Remembering The Margate of Old
Why A Visit To The Sea Side Town Brought Back Memories
by Shaded Road
This article isn’t about how ‘cool’ Margate is/or becoming as there are plenty of those, but more of a reminiscence of the Margate I loved when I was younger and the margate I visited as an adult.
I love Margate
My first visit to Margate was in the summer of 1994. This wasn’t with my family, but with my local area association that organised trips for the residents and their children. We left early in the morning for St Pancreas train station, and I remember taking my forward facing seat and looking at the landscape of London whizzing by. The grey quickly turning into stretches of green. We finally reached our destination with the train pulling into Margate town. We made our way off the train straight and right onto The Bay beach 'Margate Sands', where we sat and enjoyed our packed lunch. A few minutes later I may or may not have paddled in the sea, but all I know is I couldn’t wait to enter the famed Dreamland amusement park where all the fun was waiting to began. After this first visit, I visited Margate at least four times on family trips - under the age of 11, loving it even more.
Visting Margate As An Adult
My most recent visit was in August 2018 twenty years after my last visit. This time a new generation of my family was experiencing Margate for the first time, my seven year old niece.
My memories from Margate came flooding back to me as we sat on The Bay beach aka Margate Sands. I remembered sitting atop the yellow sand on a picnic sheet eating the home cooked food my family had packed for us; rice, potato salad, pasta salad, fried fish, and fried chicken. I ate so fast, wanting to get into Dream Land as why else did anyone go to Margate? This time round my niece was itching to go in the sea. She didn’t know anything about Dream Land, how would she? I remembered this feeling too, of wanting to go into the sea, but didn’t feel so compelled this time round. A while later we made our way back from the murky sea, which was surprisingly warm and calm, I looked upon the Margate skyline and felt nostalgia in my heart. The sky was a cloudy grey, but I eyed the famous Margate landmarks; the residential tower block, the big wheel, the art deco Dream Land building and sign, the clock tower, all these objects forming a small part of my childhood.
Margate Old Town
In my past visits of Margate I scarcely remember walking around the town. But on this occasion I explored the high street, Harbour Arm and the Old Town. Harbour Arm is Margate’s pier as the former destroyed in a storm in 1978. Along its ‘arm’ are many places to eat and drink with the lighthouse being the last stop. The Old Town is pretty and has many cafes, bars, pubs, a few vintage shops, and one of the best fish and chips shops. Currently, Margate is in the midst of a cultural renaissance, with an influx of new residents 'Londoners / artists' unable to afford the high rents and house prices of the city - taking advantage of Margate's cheap rent and housing market. You wouldn’t think this from the beach front and its shops, this still remains the Margate from old and that’s what I love.
My niece wasn’t bothered about Dream Land, as mentioned above she had no clue what it was, she was more interested in the beach fun fair. I was the one excited for Dream Land. We made our towards it, and walked down the slopped, dingy, diry road leading to its’ entrance. I felt tingles. It was all coming back to me. We walked through the entrance and I noticed the new changes to the interior: soft lighting, purple décor, vendor stalls and this was just inside. It was basically a mini entertainment centre with a stall even selling vegan popcorrn. Things had changed drastically. I was in for a bigger surprise! We had to pay to enter Dream Land, and it’s not cheap either, £25 for a wristband with credit included for two rides. This wasn’t the Dream Land of old, In the old days it was free to enter with £5 wristband for all the rides. The amusement park has had a make over. It is bigger, more rides, food stalls, bars, music stage, a giant Dream Land word installation, and much much more. I stood and stared. My mouth may have even fallen open. I looked around for my favourite ladybug mini roller coaster ride and she wasn’t there! But I saw a flash of colour and spotted the big four slide ‘Born Read’, this is the Dream Land I know.
Summer 2020, Margate I see you!