"A fading glory." Top 5 Page for this destination Margate by planxty

Margate Travel Guide: 54 reviews and 103 photos

A sign of the times.

In many ways, Margate stands for just about every other seaside "resort" town in the UK and has now become an anachronism which is sad but, I suppose, ultimately inevitable.

Margate lies on the extreme East of Kent, in fact just about as East as you can go in England without getting wet! Overlooking the Channel, it is easy to see France on a not even too clear day. The town is part of an area known as the Isle of Thanet, in ancient times properly an island but now part of the mainland, and is best known not for it's ancient history but for it's 19th and 20th century role as a daytrippers paradise. This was a place to escape the grimy reality of inner city London for a day or possibly a weeks summer holiday. Margate was the place for a "beano", effectively a daytrip on a hired coach and candyfloss, a walk down the pier, a few beers, fish and chips and then sleep all the way home was the order of the day.

I spend quite a bit of time in Thanet, more specifically Broadstairs, which is only about four miles away. I have many friends in Margate so I hope readers will understand when I deliver a slightly unpleasant verdict on the place. I am not unecessarily denigrating Margate but, frankly, it is a mess.

Economic recession and the combination of cheap foreign holidays and the often appalling British weather have led to the decline of all British holiday resorts and Margaate is no exception. The British holiday industry is pretty well dead now.

I also have to mention, and I am being very careful how I say this as VT very rightly and properly has an embargo on political (in the widest sense) comments, there is another issue. I do not wish to mislead the reader and I have to report that Margate now has a large population of mostly Eastern European immigrants living in what were formerly holiday bed and breakfast establishments. Rightly or wrongly, many of my friends in the town will not walk in the area of Cliftonville after dark, if at all, and these same friends associate this situation with the immigrant polulation. Drugs (evidence of which is easy to find), violent crime and a complete lack of confidence in the local police have led to areas of Margate becoming "no-go" zones.

I can personally attest to the change in the place even in the last five years. The photos on this front page were taken in 2006 and having revisited in 2011 it is a much changed place. For example, Dreamland, the "theme park" featured in one of the photos further down this page, had mysteriously burned down, thereby removing the last major link with the traditional leisure industry. This was the last big draw for the daytrippers. It is generally accepted locally that the fire was no accident as the site was prime land for development.

Shuttered up shops, beggars and decay seem to predominate here now. Certainly, if you are in the area, have a wander around, you will be safe enough in the centre of town (avoid Cliftonville as mentioned) but there is little to see here now. I find it very sad.

As readers of my other VT pages will understand, I tend to find the best in any particular place, and I really do not like to make very negative tips or pages but I am afraid I can find little good to say about Margate, save for the one tip I have posted and the fact that I have many good friends there.

This is the front of the now sadly demised Dreamland aka Bembom Brothers which was the great attraction of Margate for daytrippers. Some parts of it have now, I believe, been deemed as listed which means they cannot be demolished. I have heard of a plan to try to revive Dreamland as some sort of heritage / museum funfair, which I think would be brilliant but it does not look like happening any time soon.

Update August 2013

As of this month, the local press are reporting that any potential redevelopment of Dreamland is going to be delayed for at least a year due to various legal complications. A shame really.

I shall update here as I get any further information.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A decent beach and seafront.
  • Cons:Can be rough now, especially the Cliftonville area.
  • In a nutshell:It really has seen better days.
  • Last visit to Margate: Jan 2011
  • Intro Updated Aug 21, 2013
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Reviews (5)

Comments (1)

  • ettiewyn's Profile Photo
    Oct 3, 2012 at 1:21 AM

    Hi Fergy, yesterday I watched the film "Last Orders" in which Margate plays an important role, and thus wanted to check out VT about it. How sad to see what has become of Margate, but I like that you are not afraid to describe it as you see it! And how funny that I just came to your page for this, as pubs are also very important in the film :-))

    • planxty's Profile Photo
      Oct 3, 2012 at 3:21 AM

      Hello Mirjam, and thanks for visiting my Margate page. I haven't seen the film you mention as but I have just read a precis. Unfortunately the pier is long gone now, destroyed in a storm. If you are interested in what is happening to pubs in UK, especially where I live in London, you might want to have a look here.

      "Dead pubs Society." - London Travelogue by planxty

      fergy

planxty

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