Investigating Margate

The Turner Gallery, Margate

The Turner Gallery, Margate

My travel journal fell woefully behind, and despite my best intentions, I did not manage to complete the tale before our return to Australia.  Bill and I have been home for a week now, and I am determined to catch up!

So today’s story is about Margate, a seaside town in the Thanet coastal area of Kent in England.

Proof that a sandy beach really does exist in England

Proof that a sandy beach really does exist in England

Margate harbour front street scenes

Margate harbour front street scenes

Margate harbour front street scenes

Margate harbour front street scenes

Margate harbour front street scenes

Margate harbour front street scenes

 

 

Margate has been a leading seaside resort for at least 250 years. Its claim to fame is a sandy beach, which in its day, made Margate a traditional holiday destination for Londoners, or for working class vacationers.  It had a Victorian style pier which was destroyed by a storm in 1978.  Many Australian seaside amusement piers of the early twentieth century would have been based on the English model such as Margate’s.

Over time, Margate became dowdy.  Its popular Dreamland Amusement Park – a big attraction for the local youth – changed hands, became run-down, suffered an arson attack, and is currently closed to the public.  It consumes a large tract of waterfront land, and so in its current condition is something of an eyesore, whereas it was once a bright beacon promising fun for all.

Margate’s many guest houses became out-dated and out of favour, and turned into low cost boarding houses for transients.

When I was last here in 2005, everything was looking sad and dejected.

Happily, Margate is having a revival.  For example, a modern art gallery has been built in a prominent position next to the harbour.  It is called the Turner Contemporary, and I went along expecting to see lots of paintings of sea and ships on fire, in muted reds, oranges and yellows.  If I had bothered to check first, I would have noticed that the gallery is described as a “dynamic visual arts organisation …….. inspired by JMW Turner’s sense of enquiry……… offering a space for everyone to embrace their curiosity and to discover different ways of seeing, thinking and learning”.

Which translates to me as – I didn’t understand much of what I was seeing.  But hey!  Everyone who knows me understands that I am an art idiot.  I am sure those that are more in tune with the esoteric would enjoy the current exhibition, or others to come.  All I will say is that if filming your feet in slow motion is artistic, then I am sorry I wasted the opportunity to do so when I had my bunion surgery.  I could have introduced blood, bruising and stitches as a mixed media element.  Just saying ………

Seriously though, if you would like to know more about this new gallery, here is a link: http://www.turnercontemporary.org/about

Another point of interest is the Thanet Offshore Wind Project.  One hundred wind turbines are installed in the English channel about eleven kilometres to the east of Margate, and are easily visible from the seafront.  An amazing sight.

In the Old Town and side streets, many retailers have brightened their shop-fronts and tempt shoppers with an eclectic range of goods.

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The only thing missing is the sea!  There is around a three metre (almost ten foot) difference between high and low tide.  For an Aussie, that means you could just about walk to France before you could do any serious swimming.  On our afternoon visit, it was definitely low tide, as you will note from the beached fishing boats in our photographs.  Hysterical.

Thursday 15th August 2013, Garrulous Gwendoline, Margate, England

Seaweed indicates where the water reaches when the tide is in

Seaweed indicates where the water reaches when the tide is in

I swear it was in water when I moored it!

I swear it was in water when I moored it!

There is sand, but no water.  So is it still a beach?

There is sand, but no water. So is it still a beach?

 

15 thoughts on “Investigating Margate

  1. “…There is around a three metre (almost ten foot) difference between high and low tide. For an Aussie, that means you could just about walk to France before you could do any serious swimming….”

    You miss the point of a traditional British seaside town ENTIRELY. I’m laughing imagining anyone visiting Margate, Blackpool, Scarborough, or indeed any British seaside resort, to do some serious swimming. The culture gap between Australia and UK discourages me to even attempt to explain. By the way, my son is a dual citizen of UK/Australia. Even he found your comment odd. A little research or knowledge of UK traditions and habits would help before attempting to unleash your misguided opinions upon the world.

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    • Matt – thanks so much for your feedback. I am glad whenever I find a new reader. Although the low tide is a shock to the first-time uninitiated Aussie, the comment was not meant to be taken too seriously. (I am not even a strong swimmer, which I have mentioned in several previous posts). I am sure your son has told you about the peculiarities of Aussie humour, and light-hearted humour is a strong element in my blog. I have been coming to Thanet now since the late seventies, and over that time I have become aware of the differences between Australian and English beaches, and the charm of both. If the English seaside town was not so appealing – why would Australian authorities of yore have mimicked them by installing entertainment piers? I love them just as they are 🙂 Hope you enjoy some of my other posts, GG

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  2. Hi GG – Hope you’ve enjoyed your travels. Really interested to read your comments re the Margate Turner – as a new ‘art gallery’ it has made quite a splash in the culture news here in the UK over the past couple of years. It’s always good to hear a first hand account not mediated by vested interests! Agnes.

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    • Hi Agnes – I wondered if you would take me to task on my comments :-). You are so artistic and educated on the subject and I am such an art cretin. I am only creative with words and photographs. I love colour, and I can see the absurd – but not the abstract. At the Turner, I did enjoy some exhibitions from Leonardo da Vinci, which were his mirror writings. Until I looked closely I thought they were hung back to front. Dohhhh! I thought it was a great coup that they could get their hands on such items. But, honestly, do you not think they could have hung at least one Turner ???? Or am I just too practical to be part of the art world? But if you are going to call your gallery the Turner ???? And your area’s history is of sea and ships? GG

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      • No, no, no – I’m absolutely with you on this one – I think they should always have at least two or three Turner’s on view particularly as he was so prolific and ‘we’ the British nation have a lot his work (I think a load of it is in store with Tate Britain). I can’t see why they can’t loan and rotate especially some of his sea work. Maybe the problem is more prosaic and they can’t afford the security or insurance!!! According to their launch blurb ‘The gallery promises that there will always be at least one Turner on show at all times.’ Looks like you were a bit unlucky with your visit, hope you enjoyed the rest of your UK stay. Agnes

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      • Enjoy ‘discovering’ your mobile phone, other devices, and of course ‘routine’ again. I am sure that you will look at your life with different eyes now – or at least until you are used to it again. Yes, it is a pity you had to cut out the Abu Dhabi leg of your journey, but like you say “another time hopefully”. 🙂

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