Margate walk: from waste land to Dreamland
PUBLISHED: 11:09 25 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:10 25 April 2019
Explore the highs of the great British seaside resort on a day trip to Margate
Why: Explore the highs and lows of the great British seaside resort
Start and end: Margate Railway Station, CT9 5AD
OS maps: Explorer 150 Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet
Length: 3.5 miles
Discover more at: www.discoveringbritain.org
From penny machines and candy floss to prize-winning art and luxury hotels, Margate has it all. Transformed from a small fishing village into one of Britain's best-loved seaside towns, Margate's fortunes have risen and fallen with changing vogues and tastes for the British seaside. Today it's one of Kent's most popular spots: a melting pot of young and old; Londoners and locals, all drawn to the golden beaches, dazzling sunsets and its unquestionable energy. Here are some of the tasty snippets you'll discover on the walk.
Dunkers and Dippers
Margate's story begins in 1736 when a notice appeared in a Kent newspaper advertising the first sea water bath. Margate was tapping into the craze for a new cure – a Georgian-era vogue for both drinking and swimming in the sea. Indoor bathing houses popped up in the town, along with the world's first sea bathing hospital. Bathing machines (huts on wheels) lined Margate Sands complete with dunkers and dippers; men and women who earned their living by immersing the bathers in the sea and lifting them out again.
Romantic & Modern
No walk in Margate is complete without a visit to Turner Contemporary, which since its opening eight years ago has generated a huge amount of investment in the town.
Named for the artist JMW Turner who lived in Margate between 1827-1838, he grew to love the interaction of light and seawater along the coast, describing the skies over Thanet as 'the loveliest in all Europe.'
Less than 100 years later and Margate was inspiration for one of the 20th century's best-known poems, The Wasteland. In 1921, recovering from a breakdown, T.S. Eliot found inspiration for the poem's opening lines while enjoying the view from the Nayland Rock shelter.
Old Town, new charm
The twisting, cobbled streets of the old town are a mecca for lovers of anything vintage and 'pre-loved.' There's a real buzz here created by the shops, pubs and cafes. But look up to appreciate some of the town's curious architecture. Around the Market Place and King Street, you can still see evidence of early timber-framed houses, Georgian homes and flint-knapped buildings sitting cheek by jowl. Here on King Street Francis Cobb, the self-styled 'King of Margate', opened a brewery. Keep your eyes open for Cobb and Co's etched on the glass of old pub buildings.
A river ran through it
Glance at an old map and you'll see that King Street was once called Bridge Street. A change in level from the higher ground around Trinity Square to low lying King Street is another clue that a river once ran through this landscape. This lost river created the steep sides of the Dane Valley, flowed through today's Dane Park and along King Street to enter the sea at the harbour. The distinctive black and white-timbered Tudor House, one of Margate's oldest buildings, was built on the banks of the river and used its fresh water for brewing beer.
1 Margate Railway Station
Walk along platform 1 and stop by the redbrick water tower next to the bike rack.
2 Water Tower, Margate Railway Station
Leave the station and walk along Buenos Ayres. Cross the road to the long white shelter.
3 Nayland Rock shelter
Walk along the promenade (toward the harbour) until you reach a boardwalk seating area jutting over the beach.
4 Boardwalk, Margate Main Sands
Continue along Marine Terrace to the clock tower. Cross the road and enter Marine Gardens.
5 Clock Tower/Marine Gardens
Walk up through the gardens, turn left and walk down the steps back to Marine Terrace. Cross the road to the long, white concrete steps.
6 Concrete Steps
Cross back over the road, walk across the cobbled plaza to the corner with Duke Street.
7 Corner of Duke Street
Walk down Duke St towards the Market Place to stop by the Margate Museum.
8 Market Square
Walk to the end of Market Square and turn right into Love Lane, stop by the block of flats with the blue plaque.
9 Love Lane
Cross the road, turn right into King Street and stop old black and white timbered building.
10 Tudor House
Walk down King Street and stop by the blue plaque outside no 21.
11 King Street
Continue to the end of King St. Turn right and cross over to Turner Contemporary.
12 Turner Contemporary
Walk along the harbour arm to the end.
13 Shell lady sculpture
Walk back along the harbour arm and pass the rear of the Turner. Stop by the derelict
Lido bathing pool.
14 The Lido, Lowe promenade
Continue along the promenade until you reach a pathway through the chalk cliff.
15 Newgate Gap
Walk uphill through the cutting. Take a sharp right to the clifftop.
Walk past a blue shelter and stand on Newgate Gap Bridge.
16 Newgate Gap Bridge
Stand here and look out to the bathing pool.
17 Walpole Bay bathing pool
Follow your footsteps back towards Margate Railway Station. Stop outside Dreamland.
Walk towards the station, stopping by the stone circle.
19 Stone circle
Walk ahead to the railway station where the walk began.
Find out more
Discovering Britain is a series of geographically themed walks and views, created by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), designed to tell the stories behind Britain's diverse landscapes. With thanks to Raymond Molony FRGS for researching and writing the original walk. See also Margate town feature on pages 54 to 56. The full walk text and images can be read, listened to and downloaded for free at: www.discoveringbritain.org