“ Margate is a town in the district known as the Isle of Thanet (though no longer an island) in Kent, England (population about 60,000). Its name 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, often allowing swimmers to jump in. The cliffs of the Isle of Thanet are composed of chalk, a fossil-bearing rock. „
Margate is a place of two very different worlds sitting side by side. And almost rather wonderful for it.
I wasn't looking forward to going, but the prospect of the new art gallery was at least intriguing and I was expecting something like the Tate at St. Ives.
As we arrived the day turned into skinpeeling consistent sunshine. Starving we headed for the wimpy - it had to be something like that - as it seemed so sort of Margate. The staff were polite and the food just about edible. So onto the beach. And its a large flat glorious beach full of proper sand that god designed just for beaches. There's something slightly moody and romantic about the view out to sea here - or did I just think that because I read that J. M. W. Turner painted here. (Lived here for a while I believe - thats why they feel justified in putting the turner gallery here!)
I'm soon bored with the beach, and the sun which is burning my already burnt arms to a tandoori colour, and slide off alone into the town.
Everything here looks run down and a little grubby, as many seaside towns do, and I immediately come across a pub that promises daily pole dancing with a nice selection of poledancing fans outside drinking beer and discussing philosophy and stuff like that. The little high street has all the shops we all know and need and are fed up with. At the other end of the high street in what looks like a derelict old M&S or Woolworths sits the Tate Gallery offshoot - how utterly bizarre. There's no entry fee as this is just a temporary taster of the new gallery being buit further up overlooking the sea. As with most modern art exhibitions I find it a mix of old tosh that is about as clever as anything in a sixth form art class and some truly delightful work. Paintings, sculpture, concept pieces all displayed in such an unpretensious and accessible way. It looked as if a Blue Peter presenter had just made them and hung them up to dry.
Back on to the high street and a nifty little shop that could cause me credit card damage with a great range of binoculars and telescopes that I could have spent all day in.
Further along and you enter an area that leads up to the new gallery under construction. This area I believe to be Margate old town - and it's absolutely delightful and georgian and dickensian and truly picturesque.
It seems this must have been left to fester while the ritzy side of Margate developed over the years. That part is now on the wane and this part seems to be on the up with lovely little flower shops, interior accessory shops, mini-galleries, etc. That seem frankly bereft of customers and all seem to pin their hopes on a new lease of life and middle class money coming their way when the Turner Gallery final opens - will they last that long?
Around the corner to a litte bar that again is sort of run-down and underfinanced but it has posters on the walls announcing many jazz nights - something french and chic about it. I had a pint of hoegarten - as you would.
Then back towards the ritzy seasidey area and the beach, past a sex shop, past some very sorry looking huge buildings that house Primark in there somewhere. And I'm back to the beach - time for a candy floss.
I've had annual daytrips to Margate since early childhood because of the central position of the railway station. Over the years there has been a gradual decline of the standard of Dreamland. As my parents met outside the scenic railway almost 70 years ago, I have always had nostalgic feelings about the place. As a child there were so many more rides there and at one time I remember a zoo being there.though not a good one. Nowadays the rides there seem to be rejects from Germany and most need a good lick of paint. The whole place needs a good injection of cash to spruce it up and encourage more visitors. Margate is a lovely,old-fashioned type of resort but I think that Dreamland is lettings it down a bit.
Its 1970. I'm a kid. My grandparents live in Margate. We visit them often. They live in a bungelow. On a road. The back garden leads onto a field. Running across that field. Across the road. Then grass and sand. Feel the wind, smell the sea salt. Grandfather sits in his lounge watching through his telescope. Big ship tankers go by in the distance. Little path cuts through the chalk cliffs. Down to the beach. Pebbles. Race back across the field. Race against my brother. Have a head start. But lose. Grandmothers cooking mmmm. Go and play pitch and put. The course seems huge. Launch the ball over the cliff (again). Dad wins (again). Run back to the bungelow (again). Dreamworld. Its magical. Rollercoster. Haunted House. Floss. Its 2000. I'm a man whose been through things. Want to go back sometime.
Margate has got to be one of the most popular seaside towns in Kent and I have been going there since I was a little girl. Ok, so it has changed over the years. They have finally got rid of the pier that was bombed many moons ago and sadly the penny arcade (where I spent many a happy hour!) has disappeared. Not all has changed though. One of the most popular attractions in Margate is Dreamland which is a small (compared to todays standards but years ago really was the bees knees!) theme park. My nan and grandad actually met on one of the rides there, The Scenic railway, and they have been married for 58 years now! Dreamland does try and put a few new rides in each year but I do feel that it is gradually slipping. There are rides there that I used to go on as a little girl and I dont think they have ever been painted! Putting this aside, the kids will love it! There are lots of rides for toddlers and older kids (like myself) alike. The beach in Margate is long and sandy. The sea, well it isnt pleasant, but not many are in this country. There are yet more kiddy rides on the beach as well as donkeys and you can hire deck chairs and sun beds. Along the prom, you will find loads of amusement arcades as well as plently of cafes and restuarants. The town centre is also very close. I think that there is something for everyone at Margate, whether you enjoy relaxing on the beach, strolling along the prom eating a bag of chips or the thrills and spills of a theme park.
Beware though! When we decided at the last minute to take the kids away, we hadn1t decided where, so we got a paper and looked through the B&B`s, after `sorry full up` to numerous places, we finally got booked in Maragate. On the way my other half kept joking about what the B&B would be like..."they`ll give us Stew everynight, I bet" was one of his lines. By the time we got there he really had me worried. As we arrived we were greeted in the hall & asked to pay upfront for our weeks stay...which we did. Then the nightmare began, the room was basic, & grubby, the baby`s cot was ancient...then the ladylady knocked to see if we would be having dinner...yes it was `stew`!!!! Next morning we tried making excuses, and asked for a refund, but couldn`t. The bar turned out to be a small alcove, homemade bar, 2 stalls, selling cans of warm lager. I had to put towels on the cot for the baby to sleep on & none of us could have a bath in the landing bathroom, we would have felt dirtier. Good job Margate is so good. Plenty af Amusement arcades. Dreamland with it`s rides. Good shopping centre. Plenty of food places Fish&Chips, Burgers, Pizza Hut etc Some nice bars with kids rooms & gardens. The beach is lovely, with rides for the kids, and a First aid building. When you don`t want to spend money there is a big Park, where you can take a picnic & the kids can play on the swings etc. We decided another time to go back one weekend, we walked around and chose what looked like a clean B&B, another mistake, not as half as bad as the previous, but still not very good at all. My warning to all, make sure you check out B&B`s first, or ask someone to recommend one, don`t believe what the ads say...they make them sound good. Obviously there are loads of B&B`s of a high standard, we were unlucky. Now we save & go in a Hotel!
I have been to Margate many times since I was a young child and I have always enjoyed my day trips to the seaside. It is situated about an hour’s drive from London. From Central London it is pretty easy to find, you join the A2 (which changes to the M2 near Rochester) and stay on it. It changes to the A299 near Faversham, but it is all one road! When you come to the end of the A299, you take the A28, which takes you straight into the town centre. It couldn’t be simpler! If you travel by train it’s on the Charing Cross line and sometimes you have to change trains at Chatham (not every time) I’m not to sure if you still have to or not (I haven’t travelled there by train for a while). When you arrive in Margate the first thing you notice is the beach. Margate has a sandy beach, there is a sea paddling pool and it normally looks reasonably clean. There are rides and deckchairs available during the summer. Along the front are hotels guest houses, restaurants, Cafes, shops, amusement arcades, pubs and lots of stalls selling rock made into any shape you can imagine. There are a few things to do in Margate, there is a rock factory where you can watch rock being made! There is an old fashioned sweet shop where you can buy sweets from jars. My uncle found some sweets he hadn’t seen since he was a kid and now we go back every year so he can get some. There are lots of seaside style shops that sell kiss me quick hats and buckets and spades etc. The place I have always paid a visit to is the joke shop. They still have all those corny trick chewing gum jokes we had as kids and itching powder! I don’t think the shop has changed at all in the last 20 years! If you like amusement arcades you will be in heaven, they are every where you look! There is also Dreamland. It’s the main reason most people go to Margate. It has loads of rides for kids and adults. Some have been there for a very long time, like the Sc
enic Railway. It’s a very old wooden rollercoaster, but I love it. Some of the best memories of days out when I was young were in Dreamland, Margate (or Bemboms as it was known for a few short years) and the Scenic Railway is like a familiar friend. There are all sorts of rides from small roundabouts for toddlers up to a looping rollercoaster for the bravest. They have a log flume, large and small pirate ship, 2 types of waltzer (1 is what we know as a waltzer and the other is in the dark and is very fast!), bumper cars (large and small) and it even has go-carts. There are a lot more rides and every year they add more. All the rides are paid for with discs or a wristband. Last year they cost 90p for single disc, but if you bought 20 you got them for £10. The wristbands, which give unlimited rides all day, are £10 for adults and £6-95 for kids. There are special offers every summer for the wristbands, last year it was pay for them in advance and they only cost £5 each (for adults or children). There are other things in Dreamland such as sideshows; restaurants, cafes and they have even more rock shops. Some of the sideshows are good, such as the one where you get to use a gladiator style pugle stick to fight a friend or get the hula hoop over the bottle. There are also things like make a sand ornament, face painting, hair braiding and even a non-permanent tatooist! There are also games like find the queen by throwing a dart at the board with cards on and they have a huge test your strength machine for the kids (it costs £1 but every kid gets a prize). Some of the sideshows can be expensive, so don’t promise kids too much if you were hoping it wasn’t going to cost too much. There are lots of places to eat around the town, but the only meal to have at the seaside has got to be Fish’n’Chips. It’s traditional! There are many places that will do you a burger or Sunday roast if that’s what you want and compared wi
th most of the south coast the prices are very good. The other thing that the area is good for is shellfish. Personally I think the cockles are only beaten by 1 other place and that’s Southend. Last year I had Cockles from Brighton, Hastings, Margate and Southend. The best were Southend and Margate because they had been prepared and cleaned properly. Southend only came out on top because they were 20p a cup cheaper than Margate! There are many more places in Margate and I will probably think of even more when I have finished writing this, but I think you get the idea. Margate is a lovely resort to visit if you have the time and the inclination. It’s has always been classed as a working mans seaside resort, but I think it’s one of the best resorts in the South East. It’s easy to get to and not too expensive, the food is good and if you want a cheap day out you can spend the day on the beach! Well worth a visit and great fun for all the family.