2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

Population: 58,465 (2001 census)
Ordnance Survey
OS grid reference: TR355705
District: Thanet
Shire county: Kent
Region: South East England
Constituent country: England
Sovereign state: United Kingdom
Ceremonial county: Kent
Historic county: Kent
Police force: {{{Police}}}
Fire and rescue: {{{Fire}}}
Ambulance: South East Coast
Post office and telephone
Post town: MARGATE
Postal district: CT9
Dialling code: 01843
UK Parliament: Thanet North
European Parliament: South East England

Margate is a town in the district known as the Isle of Thanet (though no longer an island) in Kent, England (population about 60,000). Its name was recorded as "Meregate" in 1264 and as "Margate" in 1299, but the spelling continued to vary into modern times. The name is thought to refer to a pool gate or gap in a cliff where pools of water are found, often allowing swimmers to jump in. The cliffs of the Isle of Thanet are composed of chalk, a fossil-bearing rock.


Cinque Ports

Margate was a "limb" of Dover in the ancient confederation of the Cinque ports. It was added to the confederation in the 15th century.

Margate and the Sea

Margate has been a leading seaside resort for at least 250 years. Like its neighbour Ramsgate, it has been a traditional holiday destination for Londoners drawn to its sandy beaches.

Edward Hasted, writing in the 18th century, described Margate as a "poor fishing town", but in 1810, when describing the shore, he wrote: "... [it] was so well adapted to bathing, being an entire level and covered with the finest sand, which extends for several miles on either side of the harbour... [near which] there are several commodious bathing rooms, out of which the bathers are driven in the machines, any depth along the sands into the sea; at the back of the machine is a door, through which the bathers descend a few steps into the water, and an umbrella of canvas dropping over conceals them from the public view. Upwards of 40 of these machines are frequently employed..."

The town's history is tied closely to the sea and it has a proud maritime tradition. The record of the vessel, Friend to all Nations, and the Margate Surfboat disaster of 1897 are noteworthy events in Margate's past.


About 1816 The Times reported that the introduction of steamboats had given the whole coast of Kent (and) the Isle of Thanet in particular, "a prodigious lift". However, Sir Rowland Hill (creator of the 1840 Penny Post), while in Thanet during 1815, remarked: "It is surprising to see how most people are prejudiced against this packet." So popular were the steam boat excursions that in 1841 there were six different companies competing for the Margate passenger traffic. Even with the advent of the railway in 1846 the steamboats continued in service until their final withdrawal in 1967.

In 1820 it was said that "the inhabitants of Margate ought to eulogise the name of Watt, as the founder of their good fortune; and steam vessels as the harbingers of their prosperity".


The railway came to Margate via two separate companies. The South Eastern Railway (SER) was the first to reach the town when its branch line from the main line at Ashford, having opened to Ramsgate on April 13 1846, was continued to a station called Margate Sands on 1 December the same year. It was not direct, however: trains had to reverse from the terminus at Ramsgate to reach Margate. In spite of that, crowds of people added to the already high numbers coming by sea. The SER had the rail monopoly until 5 October 1863, the London, Chatham and Dover Railway completed its North Kent coast line and opened a station at Margate West. Once the Southern Railway had been formed, in 1923, there was a major rationalisation of the Isle of Thanet railways: the old route from Ramsgate was closed completely and a new railway connection, looping round the Isle of Thanet, meant that trains could pass through the town from either direction. Margate West (renamed simply Margate) Station became the only railway station in the town.

Margate Jetty

Margate Jetty, which was designed by Eugenius Birch in 1856, has suffered damage from the sea over the years. On 1 January 1877 it was sliced through by a storm-driven wreck that marooned 40 to 50 people. They were not rescued until the next day. The pier survived until 11-12 January 1978, when it was hit by another storm. The wreck of the pier remained for several years, surviving several attempts to blow it up, before final demolition.


Between 1890 and 1939 about 30 pleasure boats operated from Margate beach. The main builder of these Thanet wherries was Brockman's of Margate, which turned them out in large numbers before the Great War. It developed two distinct types of boats: the wherry proper, with high sides, and the wherry punt, with low sides. The hulls were traditionally varnished, a practice employed by boatmen from Thanet to Devon. Some boatmen put a wider beam into the design to assist fishing. Although employing a clinker-built hull, the shape was similar to the Deal galley and the Thames waterman's skiff.

The last wherry in service at Margate was operated by a Dusty Miller of Westgate-on-Sea (a suburb of Margate), and built by an apprentice at Brockman's of Margate in 1939. "She was only about 12 ft long and being small was sometimes called a skiff."

Margate during the Second World War

It was on September 3, 1940, that pilot officer Richard Hillary was shot down during combat against three Messerschmitts into the sea near the North Foreland, but had the good fortune to be rescued by Margate lifeboat. His Spitfire had burst into flames and he was badly burned, but later wrote the book The Last Enemy. Hillary, the grandson of the founder of the lifeboat service (Sir William Hillary, d. 1852), recovered from his ordeal, but was killed in a training flight accident in 1943, aged 24.

Howard Primrose Knight, coxswain of the Ramsgate lifeboat Prudential, and Edward Drake Parker, coxswain of the Margate lifeboat Lord Southborough were both awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of their gallantry and determination when ferrying troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during the evacuation of 1940.

The lifeboats had assisted in retrieving at least 2,800 men, by towing eight wherries, during a continuous service lasting 40 hours. Following this achievement the Margate boat returned to Dunkirk to rescue 500-600 French soldiers from the beach.

In a letter to the RNLI, the Commander of HMS Icarus stated: "The manner in which the Margate lifeboat crew brought off load after load of soldiers under continuous shelling, bombing and aerial machinegun fire, will be an inspiration to us all as long as we live."

Storm of 1949

The storm of early March 1949 caused widespread damage in Margate and along the North Kent Coast. Kent Fire Brigade estimated that it took 1,550 man hours to fight the floods which had devastated Kent in the previous two weeks. The high tide caused flooding at various points between Margate and Crayford. The tidal surge swept down the North Sea, into the Thames Estuary and up the river valleys, reaching 15 miles inland. So bad was the flooding that Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Upnor Gravesend, Sheerness, Sittingbourne, Faversham, Herne Bay, Whitstable, Dover and Margate were declared one incident. BBC Kent Weather.


Margate was the first resort to have donkey rides, in 1890, and the first to introduce deck chairs, in 1898.

Like Brighton, it was infamous for gang violence between mods and rockers in the 1960s.

In recent times it has had higher unemployment rates than much of south-east England, as tourists travel further afield.

Margate faces major structural redevelopments. Its Dreamland Amusement Park (featured in one extended episode of the television series Only Fools and Horses) is losing money and is threatened with closure, and in 2003 a huge fire destroyed much of its seafront frontage. In 2004 it was announced that Dreamland (although somewhat reduced in its amusements) would reopen for three months of the summer; a pressure group has been formed to keep it in being. The group is anxious that the UK's oldest wooden roller coaster, The Scenic Railway, a Grade II Listed structure, is retained.

Other attractions - Cliftonville next to Margate has a classic British Arnold Palmer seaside mini golf course.

A controversial gallery, The Turner Contemporary has been proposed, as an alternative to Margate's traditional tourist trade, and when built it would have formed part of the harbour itself. Some critics, however, questioned the prudence of placing part of Britain's national art treasures in a spot that is exposed to the full fury of the North Sea. Thanet District Council have now moved the building from the harbour wall, to a plot of land adjacent to the harbour. This is due to spiralling costs for a sea born building. Work is still set to start in 2007, with projected completion in 2009. The scheme had been supported by the artist Tracey Emin, who was brought up in Margate.

Two films by Tracey Emin, CV Cunt Vernacular (1997) and Top Spot (2004), are set in the town. Also, the play Hannah and Hanna by John Retallack is set in Margate. First premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2001, it tells of the impact on the town had by an influx of Kosovan refugees.

The harbour area was also used in a music video by Chas and Dave for their song "Margate" (on their album Joblot) in 1982.

There are two notable theatres, the Theatre Royal in Addington Street - the second oldest theatre in the country - and the Tom Thumb Theatre, the 2nd smallest in the country, in addition to the Winter Gardens.

An annual jazz festival takes place over the course of a weekend in July.

Margate Museum in Market Place explores the town's seaside heritage in a range of exhibits and displays.

The Shell Grotto, which has walls and roof covered in elaborate decoration of over four million shells, covering 2,000 square feet, in complex patterns, was rediscovered in 1835, but is of unknown age and origin.

In addition there is a Tudor House in King Street.

Margate features as a destination in Graham Swift's novel Last Orders and the movie made version of it. Jack Dodds has asked to have his remains scattered at Margate. The book tells the tale of the drive to Margate and the memories evoked on the way. It also features at the start and as a recurrent theme in Iain Aitch's travelogue A Fete Worse Than Death. The author was born in the town.

In Big Brother 7 (2006), Big Brother briefly went on holiday to Margate and left the housemates under the rule of Automated Big Brother.

Local Areas

Margate also consists of Cliftonville, and Palm Bay, UK


Margate is twinned with the following cities:

  • Ukraine Yalta, Ukraine
  • Germany Idar-Oberstein, Germany


Margate F.C. is one of the most famous football teams in non-league football. They play at Hartsdown Park. The club has played in the Conference National, but they are currently aiming to gain promotion out of the Isthmian League Premier Division.

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