sea air has caused mechanical                                            faults and the clock stops fairly often

                                          but is left for long periods due to the 

                                          high cost of repairs.


With the weather being so perfect, the beaches were full. Fun-fairs, ice-cream vendors and loads of sunbathers made for a very festival atmosphere. 

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                                                                                                                   From Margate, we headed to Ramsgate, 

                                                                                                                   a seaside town in the district of Thanet in 

                                                                                                                   east Kent, which began as a fishing and 

                                                                                                                   farming hamlet. It became one of the great 

                                                                                                                   English seaside towns of the 19th century, and its main industries are tourism and fishing. The town has one of the largest marinas on the English south coast, and the Port of Ramsgate has provided cross-channel ferries for many years. The earliest reference to the town is in the Kent Hundred Rolls of 1274-5, both as Remmesgate and Remisgat. The names Ramisgate and Raunsgate appear in the parish of St. Laurence records circa 1290. These are all derived from late Anglo-Saxon ‘Hremmes’ (raven’s) and ‘geat’ (gate), with reference to the gap in the cliffs. In 1357, the area became known as Ramesgate. 

The construction of Ramsgate Harbour began in 1749 and was completed

in about 1850, and has the distinction of being the only Royal Harbour in

the United Kingdom.


Because of its proximity to mainland Europe, Ramsgate was a chief

embarkation point both during the Napoleonic Wars and for the Dunkirk

evacuation in 1940. Operation Dynamo during WW2 was launched at

Ramsgate and an assortment of yachts, motor cruisers, fishing boats and other small craft assembled here before crossing to Dunkirk to ferry men from the beaches to

waiting ships.  It was also a member of the Confederation of Cinque Ports,

under the ‘Limb’ of Sandwich, Kent. 

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USN P22 is a United States Navy Gun Boat which was built by German shipbuilders shortly after WWII for the American military to patrol the Rhine 

                                River during the “Cold War” era. The gun boat is the only                                 one afloat out of a fleet of 23.

                                After being decommissioned by the American military,

                                it was handed back to the reformed German Navy to 

                                continue Rhine patrol.

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From Ramsgate, we walked along the beach back to Broadstairs, where my niece lives.


A perfect day out! 

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After a number of years it was again decommissioned

and bought by a Scottish-based private company where it fell into

disrepair and partially sank, only to be saved by a private individual for its posterity and historic value. It was used in a war film about Dunkirk and is now permanently moored in Ramsgate where it is used for promotional events and nostalgic trips for veterans. When on promotional work, it is fully crewed by US Navy re-enactors. 


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One response to “Living la vida loca…..”

  1. Chez says:

    Very interesting! Lovely pics thank you :o)

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