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Margate Interesting Facts


Did you know?

• Margate was originally Meregate (meaning marsh gate) because, until modern times, the town lay between two tidal creeks.

• Margate was one of the first seaside resorts, the first to have donkey rides and the first to introduce deckchairs.

• Margate was one of the pioneers to offer bathing facilities and with its proximity to London was a perfect resort for the city’s middle classes to enjoy the horse drawn ‘machines’ which offered privacy while bathing.

• Margate pioneered mixed bathing in the early 1900s.

• The dome in the Shell Grotto acts as an accurate solar calendar.

• Margate’s Theatre Royal is Kent’s oldest theatre.

• Comedian Eric Morecambe (1926-1984) held his wedding reception at the Bull’s Head, Market Place.

• George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), regarded by many as the greatest English dramatist since Shakespeare, visited Margate in 1907. Arriving on the Granville Express, he went straight to the Theatre Royal to coach a new actor appearing in his play John Bull’s Other Island.

TS Eliot (1888-1965), Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) all cited their time in Margate as being pivotal in the creation of their most famous works – The Waste Land, Das Kapital and The Lark Ascending respectively. TS Eliot composed the key lines of 'The Waste Land' poem at the Nayland Rock Shelter whilst in Margate

• Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), celebrated English diarist and naval administrator, used to get his colleagues drunk on ‘Northdown Ale’ imported from Margate.

• The Beatles topped the bill and played for six consecutive nights at the Winter Gardens in July 1963.Their debut album, Please, Please Me, had been released a few months earlier and at the top of the charts for many weeks. They were being mobbed by fans so, to escape at the end of their shows, they used a little known tunnel leading to a side entrance. During World War II, cells leading off the tunnel were used to hold and interrogate German prisoners of war – usually pilots who had bailed out over Thanet.

• Self-styled nobleman ‘Lord’ George Sanger (1825-1911) was a showman, circus proprietor and legend in his lifetime. He founded the Hall-by-the-Sea in Margate (now part of the Dreamland complex) which was a combination of pleasure gardens, zoo and entertainment centre. His burial place in Margate Cemetery is marked by a striking horse statue.

• The Margate Museum of today, in the busy Old Town, was the magistrates’ court until 1972. It hosted two hearings marking high points of moral panics concerning the sale of saucy postcards which were banned as a result. In 1964 the magistrates were busy again after Mods and Rockers came to the town over the Whitsun Weekend. Their behaviour led to press outrage and public outcry condemning gang warfare and the battle of the beaches.

JMW Turner (1775-1851), one of the greatest British artists came to Margate often during his lifetime, to capture the sea, the skies and to see his landlady Sophia Booth. The most famous self portrait of him, aged 24, is on £20 notes.

• Margate’s Tudor House is thought to be one of the oldest of its kind in Kent, built around 1525 and believed to be the home of a wealthy yeoman farmer

• Margate’s Tom Thumb Theatre, one of the smallest in the world, is a converted Victorian Coach House

• In 1791, The Royal Sea Bathing Hospital opened in Margate for those seeking a cure for tuberculosis. Patients were exposed to the fresh sea air and the hospital had its own seawater reservoir. This was the first of its kind