Sunday, 23 August 2015

Margate; the coastal town they forgot to close down.

We had another day out!

I'm not sure why but we went to Margate - almost on the very tip of south east England. I think it was mainly because neither Robyn nor me had ever been there before and we both like new places.

I'm still not sure how I feel about Margate. There are different ways of looking at it;

There's the 'Old Town' with some 'heritage buildings' around the square;

There are some old cannons;

There are loads of antique shops and a few quite nice vintage clothes shops. I was very tempted to buy a pair of old second hand Levis except trying them on was just going to hurt too much.

Too tired, too much pain

I liked the old Oyster warehouse;

And I liked this shop display - they are reproductions of the first fishing floats - when they were made of glass rather than plastic - always makes me think of the seaside;

But that's not really what Margate is about. It was once the resort of choice for hard up East Enders, coming down to the sea on cut price rail fares for a knees-up. Its best days were in the 1930's and not too much money has been spent on it since.

For example; this is the old closed down 'Primark';

It's hard to imagine that Primark, which sells very cheap clothing made by workers in the developing world who are paid starvation wages.....could go bust anywhere.

It moved to Broadstairs.

Robyn called it 'The Town that killed Primark'.

It's also the home of 'Dreamland' which was once a very famous Amusement Park - it still has an early wooden Roller Coaster.

The famous (and listed) entrance is genuine Art Deco and is urgently in need of repair and love. With some work, it could be beautiful again;

It's unfortunate that so much of the seafront is taken up with slot machines lurking to exploit people....and by the way, calling your business 'The Flamingo' doesn't make it Vegas.

I've never seen so much broken glass on a beach and although I love 'seaglass' this is not a beach where the glass gets worn down.

It's positively dangerous for kids.

There was also a lot of foam that I associate with the presence of sewage in the water.

In many ways it's still the "The coastal town they forgot to close down" in Morrissey's song 'Every day is like Sunday';
                       Trudging slowly over wet sand
                Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
                This is the coastal town
                That they forgot to close down
                Armageddon - come Armageddon!
                Come, Armageddon! Come!

                Everyday is like Sunday
                Everyday is silent and grey

So when Robyn went paddling she was being rather careful.

There's yet another side to Margate - 'The Turner Contemporary' art gallery. It's intended to draw in better off, high spending arty types.

It certainly looks OK at the edge of the harbour;

I think it works a lot better from inside;

There's a real sense of space and light.

The windows are cleverly used to frame Margate;

As modern galleries go it's got some great spaces for art, there's a place for kids and above all it's free.

I'll review the exhibitions tomorrow.

After Margate we drove back  through Herne Bay; clean, tidy and Tory. We ended up at Whitstable, seaside resort of choice for the wealthy, fashionable Londoner.


The thing is; Margate had a bizarre mix of rather burly tattooed middle aged white men, black, Asian and even a party of Chinese people. When we were eating our sandwiches I saw a family on the far beach in full Moslem outfits.

Absolutely everyone was there and having a lot of fun.

While Robyn was paddling I walked absentmindedly along the tidemark wearing my Doc Marten boots and idly looking for treasure like bits of broken pottery and seaweed.

We were leaving the beach and I came across a family where the kids had discovered that if you half buried your plastic football in the sand you could use it as a springboard and do somersaults, head over heals in the sand.

It was just the most amazing, joyous thing and it made my day;

How cool is that?
Margate is poor and in places drab and down at heel.
But it's interesting.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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