Wednesday, 23 March 2016


 I am just starting writing the promotional leaflet for my bookshop to leave in Margate, tourist information office, museum Turner Contemporary and so on. These things tend to mostly be a potted history with old pictures, the one I did for Ramsgate being fairly successful.
 Any ideas gratefully accepted, anyway here is a first draft with the pictures:-
 Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs are all situated on The Isle of Thanet, which as you may have noticed isn’t an island. Back before the last ice age the UK was part of mainland Europe and when ice melted the sea levels rose and the UK became an island. On the edge of this island was another small island, The Isle of Thanet, separated by a narrow sea channel called the Wansum.
 During the middle ages the main town here was Margate. Back then it was called St Johns and would have clustered around the church, my guess is that Margate at that time would have been the gate in the defensive wall around the island to ward off enemies, used by the people of St Johns to access the sea.
 There are plenty of references in the medieval letters from the monarchs to the Lords Warden of The Cinque Ports telling them to make the people of Thanet repair the wall. Around 1500 the Wansum Channel silted up helped considerably by the monks who managed the land here and erected land reclamation dykes.
 Admiral Howard writing in 1588. After fighting the Spanish Armada some of the returning ships with the sailors suffering from typhus, dysentery, scurvy and starvation, sailed to Margate hoping for help. The sailors hadn’t been paid by the government and when Howard arrived they were without shelter or food, and were dying in the streets. John Leyland writing about the same time says there is a pier here but it is sore decayed.
 In the early 1700s when the Vicar of St Johns, John Lewis wrote his history of Thanet he describes it as a pretty poor place, but the market for the whole of the isle where the crops are brought and from where they are shipped to London.
 Sometime in the mid 1700s London doctors dreamed up a cure for most ailments which involved going to the seaside, drinking a pint of seawater and then being ducked in the sea by professional dunkers. The spin-off from this was the beginning of tourism.
By 1763 a guide for visitors had been published which says. “it is no wonder that the place should be attended by such multitudes of people who go into to the sea either for heath or pleasure.”

The real turning point for Margate was in 1815 when the first paddle steamer service from London started, a reliable inexpensive four hour journey to the seaside before the invention of the railway train or the motor car, must have been quite something. 

I have illustrated this leaflet with pictures from the 1820 guide to Margate, I publish a cheap reprint of this guide and about 160 other books relating to the history of this area.

Somewhere in all of this will be something saying, visit Michaels Bookshop in Ramsgate, closed Sundays, Thursdays and Bank Holidays, I have to say I am looking forward to both Friday and Monday being Bank Holidays.

I spent all day pricing and putting away books, here they are and this evening starting to write the leaflet.

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