Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Margate, Primark, Westwood Cross and the High Street

I guess most of you who managed to either open the Thanet Times online edition or who have read the last paper edition will be aware that the new Primark store has opened at Westwood Cross.

The article, which I believe says this is the biggest Primark in Kent, and this does raise the question of how long Primark, in Margate High Street, will last?

These links take you some pictures of Margate, mostly the high street in August 2009

Pre Turner Contemporary they do give some idea of the ups and downs of Margate since the opening of the gallery.

Shop wise however the key player throughout all of the ups and downs has been Primark, my wife last bought clothes there as recently as two weeks ago, in fact the last time we visited Margate.

Thinking about this I can't actually think of any other place in Margate where we regularly buy ordinary non food new goods, I wonder can anyone else?  
The picture above is dated 1820

The one below by Turner is undated, the should expand enough, if clicked on enough
I would guess it to be about 1787 when he was 12 and in school in Margate, its as close as I can get to a Turner of Primark, as you can see this was before Turner noticed anything special about the skies over Thanet.

This photo is of the seaward side of the Primark site in about 1870 at that time the sea came up to about where the middle of the shop is now.

Many thanks to reader Steve for repairing the photo


  1. Several family members who live in Herne Bay occasionally visit Margate solely for Primark, so if that goes then it really be the end of Margate as a shopping centre (it's undoubtedly Margate's biggest attraction, much more so than the TC!).

  2. Looks like quite a few new jobs at Westwood but if Margate does close will the staff just be given the chop?

  3. Love the old photo of the shops pre the road I have never seen that before. My wife annd daughter went to the new Primark today and came back with bits that they would never normaly have bought. Shopping in Margate is not easy and the parkinng is rubbish so they tend to go to WWX. I only ever go into Margate to visit the dentist and I only go to Cliftonville for a haircut. As a consumer I just dont consume enough for anyone to worry about me, they are the only places I visit other than Pegwell Bay. The rest of my family choose WWX for ease of parking. Thanets town centres have lost this family's trade to WWX and I doubt we are the only ones who dont support the local high streets.

  4. Difficult this one, I would say prior to Westwood Cross and the internet all of our shopping was done in the three Thanet towns with the occasional visit to the Co op at WC and Canterbury and a bit of diy stuff at Payless. When the big supermarkets opened at WC we started to shop in them regularly, the closure of Tesco in Ramsgate and M&S in Ramsgate was an eye opener to me, after this happened we went out of our way to do as much of our shopping, as we could, in the Thanet towns making an especial effort not to use Tesco or M&S as they had done so much damage to Ramsgate.

    We now do all of our food shopping in Ramsgate, including the supermarkets that are in the town Waitrose and Aldi in particular. Clothes and shoes require visits to WC and Canterbury, this leaves the other stuff, books, music, films, computers, mobile phones, kitchen equipment, artists materials. With this we browse the shops but invariably buy cheaper online.

    Our last visit to WC involved browning hmv seeinn a set of dvds for £35 buying them online for £18, browsing Waterstones where pretty much the same thing happened, looking at the artists materials in Hobbycraft, but actually buying them online for about half the price. The largest item price wise was my replacement smart phone, I bought this new online for more than £100 less than anywhere either at WC or in the Thanet towns.

    Taking this into consideration I do wonder where the future of retail is going to go, certainly clothes and shoes haven’t really been exploited that well online yet. Running a bookshop with books being the most heavily exploited and the earliest successful online product mainly because of Amazon, we have come full circle, basically making sure we are cheaper or the same price in our bookshop, as online prices.

    Questions and answers: Does it work? Only a certain amount. Is it profitable? Not very. Is it sustainable? Only time will tell.

  5. Michael I spend a lot of time online, ebay for me is my online bootfair. Most of our purchases are researched online to get the best prices. I cant get out as you know so home shopping is great.

    1. Michael I take your point about Internet shopping as opposed to real shops [let's call it the high street]. The Internet never closes, you do not have to venture outdoors in foul weather and importantly the Internet is frequently cheaper. So why bother going to the high street?

      Well in part it is social being out there with all the other people, perhaps enjoying the window displays. For my part, the following story exemplifies why I would select the hight street over the Internet every time.

      In the 90s I paid my first visit to one of the most famous shops in the world. This was Fortnum and Mason and in truth I was just sightseeing. For the shop was full of wonderful seductive goods that I wanted but did not need and certainly could not afford. However, I felt that I ought to buy something. Fortunately the store had a small ordinary grocery section, presumably for the local workers. So forswearing an enticing small box of handmade chocolates at £30 I settled on a tub of Flora Spread. I took my selection to the pay point. This was manned by a middle aged man dressed in the traditional Fortnum and Mason Livery. He looked magnificent. I handed him my tub of Flora Spread. He looked at it and said, “An excellent choice, sir”. This hit home. Oh, I expect that he said this everyone, it did not matter, he had said it to me. Maybe even he was being ironic, who cares. He had said to me, “An excellent choice, sir” and I preened. And in future years I made an effort to return to the shop, mostly to buy presents that may have been cheaper elsewhere. But so what, I was after all making an excellent choice.

      This technique is not limited to the grand shops. A few times at the checkout in Sainsbury's the assistance has looked at one of my items and said that she also buys that and enjoys it. This is a powerful technique that works on me every time.

      Do you remember Deakins in Ramsgate High St? This was a mens clothing shop that sold high quality goods. It was pricey. But I always made an effort to shop there. Not necessarily for the quality, after all I could get that elsewhere. It was for the personal attention to detail from the sales staff. Deakins always made me feel welcome and special. I trusted them.

      In essence personal service in a shop will for me triumph over the internet every time. We all like to be made to feel special.

  6. Hmm,I go to edinburgh wollen mill,store 21,primark,new look ,boots,smiths,beaux interiors,the gate,paraphernalia and many more in Margate :)

    1. Thank you Ms Portas!


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