Luna & Curious Guide to… Margate
As a Kent girl, I have seen Margate change throughout my life. Early encounters were day trips to the Benbom Brothers theme park, then watching bands at the Winter Gardens, then dates playing on the amusements and fish’n’chips on the beach. Today it is a pretty easy ‘go-to’ for a day out from life, whatever season.
The Shell Grotto
The story goes that in 1835 Mr James Newlove lowered his young son Joshua into a hole in the ground that had appeared during the digging of a duck pond. Joshua emerged describing tunnels covered with shells. He had discovered the Shell Grotto. This may be myth, but I like to believe that this is true, as when you stand under the hole on through which Newlove Junior would have come and you can imagine how incredible it would have been to discover an underground room with walls laden with shell decoration. A desire we all have to be the first to discover anything, which is rarer and rarer in our over-populated world.
Here is the link, but don’t look too much as its worth the surprise shellgrotto.co.uk
The amusement park, Dreamland was the central attraction for Margate, since it opened in 1920 until its closure in 2006. Compulsory purchased by Thanet Council, there is hope for the park again. The Dreamland Trust exist to restore the wooden roller coaster and site creating a heritage amusement park. You can see the future plans at the Dreamland Expo and fund it by playing on pinball machines of the past. dreamlandmargate.com
Dreamland must have passed on its baton to Turner Contemporary as the heart of Margate. Every visit to the gallery has acted as smelling salts, reviving me. I think that this is much to do with the absorbing view out to sea from the large window in the central atrium, it is the same sea that you were looking at outside, but suddenly it seems much more vital. The current exhibition in this space is Edmund de Waal’s Atmosphere, a collection of porcelain vessels that are suspended in cases, the aims is to encourage ‘skying’, a concept described by Constable, it involves the action of lying on your back and watching the sky form its own silent movie in front of you. The same thing you were doing on the beach not five minutes before.
The Summer of Colour is underway with exhibits of the work of Mondrian, Spencer Finch and Krijn de Koning, the latter has installed ‘Dwelling’ outside, a series of coloured walls and openings that you can walk amongst. turnercontemporary.org
Other places to eat and shop
Forts Cafe, Cliftonville: Good burgers, well worth the walk up the hill
Junk Deluxe: Modernist design shop
As we drive, we often finish the day by hopping in the car and going ten minutes up the road to Broadstairs and getting an ice cream sundae at the time warp ice cream parlour Morelli’s. Or go to Broadstairs for the day and thats another blog post of its own…