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A Timeline History of Margate


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Here is a one page snapshot Guide to Eastbourne home of the Towner Art Gallery. It highlights the best of Eastbourne for visitors to this beautiful resort set by the Sussex Downs National Park.

A timeline history of Margate with prints, photographs and maps. 
Click on images to enlarge.

Roman Margate 

Roman Villa discovered in Tivoli Park Avenue in 1920.

Saxon Margate

The name Margate may have meant a pool in the cliffside. 
Originally a small fishing village.

Norman Margate

1050 St John’s Church built (at end of High Street) 

Mediaeval Margate

1229 Margate under jurisdiction of Cinque Ports as a limb.
1380 Dent-De-Lion gatehouse. Was a part of a medieval manor

Tudor Margate

1525 King Street house built.

Stuart Margate

1666 Dutch & English fleets fought for four days off North Foreland

Georgian Margate

Margate still a small fishing village (Edward Hasted called it a “poor fishing town”)
1709 Drapers Hospital founded.
1753 Modification of the bathing machine introduced by Benjamin Beale a local Quaker who was influenced by Dr Richard “Sea-Water” Russells’s Disertation of 1752. Beale invented a canvas hood.
1769 Cecil Square built (first Georgian square in a seaside resort)
Hawley Square built around an enclosed ‘pleasure ground’ garden.
New Market Place opened.
1786 JMW Turner (1775-1851) first came to Margate, aged 11, to stay with an uncle, a fishmonger in the town. He attended the Thomas Coleman’s School on the corner of Love Lane and Hawley Street. 
1787 Theatre Royal opened opened in Addington Square
1796 Royal Sea Bathing Hospital opened. Founded by Dr John Coakley Lettsom (1744-1815) focusing on fresh air and bathing via bathing machines. At first the hospital was only opened during the summer months.

JMW Turner, aged 21, returned to Margate to sketch and paint.
1798 Margate Caves rediscovered
1806 Road built between Margate and Westgate (now Marine Terrace)
1808 Jarvis Landing Place destroyed in a storm

Regency Margate

1812 Droit House built for Margate Pier and Harbour Co
1815 Margate harbour built by John Rennie. Known as the Harbour Arm
Steamers now used Margate 
1820 Margate Market Place rebuilt.
1821 Town Hall rebuilt in Market Place.
1827 JMW Turner stayed with Mrs Booth at her guest house in Cold Harbour (now the Rendezvous site), overlooking the sea initially at weekends.

1828 Margate Lighthouse erected. Designed by William Edmunds (17??-c.1824).
1829 Turner travelled by steamship to Margate to stay at the boarding-house of Mrs Sophie Booth. New Holy Trinity Church opened in Trinity Square.  Designed by William Edmunds.

1830 Droit House rebuilt to designs by William Edmunds.
1833 Sophia’s husband Mr Booth died. Turner adopted the name Booth and lived at her guesthouse, becoming Sophia’s long-term companion.

1835 Shell Grotto discovered

Early Victorian Margate

1841 Six companies operated steamships to Margate
1845 Congregational Church opened in Union Crescent
1846 Margate Sands railway station opened
1850 The steam-ship Royal Adelaide sank near Margate with loss of 250 people
1855 Margate Jetty (pier) built by Eugenius Birch.

1857 Charter granted for Margate to become a borough.
Margate surfboat (lifeboat) “Friend To All Nations” established.

Mid Victorian Margate

1863 London Chatham and Dover Railway linked to Margate West (current station). 
1868 Cliftonville Hotel opened. Largest hotel in Margate. Burnt down in 1952.
1877 Margate Jetty damaged in storm.

Late Victorian Margate

1880 New Marine Drive opened
First amusement park opened.
1887 Clock tower built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

Switchback Railway opened (destroyed in 1897 storm)
1895 Margate FC founded
1897 Thanet Golf Club opened.
Storm claimed lives of nine Margate  lifeboatmen
1898 The new Margate Town Hall opened in Market Place.
New Grand Theatre (later Hippodrome) opened in Cecil Square.

1899 Bronze statue of lifeboatman erected to commemorate 1897 disaster

Edwardian Margate

c. 1900 Colorised photo of Margate Pier

1901 Tram linked Margate to Cliftonville.
1908 Winter Gardens opened in Cliftonville.

1912 Lounge Picture salon opened in Cliftonville with 550 seats. Became Cameo in 1936 and closed in  1970.
Margate FC settled on a pitch at Hall-by-the-Sea Ground (later Dreamland amusement park).

WW1 Margate

1915 Cinema de Luxe by Peter Dulvey Stonham opened on 140 High Street with 422 seats. In 1930 became Plaza Cinema.
1917 Germans torpedo boats attacked shipping in Margate

Prewar Margate

1920 John Henry Iles (1871-1951) opened Dreamland amusement park. Inspired by Dreamland Coney Island Amusement Park.

Film 1

Film 2

Margate surfboat “Friend To All Nations” motorised
TS Eliot wrote part of The Wasteland whilst on convalescence in Cliftonville
1923 Variety Cinema opened in Dreamland
1926 Margate Sands Railway station closed (Station buildings became the Casino Dance Hall).
New Margate Station built for Southern Railway. Designed  by Maxwell Fry (1899-1987). 
1927  Cliftonville Swimming Pool (Margate Lido ) opened.

1928 Margate Synagogue built in Albion Road, Cliftonville.
1929 Margate FC moved to Hartsdown Park.
1930s Development of the Palm Bay estate in East Cliftonville
1930 Cinema de Luxe replaced by Plaza Cinema. Closed in 1984.
1930 Margate and District New General Hospital, opened on St Peters Road
1932 Library moved to Victoria Road
1934 Astoria opened on 292 Northdown Road Cliftonville. Designed by Edward Albert Stone (1880-19??) with 1,035 seats.

Regal opened in Cecil Square.

1935 Dreamland Cinema complex opened. Cinema designed by Julian Rudolph Leathart (1891-1967) & W.F. Granger. Seating for 2,050.

Second World War

1940 London to Margate steamers helped evacuate allied troops from Dunkirk.
Photo below shows Belgian troops at Margate station

1940 Astoria Cliftonville destroyed by German bowing raids damage.
1941 Regal suffered bomb damage and closed.
1943 Holy Trinity Church bombed with only tower left.

Postwar Margate

1946 Casino Dance Hall closed down.
1947 Robert Calvert (1945-1988), later of Hawkwind, moved to Margate with his family. 1952 C16 house restored in King Street
Cliftonville Hotel burnt down.
1953 Lindsay Anderson (1923-1994) made a film of the funfair called O Dreamland
Nik Turner (1940-2022), later of Hawkwind fame, moved to Margate with his family.
Margate Lighthouse destroyed in North Sea Flood. Westonville Pavilion, Marine Terrace Bathing Pavilion, Lido, and Margate Jetty damaged. 
1955 New Margate Lighthouse erected.
1958 Hippodrome Theatre on Cecil Square closed.
1959 Old Holy Trinity Church tower demolished.  New Holy Trinity Church built but in Northdown Park. Designed by Harold Anderson to resemble old church.
1963 Arlington House built for Bernard Sunley (1910–1964). Designed by Russell Diplock (1927-2019) with the sides of the building have a wave-like pattern. 20 storeys with 142 apartments. 

1964 Mods & Rockers fought on Margate Sands

1965 David Bowie (1947-2016) joined Margate band The Lower Third on vocals (Band formed in 1963 with Bob Calvert on vocals). Played summer residency at  Cliftonville Hall, St Pauls Road. 
1966 Old Hippodrome Theatre on Cecil Square & remains of the Regal Cinema next door demolished. Margate Library built on the site.
1967 Last steamer service to Margate
1968 Dreamland sold by original owners
Margate Civic Society formed.
1970 In the 60s Margate had 2 million visitors a year but in the 70s that there was a marked decline in visitors due to cheap air travel. Promotional film with Michael Aspel
1972 Hawkwind played a benefit gig for Dreamland.
1975 Film of Margate & Dreamland
1978 Margate Jetty destroyed in a storm
1980 Big Wheel opened in Dreamland

1987 Tracey Emin (b .1963) moved to London from Margate.
Plaza Cinema closed on High Street (listed Grade II).

Royal Sea Bathing Hospital closed
2002 Dreamland Scenic Railway listed as Grade II 
2003 Dreamland closed down.
Owner of London jazz club Vortex, David Mossman (1942-2018), moved to Margate and opened Harbour Cafe. Led to gentrification with many Londoners following in his footsteps.
2005 David Mossman set up The Big Sky Jazz Festival (later Margate Jazz Festival).
Dreamland bought by Margate Council
2007 Dreamland cinemas closed
2008 Part of Dreamland Scenic Railway destroyed in an arson attack.

2010 Mrs Booth sculpture by Ann Carrington (b. 1962) erected on Harbour Arm. The sculpture is a tribute to Sophie Booth (1798 - 1878), landlady and lover to J.M.William Turner.
2011 Turner Contemporary gallery opened. It is situated on the same site as Mrs Booth’s guest house, where Turner stayed when he visited the town.

2015 Dreamland reopened
2017 Tracey Emin moved back to Margate to live and work. Bought part of the former Thanet Press site to convert into a studio and flat.
2018  David Mossman died. Tribute


Book of Margate - David Scurrell (Barracuda 1982)
Maritime Margate - Ed Robert B Mathkin (Thanet District Council 1982)
Old Margate - Michael David Mirams (Meresborough Books 1984)
Margate 1736-1986: A Resort History - F Stafford et al (1986)
Margate in Old Picture Postcards - Alan Kay (1987)
History of Royal Sea Bathing Hospital (1791-1991) - FG St Clair (Meresborough Books 1991)
Margate: Then & Now - Alan Kay & Ian Kay (NPI 1998)
Margate‘s Seaside Heritage (English Heritage 2007)
Margate (Britain in Old Photographs) (History Press 2009)
Dreamlands Remembered: 90th Anniversary (History Press 2009)
2019 The Dreamland Trilogy A social history of Pleasure Gardens, Circus, and Dreamland, Margate - Dave Thompson

Margate Snapshot Guide (bars, beaches, B&Bs, restaurants etc)

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