Margate

The Friday Five: the top political news stories of the week

by Paul on Politics, by political editor Paul Francis Friday, March 28 2014

This week's political round-up features Disneyland, more on the Manston airport saga and yet another setback for the Kent grammar school plan....

1. There have been plenty more twists and turns in the tale of Manston Airport. After last week's announcement that the owner Ann Gloag was consutling on closure, there seemed to be fresh hope when Thanet North MP  Roger Gale announced he had been in touch with a potential buyer.

But the consortium said to be interested in taking over the airport was shrouded in secrecy and it was unclear if the owner was interested in selling. Meanwhile, Saudi Cargo said it would suspend its operations from next week and KLM followed suit, saying it was not taking bookings beyond April 10. Meanwhile, KCC and Thanet council announced the creation of a task force dedicated to keeping Manston going. To coin a phrase, everything is up in the air...

2.  Councillors in Gravesham were in a spot of hot water over their plans to take a trip to Disneyland and other theme parks in Florida at taxpayers' expense. The reason?

The "fact finding" trip was planned so councillors and six officers could  examine how a theme park operated so they could better manage the planning process for the huge Paramount scheme expected to be built in north Kent. Inevitably, the council was forced on the defensive, saying that the council would be dealing with a scheme of "global significance". For some reason, that justification for the £15,500 trip failed to impress many....

3. There was yet another setback for Kent's grammar school annex plan with the news that governors of the Weald of Kent Girls Grammar had decided against going co-ed - a move that would have paved the way for it to become the sponsor school for the Sevenoaks satellite. Campaigners seeemd resigned to the possibility that this development might signal the end of the road for the project.

4. Canterbury must rank as one of Kent's most congested places so there was some potentially good news for long-suffering motorists and others with the announcement of a £53m package of road improvement schemes. The city council said the schemes represented the biggest shake-ups in the road network since the 1970s. 

5. Finally, there was a political spat over at County Hall in the wake of a backbench report that suggested that Kent could benefit to the tune of £100m from the EU in the next six years. The opposition UKIP group were distinctly unimpressed but the largely positivie report was welcomed by an unusual alliance of the Tory group, Labour and the Lib Dems. Mind you, they may have some trouble selling that on the doorstep in the run-up to the Euro election in May.

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Categories: Margate | Mayoralty | Precept

The Beauty of Ramsgate and Margate

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Friday, October 18 2013

Ramsgate and Margate

Ramsgate and Margate are both seaside towns that are situated on the south east coast of England in the county of Kent. It takes just over one hour forty minutes to arrive at both towns from London, approximately eighty miles in distance. Both towns are situated in idyllic locations on the beautiful coastline, making them a great escape for the city dwellers. Both Ramsgate and Margate are easily accessible via road and rail.

Image courtesy of ©Marcus T Ward (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The main attraction of Ramsgate would have to be its beautiful coastline which attracts many tourists year after year. Ramsgate Main Sands is a particularly popular location. In having a close connection to Northern Europe, Ramsgate has appeared to have developed a continental style culture, an example of which can be seen with its restaurants and bars that are situated along the sea front.

The port and harbour  situated in Ramsgate are certainly both defining characteristics of the town and have their own history attached, for example, when the people of Ramsgate gave King George IV such a loyal welcome in 1821, he gave Ramsgate Harbour the unique title of “The Royal Harbour”. Not only that, it was one of the main embarkation harbours during the Napoleonic wars. This harbour was also where many thousands of soldiers disembarked after escaping from the beaches of Dunkirk in 1940 as part of Operation Dynamo; one of the boats, Sundowner, used in the evacuation is kept in the marina today. More information about the phenomenal history as well as more recent news of the Dunkirk Little Ships can be found here.

Image courtesy of ©Nick Traveller (Flickr)

Ramsgate is also famous for its two white chalk cliffs, simply named The East Cliff and The West Cliff. These are both mainly residential areas but there are parks at either end and promenades run between the two. There are various cliff top walks as well as sandy beaches below that attract many thousands of tourists and locals alike.

Along with the stunning coastline of Ramsgate, with its clear, clean and tranquil beaches, the market of Ramsgate is another must see. It is held every Friday and Saturday between the hours of 8.00am and 4.00pm, on the High street, King Street and also on Queen Street.

There are also a few landmarks situated in Ramsgate such as the Hugin in Pegwell Bay. This is a reconstructed Viking long-ship which is a replica of the Gokstad Ship. The Hugin was built in Denmark and sailed to England by 53 Danes as a donation from the Danish government in commemoration of the 1500th anniversary of the arrival on Hengist and Horsa to the country in 449. It landed at Viking Bay in nearby Broadstairs in 1949 before being moved to its current location at Pegwell Bay in Ramsgate.

Image courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

There are also a few galleries based in Ramsgate such as the Isle Of Thanet Arts gallery, which is based on the harbour front and the Updown Gallery based in the beautiful Victorian era Satis House. There is also the Ramsgate Maritime Museum, which is near the harbour quayside.

The architecture of Ramsgate is simply stunning, most of which is generally a mix from the Regency and Victorian architectural periods and including 900 listed buildings in the town with more than 200 surrounding the marina itself so even the buildings themselves deserve attention.

Margate

Margate is a small seaside town situated in the district of Thanet in East Kent. Margate is a famous, traditional seaside resort which is a popular holiday destination typically for Londoners wishing to find peace away from the hustle and bustle of the city on the sandy beaches, such as Margate Sands.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

Margate, along with its fantastic nine miles of lovely sandy beaches, is probably most famous for its links with the painter JMW Turner, who created some of his world wide acclaimed art work using the scenery of Margate and is the namesake of The Turner Prize. The world class Turner Contemporary is the focus here in Margate. It brilliantly houses both historical as well as very modern work and showcases many pieces by JMW Turner who was famously inspired by the fabulous scenery and seascapes that Margate has to offer.

Image courtesy of ©Luke McKernan (Flickr)

In addition to its beautiful, stunning coastline, Margate has many other attractions for holiday makers. There are two highly acclaimed theatres in Margate. One of which, the Theatre Royal in Addington Street is the second oldest theatre in the country and the other, the Tom Thumb Theatre is the second smallest theatre in the country. If you are visiting Margate in July, the annual Jazz festival is highly recommended as a must go-to event, more details of which can be found on their Facebook page here.

Like Ramsgate, Margate also has a museum. The Margate Museum represents the town's historical past with a huge range of displays and exhibits.

Another must see attraction of Margate is that of the Shell Grotto. This “building” of unknown age and origin was first discovered in 1835 and the walls and roof are covered in an amazing decoration of well over four million shells, which cover the whole 2000 square footage. The shells have also been placed in elaborate patterns.

Image courtesy of ©Mr Moss (Flickr)

Margate also has many interesting cultural, popular and literary references. It features as a setting in many novels, including Graham Swift's novel 'Last Orders', T. S. Eliot referenced Margate in one of his poems and Margate also featured quite predominately in an episode of British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Where to Stay

Well it depends what you are looking for in terms of accommodation. If you are looking for a B&B, Margate has the wonderful and welcoming Hopewell House. Bob and Sandy are extremely friendly and Bob has an extensive knowledge about the history of Margate and Kent in general. If you are looking for a B&B in Ramsgate then look no further than the Glendevon Guest House. Charles and Rebekah have owned this brilliant establishment since October 2006 and are doing an amazing job (just take a look at all the wonderful reviews on TripAdvisor). Charles does a full English breakfast that is not to be missed and Rebekah has a huge knowledge of Ramsgate so can give you more pointers on places to visit during your stay.

Or maybe you would like a hotel instead? Then try the Pegwell Bay Hotel in Ramsgate which is beautiful to look at from the outside and a joy to stay in. If you are in Margate then I suggest The Hussar Hotel which has swings and slides in the garden, this can be helpful if you are travelling with children.

I have to say though, speaking as a travelling Mum, my personal favourite accommodation option is a holiday let. My kids go through fussy stages (like most do) so I love the option of self-catering and cooking food for my family from scratch (to sneak those vegetables in). With this option, there isn’t the worry about noise from other guests and I don’t have to share a bedroom with my kids either, as much as I love them dearly, my daughter talks in her sleep and my son snores so there is NEVER the option of me getting a good night’s sleep when sharing a bedroom with them! Beeches Holiday Lets provide some wonderful, reasonably-priced houses with modern amenities, a full kitchen (as opposed to a microwave and a kettle like some places I have stayed in) and some have lovely gardens that are enclosed so I feel safe in letting my children play outside. They have houses in both Margate and Ramsgate as well as Broadstairs so can be an option regardless of which part of Thanet you are staying in.

Are They Worth a Visit?

Yes, both Margate and Ramsgate are worth a visit whether you are a Kent local or from further afield. As stated above, both are amazing traditional seaside towns which ooze holiday-town charm; with traditional promenades and seaside amenities, a variety of museums to view, as well as land marks to see and theatres to visit.

There is definitely something for everyone in Margate and Ramsgate, with or without children.

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Categories: Curious Margate | General | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Margate | Museums | Tourism | travel

Travel Back in Time in Thanet

by Emma's Kent Adventures, by Emma-Jane Swaffield Tuesday, October 8 2013

The district of Thanet boasts a large number of exciting destinations and attractions. History lovers will find a large number of enchanting towns and villages to explore in Thanet, many of which have preserved their prominent landmarks and offer a wealth of interesting historical attractions. Here is a selection of some of Thanet’s most captivating and vibrant historical attractions.

Margate

Exploring the traditional Old Town of Margate is an uplifting experience that people of all ages are sure to love. Old Town is home to Margate’s first harbour, which was built in 1320 and offers visitors an insight into local life in the 17th and 18th centuries. The area is also home to the Theatre Royal, the second oldest theatre in the whole of England. Culture vultures will want to make sure that they catch a show in order to appreciate the layout and acoustics in all its glory. Many of the buildings around the harbour are from different eras and have been restored and renovated to their former glory so this is a great place to wander around and explore on a sunny day.

Image courtesy of ©Iain Farrell (Flickr)

Ramsgate

The charming seaside town of Ramsgate is steeped in rich history and can be found high on a cliff overlooking the sea. Taking a trip to the Maritime Museum is the perfect way to gain an insight into Ramsgate’s rich maritime history and can be found in the impressive and eye-catching Clock House (which dates back to the turn of the 19th century) at the Royal Harbour. This harbour has the unique distinction of being the only harbour in the UK awarded the right to call itself a “Royal Harbour”. The title was bestowed upon it by King George IV after he was touched by the hospitality and adoration shown by the people of Ramsgate when he used the harbour in 1821.

Other local attractions that should not be missed by local history buffs include St Augustine’s, a gothic era church designed by August Pugin and completed by his eldest son, Edward, who was also an architect. While you are there, be sure not to miss The Grange (aka St Augustine’s Grange). This is a Grade I listed Victorian Gothic style building that was also designed by August Pugin, the interior was designed before the outside which was in contrast to the Georgian style that preceded it and was designed to be his personal family home. The interior of the house was completed in 1850 and Pugin passed away just 2 years later at the age of only 40.

Visitors will be able to check out a range of vintage gaming machines in the Pinball Parlour, which is situated inside a stunning Georgian period Italianate greenhouse.

Image Courtesy of ©andyj300 (Flickr)

Broadstairs

Situated just a few miles along the coast from Ramsgate, the town of Broadstairs is simply bursting with old world charm.

The town enjoys connections with the popular novelist Charles Dickens as it is said to have been his favourite holiday spot. Visitors who are interested in the life and times of the great writer will want to head straight to the Dickens House Museum. In addition to the hordes of prints and photographs that can be found in this well maintained museum, visitors who wander through the streets of Broadstairs’ old town will find numerous other connections to Charles Dickens.

Wandering along cobbled streets in the pedestrianised section of the town really sets the scene for history lovers, while many of the local cafes and restaurants have been restored to their 19th century appearance and some have even taken on the name of famous Dickens characters. Taking a trip to Bleak House is the perfect way to follow in the footsteps of Charles Dickens, as this impressive cliff top building is the place where the writer spent his holidays in the 1850s and 1860s.

Visitors can also take one of the local heritage tours, while the Crampton Tower Museum displays a wealth of interesting machines and is a tribute to Victorian era engineering.

Image courtesy of ©Jon Curnow (Flickr)

Birchington-on-Sea

Take a trip to the tiny village of Birchington-on-Sea to admire the colourful stained glass window that commemorates the burial of poet and Pre-Raphaelite hero Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the Parish church there. His grave is also there and is marked with a large Celtic cross for his gravestone which was designed by his old friend Ford Madox Brown.

Visitors will also want to take the time to wander through the picturesque Quex Park, which is home to a number of interesting historical attractions such as Regency Quex House with its 7 acres of elegant, picturesque, Victorian gardens and natural woodland or the Powell-Cotton Museum, which contains a large number of local curios and one of the most fascinating collections of natural history in the UK.

Manston

Why not visit the tiny village of Manston to discover the important role that Thanet played during World War II? A number of legendary aircraft can be viewed in the impressive RAF Manston History Museum and several of the stories of local airmen are retold here in exciting detail.

Minster

The village of Minster has been an important religious site since 670 and visiting the gently crumbling Minster Abbey is the perfect way to get a feel for this. Minster Abbey was one of the earliest monastic foundations, rebuilt in 1027 after the original buildings were destroyed during Viking raids of the 9th and 10th centuries. It is believed to be possibly the oldest inhabited house in the country and is now inhabited by Nuns who give guided tours giving an explanation of the historic background to this ancient site.

Visitors can also find the St Augustine’s Cross nearby which, according to legend, marks the very spot where St Augustine met with King Ethelbert and preached his first sermon to people of England in 597. There is a Latin inscription on the base of the cross which can be translated as:

 

"After many dangers and difficulties by land and sea Augustine landed at last on the shores of Richborough in the Isle of Thanet. On this spot he met King Ethelbert, and preached his first sermon to our own countrymen. Thus he happily planted the Christian faith, which spread with marvellous speed throughout the whole of England. That the memory of these events may be preserved among the English G G L-G Earl Granville, Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports has erected this monument, AD 1884"

Image courtesy of ©Shirokazan (Flickr)

Where to Stay?

There are many wonderful places to stay in this beautiful area to tie in with the rich history that this area has to offer such as Bleak House in Broadstairs where Charles Dickens himself used to stay all those years ago, or how about the beautiful Victorian building that is now the Comfort Inn at Ramsgate? Then there is the Georgian Grade II listed Royal Harbour Hotel, a delightfully quirky 19 bedroom townhouse with magnificent views of the harbour and sea. Or why not take a break from all the culture and history by staying in the wonderful holiday lets provided by Beeches Holiday Lets? These wonderful and functional self-catering houses come in a range of sizes and are “homes away from home” with all the comforts you could ever need. There is a wide variety available across the areas of Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs.

So as you can see, there are many wonderful places to explore a wealth of rich English History in Kent that is fascinating for the young and old alike. You can walk in the same footsteps as many important figures from our past and visit the places that inspired many historical greats. Why not take the children and give them a history lesson they won’t forget?

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Categories: Charles Dickens | Curious Margate | Education | Entertainment | History | Holiday | kent | Leisure | Manston | Margate

Curious Margate

by The Fly Away American (in Kent), with Jessica Galbraith Thursday, June 20 2013

This week I got to know the lovely city of Margate, a delightful seaside town with nostalgic charm and a promising future. I have been wanting to visit the Turner Contemporary Museum for some time now, and decided to combine it with a look around Margate's biggest attractions. I really love this town. The beach is wonderful, the history is even better, and there seems to be some kind of re-emergence in the air which is energizing as a visitor. My tour of Margate began at the Turner Contemporary but took me to the other 'curious' places in Margate as well including the Margate Shell Grotto, Margate Old Town, and the Walpole Bay Hotel. 

Turner Contemporary, Margate

The Turner Contemporary is currently exhibiting Curiousity: Art and Pleasures of Knowing. It is a quirky exhibit that explores the world of human curiousity through historical artefacts, art, and some really random displays. There are several Leonardo da Vinci sketches, (although they looked like doodles), a penguin that was collected by Ernest Shakleton on his Antarctic expedition, a very strange series on mysterious deaths that show corpses in miniature doll rooms, and much more weird and strange curiousities.  I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Turner Contemporary, and the Curiousity exhibit was one of the best I have seen in a long time. Don't miss the stuffed walrus, it is incredible! The Curiousity: Art and the Pleasure of Knowing exhibit is running until September 15, 2013. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm. Admission is free.





In the theme of the Curiousity exhibit at Turner Contemporary, several local businesses have joined in on the 'Curious Margate' tour. As you walk along the streets, any place that offers something strange or unusual is displaying a 'Curious Margate' window sticker to let visitors know there is something cool to check out. The main places that are recomended are Margate's historical Old Town, the High Street, Shell Grotto, and the Walpole Bay Hotel in nearby Cliftonville.








If you ask me, the Shell Grotto is a curioustiy of England, not just Margate or Kent. I had been to Margate's mysterious Shell Grotto before, and it never disappoints. There are over 3.6 million sea shells adorning the grotto walls, and nobody knows how or why they got there. A walk through the caverns to see these beautiful mosaics is just incredible. The Shell grotto wasn't discovered until 1835, and the efforts to date the shells or determine their origin have been inconclusive. If you visit one place in Margate, this should be it. The Margate Shell Grotto is one of Kent's coolest hidden gems. Admission for the Shell Grotto is a very reasonable £3, opening hours are from 10am- 5pm everday through summer.





 

My last stop was at the Walpole Bay Hotel, an Edwardian era hotel with a really neat  living history museum. The Walpole Bay Hotel is approximately a 20 minute walk from Turner Contemporary, along the coast. There are 4 floors at the Wadpole, and the hallways on each are overflowing with antiques from a bygone era. My first impression of the museum was that it was highly disorganized, items strewn here and there, stacked on top of each other in tiny rooms. This quickly grew on me though and became part of its charm. Expect to see anything and everything at the Wadpole Bay, closets stacked with dozens of old typewriters, nurse uniforms from World War I, old urinals, ancient sweepers, and even an assortment of gloves that cover 200 years of fashion pinned to the hallway wall. The highlight is the working elevator from 1927, which you can ride to the 3rd floor and see the mechanical workings at the very top. There are no tour guides here and the receptionist will kindly let you wander to your hearts content. The Walpole Bay Hotel Living Museum is open everyday, year round, from 10am-5pm.



If you are on a budget or just looking for a great day out in Kent, go explore the 'curious' of Margate. Most of the attractions are free, and an afternoon on the sandy beach is well worth the trip alone. This weekend the Margate Jazz Festival will be on, for the 8th consecutive year. See you next week for the next installment of my travels around Kent!

 

The touch of Turner

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Saturday, January 28 2012

The opening remark of Jon Snow's speech at the launch of the Turner and the Elements exhibition was a telling one.

"I have been to Timbuktu but I have never been to Margate" the Channel 4 News presenter quipped apologetically as he addressed the great and the good at the Turner Contemporary last night (Friday, January 27).

Everyone knows Margate has been essentially seen as a bit naff for the best part of about 25 years but as the keynote speaker continued his speech, the shift in attitudes towards the seaside town became apparent.

A committee member the Tate in London and a passionate watercolourist, Jon had spent the afternoon sneaking a peak at the exhibition of 88 Turner works now on show in Margate.

He referred to Turner's oil painting New Moon and gushed "the sunset you see in that painting is the one I have seen tonight." He marvelled at the Turner Contemporary's architecture and how the gallery would allow Turner's works to be seen in the natural light which inspired the Romantic painter.

The Turner Contemporary is largely being credited as the spark for this renewed interest in Margate but as JMW Turner and now Jon Snow have recognised, the key ingredients have always been there - it has just been getting the right attention for them.

There are fewer more beautiful scenes than a sunset in Margate, which is very unusual owing the town's north facing position. That light is captured superbly inside the Turner Contemporary and reflected unsurpassably in JMW Turner's work. The way he developed his style of capturing the elements on paper and canvas was largely developed in Thanet and north Kent, so to see these works all in one place will no doubt pull in vast numbers of visitors to the area.

"We are seeing the beginnings of people talking about Margate as a cultural destination," said journalist John Kampfner, who is also the chair of trustees at the Turner Contemporary.

"The buzz has been here now for a year since the building was completed last January and the attendance speaks for itself. We have had well over 350,000 people in nine months. We were planning for 150,000 in the year.

Also running at the gallery is the walking art exhibition of Canterbury-based artist Hamish Fulton. When asked how he felt about his works going on show at the gallery, he decided instead to draw attention to the Turner works, such is the significance of the exhibition.

"The privilege of making an exhibition with the Turner paintings is great. It is great to see real Turners as opposed to the ones inside books - the actual paintings themselves. When you look at them close up you can see the detail."

The former editor of the New Stateman, Mr Kampfner continued: "We have had incredible success and plaudits for the first two shows but this one really does take us to new heights.

"It is a combination of Hamish' eclectic approach to multimedia art and an extraordinary Turner show with so many works.

"The way it has been put together with the different elements is a sight to behold. I will see it so many times because it will take people time to appreciate the full majesty of the exhibition.

"The critical reviews have also been very strong. It is not just about the art either. Margate will become a visitor destination when Dreamland opens. It is just up and up."

Margate has certainly felt the touch of Turner. But don't take their word for it. Take a look yourself.

Turner and the Elements runs until Sunday, May 13.

Hamish Fulton: Walk runs until Monday, May 7.

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Categories: Celebrities | Margate | Media

Tracey's a great ambassador for her childhood home

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Friday, December 30 2011

You may not like Tracey Emin but you have to hand it to her – she's a great flagwaver for her home town of Margate.

She guest edited the Today programme earlier this week and featured a piece on the town's economic revival and the importance of Turner Contemporary in that process.

Emin has not always been a good role model for young people. Her Turner prize-winning unmade bed with associated detritus was not to everyone's taste and did not endear her to traditionalists.

Her ripe language in some of her work also upset the purists, even though it's pretty commonplace to anyone listening to yoof chatter.

But things are changing. As she gets older, she is becoming less of a wild child, more an inspiration to a new generation, and more an ambassador for Thanet.

Despite a minor outcry – the lot of most artists while they are alive - she has just been appointed professor of drawing at the Royal Academy and pledged to donate her fees to students.

Young people can identify more easily with Emin than a stuffed shirt like bumptious art critic Brian Sewell who became a target for East Kent abuse after dismissing Turner Contemporary as a white elephant and Margate as Slough-on-Sea.

Emin also went back to King Ethelbert School in Birchington which fostered her love of art and still has a strong art department. She spoke to young people about their feelings about art and its importance to their lives. It was all good stuff and a positive perspective on a reviving East Kent. It might well encourage a few more visitors to the area in 2012.

And while on that subject, I wish you a profitable and healthy New Year.

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Categories: Business | Margate

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