Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wither Margate?

Reader Dan from London writes:

I grew up in Thanet in the 80s but moved away when I went to uni. I now live and work in London as do most of my former Thanet friends, and my parents moved from Thanet to Devon in 1990. I saw your item about Google street view coming to Thanet last week and when I looked I was shocked to see so many derelict properties in Margate. The last time I was there, twenty years ago, it was a vibrant, colourful, fun, bustling seaside town.

I was so upset that I decided to come down on the train for a day at the weekend and take a look around. I can hardly express my feelings about what I saw. How on earth did this happen? I have attached some photos which you are welcome to use on your blog.

Kind regards,


Well Dan, there are enough theories around to write a PhD on the decline of Margate! It's not all bad news though. Next month there's an empty shops symposium, there's literally tens of millions being spent on arts regeneration, heritage theme park regeneration and a whole bunch of 'renewal' types beavering away. Last week another £4m was gifted for flood defences, and only today the council announced that Margate's Visitor Information Centre was the only one on the island that's going to remain open! Even Arlington House is going to get a facelift courtesy of Tesco, as long as the residents can cough up £17,000 each towards the cost of the makeover.

So the message is 'Don't get too despondent'! Any-old-hoo, I haven't been to Margate in the daylight for months, so let's take a look at wot you got:

Yep, murals on the boarded up shops. Keeps everything looking fine and dandy! Er, but not here though:

Or here:

Or, er, here:

And no, I haven't seen the Shell Ladies recently either. One or two Hell Ladies, but no Shell Ladies haha! Ooh, here's the Rice Bowl, my favourite Chinese restaurant in the Hole of Fannit!

Hang on. What's that sign in the window?

Oh well. At least you can still buy fags and your paper, can't you?

Nope. looks like Harbour News on the Piazza (Parade in old money) has scarpered too, along with the restaurant next door:

Flamin' Nora! This really is getting depressing. I could use a drink in one of them trendy new bars!

Oh yes, that place rather ironically caught fire a year or two ago. Never mind, I'll try up the high street.

Now, here's a place that's had millions spent on it. The Turner Contemporary Temporary:

Oh gawd! I see what you mean Dan. Pass the razor blade!


Anonymous said...

Are you sure Dan came to Margate, these pics could be anywhere in downtown Basra.

ascu75 aka Don said...

Nice one Diccie

Peter Checksfield said...

F*ck it, I'm definitely moving to Ramsgate now!

Anonymous said...

Thats progress innnit, westwood cross is doin it's job

Anonymous said...

But if the residents wanted it they would use it wouldnt they?

Anonymous said...

Whats the Margate Visitors Information Centre for? Are they there to send you to WX, Ramsgate or Broadstairs? Whats left in Margate? Why spend £4 mill on flood defences? let nature take its place and let it flood.

Anonymous said...

2.56pm, the shops in Westwood X could have been located in Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, but were located in the middle of all three.

Would some or all of these shops be present in thanet somewhere if westwood was not around - yes.

~Its not a question of wanting to or not - its the fact that is westwood or canterbury/ashford/bluewater

I see the argument given by certain councilors for westwood way back when was a lack of mens fashion outlets in thanet.

Its hardly f@*king Milan now, is it?

Thanet resident and proud of it said...

Shame on you Dan for staying away so long!

Anonymous said...

I like some of those shots of faded shops. Margate should market itself on its shabby chic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dan,

It all happened because sensible folk like you moved away and the lunatics took over the asylum.

trickiedickie said...

Don't fret . . . sometime soon the TC will open and there will be a rush of new money . . . jobs . . . new ferries from Ramsgate . . .bringing thousands of French and Belgians with pockets full of Euros.

Oh . . . I just woke up!!! Where's the Meph . . . I need another one.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Looks like the bits between the major developments are getting left behind.

But all is not lost. Let's squat!

Anonymous said...

Inept local tory council, loads of chavs roaming the street with track suits and babies, english not spoken, they are a few of the explanations, Dan. Sad but true!
Been left to rot. Nothing will change until we get rid of the council, elected mayor perhaps? Independants running the council? not sure are you ECR?

Anonymous said...

The actual truth Dan, is that the Labour government hates the south because its full of tory boys and so punish us all by spending all the dosh up North. Only the shit for brains socialists like ECR and Tony Flaig live down here, and the govt doesn't give a toss about them either.

Anonymous said...

The truth is, 3.27pm that successive local governments in Thanet, blue or red, have pissed money up the wall on hare - brained schemes no good for the area. Westwood, turner, manston to name but three.

Turner still has to attempt to bear fruit, but the highest empty shop ratio in england, plus some land securities shareholders getting benefit is westwoods gift. Manston has so far lost hundreds of millions for wiggins and infratil shareholders, whilst blighting businesses and residents

shtraining said...

Amazing how much of this site is dedicated to slagging off Margate.

We all know it has problems, however the old town is starting to look busy with plenty of new starts and excellent established businesses such as Cafe G and the Harbour Cafe.

Sad when small minded bloggers can not see beyond local pettiness.

Richard Eastcliff said...

To put it in context Mr Training, people aren't 'slagging off Margate', they're slagging off the wretched council that has presided over the decline of Margate during the past 20 years.

Unfortunately those who remember the town's heydays find a few boutiques popping up then disappearing in the old town and a couple of bars that are doing well (one because he's mates with the council leader) laughable compared to the dereliction and devastation that has been wrought on the place. They are like a Band Aid on a gaping wound.

That is not small minded pettiness, as you call it. Small minded pettiness is a council that is based in Margate spending tens of millions in Margate, mainly to line the pockets of its greedy supporters, with no great benefit to the place, and to the detriment of the other towns on the island.

Anonymous said...

No Dicky boy,shtraining is spot on,next to all the photo's of dereliction are places that are thriving,harbour bar cafe,bebeached cafe,three new retro shops,old town gallery,ingoldsby gallery,cuttings jewellery,revitalise beauty parlour,an antique shop,harbour news has'n t closed,it has moved a few doors along,and next month a cycle hire shop,old town gallery opening a unit,and a tapa's bar are opening on the harbour arm.

Anonymous said...

It takes three years for a business to become established and therefore 'thriving'. Would you like me to list all those that have come and gone in the past three years?

How many customers in those places? One or two a day?

Anonymous said...

I know how the restaurant 'Fourteen' went down. One of the owners of No6 Brasserie on Market square was in partnership with someone to develope this new restaurant, except this guy decided to nick all the money, not pay the rent or service bills and the recievers closed a perfectly good business down. Margate is struggling and its not being helped by scum like this guy.