diamond geezer

 Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Postcards from the actual seaside [Margate]

My trip to the Isle of Thanet two weeks ago began in Ramsgate, continued to Broadstairs and ended up in Margate. It's a favourite walk, overlooking the sea atop chalk cliffs, doable in four hours and with a convenient station at each end. Here are some snapshots taken after turning the corner at North Foreland to complete my seaside reportage.



Kingsgate Bay brings your geography textbook to life. That is indeed an arch at the end of the beach, and here too are examples of the previous stage in the coastal erosion cycle (a cave) and the subsequent stage (a stack). Thanet council would rather you didn't walk through the middle for fear of falling chalk, but if the tide's in (which it was) that'd stop you anyway. The angle of my photo is deceptive, the arch is no longer attached to the cliffs due to the collapse of a previous arch, which also cut off footpath access to the top of the headland. If geomorphology isn't your thing there's always the Captain Digby, a pub-stroke-restaurant in the shape of a not entirely convincing castle, who overcharge for their car park safe in the knowledge that drivers have nowhere else to go.



Here's a typical bit of north Thanet coastline... rough grassland above not especially high chalk cliffs above a broad concrete promenade above a sweep of beach. This is Palm Bay below Cliftonville, less visited than Walpole Bay to the west and less impressive than Botany Bay to the east. Access from up top to down below is intermittent at best, either via long sloping ramps cutting underneath the clifftop path or down tottering staircases sufficient to deter the casual beachgoer. In livelier seasons, or in normal years, the Jet Ski Cafe dispenses thrills and tea to fans of watersports. The headland in the distance is Foreness Point, home to a water treatment plant whose unsavoury function can be detected as a pungent whiff, so perhaps don't rush to hit the surf.



This bench made me do a double-take. Who is (or was) Hayden, and why would a sarky plaque of this ilk end up affixed to a sea-facing seat? A bout of later Googling confirmed that Hayden Kays is a Margate-based artist, so I suspect he made the plaque as some kind of self-mocking statement... but his website is so comprehensively empty I can't be certain. A little further up the coast I found another memorial bench labelled In Memory Of The Football Season, H Kays 2020, one of a lockdown trio by the same artist (also including In Memory Of Festival Season and In Memory Of Rush Hour Travel). Works for me.



If you fancy swimming in the sea with minimal risk, the Walpole Bay Tidal Pool is for you. Opened in 1937, and designed by the Borough Engineer, it's a huge concrete-edged enclosure on the foreshore replenished twice a day at high tide with fresh seawater. The two longest sides are 450 feet long and the seaward end 300 feet wide with a maximum water depth of 6 foot 6, according to its Grade II listing. I walked round it once when the tide was out, which was unnerving enough, but didn't fancy risking it with an easterly wind whipping waves towards the outer wall. One family were undertaking some very limited fishing from the breakwater, while a plastic hat bobbed up and down in the water further out as part of a regime of bracing exercise.



There used to be another bathing pool just along the coast at Cliftonville Lido. You can still see the depression where the water isn't, and walk through the complex of decaying buildings onshore where only the Cliff Bar and snooker hall struggle on. What really stands out is the 'Lido' beacon on the roof, a bright orange pillar it's very hard not to photograph, so I did. Another nigh-subterranean building is the Winter Gardens, tucked low behind the esplanade, where Jason Donovan has had to cancel next month but Paul Weller still hopes to play in March. On a windswept weekday afternoon I was more preoccupied by dodging bags of dog poo blown from missed bins and accumulating beside the promenade wall.



Hurrah it's Margate proper, and the tide's out, and the beach is almost empty because it's Thursday afternoon. Normally I'd nip inside the Turner Contemporary for some art, but they've just closed for several months for "a series of capital enhancements" (including improved visitor facilities, redesign of the retail area and enhancements to the digital infrastructure). Dreamland too was very much closed. Instead I got to walk out along the harbour arm past the micro pub to disturb courting teenagers skulking behind the shell lady statue, and to stride unhindered across an enormous crescent of sand. Up on Marine Drive dozens of daytrippers downed pints and guzzled fish and chips at carefully spaced tables, while one Jack the Lad inspected his new leg tattoo as blood slowly dripped through his sterile dressing onto the pavement.



The first building you see as you arrive in Margate, or the last you notice as you head back to the station, is Arlington House. This 18-storey Brutalist block was completed in 1964, its rippling facade affording residents panoramic views of both countryside and sea. At its base was a 52-store shopping mall, a pub, a filling station and a first floor parking deck. The base has not aged well, its shops now terminally depleted after a long decline and the car park hired out for visitors to Dreamland. But a 2-bed flat is currently on the market for £140,000, so if you were planning to flee to the seaside for a concrete skyloft here's your chance.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream